Sunday, April 10, 2016 1:51 pm
By Eromosele Ebhomele
Yes! The same Mudashiru Obasa, the Rt Honourable Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly located in the western part of Nigeria with a population that hovers around 170 million currently. Of course, it is not abnormal for a person to face judgement; the various holy books guiding religious practices across the world emphasise a period of judgement for either right or wrong done by a person at a particular period in time. Then for those who believe more in morality and the sanctity of the laws of a nation, the courts are established to either affirm one’s guilt or victory.
No one has brought any charge against the man in question. But as a public office holder manning, in this case, the number three position in Lagos State, it is just and necessary for men in the Fourth Estate of the Realm, political watchers and analysts to monitor his every move, just like they are doing leaders in the country, so that they could measure his level of success. This would also help the electorate, the most powerful in the political chain, to effectively evaluate their representative.
In judging Obasa, it is fair to know that he is just a little above 10 months old in the saddle as Speaker of the Assembly. He became Speaker in a keenly contested battle between him and some of his colleagues. The battle lasted for weeks. One after the other, some of the contestants fell by the way side with only very few left. Obasa was one of these few. He had the air, the charisma, the disposition and other attributes needed for the position. He is a lawyer and has stayed long enough in the House to know how things are done. But the fear persisted-will he succeed especially in relation to the supposed big shoes left by his predecessor, Adeyemi Ikuforiji?
Ten months down the line, the axiom: “who you know can place you up while what you know will keep you there” has played out in ways that would surprise the most ardent critic.
Just after the election in 2015, journalists were happy. Bad news is good news; since the new House would have eight opposition members for the first time, it meant the House will be unstable enough for ‘good reports’. We have been disappointed. The PDP members would tell you that elections are over and that the need to keep Lagos working is the main focus. “We were not elected to cause trouble in the House,” some of them would say. On his part, Obasa does not see them as opposition, but partners in progress.
For the first time in many years, Lagos Assembly has a Speaker that has refused to stay away from his constituents. Obasa represents Agege Constituency 1. As Speaker of the House, he has his official quarters, a palatial residence in the GRA, Ikeja area of the state. But it is noted that since becoming the Speaker, he had only been there a few times. He still maintains his private residence. He believes that being in his home in Agege, he would continue to feel the pulse of the people, bear the heat and share in whatever glory that comes with any suffering. He faces the terrible gridlocks for which Agege has become known and for this, he has been able to secure the state governor’s commitment for a flyover to be located in the centre of Agege.
It is becoming a common occurrence for soft-spoken Speaker Obasa to visit his staff and colleagues at intervals, mostly at unexpected periods. This has kept staff on their toes. No one knows when he would suddenly be hosting the head of the Assembly.
Tutors-General in the state have often been regarded as some of the most powerful office holders in the state. They were hardly ever summoned by the state Assembly until February this year after they allegedly called the bluff of the House Committee on Education. The House proved it could bark and bite. The Tutors-General appeared, claimed responsibility for their collective offence and pleaded for forgiveness.
Chairmen and members of the various committees of the House are now more like the masquerade that whip civil servants and people of the state into line. The Committees on Education, Health, Works, Economic Planning and Budget, Public Accounts for State and Local Governments are some of the few that have made the House thick within the months under review. Everywhere the committees have gone, they have made a mark and changed the course of things in government. In the seventh Assembly, one of the only few that proved its worth was the Committee on Local Government Administration and Chieftaincy Affairs. For Obasa, it is strictly anything that would make his All Progressives Party, APC, blossom, anything that would keep the state in its topmost position in the country.
Encouraged by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, members of the eighth legislative Assembly now know that all they need is to come up with brilliant Matter of Urgent Public Importance, motions or committee reports. Such would be implemented without delay by a governor who had promised to be in close relationship with the House. It could be recalled how a motion of the House changed the lukewarm attitude of the officers of state Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, after they were instructed to act with human face at the inception of the current administration. The most recent is how a motion by the House to reverse the heavy queues that overtook the state as the lingering fuel scarcity persisted. Apart from asking Ambode to address Lagosians, they woke up men of the LASTMA again.
The House, in the last 10 months, has passed about 70 resolutions. Some of the most notable include:
*Need for a palliative work on Lagos-Badagry Express Roads (Iyana Isashi – Ijanikin – Agbara end). It has been confirmed that the governor has instructed that this road should be fixed.
*Reviving the teaching of yoruba language as a compulsory subject in all public and private schools in Lagos State,
* Improving security measures on Lagos waterways for which a stakeholders conference is being organised to hold later this month,
*Call for the dissolution of membership of Lagos State Judicial Service Commission which the governor did almost immediately.
Others notable ones are ‘need for regulation of noise pollution in Lagos State’, ‘need to ensure quality control of manufactured and imported products in Nigeria’, ‘call on Federal Government to refund money expended on federal roads in Lagos state’, ‘reversal of impeachment of Otunba Femi Pedro, former Deputy Governor of Lagos state’, ‘teaching of Yoruba Language as a compulsory subject in private and public schools in Lagos state’, ‘call for national rebirth programme to stem the tide of indiscipline in the country’, ‘call for true federalism in Nigeria’.
Within the same period, six bills have been passed into law and these include the Appropriation (Amendment) Law, 2015 (Re-Ordering of Priorities in Y2015 Budget); the Lagos State University (Amendment) Bill, 2015; the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund Bill, 2015; the Appropriation Bill, 2016; the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2015; and the Local Government Election Tribunal (Amendment) Bill, 2015.
It is noteworthy that out of the 21 bills and regulations awaiting approval and passage (many of the bills were moved over from the seventh Assembly), Speaker Obasa is the sponsor of two-the Kidnapping Prohibition Bill, 2016 which has passed first reading and the Bill for a Law to Establish the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Agency for the Regulation and Control of the Vigilante Corps Activities and for connected Purposes.
Soft side? Obasa has that too. The mother of a triplet whose husband absconded last year will forever remain grateful for his visit during her trying days. Just after the Mile 12 crisis recently, Obasa led some of his colleagues on a surprise visit to 16-year-old Bolaji Kalejaiye, who was hit by stray bullets while returning from where he had gone to write the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board examination during the crisis. Apart from giving the victim N500,000, Obasa led his colleagues to call on the governor to help Kalejaiye with scholarship.
This judgement will not end without a verdict. The verdict was given some weeks ago by Global Excellence magazine after it rated the Assembly the most outstanding in the country.
Eromosele is a journalist with TheNEWS/PM NEWS , Lagos Nogeria