Aondona Dajoh,

The member representing Gboko West State Constituency, Aondona Dajoh, Monday, emerged as the Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly.

Dajoh defeated Becky Orpin from the Gboko East State constituency with 17 votes against 15 votes to emerge as the Speaker in the second ballot.

The two contestants had tied in the first ballot, which produced 16:16 votes.

Lamin Danladi, a female lawmaker from Ado State Constituency, emerged as the Deputy Speaker.

The speakership tussle has no doubt opened Pandora’s box in the politics of the state in the days ahead.

The battle for the Assembly speakership pitted the governor, Rev. Father Hyacinth Alia, against the leader of the party in the state and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume.

While Akume had thrown his weight behind Mrs. Orpin, his one-time media aide, Governor Alia, in collaboration with other chieftains of the All Progressives Congress and a one-time governor of the state, were reported to have settled for Dajoh.

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The state party chairman, Austin Agada, who earlier spoke to our correspondent, said that the party had resolved on Orpin and warned the members against anti-party activity.

Following the tension the speakership tussle generated, security operatives had, as early as 6 am on Monday, been deployed to the Assembly complex to beef up security.

As tension heightened and the first ballot could not produce a winner, supporters of Opin insisted that the state governor, Alia, who was at the chamber, step out before the second ballot would commence.

Some of the members who shouted on top of their voices alleged that some members were under pressure due to the presence of the governor.

The exchange of banter between the two opposing sides stalled the commencement of the second round of the election for over three hours.

Some of the lawmakers were seen banging tables and engaging one another in a shouting match.

At the time the House reconvened around 3:28 pm, the Clerk of the House, Bernard Nule, ordered all non-members and visitors except the media to leave the chamber before the commencement of the second ballot.

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Earlier, Alia had inaugurated the 10th State House of Assembly.

The governor charged the new legislators to collaborate with the executive arm of government in order to deliver the much-anticipated dividends of democracy to the Benue people.

The governor, however, assured the lawmakers of his administration’s support at all times and solicited constructive engagements and support from the legislature and judicial arms of government to enable them to actualise set goals.

He urged the new legislators to be exemplary in their conduct, stressing that Benue society has placed so many expectations on them, hence the need to deliver.

He said, “The legislature not only gives the people a voice in affairs of government but provides the bedrock for the rule of law, equity and justice to reign in the polity.

“Due to the big role the legislature plays side by side with the judiciary and the executive arm of government, we are fully prepared to respect the sanctity of the doctrine of the separation of powers under a democracy.”

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Alia, who pledged not to interfere with the internal affairs of the legislature, especially in the election of its leaders, said, “We are prepared to meaningfully work with those who you choose to lead the house.”

He, however, advised members to choose from among themselves those of whom they will always be proud of their leadership qualities, adding, “We will support the house with the training and retraining of staff of members of the House.”

He pledged that the executive arm of government will work in harmony with the legislature and the judiciary to ensure effective service delivery to the people who are expecting so much from them.

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