Firm, The Edo Tripod Now Stands
By Ebomhiana Musa
A major political development took place in Edo State Monday, July 25, 2016. The leadership of the ruling party in the state, the All Progressive Congress, APC in collaboration with the state house of assembly had to effect a change in leadership of the house.
Some said it was not a change of leadership but a swap of leadership position whereby the erstwhile Speaker, Rt Hon Elizabeth Ativie had to swap position with her deputy, Dr Justin Okonobo. Whether it was a swap of position or change of leadership, it’s all semantics because the end justifies the means. The bottom line here is that the pains of a people have been assuaged. For me, the most important thing here is that the tripod on which Edo State stands politically is no longer tilting to the disadvantage of a critical section of the state. The tripod now stands well!
To some extend, the Esan people, the second largest single ethnic group in the state after the Binis now have a feel of governance, their pride has been returned, their sense of belonging restored.
However, one must not lose sight of the fact that the hero of all these is Rt Hon Elizabeth Ativie. She has made a huge and uncommon sacrifice for the sake of the people of Edo State and her party, the APC. She has subsumed her personal interest, ego and comfort for the general good. For this, I strongly believe she deserves special commendation as an amazon of demcracy.
As an honourable member, Ativie honourably stepped down from her exalted position as the number three figure in Edo State and head of the legislative arm of government after about two and a half months in office. This is a rare action in this climes where it is unAfrican for a leader to step down or resign from an exalted political office except through the barrel of the gun. Political leaders, especially head of an arm of government prefer to either die or force out of office rather than leave or step down honourable. So, Madam Elizabeth Ativie deserves a medal.
However whatever way one looks at it, she has not really lost out in this political chess game called politricks. History would readily record her as the first female to head an arm of government in the entire South South geopolitical zone of the country. So, for her, I see it as a win win situation.
The other group of persons deserving commendation are the legislators themselves. Credit must be given to the 17 lawmakers cutting across the three senatorial zones of the state that appended their signatures thereby giving effect to the “swapping of positions”.
They have demonstrated courage and they have showed that they are capable of leaving above ethnic, religious, and clanish sentiments in the face of crisis. Without any form of inducement or prompting by external factors, according to the speaker( in her valedictory speech), these patriotic men of valour did the needful to balance the tilting political tripod in the state.
But for their courage and understanding, the House and indeed the state would have been thrown into another round of political tumour in an attempt to effect a change of leadership in the legislative arm of government.
For the APC, it would have been a bad story for some obvious reasons. The opposition would have quickly lashed in on it to make an issue out of it on the field of campaign. So, like Madam Deputy Speaker, these 17 gallant men deserve to be celebrated too.
In his acceptance speech, the new speaker thanked his colleagues for considering him worthy of the position, promising not to betray the trust.
But one point stood out prominently in all that he said. That is, all the standing committees in the house remain unchallenged. As the first amongst equals, I believe the speaker realises the fact that he is only privileged to head the chamber because having been elected and sworn in as members of the 6th legislative assembly,all the 24 honourable members are qualified and fit to be speaker.
As an astute politician there is no doubting the fact that Mr Speaker knows that a major banana peel in any legislative chamber is the constitution of standing committees. He may have cleverly avoided this sleepry terrain and allow the status que ante to remain.
Wisdom, they say, is the better part of valour. Another interesting angle to this development in the house was the fact that the emergence of Rt Hon Justin Okonobo has dymistified the age-long convention that it’s only the “ranking members” that can aspire to be principal officers of the House. Henceforth the issue of first timer no longer hold water. A precedence has been set and a very strong and loud one at that.
There is no other way of deepening our democracy than this. History will surely record these members of Edo 6th Assembly on the positive side.