From Tony Osauzo, Benin
THE impeachment drama that took place on the floor of the Edo State House of Assembly last Tuesday did not come as a surprise to followers of proceedings and events at the Assembly. To many, the removal of Rt. Hon. Victor Edoror as Speaker of the House, was long overdue.
Early in the life of the present Assembly, moves were on to unseat the Speaker but the intervention of Comrade Governor Adams Oshiomhole saved him.
On Tuesday, March 8, 2016, the Assembly sitting was rancorous and rowdy, as the lawmakers called for the House sitting to be adjourned sine die, even as shout of “No plenary sitting”, “adjourn sine die” among others, rented the chamber of the assembly.
The lawmakers were said to be aggrieved by the failure of the governor to provide them with brand new vehicles, non-payment of allowances, and other financial entitlements.
Besides, there had been grumbling among members who accused the Speaker of eating alone.
The Speaker who was apparently caught unawares by events of the day’s sitting had to abruptly adjourn the House’s proceedings by two weeks, citing “mood of the House” as his reason.
Rt. Hon. Edoror who expressed disappointment over the development said he was taken unaware by the incident, adding that members will however converge in an undisclosed location for an executive session to iron out issues that may have ignited the incident.
But as the saying goes, “he who fights and run away lives to fight another day” and so Speaker Edoror survived to fight his last fight last Tuesday in which he was vanquished by 16 lawmakers who impeached him along with his Deputy, Hon. Bright Osayande and also suspended them from the House.
A motion moved by the majority Leader of the House, Hon. Folly Ogedegbe was seconded by Hon. Patrick Iluobe representing Esan North East 1.
The motion which reads in parts, “We the under-listed and under-signed Honourable Members representing the various constituencies in the Edo State House of Assembly have on this day 3rd of May 2016 resolved to impeach our speaker, Hon. Chief Victor Edoror Tiger and the Deputy Speaker Hon. Osayande for acts of gross misconduct”, brought the 11 months Speakership of Victor Edoror to an end along with his Deputy, Bright Osayande.
What followed was mayhem, as thugs allegedly loyal to Edoror invaded the Assembly chambers, forcing lawmakers and others within the vicinity to flee for their lives.
Law enforcement personnel led by the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Chris Ezike had a hectic time bringing the situation under control, even as canisters of tear gas were fired to disperse the thugs.
The new Speaker and only female member of the Assembly, Rt. Hon Elizabeth Ativie representing Uhumwode Constituency, who along with her Deputy, Dr. Joseph Okonoboh addressed journalists shortly after the fracas, said the members could no longer tolerate the greedy nature of Edoror.
She alleged that the impeached speaker has up to six different financial cases with the EFCC and the members cannot continue to allow such indecent person to lead the House, adding that a five- member committee will investigate the financial recklessness of Edoror from June 2015 till May 3rd ,and if found wanting at the end of the three months when the
committee will submit their report, he will be handed over to the appropriate authority.
But Edoror is still laying claim to the speakership of the House, insisting that his impeachment was illegal, as according to him, it was done by only 11 members of the House. In the meantime, Governor Adams Oshiomhole is engaging the new Speaker, Elizabeth Ativie and her group of 16 lawmakers, as well as the impeached Speaker, Victor Edoror and his supporters.
Issues discussed at the first meeting Tuesday last week in Government House soon after the impeachment were not made public, but another meeting has been scheduled for today (Sunday) at the instance of the Governor.
Apparently learning from the mistakes of Edoror, the new Speaker, Ativie, has promised to run an open-door policy and carry all lawmakers along, adding “we will not allow cheating any more”.
She spoke while hosting the 16 lawmakers that took part in the impeachment of Edoror and another lawmaker, Hon. Osaigbovo Iyoha, representing Oredo East who joined the group last Wednesday.
Though the change of leadership at the Edo State House of Assembly has raised suspicion that it has been fuelled by the cold war between Governor Adams Oshiomhole and his Deputy, Dr. Pius Odubu, over the latter’s governorship ambition which the governor is said to be indisposed to, such suspicion was dismissed by the State Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Godwin Erhahon, who described the impeachment as “a coup and internal matter” to the Legislators over their welfare and other issues only the lawmakers know the details.
The change has however raised imbalance in the political equation of Edo State. Before the incident of Tuesday, there was a semblance of political balance in the state, with the Governor coming from Edo North, his Deputy from South while the impeached speaker was from Central Senatorial district.
The impeachment of Edoror has upset this arrangement, leaving the Central without one of the first three key political positions in the state.
The implication of the impeachment exercise for the Central Senatorial District would be worse if in September a Benin man emerges Governor of the State. It would mean that both the Governor and the Speaker would come from the South Senatorial District, as the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Ativie is from Edo South.
This scenario is likely to play out, as the two main political parties in the state, the ruling APC and the PDP are expected to field their governorship candidates from Edo South. Perhaps, when the time comes, an understanding will be reached to allow the Central have the Speaker back for equity sake, otherwise there will be agitation for balance from the Central.
No doubt, many things are bound to unfold from the impeachment exercise, and the days ahead will tell what to expect.