The eight Lagos Sate House of Assembly recently celebrated its one year of legislative business with fanfare, writes Godbless Eduviere
The eight Lagos State House of Assembly complex was a beehive of activities as the 8th Assembly marked its first session in office on June 8, 2016 in a rather unique manner.
No doubt, the state legislature had from onset set a clearly defined mission when it was inaugurated by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on the same date in 2015.
The Speaker Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa in his inaugural speech set the agenda for the state legislature.
Hear him: “We are here to serve the people. Our new members will find that we are often besieged by lobbyists – Their advocacy plays a valuable role here – But we must never forget whom we really serve – the people of Lagos State.”
In line with this objective, the House revved its engine re-ordering the state budget to enable Ambode deliver on his promises to the people of the state in good time.
This, no doubt was like a stitch that saves nine, as the re-ordering of the budget enabled the state government to purchase state-of-the-art crime fighting equipment running into billions of naira.
This in itself is historic as no state in the country had ever procured such equipment which included surveillance helicopters, patrol vehicles, armored personnel carriers and more at the same time.
Noteworthy is the fact that the Ambode administration’s first major challenge was tackling an upsurge in crime which greeted him on assumption of office.
This was even as the state 2016 budget was delivered to Ambode in record time as promised by Obasa when the document was laid by the governor.
Close watchers of the Obasa-led Lagos Assembly believe that may not be unconnected with the promise that the state lawmakers made to support Ambode-led government to succeed which is in the overall interest of the state.
It was therefore not unsurprising that the Lagos Assembly made giant strides in the last one year, passing 88 resolutions and six bills within the period.
These include the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund law, 2015, armed at tackling unemployment in the most populous state of the nation.
This is aside the Local Government Administration (Amendment bill), to deepen grassroots democracy, Neighbourhood Watch Bill to enhance Security. Some of these bills have been signed into law by Ambode.
Apparently keeping to its promise to Lagosians, the House is currently working on a bill to stem the spread of cancer among Lagosians. Putting it more succintly, Hon. Tunde Braimoh, Chairman, House Committee on Information said the bill which is one of the four sponsored by the Speaker in the last 12 months aims to assist poor Lagosians in the high cost of cancer treatment spread and generally look for the cure of the deadly disease.
When the Lagos Assembly therefore hosted media executives and civil society organisations to unveil her social media platforms, it was joy flowing like a river among the lawmakers and others present.
Obasa seized the opportunity to reel out the House achievements under his leadership and formally unveiled four the online platforms.
He said: “For purpose of record, I will like to state that this House within one year has passed about 60 resolutions while six bills have been passed and consequently signed into law by Governor Ambode. These resolutions and laws are those that border on the security and well-being of Lagosians, and have direct impact on them. We shall remain undaunted and resolute in our resolve to take Lagos to a greater height.
“I wish to reiterate that I am passionately committed to my 10-point agenda, as stated in my inaugural speech. Within one year that I took over the mantle of leadership of this great House, we have had landmark achievements in prompt but thorough passage of the year 2016 budget, timely commencement of plenary sittings, organising constituency stakeholders’ meetings simultaneously for the first time in all the 40 constituencies of the state, holding the MDAs to account through intensive and effective oversight activities and in responding earnestly to the petitions by Lagosians through appropriate standing or ad hoc committee.
Apart from this, we have not relented in organising training programmess for lawmakers and staff, a factor that has improved them.
“Today, I am delighted to inform you that this House now has a multidimensional and functional website, which we shall be unveiling today. For the first time in the history of this hallowed chamber since its 36 years of existence, you can now communicate with the honourable members through the official email address of the House. All the website’s social media platforms such as Facebook, twitter, youtube and instagram are also functioning properly. It is our belief that with all of them well harnessed, Lagosians can interact with us and also get first-hand information of whatever that goes on in this Assembly.
“May I also add that very soon, Lagosians would be watching live streaming of the plenary sessions from the chamber.”
Like it did on June 8, the Lagos legislature played host to renowned constitutional lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) and human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) and a former inspector General of police, (IGP) Alhaji Musliu Smith on june 13, 2016 in continuation of its anniversary to mark the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election won by late Chief Moshood Abiola with the theme “Lagos State in a true federalism and state police.”
The two Senior Advocates of Nigeria agreed that Nigeria needed both political and physical federalism for rapid development.
Both observed that Nigeria is the only Federal Republic without a state police and that states, local governments, and even schools could have their own police.
Falana revealed that Lagos for instance provided the federally-controlled Nigeria police with not less than 600 vehicles in 16 years while the federal government accorded the state with less than 200 within the same period.
Their agitation for state police was supported by the former IGP who said Lagos in particular was ripe for state police by virtue of its peculiarities and special position in Nigeria.
In his remarks, Obasa declared that every state that has the resources should be allowed to have state police in the spirit of true federalism.
He equally seized the opportunity to demand a special status for Lagos in view of its strategic position and contributions to national development.
Appraising the 8th Lagos Assembly a former chairman of the Ikeja branch of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Monday Ubani, thumbed up the performance of the Lagos lawmakers in the last one year.
“I have watched the proceeding of the Lagos House. Most times, their debates are only centered on how to better the living standard of the people of Lagos, how to improve their welfare and how to ensure that the issue of basic infrastructure is addressed.
“Most of the people elected in this 8th Assembly are masses-oriented people; you will see it in their pronouncement, actions and debate at all times. Therefore my view and opinion of this 8th Assembly is that they have done some things that show that they are very sensitive to the yearnings and aspirations of the people.”
Ubani’s views were shared by the first elected female chairman of the Lagos State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ), Mrs. Olufunke Fadugba. “I will say the 8th Lagos Assembly seems to be more active and less controversial than their predecessors who had always been engulfed in one crisis or the other. This particular Assembly seems to be focused and we can only pray that they remain so till the end of their tenure because it is not the beginning that matters but how well you end,” she said.