By Samuel Bolaji
The Lagos State House of Assembly, on Monday, alleged that there were plans by some unnamed persons to attack its Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, and other lawmakers over the recent screening and rejection of some cabinet nominees sent by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Speaking during plenary on Monday, Obasa stressed that the House would not succumb to any form of intimidation, including “sponsored protests by some civil society groups and activists” as its action was “in tandem with the constitution.”
“Before today, I had been reliably informed of the plan to attack the Speaker based on the decision of the House concerning the nominees of the governor, particularly the rejected ones,” Obasa revealed, adding that he had been inundated with calls from people and members of the House.
The Speaker also said the House had refrained from revealing all that it discovered during the screening of the nominees while warning that “those who live in glass houses should be conscious not to throw stones,” maintaining that it would not “spill” its discovery during the screening “to the public.”
Regarding insinuations that all was not well between the governor and the House, Obasa said, “There is this erroneous belief that we are waging a war against the governor. There is no basis for me and the House to fight the governor. I will continue to say that the governor is a brother and colleague in the Lagos project and service to the people of our state.
“The governor and I have been around in the system for long. While he was SA to the former deputy governor, Femi Pedro, I was in this House as Chairman, Committee on Rural Development. He was SA on Establishment and Pensions and I was Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts (Local Governments). While he was heading LSDPC, I was Chairman, Committee on Economic Planning and Budget. Then, I became the Speaker and when he became the Governor, I remained the Speaker. So it’s been a long journey together.
“But I wonder why anytime the House says no to a particular request of the governor, it is taken by some people to mean there is a fight with the governor. This House has passed so many resolutions that the executive arm refused to carry out, but the people don’t see that as something to talk about and the House does not raise eyebrows. So, I don’t know what brings the erroneous belief that the House is fighting the governor, who is our brother and who we will continue to work with.
Obasa noted that while the House has its constitutional backing on its decisions, the same goes for the state governor.
He added that the House had its reasons for saying “no” to some of the commissioner-nominees sent by the governor.
“However, we have a constitutional responsibility. Just as the Governor has the responsibility to inform the House about his nominees, the House also has the responsibility to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ which we have exercised by confirming some and denying some and we have our reasons for saying ‘no’ to some of the nominees.
“The House, as a body, has refrained itself from exposing what it discovered during the screening and we are not going to be forced to spill to the public.”
Commenting on the rejection of the immediate-past commissioner for health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, Obasa said considerations went beyond his efforts in the fight against COVID-19 which he described as an isolated issue in the challenged health sector of the state.
“Before Prof. Abayomi, there were Leke Pitan, Dr. Jide Idris and others. COVID-19 was an isolated case that was considered. Before COVID-19, we had Ebola which was also taken care of under Babatunde Fashola.
“Beyond all these, we are the representatives of the people, their mouthpieces, eyes and ears. The health sector of Lagos is not just about COVID-19. We have general hospitals and other healthcare centres around the state. What can be said about them?
“Before Engineer Aramide Adeyoye, we also had Engineer Ganiyu Johnson and Dr. Obafemi Hamzat as Commissioner for Works and under whom the Ikoyi-Victoria Island link bridge was built while Babatunde Fashola was Governor. Under Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as governor, there was massive infrastructural development too.
“So we must stop making allusions concerning some things we do not understand. They mentioned the former Commissioner for Information, Gbenga Omotosho, and his experience. But how about actions in office?” Obasa asked.
The Speaker added that as a politician whose party is in power, the priority of those in government should be the interest of the people.
He urged those planning to sponsor actions against the House to realise that protests and sponsored articles would not make the House rescind its decision.
“The civil society that is threatening to protest should do so because it is a constitutional right. But we are not going to be threatened or intimidated. We have said no, but if there is a convincing or germane reason for us to reverse our decision, we will, but not by threats.
“It is because we are successful as politicians that is why the technocrats are being appointed. And to our own estimation, if they have not done well, we have the right to say no and we have said no.”
Obasa said, “We don’t want instigation and conflicts. The Executive and the House are working together. We are brothers and colleagues; we will continue to work together but we need to caution fourth columnists not to instigate any crisis. And those that are living in glass houses need to be careful.”