There was palpable tension and anxiety at the Edo State House of Assembly, Monday morning, when the lawmakers convened for their legislative duties, as stern-looking security operatives cordoned off the Assembly Complex.
The House however made history, following the swearing-in of the first female Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Elizabeth Ativie.
A combined team of security operatives made up of operatives of Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Security and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, apparently to forestall a possible break down of law and order.
Over than 10 Hilux patrol vehicles and an armoured personnel carrier were strategically positioned around the complex.
Aitivie, the only female lawmaker in the House emerged the first ever female Speaker since the democratic dispensation of the House from the defunct Midwest region to Bendel and Edo States.
Aitivie emerged the 15th speaker of the House from the defunct Midwest region to the present Edo state.
The election of the principal officers came shortly after administered of oath of office on the new speaker by the clerk of the house, Lawson Ugiagbe
The House also announced the lifting of suspension earlier placed on the impeached former Speaker, Victor Edoror who was present at the plenary session.
Ativie’s emergence as Speaker followed the impeachment of the former Speaker of the House, Hon. Victor Edoror and his Deputy, Bright Osayande, last Tuesday over alleged financial recklessness, high-handedness, dictatorial tendencies among others.
The House also elected new Principal Officers and new heads of House Committees shortly after administered of oath of office on the new Speaker by the Clerk of the House, Lawson Ugiagbe.
The member representing Owan East Constituency, Mr. Foly Ogedengbe, retained his position as the Majority Leader.
Kabiru Adjoto ( Akoko Edo I, APC) was elected as the new Chief Whip, replacing Sunday Aghedo (Ovia South-West, APC), while Henry Okhuarobo (Ikpoba-Okha) was elected as Deputy Leader.
Audu Ganiyu (Etsako West I) and Patrick Iluobe (Esan North-East, PDP) were elected as Deputy Whip and Minority Leader, respectively, while Crosby Eribo (Egor, APC) and Ugabi Kingsley (Etsako East) were appointed as co-opted members.
In her inaugural speech, the Speaker noted that “history has been made in the Edo State House of Assembly as by the power of God and the pleasure of my very distinguished colleagues, I have been chosen as the first female Speaker of the House, a position which the entire women of Edo state and the world at large are so pleased.
“I wish to reiterate that all political appointees or appointment of the former Speaker stand terminated. That is how it has been in the past and even the letters given to them have always stated that they will leave with Speaker. So, it is not a new thing that we are doing. So, they stand terminated.
“In the spirit of oneness, in the spirit of breaking new grounds and working harder and in the spirit of reconciliation, I wish to announce that the suspension of the honourable member representing Esan Central, Victor Edoror, is hereby lifted. So, he can come in and join us in business of the development of our fatherland.”
She assured the Executive arm of government of the House continue collaboration to collectively transform the State towards making it the envy of all as well as promulgate laws that will uplift the living standard of the people of State.
The House also passed a resolution to extend its business calendar for the fourth quarter (first session) of the sixth Assembly to May 18, 2016, bringing the total number of days for the session to 203.
Order 20, 21 and 22 of the Standing Order of the House were suspended to enable the extension so as to “complete some very urgent assignments” while sitting was later adjourned to May 10, 2016.
In an interview with journalists, the former Speaker, Edoror said he has accepted the decision of the party to maintain the current leadership of House.
He said, “As far as I am concerned, I am very pleased with members of the Edo State House of Assembly. I give them kudos for giving me the opportunity to lead them for one year. But it is another opportunity for them to test another leadership. In about two, three months, they will begin to compare. But I wish them well.
“I wish the new Speaker well. I wish members of the Edo State House of Assembly well and, above all, I wish the people of Edo State (well) because the party that I belong to, the government that I belong to, we have met and have resolved that it should be so and so be it.
And in the spirit of sportsmanship, I think in this game there is no victor no vanquished.”
Meanwhile, the Political Adviser to Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, Charles Idahosa, has advised governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-South region to stop dissipating energy in plotting to recapture Edo state for the PDP in the September 10 governorship election in the state.
Idahosa who was reacting to the last Sunday’s meeting of the PDP governors in Asaba where they vowed to return Edo state to the PDP during the September w0 governorship election, said the governors should rather think about how to development in their various states with the huge resources accrued to them.
According to the APC leader, the PDP governors will be chasing shadows if they think they can win Edo.
“They failed to win her even when Jonathan was here, with all their rigging machine so is it now they think they can win. They will be slaughtered.
“Their boast is very laughable and a huge joke because they suddenly realized that Edo state is a state that they must win by all means. It is so strange that they are just waking up from their slumber to realize that they want to take over Edo state considering the fact that for eight years, all the instrument of rigging, all the instrument of oppression that they had, they were unable to take Edo state.
“Now because they have failed in the governance of their state with all the back log of their salaries in their state they now want to divert attention to Edo. They must first of all rescue their states and put them back on the part of progress and development like Edo state before talking about winning. It is even more laughable because if not for the strange Supreme Court judgment they would all have gone.
“Let me tell them, Edo state is not Bayelsa or Rivers State where Wike thinks he is a super star. The whole world knew how the governorship election in that state was rigged. The South South PDP should shut up. This will be another wide goose chase, but we are waiting for them in Edo state. We are aware they are planning to import ex-militants to come and rig for them in Edo state but they will meet their waterloo.
“The Binis are not an easy prey, so we are waiting for them. They can give all their stolen money to their candidate in Edo we are waiting. No governor in the South South has any moral justification to talk about Edo state instead they should come and learn how Oshiomhole has successfully ruled Edo state so far. They should be ashamed with all that transpired with INEC officials, how they massively rigged elections in their favour,” he said.