GOING through Funminiyi Afuye’s intimidating profile without ever meeting him, one will take the Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly for a combatant, considering his deep-rooted antecedents in human rights activism and as a lawyer of close to three decades.
Seeing this Ikere-Ekiti born experienced legislator at a glance, you will take him for granted for his innocuous appearance that depicts a complete gentleman who cannot hurt a fly. He is though, but highly principled.
He has devised a superlative means of achieving serious legislative business through intermittent comic reliefs in the hallowed chamber.
The making of Funminiyi Afuye as the Speaker of the Ekiti 6th Assembly did not just occur as a coincidence as he has paid his dues not only as an astute politician but as an experienced legislator who had served in various capacities, particularly as the Leader of Business during the turbulent government of Segun Oni, otherwise known as the “13-13 Era”. It was an era when the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) had 13 lawmakers and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) had 13. There was an intense legal battle then to wrestle power from the PDP governor.
Unlike the experience in the last two assemblies where legislators cross-carpeted to the ruling party in order to enjoy crumbs from the governor, Afuye and his team stood firmly during the 13-13 Assembly and this was what later paid off for him to become a celebrated hero of democracy which has boosted his political profile.
Shortly after leaving the 3rd Assembly, Afuye became the Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation; and later Commissioner for Integration and Intergovernmental Affairs under the government of Dr. John Kayode Fayemi before he was re-elected to the House of Assembly where his colleagues found him worthy to lead them as the Speaker.
On his assumption of office as the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Funminiyi Afuye entered into an unwritten pact with his colleagues to always toe the part of peace and this is what has kept them waxing stronger as one indissoluble body in this 6th Assembly. In the history of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, the hollowed chamber now witnesses a relaxed mood of legislating with unending banters and rib-cracking jokes even while serious business of lawmaking goes on unabated.
Almost each of the 26 lawmakers has his or her own style of introducing him or herself and this endears all and sundry who work in Assembly complex to witness each plenary because it is devoid of rancour and throwing of chairs which characterise most State Assemblies across the nation. Afuye is of the opinion that “it is in an atmosphere of peace that lawmakers can stand up to talk with candour and pride to eloquently present issues affecting their constituencies”. This explains why he interjects them occasionally with some anecdotes to spice up their motions.
Ekiti Assembly hallowed chamber is usually full of convivial intrigues as the Speaker traditionally calls on the Majority leader, Gboyega Aribisogan to present the business of the day which he also does in a dexterous manner having garnered experience in the previous assembly where erstwhile Governor Fayose gave him a political baptism of fire. One interesting thing is that the Speaker always starts on a very lighter note observing the appearance and mood of each legislator as he or she stands up to talk.
Apart from creating a comic relief, Afuye jocularly engages the lawmakers while presenting their motions especially when he needs to commend or correct them. Few examples readily come to mind.
One of such is whenever the member representing Ekiti Southwest Constituency, Chief (Mrs) Yemisi Ayokunle stands up to talk and introduces herself. She will say: “I’m Mrs Yemisi Ayokunle from United Kingdom of Ilawe in Ekiti Southwest Constituency 1.” In response, the Speaker would smile and say: “Olori, you are recognized because I don’t want you to withdraw my wife (who is from Ilawe) from me.” Yemisi who is also the Chairman of the House Committee on Media will answer in return; “not only that Mr. Speaker sir, you know the Clerk of this house is also from Ilawe” and the whole house will beat the table as a sign of applause or clapping. Bunmi Adelugba, the Chief Whip who is from Emure constituency will always introduce her Constituency as “Emure Ule Ewa” meaning Home of Beauty. Such is the family accord that reigns supreme in the Ekiti Assembly.
As for the member representing Efon Alaaye, Goke Olajide, the son of the medical guru, Dr. Kunle Olajide, whenever he wants to introduce himself, he will describe his constituency as “Republic of Efon”. The Speaker will swiftly respond; “well, maybe that’s a republic within the Republic because I know we have only one Federal Republic of Nigeria.” To Demola Ojo representing Ijero Constituency, he will say; “I’m representing the good and the bad people of Ijero Constituency.” The very first day he said this, the speaker jovially asked him; “what’s the percentage of the bad people of Ijero Constituency?”
The plenary of January 28, 2020, was particularly full of fanfare as they were just returning from the New Year break and everyone was highly elated and decked in different attires. It was the day the bill on the Western Security Network Agency otherwise known as Amotekun Corps Agency was sent to them for passage. Virtually, all the lawmakers addressed themselves as Amotekun so, so and so using Amotekun as a prefix instead of the usual Honourable.
What added glamour to the sitting of that day was that three of them just returned from the Republic of South Korea where they attended the 1999 International Bar Conference. It was not a little surprise when Adeoye Aribasoye from Ikole 1 wanted to talk and he started speaking in “tongues” calling some unknown Korean slangs which threw the whole house into loud laughter. Tajudeen Akingbolu, representing Ekiti West Constituency 1, also a lawyer in the house and Deputy Majority Leader, took over and was saying; “ching, chong, chang.” It was the Speaker who later explained that their “speaking in tongue” was one of the take-aways from the International Bar Association in Korea which he also attended.
Another legislator one cannot forget in a hurry is Tunde Idowu representing Ikere Constituency 2 who is regarded as the Patrick Obaigbon aka Igodomigodo of the House as he will always speak roof-blowing and rib-cracking grammars that send the House agog. There are some intrepid members in the house whose vibrancy the Speaker does not ignore. Among them are; Teju Okuyiga (Gbonyin) Johnson Oyekola Adeoye (Ekiti West 2), Femi Akindele (Irepodun/Ifelodun 1), Toyin Lucas (Ado 1), Adeyinka Ajibade (Moba), Juwa Adegbuyi, Fawekun (Ido Constituency), Yemi Osatuyi (Oye), Kemi Balogun (Ado 2) and Ayodeji Ajayi (Ise), just to mention a few.