Edo voters have been urged to come out en masse on Saturday, March 18 to reject lawmakers who were voted into the Edo State House of Assembly by their constituents in 2016 but absconded and failed to be inaugurated thereby denying their constituents quality representation in the Assembly.
A pro-development group based in Benin City, the Concerned Edo Citizens, at a press conference on Monday, urged voters to elect only credible and competent representatives who will work for the betterment of the state and its people.
Speaking on behalf of the group’s conveners, Solomon Idiogbe, urged Edo people to reject the antics of those who betrayed their trust and denied them representation for four years for their selfish interests and those of their godfather.
He said, “There are mixed feelings about some House of Assembly members who were duly elected by their constituents but failed to perform their constitutional duties as expected.
“The next Edo State House of Assembly election on Saturday is an avenue to set the records straight and determine the peace and progress of Edo state.
“We should understand that it is beyond casting our votes or exercising our fundamental rights as citizens.”
Idiogbe charged, “It is therefore pertinent for us at this point to choose and vote for candidates who can represent our collective interest in this next Saturday’s elections.”
He further noted, “We condemn, in strong terms, those whose agenda is to pursue a personal vendetta, which can lead to crisis and the distortion of existing peace in the state.
“We must carefully scrutinize the candidates and vote for them based on competence, track records, and capacity to carry out their legislative duties.”
“We support the smooth transition of government which is from incumbent to an elected government in 2024 through a democratic process.
“We have carefully taken a look at the policies and programmes of the governor and we implore Edo people to also take a keen and sincere look at the governor’s policies and programmes and be fair in judging the governor’s performance,” the group urged.
Members of the Concerned Citizens of Edo State, who were at the press conference on Edo State House of Assembly Election and ancillary issues, in Benin City, on Monday, March 13, 2023, include Idris Zekeri Jnr; Marxist Kola Edokpayi; Barr. Ken Oviawe; Doris Ogbeifun, Uyi Morgan and others.
It will be recalled that, the seats of 14 members-elect were declared vacant in December 2019 by the then Speaker of the House, Frank Okiye, for their being absent from the House proceedings for the mandatory 181 days.
Problems started in the Edo State House of Assembly when 12 out of 24 elected members of the APC, turned up for inauguration the day Governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki’s proclamation was read by the clerk of the Assembly on June 17, 2019.
The absentee members-elect were 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.
Others were Sunday Aghedo, Ovia South-West; Chris Okaeben, Oredo West; Crosby Eribo, Egor; Wx Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s brother, Sahed Oshiomhole, Etsako West II; Oshomah Ahmed, Etsako Central, and Ganiyu Audu, Etsako West I.
They are all political allies of the sacked national chairman, Oshiomhole, who had pllanned to impeached Obaseki, and with whom he had protracted political battle with.
The former Speaker subsequently had called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct by-elections within 90 days in the affected constituencies.
But on August 6, 2020, the crisis escalated with the ‘inauguration’ of 12 pro-Oshiomhole members-elect in a private residence in Benin City and three others joined the absentee colleagues to elect Victor Edoror as a factional speaker.
Sadly, more than 1.6 million constituents were deprived representation by the action of the fleeing APC members.
From the 2006 population census data for Edo State, over 1.6million constituents did not get needed constituency projects through the state assembly.
Ovia North-East 1 and 2 constituencies has a population of over 155,344 persons; Uhunmwode, 121,749; Esan Central, 105,242; Etsako East, 147,335; Owan West, 99,056; Ovia South-West, 138,072; Oredo, 374,515; Egor, 340,287; Etsako West, 127,718; and Etsako Central, 94,228.
The implication is that the voices of over 1.6million people have been silenced in the House.