The Majority Leader of Edo State House of Assembly, Mr. Henry Okhuarobo, representing Ikpoba-Okha Constituency, has revealed how the All Progressives Congress, APC members-elect who are yet to be inaugurated allegedly took oath with the intention to cause Civil strife against constituted authority in the State.
The Lawmaker however did not give details of where the meeting was held before the house was proclaimed on June 17, 2019 while fielding questions from newsmen on the two years anniversary of the 7th Assembly.
He was elected along with all the other 23 members on the platform of APC before he defected to the Peoples Democratic party, PDP after the incumbent governor of the State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, lost his bid to secure APC nomination for the second time to contest the September 19, 2021 Governorship election in Edo State.
Recall that in December 2019, the leadership of the State House of Assembly, declared seats of the lawmakers vacant by the House led by former speaker of the Assembly, Mr. Frank Okiye for being absent from the House proceedings for the mandatory 181 days.
The members-elect who were elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019 are Vincent Uwadiae, Ovia North-East II; Ugiagbe Dumez, Ovia North-East I; Washington Osifo, Uhunmwode; Victor Edoror, Esan Central; Kingsley Ugabi, Etsako East and Michael Ohio-Ezomo, Owan West, all who were unavailable when the 7th Assembly was proclaimed on June 17, 2019 by the Governor, have being at add over a range of issues including the proclamation letter which speculated to have been dogged in controversy.
Also affected are Sunday Aghedo, Ovia South-West; Chris Okaeben, Oredo West; Crosby Eribo, Egor; Aliyu Oshiomhole, Etsako West II; Oshomah Ahmed, Etsako Central and Ganiyu Audu, Etsako West I alongside two Lawmakers, Mr. Uyi Ekhosuehi and Mr. Eric Okaka representing Oredo East and Owan East Constituency for failing to meet the mandatory 180 sitting days as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).
Speaking further, Okhuarobo explained that the table of negotiation to consider the Principal officers of the legislative arm collapsed when they discovered that the former Chairmen of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, held a private meeting with some members-elect oversea. He thereafter said it became obvious that danger was looming ahead and decided not to let down their guard.
The Majority Leader said: “As at the time we expected the former Governor of the State to come, we got information that he had travelled overseas to attend to family matters. Of course, the leadership of APC in Edo State led by the State and leaders of the party eventually started taken charge of the process yo install the leadership of the Assembly. In the end, positions wee shared and we were told that there was a gentleman understanding as demonstrated in the national Assembly.
“But immediately we emerged as winners in our second tenure, as a second tenure member and former Deputy Leader of the 6th Assembly, in the build up to the inauguration of the 7th Assembly, there was apparent division. Members of the State House of Assembly, started hearing all sorts of nocturnal meetings that some persons chose the way that they would work and are not ready to work with the head of Government in Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki. As the Legislature, we are part of the government”.
According to him, “The division in the Legislative arm of government appears to be a minor thing. As time went bye, we read in Newspapers that some members have taken oath to work against certain interest. So, it became a news to some of us because as a member of the Parliament, the only oath we subscribed to is to defend the Constitution and serve the purpose I was elected. That is the only oath that I know that was decent and reasonable.
“The apparent division has began before the inauguration of the 7th State House of Assembly. It became clearer in the month of June 2019 which was the month of the inauguration, we saw all the APC Governors joined the national Chairman of APC under the leadership of Comrade Oshiomhole, united to form a formidable leadership for the national Assembly.
“Eventually, the leadership of those Legislative bodies were elected. We expected that we in Edo State, will have our House haven seen the temporary delay in the national Assembly inauguration for about four days.
“Party Caucuses do take position in politics to avoid confusion among inaugurated members. That has been the tradition and custom of politics especially when the House is to be inaugurated for the first time after a general election. Usually, after an election, members of Parliament can do whatever they want with the leadership of the House thereafter if they feel otherwise.
“As we progressed when the leadership of the party in Edo State saw our inability of the former national Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to arrive at a consensus and settle the issues, we became aware through the Clerk of the House of Assembly, that our letter of inauguration was ready for our inaugurated.
“On the same day, we heard that the other set of lawmakers were already having a Press Conference at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Centre, Benin while some of us were taken aback.
We likened their action as suspicious and affirmation of reports of their nocturnal meetings. We began to watch until midday. Eventually inauguration took place at about 3:30p.m on June 17, 2019 and we had very clear thought that those who were missing out will join us immediately. Our number was fluctuating then until the number rose to 12 at the time of our inauguration. 12 of us eventually took our inauguration oath after that very day.
