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Lagos House: Outgoing Speaker, Deputy Polarise House

Paul Yovo writes on the intrigues trailing the emergence of the speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly

The Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikufuriji, and his deputy, Kolawole Taiwo, appear to be in contention even though both of them are not returning to the house. The bone of contention is the speakership of Lagos house in the in-coming assembly. Ikuforiji is said to be supporting Rotimi Abiru, who is the only surviving principal officer of the House, his deputy, Taiwo is rooting for Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, another ranking member who is the Chairman of the House Committee on Budget and Planning in the outgoing 7th assembly. Both camps are said to be seeking the support of the All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders in the state and other members of the newly elected House through a vote of confidence but such efforts were said to have failed.

It was further reported that the lawmakers also could not reach an agreement on the issue during their induction workshop at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Amuwo Odofin, the previous week. This may have resulted in the postponement of the inauguration of the members earlier scheduled to hold on Thursday. Announcing the postponement of the inauguration in a statement issued on Thursday, the director of information at the assembly, Mrs. Bose Lambo, said, “This is to inform the general public, especially invited dignitaries that the Proclamation/ Inauguration of the 8th Assembly, (Lagos State House of Assembly), earlier scheduled for Thursday, 4th June, 2015 at the Assembly Complex Chambers, has been postponed till Monday, 8th June, 2015, due to unforeseen circumstances. All inconveniences are highly regretted, please.”

Before the contest was reduced to the two contenders, there were four contenders. They include Hon. Abiru, Hon. Obasa, Hon. Funmilayo Tejuosho, who is said to lack support from majority of her colleagues and Hon. Wasiu Eshinlokun, earlier believed to be favoured by the APC leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who is generally believed to hold the ace as far the decision of who becomes the next speaker is concerned. Intrigues over who emerges the next speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly may have overflowed from the camp of the members-elect with prominent party leaders entering the fray to dictate direction for the members. Abiru represents Shomolu II and while Obasa represents Agege I.

While, Abiru is presently in his second term going to the third term, Obasa is in his third term going to the fourth term. It was gathered that a prominent leader of the party had insisted that the decision on the emergence of the next speaker should be based on ranking. That decision which was allegedly welcomed by the majority of the members-elect it was gathered, saw Obasa taking the ascendancy over Abiru and was set to be elected as speaker on Thursday before a last-minute decision to postpone the inauguration. The prominent leader of the party in the state was said to be displeased with the inclination of the members and thus summoned a meeting with the legislators in his residence for June 4, which led to the postponement of the inauguration.

Members-elect said Wednesday that the decision was to enable the House reach a consensus on the issue.An impeccable source disclosed that those campaigning for Abiru led by the outgoing speaker, Ikuforiji, and Princess Adefunmilayo Tejuosho, were opposed to the earlier arrangement of enthroning Obasa on Thursday. They were supported by the prominent leader of the party in the state who wield great influence on the members elected on the platform of the APC, and it is believed that he may sway them towards electing Abiru on Monday. However, Hon. Funmi Tejuosho, who is also starting a fourth term and had initially showed interest in the position before stepping down for Abiru, had also sought for the strict implementation of the ranking rule and for the contest to be restricted to her and Obasa, the only other member going to the House for the fourth term.

According to a source, members-elect said that the decision to postpone the inauguration was to enable the House reach a consensus on the issue of the speakership. However, it was gathered that Asiwaju on Wednesday summoned the sitting lawmakers and APC stalwarts to a meeting on Thursday to address the issue bothering on the emergence of the speaker. Sources at the Assembly, confirmed that the Inauguration date has been postponed till Monday, June 8, 2015, to allow the party and lawmakers resolve the all-important issue of a consensus candidate for Speaker.

The national leader’s directive was on the heels of a caucus meeting by some APC stalwarts late Tuesday on Mudashiru Obasa, Agege I Constituency as the next Speaker. It was further gathered that some of the members-elect were not satisfied with the selection process that produced Obasa, saying it was far from being transparent and not satisfactory. Another source close to Tinubu disclosed that the national leader received reports of bribery and arm-twisting by a self-acclaimed king maker and lawmaker in the House, who is allegedly fronting for Obasa. “He is not happy with the reports at all, and feared that if the situation is not carefully managed, it will plunge the House into a big crisis. Asiwaju has told them to come and meet him as soon as he is back,” the source said.

Efforts by the outgoing Speaker, Ikuforiji and his deputy, Kolawole, to resolve the division and present a candidate worsened the situation on Tuesday as they went in opposite direction too. Kolawole called a meeting of the old members in his Assembly Complex office but about the same time it was going on, Ikuforiji was meeting with another set of lawmakers in his official residence at Joel Ogunnaike Street, GRA, Ikeja. Political watchers argue that the position of the emergence of the speaker should be conducted in a transparent manner given his tasks as the leader of the house. But from reports, there are powerful king-makers who are already influencing the process.

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