Lagos assembly sets legislative example, meets the people
Reasons of sycophancy, poverty and electorates’ inability to take up the office of the citizen through which the electorate can take elected representatives to task on their performances have made Nigeria’s democracy since 1999 to perform below expectation.
The result of this is bad roads, poor health care services, lack of safe and portable water, poor economic management, massive corruption, lack of power and other social amenities across the country. What is worse, the local representatives usually opt to move out of the poor neighbourhoods they were elected to posh areas in the case of a mega city like Lagos and insulate themselves from the people.
But the current Lagos State House of Assembly has set precedence for others to follow with the recent stakeholders’ meeting members held in their various constituencies across the state. And so halls, open spaces and their car parks were filled to the brim on Tuesday, November 10, 2015, as members of Lagos State House of Assembly met their constituents for the first-ever constituency stakeholders’ meeting. Though it was a workday, stakeholders arrived the different venues early.
The house had given massive publicity to the programme days before, detailing the venues across the 40 constituencies in the state among other vital information. In June, Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon Mudashiru Obasa, had in his augural speech assured Lagosians that the Assembly would involve the people in their activities. Therefore, the constituencies’ stakeholders’ meeting presented an opportunity for Lagosians to assess the Lagos Assembly in terms of its commitment to this promise.
It was therefore little wonder when attention shifted to the different venues where many had hoped to pour out their demands regarding their expectations and aspirations
This no doubt was not as misplaced as Obasa had assured the people that their inputs would form part of 2016 budget.
Residents saw the opportunity as one too good to ignore.
This was not unexpected, as the House had said the event was designed to obtain Lagosians’ input on what they desire in their areas.
From Ikorodu, Epe, Lagos Island, Kosofe, Surulere and others, traffic control virtually overwhelmed those in charge as Lagosians trooped out in their numbers to be counted. In Agege where Obasa met his people, every available space was occupied, while security agents had a hectic time controlling the crowd. The story was the same all over the state as virtually everyone in attendance wanted to speak on their expectation.
Obas, chiefs, various union leaders, traders, Community Development Associations (CDAS), youths, market men and women and more all had one thing or the other to say. Obasa, in his welcome address, told stakeholders the concept of the meeting was unique as it was the first of its kind in the nation’s history. He hinged it on the Lagos Assembly being the first to hold such a meeting simultaneously across all the constituencies under its jurisdiction to rub minds with the people to know their wishes and expectations from government.
Said, “We are collaborating with our constituencies to ensure that the impact of government is felt at all levels and to reinvestigate rapid socio-economic projects, control of traffic, implementation of traffic laws, security and maintenance of Law and order”
According to the Lagos State’s number three citizen, the intention was to oil the wheel of the social contract which the Assembly has with the people. Obasa hinged this on the fact that the state House of Assembly is constitutionally empowered to make laws for the peace, order and the god government of the state “by virtue of 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
He stressed that this could be better appreciated against the backdrop of the fact that the House of Assembly performs other functions including representation oversight, checks and balances on the Executive and the Judiciary and more. But the biggest news of the day, according to Obasa, was that Agege would soon be the beneficiary of a flyover bridge at Pen Cinema area of the constituency.
This was received with a resounding ovation as those in attendance clapped and clapped for their representative on hearing of the news as Pen Cinema, known for bustling business activities, records notorious traffic in the mornings and at close of work on a daily basis.
ON the Island, the scenario was similar as the Deputy speaker, Hon. Wasiu Eshinlokun, told stakeholders that the House of Assembly was desirous of getting a handle of what the people wanted for onward transmission to the executive for implementation.
The lawmaker was joined by the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu and All Progressives Congress (APC) leader, Prince Tajuden Olusi. Akiolu, in particular, could not hide his joy as he commended state assembly for giving the people a voice through the initiative. Olusi, a veteran politician and leader of the APC in the Lagos Central Senatorial District, also shared his thought and called for more of such rapport between the assembly and the people.
At Lagos Mainland, Hon. Oladele Adekanye, had an over-crowed hall to contend with, as he engaged his constituents on their expectations, just as he commended Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for embarking on construction of over 100 roads across the state.
The lawmaker who stood for several hours listening and taking notes assured the people of the sincerity of the Obasa-led assembly on projects. He, however, called on the Federal Government to quickly fix the power sector to ensure Nigerians are gainfully engaged.
For former NBA chief, Mr. Monday Ubani, the Lagos State House Assembly deserved commendation in view of the timeliness, concept and style of the stakeholders’ meeting. Said he, “I want to commend the Lagos Assembly for holding this exercise. All we are asking for at UNILAG estate, Isheri Magodo, is road construction and provision of street lights”.
Also speaking on the exercise, a rights activist, Mr. Michael Okezie said the assembly had blazed the trail in participatory democracy.
“I want to commend the lawmakers for the initiative because most of the time, we don’t get to have this kind of opportunity to talk to our representatives. That the lawmakers therefore decided to do this on their own shows a clear departure from our past experience. I, therefore, commend them and hope that other state legislatures will toe the same line for the benefit of the people”.
While reacting to the exercise, spokesman of the assembly, Hon. Tunde Braimoh who spoke at the Local Government Health Centre hall Mascara, Ketu, introduced a unique dimension to the meetings, as everybody present was handed a form to fill their expectations from government, even as two senior staffers of the House of Assembly also documented the people’s requests. This no doubt ensured everybody fully participated as everyone present in the over-stretched hall had an input to make.
Perhaps, the innovation made the event come to a quick end, even as Oba of Ketu, Oba Isiaka Balogun, APC leader in Kosofe, Chief Stephen Oyedele, former chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja branch, Mr. Monday Ubani, market leaders and others lauded the quality representation Braimoh was providing the people.
They also commended the Lagos State House of Assembly for bringing about participatory democracy by networking with those who voted them into office. The scenario was equally the same across other constituencies where eulogies trailed the concept which many believe would make people part of decision-making.
This may not be far-fetched as the lawmakers listened with rapt attention as stakeholders across the 40 constituencies requested for the provision of schools, roads, as they commended the Speaker Obasa for the initiative.
He said, “I want to commend the speaker and other members for this initiative. This is a very important exercise in view of its strategic importance to us all as a people. As legislators of the State of Excellence, I want to assure Lagosians that we shall continue to do our best in the overall interest of this state at all times, and I am happy we have started well”.
As 2015 draws to close, Lagosians eagerly await the promise of an assembly which has its eye on being ‘the leading light and pathfinder for Nigeria and Africa’s legislatures for a better Lagos’.