Nigeria: Edo Assembly Crisis Robs Constituents of Representation

June 17, 2020, will be a year since the Edo State House of Assembly was inaugurated.

However, only 10 members out of the 24 members-elect were inaugurated and have been piloting the affairs of the assembly over past 11 months on account of crisis.

The assembly was inaugurated by the clerk of the House after receiving a proclamation letter from Governor Godwin Obaseki.

Currently, 14 members-elect cannot make laws, as they are yet to be inaugurated due to supremacy battle between the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Obaseki.

The members-elects who have not been sworn-in include Gani Audu, Chris Okaeben, Sunday Aghedo, Victor Edoror, Washington Osa Osifo, Michael Ohio-Ezomo and Crosby Eribo.

Others are Seid Oshiomhole; Vincent Osa Uwadiae, Ahmed Waziri Oshomah, Kingsley Ugabi, and Ugiagbe Dumez.

Besides the seats of the 12 lawmakers who have not been inaugurated, those of two others who reportedly absconded from seating without reasons upon inauguration have also been declared vacant by the Speaker of the House.

Declaring their seats vacant, the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Frank Okiye noted that the members-elect whose seats have been declared vacant no longer have seats in the assembly.

Prior to the inauguration of the house, Oshiomhole and Obaseki had locked-horn in a battle of wits on who produces the speaker of the house.

It was gathered that while Obaseki wanted Frank Okiye as speaker, Adams Oshiomhole preferred Victor Edoro as the speaker.

It was also learnt that the members-elect were caught in the web of the supremacy tussle resulting in the inauguration of 10 members believed to be loyal to the governor while the others who are Oshiomhole's loyalists were shut out.

Meanwhile a staff of the assembly who pleaded not to be named said the absentees members-elects are not entitled to any allowances and salary as they are not members of the house since they have not been inaugurated.

However, the members-elects whose seats were declared vacant said they were being persecuted for insisting that the right thing must be done for the betterment of the state.

One of the members-elects, representing Etsako Central Constituency, Ahmed Oshiomah, said he was not happy not being able to represent his constituency at the state house of assembly over the past 11 months.

"This is the first time I have the opportunity to be voted for by my constituents to represent them but I am being denied of it.

"I am not coming into politics to enrich myself or acquired property but to help the downtrodden and the less privilege which I am being denied of it," he said.

He however called on his constituents to be patient, saying "there is light at the end of the tunnel."

Another affected lawmaker, Chris Okaeben, who represents Oredo East, said "none of the 14 members-elects is happy that they can't represent their constituencies after being voted for.

"As it is now, our constituents are all disenfranchised. We have been disenfranchised too. The governor and his cohorts have been preventing us from being inaugurated but we are on the path of truth," he said.

Also speaking, Washington Osifo, representing Oredo West constituency, described the development as "a coup against his people" and his capacity to bring governance and dividends of democracy to his people.

Osifo noted that their rights to the house was nonnegotiable having won their election like the governor.

Some of the constituents who spoke to Daily Trust on Sunday expressed worries that the crisis has robbed them of representation in the assembly.

One of the constituents, lucky Isibor said the constituencies and constituents whose members-elects were not inaugurated don't have a voice at the house.

"When budget comes for deliberation, their inputs for their constituents will not be there because the constituents' inputs do go through their representatives," he said.

On his part, Edosa Okunbor, a constituent of Oredo West constituency, described the development as unfortunate situation as no one expected the crisis to be so prolonged.

After declaring the seat of the 14 member-elects vacant, the house urged the INEC to conduct by-election and the members-elect whose seats were declared vacant went to Court and the case is still in Court.

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