-Lawmakers Divided Over Support For Speaker, Obasa & Deputy, Eshinkolun
A big rumpus is currently going on in the Lagos State House of Assembly. The crisis may degenerate into a major political crisis in the state anytime from now, if not resolved. Until now, the general perception has been that the leadership of the state has been enjoying unhindered peace; this latest development however, seems to have proved otherwise. All is presently not well in the House of Assembly, it has been confirmed.
A story that emanated from the house, which was well circulated in the media last Monday exposed the secret whirlwind currently rocking the house. It was reported in the story that on Monday, April 10, when most of the lawmakers declined to attend plenary session meant to be presided over by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Wasiu Sanni-Eshinlokun. Checks have however shown that the report are not true.
In the story, it was reported that the Deputy Speaker had presided on the sitting on that day after the Speaker had communicated to him that he would not be available on that day.
According to that report, when the time for the sitting came and all support staff of the Assembly were ready for plenary sitting to commence, the lawmakers were nowhere to be found. Only about two or three of them were present at the chamber, clearly not enough to form quorum for sitting.
What really confounded close observers of the Legislative House was the fact most of the lawmakers were in their offices ready for the day’s sitting. However when they found out that the Speaker was not going to preside over the sitting, and the Deputy Speaker will take over, they refused to attend.
When it became obvious that quorum could not be formed for the sitting to commence, the support staff left the Chambers and the plenary was cancelled for the day. It was said that of the lawmakers that they decided not to attend the sitting because they did not have confidence in the Deputy Speaker who was supposed to preside over the sitting.
Investigations have however shown that against all the details given in the story, there was actually no sitting at all in the house o Monday, April 10. The Deputy Speaker never presided over any sitting, it has been confirmed.
Our checks revealed that almost all the 39 members of the house were present in their offices to resume their normal legislative business on that day, without the knowledge that the Speaker would not be available. The Deputy Speaker himself was not aware, until around noon when news came that the Speaker was not around. The Speaker, Honourable Mudashiru Obasa did not make any official announcement about his absence prior to that day.
The Clerk of the house, who should have also passed necessary information to members, also didn’t pass the message across.
A member of the assembly, who painted the exact picture of what happened last Monday said that the report that circulated in the media is being sponsored by some members of the house who have an axe to grind with the Deputy Speaker. He confirmed that it was a deliberate attempt to bring down the personality of the Deputy Speaker.
Giving a hint, he said “Some members of the house were already in the chamber to move into plenary. There was no prior notice that the Speaker wouldn’t be around to preside over plenary, so we were not expecting anything strange. The bell to announce the time for sitting had been sounded and even few members, including Hon. Funmi Tejuosho were already taking their seats. It was at this point that the Majority Leader came with the news that the Speaker was not going to be around. At that point, the Deputy Speaker was still in his office. It was the Majority leader that went to break the news to him. Later on, they got on the phone with the Speaker and he told them he was not around. While, all these were going on, other lawmakers who were preparing to go into plenary retired back to their offices. There are CCTV cameras all over the assembly complex, anyone that wants to fault what I have said can come out; the recordings from the cameras are there”.
“The truth is, the Deputy Speaker did not have any plan to preside over plenary on that day, as there was no fresh order of proceedings (which could have been made if the Speaker had communicated his absence officially). There are many channels through which the Speaker could have communicated his absence to the members. There is a WhatsApp chat group that has all the 40 members of the house. He could have just dropped the message there and all members would have done the needful”.
“No one was aware that he was not going to be around, and that there was not going to be a sitting, since the whole house officially adjourned till Monday during the last sitting on April 4. For instance, Hon. Desmond Elliot, who was in South Africa for the Big Brother Naija finale the previous night, flew into Lagos in time, so that he would not miss plenary”.
The lawmaker however expressed shock at the news that was released to the media.
Meanwhile, further checks revealed that the Speaker was later spotted in his office on Monday evening with one of his sons, who he travelled to London with later that night. He travelled to the UK for his son’s graduation ceremony, we heard.
It is however baffling that since the story that circulated few days back came out, there has not been any official statement from the house over the issue. The Speaker, his Chief Press Secretary, and Hon. Tunde Braimoh (who is the Chairman of the Information Committee of the house) are yet to drop any comment about the development.
Interestingly, the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Wasiu Sanni-Eshinlokun, who the story is centred about, has also been silent.
However, beneath this silence is a serious bickering going on among members of the house, particularly in the leadership. We heard that from the take off of this legislative assembly about 2 years ago, all has not been well between the Speaker and the Deputy. It could be recalled that Hon. Wasiu Sanni-Eshinlokun also contested for the Speakership with Hon. Obasa. Since Obasa emerged Speaker, some members of the house who are loyal to him, have always seen the Deputy Speaker as a potential threat to his seat.
Another source, a senior staff in the assembly confirmed to us that the lawmakers who are loyal to Obasa don’t want Eshinlokun to even come close to leading the house. The source squealed to us that while the news that the Speaker wouldn’t be available last Monday, some members voiced out their opinion that the Deputy Speaker automatically steps in, but some of the pro-Obasa lawmakers led by Hon. Lanre Osun vehemently declined.
This source confided in us that the cold war is thickening by the day as the lawmakers who are loyal to Obasa are plotting to even get the Deputy Speaker removed from office.
Meanwhile, trusted sources say that the Deputy Speaker has a strong backing in the house and enjoys a massive support from the political class in the state. So, an attempt to remove him is an onerous task.