By Gabriel Enogholase
Since the creation of the defunct Mid-West region from the old Western Region in 1963 to Bendel State and now Edo State, no electoral outcome has drawn so much acrimony, bitterness, confusion and recriminations as the one Edo is currently experiencing.
Curiously, the ongoing war is not between APC, the ruling party and the People Democratic Party, PDP, the opposition party, rather it is between APC and APC. It is a house divided against itself.
The supremacy battle between Governor Godwin Obaseki and APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, which has now been denied by the governor who labelled it as fake news has been blown open by the inauguration of nine members of the 24-member House of Assembly.
It would be recalled that 19 members-elect of the Edo State House of Assembly had earlier on Monday called on Governor Obaseki to immediately send a letter of proclamation to the clerk of the Assembly to allow the House function and carry out its legislative duties.
The earlier scheduled date for the inauguration of the Seventh Assembly, it was gathered, was June 7 but it could not hold following the absence of Governor Obaseki, who was billed to proclaim the inauguration.
How nine men were sworn-in
However, there was a new twist to the drama as the much anticipated inauguration of the Assembly took place at about 9.00 pm same Monday.
The Clerk of the Assembly, Alhaji Audu Omogbai was said to have ushered the members-elect into the chamber and read out the letter of proclamation transmitted to his office by Governor Obaseki.
At the sitting of the members-elect where the Clerk proclaimed the House, the lawmakers elected Frank Okiye (Esan North East Constituency I) as their Speaker against Oshiomhole’s preferred candidate of Victor Edoror, while Yekini Idiaye (Akoko-Edo Constituency I) was also elected Deputy Speaker.
Immediately after the inauguration, a motion for adjournment was moved and the Speaker adjourned the House till July 17.
Lawmakers at the inauguration Monday night were Nosa Okunbor, Henry Okhuarobo, Uyi Ekhosuehi, Marcus Onobun, Ephraim Anebhosele, Roland Asoro, Eric Okaka, Frank Okiye and Yekini Idiaye.
The rumoured rift between Obaseki and Oshiomhole may not be unconnected with the delay in sending the letter of proclamation to the clerk of the House to commence the inauguration of the Assembly.
Sources said the duo had shifted their rift to the assembly where they intend to outsmart each other in a bid to ensure that their preferred candidates emerge as Speaker and other principal officers. The situation put members-elect in a quandary as to who to choose between Oshiomhole and Obaseki’s camps and who to align with in the state APC.
Move to stop Obaseki’s second term ambition
In Edo South Senatorial District, loyalists of Oshiomhole under the acronym “Edo Peoples Movement, EPM, led by a former Commissioner in the State, Mr Henry Idahagbon, and former Minority Whip in the House of Representatives, Mr. Samson Osagie, have not relented in giving Governor Obaseki some sleepless nights following alledged plots to deny him a second term bid.
The second term bid of Obaseki has generated so much controversy and continues to cause disaffection among party leaders and lawmakers, who are now grouping and regrouping in their efforts to stop the governor’s re-election bid.
Obaseki rebuffs APC elders
Obaseki has openly rebuffed the party leaders, who he accused of tendencies of exploitation and pressure on him to share Edo Tax payer’s Money to politicians, which according to him is impossible.
Addressing journalists in his office on Tuesday, elected Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Mr Frank Okiye, said the Seventh Assembly under his leadership will work assiduously to complement Governor Obaseki’s effort in delivering the dividends of democracy to the people of the state.
Okiye said the state governor was doing excellently well saying that he deserves their overwhelming support to put the state in the right economic perspective.
Party chair backs Obaseki
Even, the State chairman of the APC, Mr. Anselm Ojezua is in tandem with the action of the governor and the new Speaker, Mr Francis Okiye for the successful inauguration of the assembly.
How Oshiomhole and Obaseki hope to resolve and unite the party in the build up to the 2020 governorship election remains a major task with the bickering and acrimony among their party members.
Tension in the Governor Obaseki camp is now relaxed after the inauguration of the few members as more members-elect may pitch tent with the Okiye group and abandon the Oshiomhole boys.
The 19 members-elect, said to be loyal to Oshiomhole include Gani Audu, Estako West; Chris Okaeben, Oredo West; Sunday Aghedo, Ovia South West; Victor Edoror, Esan Central; Washington Osa Osifo, Uhunwmonde; Michael Ohio-Ezomo, Owan West; Emmanuel Agbaje, Akoko-Edo II; Emma Ewah Okoduwa, Esan North East II; and Crosby Eribo, Egor.
Others are Seid Oshiomhole, Etsako West II; Vincent Osa Uwadiae, Ovia North East II; Sunny Ojiezele, Esan South East; Amhed Waziri Oshomah, Etsako Central; and Kingsley Ugabi, Estako.
Some of the yet to be inaugurated members-elect while addressing journalists at the state Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists NUJ Secretariat in Benin City, before the Monday night inauguration said there cannot be democracy without legislature and accused Governor Obaseki of attempting to truncate democracy in Edo State.
The members-elect who said the tenure of members of the last Assembly expired on 7th June, added that the governor by virtue of section 105(3) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) is constitutionally required to immediately issue a letter of proclamation for the inauguration of the new Assembly to avoid vacuum.
“Today we members-elect of the Edo State House of Assembly wish to bring to the knowledge of the people of Edo state and the general public of the attempt by Governor Obaseki to truncate democracy in Edo State.”
“It is also common knowledge that the Governor no matter how powerful cannot impose individuals either as Speaker or Deputy Speaker on the legislators. At best, he can only lobby for his preferred candidates as was recently witnessed at the National Assembly.”