“In the next few days, it became clearer that some members of the House who attended the Press briefing joined us at the inauguration which reduced their number from 19 out of the 24. Consequently, words went round that the House has been inaugurated in that same day. During that time, many houses of Assembly were being inaugurated.
“After our inaugurated. I emerged the Chief Whip by the leadership of the party which my colleague graciously consented. We started legislative business after that it became clear that some members-elect felt that they were not going to be a member of the State House of Assembly.
“I want to put it on record that they did all sorts of things to undermine the House of Assembly. From taken the House of Assembly to court to holding nocturnal meetings. They also dragged us to virtually all television stations across the world by employing all tactics to undermine and turn the House of Assembly to a place of Civil strife. This became out battle.
“It is also on record that the Assembly crisis snowballed to the State Governorship crisis. This dragged on and the incumbent Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki was disqualified by the party (APC) that qualified him years ago to run for Governorship crisis election. He eventually found himself in PDP which gave him nomination ticket to run
“He thereafter contested the September 19, 2020 election and won with over 85,000 votes. Governor Obaseki’s victory was a referendum in our march to freedom in Edo State.
“Remember that during the cause of waiting for our elsewhile colleagues, it became expedient that they will not be able to meet up with the Constitutional mandatory date for sitting. Upon that, the Assembly thought it wise to out itself in order and the seats of the members-elect were declared vacant. It also became a matter for litigation and the Assembly pronounced that what we did was right in the face of the law.
*How has Edo State 7th Assembly felt since the last two years?
“Well, it has been wonderful perhaps because we were born out of crisis. This is my second term as a Lawmaker. We have become stronger and smarter and more versatile in the legislative world. It has also given us dignity of house Legislators work and we are richer in knowledge and experience for it”
“In addition, if you go across the State, the situation is calm across all sectors from Education, Employment, Agriculture, Civil Service and tax collection. There were a lot of interventions including land administration reform. Who can better drive the new order of government? Having a legislation in place is a big achievement to us and our State”.
*What is your duty as the Majority Leader of Edo State House of Assembly?
“Accordingly, the job of Majority Leader of Assembly is to bridge bridge and the Legislature. Whether you call him a Unionist when he is fighting for his colleagues or you call him the Governor’s right hand man when he is fighting for the Governor. The leader of the Assembly encapsulates the struggle of House of Assembly.
“So, that has become my lot since the last few months, which has helped be think deeper that the 7th Assembly had passed a lot of things. As I speak, we have about seven more bills are in the offing. We had also passed over 18 bills and passed many motions for the good governance of this State. In the end, the 7th Assembly, has been wonderful for Edo people”
*What are the achievements of the House of Assembly since the last two years?
“My score for the 7th Assembly to the struggle of the Israelites who before 1948 found a new Country and were surrounded by enemies at
all corners. Inspite of it, Israel is perhaps the most prosperous nation on earth today. If you look at her desert land, has become productive. It is prosperous because you want to fly into Israel, you fly into enemy territory in and out. In addition, Israel is prosperous because she knew that even if God is on her side, they are vigilant than others. So, those of us in the 7th Assented haven found ourselves to be 10 members instead of 24, we have done our very best by performing excellently well.
“We can hardly travel or take holiday because we are few. Therefore when a member is missing at plenary, you will easily know. Above all, there is a security situation in Nigeria. All these have out us in some level of difficulties. But in the end, God strengthened us and gave us good health when we all fell sick. During the outbreak of Covid-19, our former speaker felt sick and thereafter some other members of the Assembly also felt sick mysteriously, but we took medication and survived”.
*Do you think political solution is one of the options towards resolving the Edo Assembly crisis as it concerns members-elect seats that have been declared vacant?
“I have heard some people suggest political solution as away of Constituencies as a way of accommodating members-elect. It is not Ikpoba-Okha or Egor State House of Assembly that is the Legislature, it is Edo State House of Assembly. I want to assure you that there is no Constituency in the State that is suffering lack of representation. The Governor is also Governor of Edo State including Edo South, Edo North and Edo Central Senatorial district. Far from it. We have taken up the responsibility responsibility to represent the unrepresented Constituencies.
“The political solution to possibly reinstate what does not exist is like brining back aborted pregnancy. If a tree is uprooted, you can’t bring it back. It is different if branches are cut off or suffers temporary damage. The damage so far is irrevocable. I gave you a chronology of what happened. It is likened to a deliberate intention. So, it was contrived move and cannot be wished away. The consequence of it must be faced as well.
“Political solution existed when we were waiting for them. When their seats were declared vac can’t before it even became a matter for court, if they had may be tried political solution, there would have been hope. But on what law will that stand. In clearly established principles of law, the House cannot make mistake. It is a well though-out principles”, Mr. Okhuarobo said.