The first female ever to emerge Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Mrs. Elizabeth Ativie, on Monday stepped down from her position as Speaker. She was made Speaker on the May 3 and was sworn-in on the May 9 after Victor Edoror was impeached over alleged financial misappropriation.
The Speaker decided to relinquish her position 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.
Ativie was immediately replaced by the Deputy Speaker, Dr. Justin Okonoboh, who was sworn in with the support of 18 out of the 24 members of the House.
Ogedengbe had explained in his motion that the change was necessary to ensure fairness in the political system, so that the three senatorial districts would be represented.
The incumbent 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.
According to Ogedengbe, “I 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 noted that 17 members had supported the change of leadership. However, 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 commended the lawmakers for giving her the opportunity to serve and urged them to accord same to her successor. She stated that her short stay in office recorded tremendous achievements as the members worked as a team.
According to her, “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, APC, stressing 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.