Lagos Assembly struggling with pretended harmony
• Speaker, Oshun Deny Rift
The atmosphere was a mixture of calm after a raging storm. But is the storm over? Going by the facial expression displayed by the member representing Lagos Mainland Constituency 2, Moshood Oshun, when he addressed journalists recently, there seemed to be some internal misgivings.
Oshun, who was visibly enraged as he spoke said he was terribly displeased by the massive representations being splashed on many online publications, which portrayed him negatively in the past two weeks.
Although the reports disclosed that Oshun harbours some issues of personal concern about the Lagos State House of Assembly, he told journalists that there was no issue whatsoever between him and the Speaker, Mr. Mudashiru Obasa.
The embattled four-term lawmaker, who is said to belong to a rival bloc to Obasa’s camp within the state chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC), said it was certain mischief-makers that were using the social media to fan the embers of non-existent rancour between him and Obasa.
In what appears to be apparent corroboration of Oshun’s claims, the Speaker’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Tolani Abati, told The Guardian that the salacious stories making the rounds on the social media were lies.
The stories detailed an imaginary hostility between Obasa and Oshun in which the latter walked out on the Speaker during the June 30, 2020, plenary session.
But Abati, while denying any such rift between his boss and any lawmaker, maintained that mischief-makers seem determined to create division where none exists among the legislators, adding, “They all belong to one family and the interest of the estimated 20 million residents of Lagos is paramount to the lawmakers, not personal grouse.”
However, despite the denials, watchers of the Assembly, especially developments within Lagos APC, believe that something is fishy.
Sources said the development comes as one of the areas where the Assembly will miss the impact of its late member, Tunde Buraimoh as a superb crisis manager and image-maker.
Echoes Of Distrust
THE insinuation in some quarters is that there is more to the rift between Obasa and Oshun, just as some sources said the reverberations of the ongoing power play at the APC national headquarters, Southwest zone of the party and Lagos chapter have continued to billow in the Lagos Assembly.
It is taken for granted that Obasa and Oshun have found themselves on different sides of the intrigues. As such, what flicked into the media, especially the attempt to malign Oshun and pit him against Obasa and the Assembly, could as well be the handiwork of enemies of APC family in Lagos intent on dismantling the structure before 2023.
It would be recalled that earlier this year, precisely in March, there was uneasy calm at the Lagos State Assembly, when two impeached principal officers and two suspended others, including Oshun was barred from entering the Assembly complex. Their staff were kept away also, while their offices were sealed up with the sign, ‘Sealed’, boldly placed on the doors.
Security was also unusually tight at the two entrances to the Assembly as every vehicle and people coming were frisked. Obasa had, during one of the plenaries held in March invoked Section 68 and Section 70 (4a, b), 2 and 3 of the House rules cited gross misconduct, insubordination and action that can destabilise the House, as a reason for the action.
The Chief Whip, Rotimi Abiru and Deputy Majority Leader, Olumuyiwa Jimoh, were the two principal officers, while those suspended were Oshun and Kazeem Raheem Adewale (Ibeji Lekki Constituency II).
Sources said what led to Obasa’s drastic action was unconnected with media reports in which the Speaker was accused of financial recklessness and corruption believed to have been deliberately leaked to the press to bring him (Obasa) down.
The APC Governors’ Advisory Council (GAC) headed by the National Leader, Bola Tinubu intervened, insisting that the status quo should be maintained.
Nonetheless, the onslaught of corruption allegation against the Speaker continued in the media, thereby putting severe pressure on the late Buraimoh, who did all he could to manage the situation.
Perhaps, the development in the Assembly coupled with other happenings in the party forced the GAC, the highest decision-making organ of APC in the state to dissolve all groupings, especially Mandate Group and the Justice Forum believed to be wielding undue influence in the party.
Although the matter seemed to have been resolved, the echo could be heard through the current realities around Oshun and Obasa, particularly as analysts hold that Oshun is a younger brother to the Chairman of Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), Mr. Wale Oshun.
The ARG chairman is also said to be very close to Governor Kayode Fayemi and some of the ‘Abuja Cabal’ said not to be in tune with Tinubu as at present at the APC national level.
Said a source: “It is not uncertain that some forces may have started the move to stop Moshood Oshun from returning to the Assembly in 2023. It depends on how he plays the game because 2023 election is still far.”
However, Oshun, while reacting to the report that he walked out on the Speaker, said nothing could have warranted such during plenary, stressing, “There are no personal issues between the Speaker and myself, he is my leader, he is the Speaker of the House, and I was the one that actually nominated him.
“So, what issue are you talking about, we are one. There is no personal issue between the Speaker and myself.”
Oshun stressed that he did not walk out on the Speaker and that what happened was that he had earlier gone to the Speaker and explained some things to him about where he was sitting.
“When I got to the chamber, the Speaker told me to leave the seat, where I relocated to and I was surprised.
“So, on the following Monday, I spoke on the floor and explained to members, my constituents and Nigerians generally that I had actually told the Speaker that he should let me sit somewhere else because of the Pandemic.
“I tried to clear that at the plenary. We should all know that all the seats in that chamber are the same. One is not more comfortable than others. I only asked the Speaker to let me sit somewhere else because of the Pandemic,” he said.
The lawmaker, who was also quoted as saying that Braimoh died of COVID-19, denied ever telling any reporter so, insisting that he considers all that has been written about him on the social media as deceptive news.
The lawmaker urged journalists to play their parts well, and investigate any story they are told to avoid any issue, remarking, “If anybody says that one has done anything, try and investigate, you can come to me or call me on the phone.”
He also denied reports that he spoke with a journalist after leaving the chamber on June 30, stressing, “I did not speak with anybody. The person was being malicious. “If we say anything on the floor and you are not clear, you can go back to the recording and get what happened.
“I don’t know why I am a victim of fake news. I come here to do my job to the best of my ability.”
Yet, despite the perceived unease, the Assembly has recorded considerable achievements under the leadership of Obasa in the last five years, just as the feat received salient contributions from Oshun, who in the first instance nominated him for the post of the speaker on two occasions.
Findings also showed that the duo were jolly good fellows until the minor breaches surfaced.
Since Obasa emerged Speaker in June 2015, the House as a team has collectively passed several Bills, some which include Appropriation (Amendment) Law, 2015 (Re-Ordering of Priorities in Y2015 Budget); Lagos State University (Amendment) Law, 2015; Lagos State Employment Trust Fund Law, 2015 and Appropriation Law, 2016 as well as Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (Amendment) Law, 2016, among many others.