SPEAKER of Edo State House of Assembly, Mrs Elizabeth Ativie resigned her office on Monday, giving way for her deputy, Dr Justin Okonobo, to assume duty as the new speaker. Okonoboh is the member representing Igueben constituency under the All Progressives Congress, APC. Ativie in her remark on the floor of the assembly said that she was stepping down for the good of the state and that such sacrifice was not too much for her to pay. The new speaker, Okonoboh thereafter was sworn-in as speaker and Ativie as deputy, after 18 lawmakers gave their support to the change of guard in the Assembly. In an address, the new speaker promised to run an all-inclusive government that would not leave anybody out. The resignation of Ativie, who represents Uhumwonode constituency, is seen as part of a move by the ruling APC to redistribute political offices among the three senatorial zones of the state. It was gathered that some APC leaders expressed reservation on the emergence of Okonoboh as speaker, as he is largely seen as a political godson of a PDP leader, Chief Tom Ikimi. The APC leaders were said to have approached a two-time PDP lawmaker from Esan Northeast to defect to the APC and become speaker, but the lawmaker was said to have informed them that he was not interested in becoming speaker under the APC. In reaction, a former minority leader of the assembly, Hob Broderick Itua said the APC in Edo was playing with its political fortunes, describing the action of the APC in removing Ativie as medicine after death. “In politics such cannot work because the people are politically conscious; it amounts to playing on the intelligence of Esan people. We do not want Speaker. We deserve the governorship but since Edo South has that the next office is deputy. The arrangement will fail.” Meanwhile, the Uhunmwonde Youths Association, UYA, has condemned the decision of the APC and Governor Adams Oshiomhole to sacrifice Mrs Ativie, the first female speaker of the state assembly, on political grounds. In a statement, chairman of the UYA, Mr Osas Ogiehor said with the turn of events youths of Uhunmwonde would have no other option than to vote against the APC in the September 10 governorship election in the state. “I am an APC leader in my local government but that will not stop me from telling the truth. We will ambush the APC in Uhunmwode…with that rubbish of taking away our speakership. What else does Uhunmwode have apart from this speakership?” According to the youth leader, “We will declare Ativie a persona non grata if she repeats her known treachery by selling her speakership for money and resigning from that office. Watch out what we shall be doing immediately she makes this mistake,” he vowed. Observers say the new arrangement at the Assembly was a design by the APC to balance the equation in Edo politics, after the governor picked the party’s running mate from Edo North instead of central.
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