By Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu
BENIN CITY – ON June 7, the Seventh Edo State House of Assembly will be inaugurated bringing to an end the very dramatic Sixth assembly that produced four speakers within its four years life span and also produced the first female speaker in the person of Mrs Elizabeth Ativie which is the first in the history of Mid-West, Bendel State before the state was split into Edo and Delta states.
The Sixth assembly had as speakers: Hon Victor Edoror, Mrs Elizabeth Ativie, Justin Okonobo and the out-going Kabiru Adjoto.
The frequency of the change of leadership in the assembly was largely due to alleged mistrust among members, corruption and high handedness.
The development has also distorted the tripod arrangement in the state where the first three positions were shared among the three senatorial districts of the state. But as it is constituted now, Edo Central Senatorial District seems short-changed as it currently has the Deputy Speaker while Edo North has the Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu and the current Speaker, Hon Kabiru Adjoto while Edo South Senatorial District has the governor of the state, Mr Godwin Obaseki.
Edo Central’s claim
Party faithful and political analysts are of the opinion that the issue of the tripod should be corrected in the next assembly which indicates that the Speaker should come from Edo Central.
Vanguard reliably gathered that horse trading, consultations and lobbying has already begun on who should become the next Speaker. And there is a consensus among party leaders that the tripod should be restored. From Edo central are three ranking lawmakers who are scheming to become the next Speaker.
These three include Hon Victor Edoror representing Esan Central and currently the Deputy Speaker but is on suspension. Former Majority Leader, Hon Frank Okiye representing Esan North East I, and former Minority Leader Emmanuel Okoduwa representing Esan North East II.
Zoning of other slots
Vanguard also gathered that Deputy Speaker would be zoned to Edo North and most probably to Owan West Constituency which is believed to be disadvantaged presently in terms of occupying top political office positions. Hon Michael Ohio-Ezomo won his election to represent the constituency for a second term.
The position of the Majority Leader it was gathered would be zoned to Edo South.
Among the three contenders for the number three seat, Okiye seemed to be the most favoured among party leaders as he is believed to be level headed, composed and calculative.
It is believed that his experience as a former Majority Leader and later Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Adams Oshiomhole have already given him an insight into the workings of the executive arm of government.
It would be recalled that Okiye was among the few Esan political leaders that delivered his unit and Ward in both the 2016 governorship elections that produced Godwin Obaseki and also the last presidential elections despite the fact that he is from a very strong PDP stronghold in Edo central.
A close party leader confided in Vanguard that “The three of them are eminently qualified. Okoduwa is cool and calm, he is not very experienced and his political sagacity is not tested as such. Edoror is also capable and very experienced”
Edoror is currently on suspension and when he was Speaker, and then Deputy Speaker he was impeached. “We do not know if he has changed and how colleagues will view his aspirations. You know the Governor is not a dictator however he is very serious with issues that has to do with anti-corruption and strict management of resources hence you could see how successful Adjoto is as speaker since 2017 till date because he seems to study the body language of the Executive arm of government even though many people thought Adjoto was not from Esan (Edo Central)” he said.
As for Okiye, the top party leader said “he seems experienced and cool headed. He was majority leader and also very strong in PDP politics before he was appointed as deputy chief of staff to Edo state under Oshiomhole. Recall he was removed as majority leader and not impeached due to change in numerical strength against the PDP then.”
The party leader also described Okiye as mature and generally acceptable by political interests in the APC but also said that “he has to earn the confidence of majority of the members of the House, and also the Esan agenda has to be properly situated. Recall he is also from the late Chief Tony Anenih political dynasty and his emergence will be welcomed by that group and make him strike a balance between the old PDP in Esan and the emerging political force led by the likes of John Inegbedion, Joe Okojie, Juju man and others like Colonel Imuse (Rtd).”
The position of Governor Godwin Obaseki on the matter is not yet known as he has been quiet but it is believed that he would tow the line of majority of party leaders.
One of his senior aides said: “Obaseki could be willing to work with any of them that emerges as speaker but one thing I know is that he won’t impose anybody but stability of the House and integrity of leadership will be key at this time. The party decision is also supreme and Mr Governor will likely encourage the party to have a say. You know Mr Governor is a party man to the core.”