Since its inauguration on June 17, 2019, the Edo State House of Assembly has been engrossed in leadership crisis. Ten out of 24 members-elect were inaugurated, leaving 14 others in ‘the wilderness.’
The crisis was said to have started due to the supremacy battle between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, over who would pick the Speaker of the House.
It was learnt that while Obaseki wanted Frank Okiye, who represents Esan North-East constituency 1 as Speaker, Oshiomhole preferred former Speaker Victor Edoror, who was re-elected to represent Esan Central constituency.
The development led to the inauguration of 10 members-elect. The 14 members who were left out claimed they were not invited for the inauguration.
Subsequently, the 10 members who were inaugurated elected Frank Okiye as the Speaker of the House.
As the crisis raged on, the 14 members-elect moved to Abuja to seek help.
Interestingly, after being absent from sittings for the mandatory 180 days as required by law, the Speaker declared their seats vacant and the House told the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a by-election in the affected constituencies.
But the 14 members-elect challenged the decision of the House.
Instructively, few weeks to the recent governorship election, the 14 members-elect stormed the state and inaugurated themselves in a private residence, with the help of a retired clerk of the House.
Before the governorship election, the deputy to Okiye, Yekini Idiaye and two others joined the 14 members-elect and elected Victor Edoror as their Speaker.
The group thereafter impeached Speaker Frank Okiye and continued plenary in a private residence.
After the governorship election, seven of the 10 inaugurated members dumped the All Progressives Congress (APC) at plenary for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The defectors were Frank Okiye (Speaker); Roland Asoro; Ephraim Aluebhosele; Sunday Ojiezele; Henry Okhuarobor; Emma Okoduwa and Marcus Onobun.
But Emmanuel Agbaje, Yekini Idiaye and Nosa Okunbor remained members of the APC.
Okiye attributed their action to the desire of members to identify with Governor Godwin Obaseki, as well as the division and factions in the APC. He added that they joined the PDP so that they could perform their duties effectively as representatives of their constituencies.
Pundits were of the view that following the conclusion of the governorship election, there would be an end to the crisis in the House. But on October 12, the House entered another round of crisis with the impeachment of Speaker Okiye over financial impropriety, and subsequently elected Marcus Onobun as new Speaker.
The House also placed the impeached Speaker under a three-month suspension to allow room for investigation.
The new Speaker thereafter dissolved the standing committees of the House and relieved all the appointees of their positions.
Dramatically, Okiye presided over his impeachment. It was learnt that after he introduced the business of the day during plenary, Henry Okhuarobo, member representing Ikpoba-Okha, moved a motion for his impeachment as Speaker. The motion was said to have been seconded by the member representing Akoko-Edo I, Yekini Idaiye.
Daily Trust Saturday learnt that there was no resistance from Okiye, who simply parked his belongings and walked out of the plenary.
According to findings by Daily Trust Saturday, there had been animosity among members of the House before the September 19 governorship election in the state.
It was alleged that the crisis was as a result of the belief by members that the governor ought to have given them money after winning the election. They accused the impeached Speaker of being ‘too soft’ with him.
It was also alleged that Okiye consistently told them that each time he met with the governor he always assured that he would give them the money. They were not satisfied with how the former Speaker handled the situation, hence they planned his impeachment.
But few days after the impeachment, the House, during an emergency plenary, revised it to resignation and lifted the three-month suspension.