From Taiwo Oluwadare, Ibadan
Oyo State House of Assembly has passed a vote of no confidence in Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Adeniyi Olowofela, over alleged insubordination and arrogance.
This decision was preceded by a mild drama when Olowofela appeared before lawmakers at yesterday’s plenary, to answer alleged halving of funds meant for the Federal Government’s school feeding programme in the state, by his ministry, before it is sent to food vendors.
The Assembly had also accused Olowofela of withdrawing money from the vendors’ accounts and supplying food items directly from Ibadan.
Olowofela, in a prepared response to the chamber, had advised the mover of the motion to carry out “elementary investigations, not statements that will mislead the citizenry and portend the House as being hasty in decision making.”
Speaking at plenary, Olowofela described the allegations as huge and devoid of an adequate investigation, and wondered what the Assembly meant by anomalies when funds were released directly by the federal government to the vendors.
Angered by Olowofela’s position, which they described as defiant and an affront, members, including Olusegun Olaleye, Gbenga Oyekola, Samson Oguntade and Olusegun Ajanaku, in their different remarks, called on the executive to sack Olowofela.
Speaker Michael Adeyemo, however, called the attention of members to the limitations of their powers to suspend or sack, although he noted that Olowofela’s response in the chamber amounted to contempt.
Consequently, Deputy Speaker, Abdulwasi Musah, moved a motion for the vote of no confidence in Olowofela. It was seconded by Olukayode Solomon.
In his reaction, Prof. Olowofela said: “I have the right, as a representative of an institution, but then, there were allegations that ministry of Education was dividing money of Homegrown School Feeding programme into two. And, the ministry has no power over the accounts of food vendors and the aggregators since the money is credited into their various accounts directly, from the federal government. The issue was that the House did not allow me to explain myself but said I was rude. Even in a court of law, there is fair hearing or, when you invite somebody over allegations like this, you should allow him to react to the issue.
“And your (House) conclusion was that you passed vote of no confidence in me. Well, there are two sides to a coin. That is the way they see it…”
“That was the motion moved on the floor of the House, a document which is not true. So, I have the right to protect my name and say the truth. I am saying the truth and I am standing by it.
“When issues like this occur, there is what is called temperament of the moment. Since this programme started, it has brought about N2.7 billion to Oyo State and we have never asked anybody for one kobo. So, if somebody raised allegations like this in the public domain, it has to be trashed out in the public domain.
“I can give you the details of everything and the food vendors are here, you can ask them questions. But, I want to say I have respect for individuals and the House of Assembly as an institution but I must correct and I have the responsibility to correct a lie. A lie will not become a truth because it is told in the House of Assembly. We labour day and night to make sure this programme works.”
In her own response, Coordinator of the food vendors, Mrs Toyosi Ajobo, alleged that the allegations brought before the House was a set up.
According to her, “once we collect our monies from our various accounts, we take it to Bodija market to buy foods and condiments to prepare meal for the school children. Not even, N100 recharge card we buy for the commissioner, rather, he gives us money from his pocket whenever we pay him visit. He is a caring person to all and sundry.”