The Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Mrs. Elizabeth Ativie, has stepped down from the role. She was replaced by the Deputy Speaker, Dr. Justin Okonoboh, by 18 out of the 24 members of the House and sworn in at about 11am on Monday.
Ativie was earlier sworn in on May 3 when her predecessor, Victor Edoror, was controversially impeached.
Speaker Ativie decided to step down after a motion was moved by the Majority Leader, Folly Ogedengbe, under matters of urgent public importance, for a change in the leadership of the House.
Ogedengbe explained that the change was necessary to ensure fairness in the political system, so that the three senatorial districts would be represented.
The incumbent State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, hails from Edo North senatorial district while his deputy, Dr. Pius Odubu, and Ativie hail from Edo South.
Okonoboh represents Igueben constituency in Edo Central senatorial district. Rules 1(2), 20, 22 and 73 of the House were relaxed before the member representing Owan East asked Ativie to step down for the Igueben lawmaker to assume office while she took office as his deputy.
Ogedengbe said: “I’m going to move that there is a change of leadership in the House in order that this state moves forward, that there will be fairness and equity in the system, that the three senatorial districts will be properly accommodated. I am going to move with a heavy heart.
“I move, therefore, that the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Mrs. Elizabeth Ativie, should step down and assume office as Deputy Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly and that the Deputy Speaker, Dr. Justin Okonoboh, be promoted as the new Speaker.”
He had noted that 17 members had supported the change of leadership. But 18 members stood up for identification in support of the motion, which was seconded by the member representing Oredo West, Chris Okaeben.
While accepting the change, Ativie said that her short stay in office recorded tremendous achievements as the members worked as a team. Ativie commended the lawmakers for giving her the opportunity to serve and urged them to accord same to her successor.
She said, “Although this is a huge a difficult sacrifice to make, I believe that it should be done for the sake of the people of Edo State. No sacrifice will be too big to pay in meeting the yearning aspirations of or people, who elected us to this House.
“Today, I bury my pride and my ambition for the general good of the people and the state, through which I emerged as a legislator.”
On his part, Okonoboh said that his emergency was a result of wide consultations within the All Progressives Congress He noted that the new development was a House matter that was devoid of any interference from the governor.
He commended Ativie for her willingness to step down in a manner unprecedented in the entire country, vowing that all her appointments would remain valid.