By Emmanuel Oladesu, Deputy Editor
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) are locked in a supremacy battle in the Edo State House of Assembly.
Seventeen APC lawmakers stormed the House to pull the rug off the feet of Speaker Francis Okiye. In a twinkle of an eye, he was removed.
But, the ‘former Speaker’ kicked against the procedure, saying that it ran foul of the law. He said he had 10 members behind him, maintaining that those who paraded themselves as lawmakers and invaded the House were not recognised by the Constitution.
Okiye said their seats had been declared vacant.
But, the 17 lawmakers disagreed, pointing out that they had reclaimed their seats, following their inauguration in the House by the new Speaker, Victor Edoror, in the morning.
Thursday was a sad day in Edo. The parliament, which is the representative organ and the anchor of popular rule, was in pains.
Embattled Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, rushed to the House to behold its bastardisation.
The House became a theatre of the absurd. Its entrance and exit gates were barricaded with sand and granite. Some thugs were trying to remove the roof of the Assembly building. There was commotion.
Okiye said the House, under his leadership, had adjourned till Monday. Edoror said he has been derobed and therefore, should be ignored.
There was a clash of strategies. The House became a casualty of the preparations for the titanic governorship. Peace is not likely to return to the hallowed chamber until the poll is over.
Tragedy hit the House last year, shortly after the state parliamentary elections. The rift between the former godfather, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and his aggrieved godson, Obaseki, tore the lawmakers-elect apart. They were polarised into pro-Obaseki and pro-Oshiomhole forces.
The hitherto united political family had split. The bone of contention was the choice of the Speaker when the House was inaugurated on July 10, last year. Oshiomhole commanded the loyalty of majority. But, he is an ex-governor with predictable limitations. In the night, Obaseki issued a proclamation on June 14. Only seven lawmakers were inaugurated on June 17. They elected Okiye as Speaker.
The pro-Oshiomhole lawmakers raised a serious objection. But, the House became a no-go area for security reasons. The excluded lawmakers cried out that their constituencies were denied representation. They mounted pressure on the governor to issue a new proclamation. The governor did not oblige them. He said it as illegal.
As tension engulfed the House, the National Assembly tried to intervene. Obaseki rejected their modalities for reconciliation, believing that the Senate and House of Representatives had taken sides in the crisis.
Later, he was strengthened by a Port-Harcourt High Court, which forbade him from repeating the proclamation.
To the camp of Obaseki, the pro-Oshiomhole lawmakers harboured a dangerous plot to impeach him. Therefore, he needed a cooperative Speaker for political security.
But, the strategy did not abort the plot to deny him the APC ticket for a second term.
Will Edoror resume duties today or next Monday at the House? Is pandemonium not imminent?
From last month when the governor defected to the PDP, the plot to take the House of Assembly from his armpit had thickened.
The defection also heralded a crisis of confidence and ultimate realignment of forces. The new permutations in the ‘House of Commotion’ led to the impeachment of Yekini Idiaye as deputy speaker.
What the governor feared may come upon the House. As the hullabaloo persists, the APC-dominated National Assembly may bare its fangs and eventually take over its functions.
Obaseki and Shaibu are talking tough. What is paramount to the APC is to distract the governor at this critical time of election. A divided legislature is a liability to the state. But, a majority House controlled by the opposition will also give him a nightmare.
There is no certainty about where the pendulum will eventually swing. The end of the crisis cannot be predicted. Both camps can only sleep with one eye closed.
The greatest disadvantage to Edo is that governance will be at standstill amid the persistent legislative/executive feud.