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Bringing maturity to Lagos Assembly

 A call on members of Lagos State House of Assembly to guard against misinforming the public

By Jide Orimade

Where there is paucity of in formation, rumours flourish.  This appears to be the situation currently playing out in Lagos State . Early this year papers were flooded with alleged face-off between the former and incumbent governors of the state – Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Raji Babatunde Fashola. Like every tainted tale, the rumoured fight between Tinubu and Fashola withered away like flower which lifespan has expired.

But rumour mongers cultivate restless habit such that they hardly get happy when there are no tales to tell. Thus, few weeks back, they weaved another thread of lies by insinuating in the newspapers that the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Honourable, Honourable Adeyemi Ikuforiji, had ‘thrown his hat’ into the ring for the governorship race in Lagos ahead of 2011.

Amazing was the word that first came to mind when I read the strip down news in one of the nation’s dailies. Indeed, one ought to be amazed by sheer blatant lies at times passing for news items in the papers. Blame not the journalists because most often time than not, they are hoodwinked by some disgruntled politicians, who do not share in people’s dream of a peaceful, progressive Lagos .

More astonishing is even the language of reportage and the description of the person of the Honourable Speaker. The writer of the story described Ikuforiji as ‘One of the opponents of the incumbent governor (Fashola) and a staunch supporter of the former governor (Tinubu).’ This kind of reportage smacks of divisive tendencies on the part of the source of the story as well the writer.

Is this writer trying to tell the public that Tinubu is an opponent of Fashola? Is the writer also trying to tell us that Fashola is Tinubu’s enemy and thereby has left the camp of Asiwaju? Does the writer want Ikuforiji, who is on record for serving two regimes; become Tinubu’s enemy just because he now belongs to a new regime?
Far, far from that. This kind of report can only come from dissatisfied and frustrated politicians, whose sole ambition is to cause an atmosphere of rancour among the performing public officials. As it were, that is the pastime of this brand of politicians and about the only way they themselves think they can stay relevant in the scheme of thing in Lagos .

The report went further to say that after two meetings called to broker peace between Tinubu and Fashola failed, the Speaker and his supporters purportedly prevailed on Asiwaju, who has the ears of the Action Congress (AC) top echelon, to deny the incumbent governor a second term ticket.

Afterwards, the tale stated, Ikuforiji decided ‘to go to town’ with his governorship ambition. This simply amounts to misinformation as none of the principal characters mentioned has spoken about 2011 to anybody. That Fashola will not come in 2011 is still too early to debate. As the governor himself put it when asked about his chance of coming back in 2011 only confirms the saying that ‘no one knows tomorrow.

Here is Fashola’s response to his comeback controversy: “All I can say tell you is that I am interested in the progress of Lagos.” That ought to be uppermost in the mind of a leader and indeed that is what the governor is doing. Glaringly enough, when the tissue of lies about Tinubu-Fashola row weaved by some unconscionable people tore into pieces, the next quarter they could think of causing disaffection is the rapport between the legislative and the executive.

Seeing through the game plan of these contemptuous elements, the Speaker has only rebutted the claim but remained focused on his legislative job. In his reaction to the story, he said he ever told anybody that he is interested in contesting the governorship election. “I am a party man and my party is yet to declare the contest open. So, there is no way I can declare my interest in the job. Anyone who says that is only voicing out the figment of his/her own imagination.” What other things remain to be said?

Those who were around in 2007 when Fashola emerged the AC governorship candidate would testify to the fact that Lagos is unique in the way it conducts its own affairs. No clairvoyant ever told Lagos about Fashola. He was unknown to Lagos except those who worked in Alausa Secretariat who knew him as a Chief of Staff to Tinubu.

At a time when about a dozen of Tinubu’s commissioners and the then Deputy Governor, Femi Pedro, threw their hats into the contest, nobody could say who the winner would be. Eventually, none of these people got the ticket. It went to the unpopular Fashola! Heaven did not fall over this firm decision by Asiwaju. Rather contestants rallied round the party to succeed. That is all about party supremacy.

To this day, I have not read or heard it anywhere that the part supremacy that produced Fashola has changed. One should hasten to add that even Fashola himself has not said he would or would not contest for the second term. Two, merit remains the benchmark for chosing leaders in Lagos . Three, there is no room for mediocrity. A cursory look at executive and legislative leaders in the state since 1999 corroborates this assertion.

In other words, a discerning mind would not sweat much to see through the smokescreen that all these enemies of our democracy wanted is merely to put spanner in the good work the House of Assembly in Lagos is doing through unalloyed support it has been giving the state executive led by Fashola.

One can say that the people spreading the rumour that Tinubu has endorsed Ikuforiji for the 2011 only want to disrupt the peaceful political atmosphere in the state. If Ikuforiji wants to contest the governorship of Lagos State, he is constitutionally qualified. 

But like he said above, for now, he owes certain responsibilities to the people of Lagos – to make veritable, progressive, positive and people-friendly laws. That remains his focus for now.

Apparently, this explains why he has remained cooperative with the executive governor come rain come shine for the past three years. For the past three years, there is no rupture in the legislative-executive relationship in Lagos . For the past three years, the honourable house has been churning out laws for the deepening of democracy in the state. For three years running, Fashola has enjoyed smooth running of government because of the cooperation given him by Ikuforiji admirable leadership of the House. And that is why Lagosians are showering encomiums on his excellent performance as speaker.

Always in this dispensation, credit should go to no other person for these innumerable and huge successes recorded by Fashola’s administration than the honourable Speaker, Adeyemi Ikuforiji for his mastery of legislative mechanisms. For the past five years, he has prevailed as number three in the state. It is unarguable that all these years, his driving force hinges on sincerity to serve his people, to move his state forward.

* Dr Orimolade lives in Gbagada, Lagos.


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