Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction…nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it – words of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States.
The last few months have been an interesting one for of the most vibrant state houses of assembly in Nigeria, the Lagos State House of Assembly. It started with the suspension of some erring members, which escalated into a barrage of attacks on the office of the Speaker of the house, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa.
So many libellous stories in quick succession have been aimed at the Speaker and by extension, the whole members of LSHA. These were classified ‘exclusive’, ostensibly to expose alleged fraud allegations in the Lagos State House of Assembly.
Pragmatic and sagacious politician, Obasa, since he came on the political turf, has never ceased to amaze political pundits, all of which points to the undeniable fact of his ascendancy to the speakership of the LSHA for an unprecedented second tenure, against all odds.
Obasa, no doubt, has fought many battles since 1999 when his political life began as a councillor in Agege Local Government Area. Perhaps, none has been as relentless as the war being waged against him at the moment and which majorly targets 2023.
Since March, a particular online medium has accused the speaker of laundering money through contract scams. Obasa, a lawyer, has consistently denied the allegations and even warned the website to recant and apologise or face a libel suit.
Obasa, again on March 23, described all allegation against him as fake news on his Twitter handle @mudashiru_obasa and asked the website to provide proof.
I took my time to read some of the stories, from the alleged N17 million per month to maintain guest houses belonging to the speaker to printing inauguration invitation cards worth N258 million to collecting N45 million for a Christmas party that never held. The most laughable one being that the speaker paid online influencers N60 million to tackle the medium on social media, specifically Twitter.
Let us take a detailed look at some of the claims. Logically, N17 million to maintain guest houses is not a reflection of reality. First, the money in question was not managed by the Speaker, neither is it for his guest houses. Instead, it was to manage all his offices and home, including all his staff of different calibres, who are many and whose number changes from time to time under specific requirements of the office. This was explained by the House at plenary.
Another of such lame accusation was the issue of N258 million to print invitation cards for the inauguration, while the documents published showed that the said invitation cards were printed for N1.1 million.
Again, the online medium accused the Speaker of pocketing N45 million for Christmas party, which it claimed did not hold. Contrary to the accusation, the internet is already flooded with pictures from the party.
The one that interested me most was the story that social media influencers got N60 million to tackle the publication on Twitter. One tends to wonder if the fund was to rebut the stories or use their Twitter handles to tell the world about what they believe in.
Against all odds, Obasa has not fallen cheap to all these allegations, taking them as the evil machinations of his known and unknown enemies in the political turf; he sees all of them in his strides, even though Nigerians still expect him to clear the allegations by himself.
In the midst of all these, however, the contributions of this intelligent man of honour and grassroots politician remain unscathed and resonate around the entire Chamber.
The records of his strides in the hallowed chamber point to the brilliance and wisdom he has devoted to shaping the mega-city of Lagos.
At a time when the city of Lagos was thrown into unrelenting attacks from various groups of hoodlums and the Nigeria Police Force was overwhelmed, Obasa formulated a community policing structure cleverly whipped to ensure it does not conflict with existing laws that disallow State Police.
The Neighborhood Watch Bill, which was passed and birthed the Lagos Neighborhood Safety Corps (LNSC), remains a legislative masterpiece in Nigeria that has become the darling of other states. Apart from the carefully drafted model that retains policing in the exclusive legislative list, the local structural approach which the law came with legitimatized community policing and unburdened the Nigeria Police Force by bringing on-board youth within the community, with a better understanding of the terrain into security and neighbourhood safety while still giving them employment.
Many sometimes wonder why the rate of kidnapping in Lagos State has reduced over the last few years in comparison with some other states and consideration of its population – which should normally be an enabler for vices.
In 2017, the Lagos State House of Assembly passed a bill proposed by Obasa to curb the rising cases of kidnapping in the state. That bill entitled: called a “Law to Provide for the Prohibition of the Act of Kidnapping and for Other Connected Purposes”, was later signed into law. As expected of any progressive state, the law took a drastic step towards ending the menace of kidnapping in the state by proposing death penalty for kidnappers who kill their victims while those who engage in the act itself were liable to life imprisonment. Like a magic wand, the dreadful perpetrators of the atrocities vanished across the state.
Culture remains an indelible identity of any race, many things may give way for civilization but a race that keeps its culture defies extinction. The indigenous language of any given race or ethnic group is the sole connection to the culture of such a group. So when Obasa took the bold step to protect the cultural identity of Yorubaland in a mega-city of Lagos, which some now categorize as “no man’s land”, the intervention became one of the most selfless act by a public office holder.
The passage of the “Yoruba Language Preservation and Promotion Bill” into law settled the identity crisis concocted by revisionists by resonating that Lagos State remains a Yorubaland and that the language cannot be wished away. The compulsory teaching of Yoruba Language as a subject in Lagos schools as stated in the bill surely gladdens our forefathers.
In total, Obasa has sponsored at least six legislative bills as Speaker. All of which have shaped the city of Lagos.
The Cancer Institute Law which provides for the creation of an Institute that will aid the early detection of cancer, help in research and most importantly, help to provide prompt treatment is another bill forged by Obasa for the wellbeing of Lagosians.
But while lawmaking remains his primary assignment, Obasa has continued to provide succour for his community and those in need. Thousands of youth are under his scholarship programme across various institutions of learning. He has continued to provide basic amenities to his constituency while his “Trader’s Grant” has helped to bring smiles to the faces of market men and women who have benefited greatly from it.
In all, why don’t we enjoy this young brilliant man while he is still around now? Indeed, Lagos State is lucky to have this one!
Usoboh, writes from Ogba, Lagos