There was a moment of commotion in the Benue State House of Assembly on Monday as members engaged in a shouting match amid the election of its speaker.
The session had begun with Governor Hyacinth Alia inaugurating the 10th assembly, paving the way for its 32 members to elect a speaker and deputy speaker.
The position of speaker was zoned to Gboko LGA which is Benue North-West. The governor is from Vandeikya LGA of Benue North-East, while the Deputy Governor is from Otukpo LGA of Benue South Senatorial District.
The two candidates for speaker are Becky Orpine representing Gboko East and Aondonna Hyacinth Dajo, the member representing Gboko West.
Orpine was nominated as the party’s choice by the Pro-George Akume camp of the APC which has the backing of the State Working Committee.
She is one of the only two female lawmakers elected to the 10th assembly, having canvassed for support for women in politics in her nomination acceptance speech.
Her rival, Dajo, however received the backing of the governor and his APC loyalists in the state. In his nomination acceptance speech, he urged members to vote for him, saying he is a humble man who is flexible to work with.
At the first ballot, the two candidates were tied at 16 votes each with the clerk of the assembly noting that there would be another round of voting.
The representative of Konshisha Constituency and only member of the Labour Party, Cephas Diako, called for the next round of election to be held without the governor, the senator-elect for Benue North-West, and the party leadership.
According to him, the presence of the three puts pressure on the members to vote their preferred candidates.
The house proceeded on a 10-minute break to reconvene for another round of voting for the position of speaker, allowing members to consult one another on who to vote for as speaker.
However, when the second round of voting commenced, there was a shouting match among members over an alleged plot by some members attempting to influence other members to vote for a particular candidate as speaker.
For several minutes, pro-Akume and pro-Alia supporters backing their respective nominees for the position of speaker loudly called for the cancellation of the second round of voting over alleged influence on the voting process.
Source: Channel Television.