The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo state yesterday took a new dimension as the state of House of Assembly last night held its inaugural sitting amid tight security with only nine members loyal to the state governor, Godwin Obaseki sworn-in.
15 members loyal to the national chairman of the party and a former governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole were absent at the sitting of the 7th Assembly that commenced at about 9:30pm. The members present were Hon. Nosa Okunbor; Hon. Henry Okuarobo; Hon. Uyi Ekhosuehi; Hon. Marcus Onobun; Hon. Ephraim Anehbosele; Hon. Roland Asoro; Hon. Eric Okaka; Hon Frank Okiye and Hon Yekini Idiaye. The nine members were ushered in to the Assembly by the clerk of the House, Audu Yahaya Omogbai who began the proceedings after he read the proclamation letter transmitted to him by Obaseki.
The members-elect unanimously elected Frank Okiye representing Esan North East Constituency 1 Speaker and Mr. Yekini Idiaye representing Akoko Edo Constituency 1 his deputy. The other members were sworn in by the newly elected presiding members. Okiye urged the other members-elect absent at the inauguration to speedily complete their assets declaration forms so that they can be sworn in.
He said, “It is with the deepest sense of humility that I receive this call to serve the people and I assure that I will do all in my power to serve their best interest at all times. I congratulate my colleagues and fellow members who are today inaugurated and urge other members-elect who are yet to meet up with the requirements for inauguration to do so without delay so they can join this honorable house in the discharge of its responsibilities.”
The House quickly adjourned till July 17, 2019 following a motion raised by the speaker to enable the Assembly allocate office accommodation and logistics that will assist the new members settle down and commence their legislative duties.
Roland Asoro representing Orhionwon South Constituency was appointed to chair the committee that will oversee the allocation of accommodation and logistics.
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Earlier on Monday, the members-elect loyal to the Oshiomhole faction held a press conference at the NUJ press centre in Benin city the state capital demanding proclamation by governor Obaseki for immediate inauguration of the House. The members led by Barr. Washington Osa Osifo, representing Uhumwonde constituency, accused Obaseki of trying to usurp the powers of the house by deliberately delaying its inauguration.
He said, “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.
“The governor, by virtue of Section 105 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (as amended), is constitutionally required to immediately issue a letter of proclamation for the inauguration of the new Assembly to avoid vacuum.”
“All other states of the federation have inaugurated their Houses of assembly, Governor Godwin Obaseki has deliberately refused to allow that of Edo state to function thus usurping the power of the legislators.
“The Governor no matter how powerful, cannot impose individuals either as speaker or deputy on the legislators. At best, he can only lobby for his preferred candidate as was recently witnessed at the national assembly”.
19 members-elect attended the press conference and signed a communique, however, at the inauguration last night, Nosa Okunbor, Eric Okaka,Ephraim and Anehbosele were in attendance and were sworn in.
The House was initially billed to be inaugurated on Monday June, 10 2019 but the governor sensing that he does not have the numbers to produce the presiding officers failed to transmit the proclamation letter.
The crisis in the state chapter of the party is over who will fly the party’s flag at the 2020 gubernatorial election in the state. Obaseki fell out with his immediate predecessor, and godfather Oshiomhole who is alleged to be scheming to replace the governor with another candidate. Oshiomhole plans to give Obaseki the Akinwunmi Ambode treatment next year but it is yet to be seen if such will be possible in the state.