Tony Osauzo, Benin
Disagreement between some lawmakers in Edo and Governor Godwin Obaseki, has stalled inauguration of the state’s Seventh House of Assembly.
It was learnt that the disagreement centred mainly on who becomes the speaker of the 24-member Assembly.
Sources said while over 20 of the elected lawmakers, belonging to the camp of the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, who is also a former governor of the state, prefer former Tiger Edoror, to return as speaker, Obaseki’s camp is rooting for former House leader and ex-deputy chief of staff to Oshiomhole, Frank Okiye, to take the seat.
Edoror and Okiye are from the Central senatorial district of the state to where the position of speaker is zoned.
Last Friday, there was a meeting at the APC state secretariat, where the state government, represented by the Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu and Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, discussed with the lawmakers, with a view to having a common ground before a proclamation for the House’s inauguration could be transmitted, but, the meeting was deadlocked.
It was gathered that while the government’s position was that the Central senatorial leadership of the party should resolve and agree on who the speaker should be, the lawmakers insisted it was their right and duty to elect a speaker from among themselves.
Arising from the inability to resolve the issue(s), another meeting was reportedly held on Saturday night, where lawmakers demanded restoration of their abolished constituency projects and payment of their travel expenses, among others.
There was no dice as the parties failed to reach any agreement.
Consequently, an expanded meeting of the State Working Committee of the party was called for 2:00pm, yesterday, with a view to resolving the contending issues.
It was gathered that the governor is delaying transmitting the proclamation for the inauguration of the Assembly because he does not have majority of members who would support his choice for speaker.
Other sources said the governor would only transmit the proclamation when he succeeds in wooing majority of the lawmakers to his side.
Regardless, last Wednesday, Edo-based rights activist and Founder, One Love Foundation, Patrick Eholor, asked governor Obaseki to settle his political differences with his party.
Eholor made the call in Benin, the state capital, during a peaceful protest march, to draw the attention of the public to non-inauguration of the Seventh Assembly.
During the protest, he said it was pathetic that out of the 36 states of the Federation, Edo is among few states whose House of Assembly has not been inaugurated, thereby “preventing the spread of dividends of democracy to the people who voted the members into power.”