Legislative arm to pursue special status for city
Lagos State House of Assembly on Tuesday said the main objective in the 8th Session would be to acquire a special status for the state.
The House, at its first sitting after inauguration, said the status was long overdue for the state that is responsible for 66 per cent of Federal Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and a former capital territory.
Meanwhile, there were pockets of drama at the plenary as new lawmakers and principal officeholders had difficulties getting used to the House Rules.
Though there was a noticeable improvement over the last session under Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Tuesday’s siting started a little behind schedule but saw several points of order raised during proceedings as “the learners” and “JJCs” tried to come on board.
Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa, said the objective was in line with public outcry and existing laws of the country.
To make this achievable, Obasa said the lawmakers would work with their colleagues at the National Assembly to give the state her well-deserved recognition.
He argued that the demand had become imperative because, apart from being a former federal capital, Lagos still remains the economic hub and commercial nerve centre of the country and the destination of so many Nigerians seeking better life.
“It is therefore important that the Federal Government takes a special interest in the state by according it a special status and making necessary provisions to cushion the pressure on infrastructure in the state,” Obasa said.
Obasa’s declaration came after the Majority Leader of the House, Sanai Agunbiade, presented a report on the June 12 Anniversary Lecture, which took place in Lagos in commemoration of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election.
Agunbiade had said one of the recommendations at the ceremony was that since the All Progressives Congress (APC) has formed the government at the federal level, the state should seize the opportunity to ensure that it is granted the status.
He said almost all participants at the event agreed that there is no better time to push for special status for Lagos than now, since the state would have a listening ear now that the APC is in control at the centre.
It would be recalled that Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana, at the commemoration, said it was high time the state government demanded a special status right from the Federal Government, especially as compensation for her contributions to national economy.
Falana said: “Lagos must go further to demand for her right under the constitution. All the pressure is on Lagos. This is the time for Lagos to ask for a special status because every school-leaver is coming to Lagos.
“Lagos deserves a special place. In respect to a judgment of the Supreme Court that if resources are being mined in your state, and this is about resource control, you must ask for your right. Just like the Niger Delta states, all the citizens are in Lagos. All the planes are flying over Lagos. Lagos must go to Abuja to ask for compensation on what they are contributing to the country,” Falana said.
Having a Speaker and five principal officers, with little or no experience, preside over a 40-man House that is evenly divided between returnees and newcomers is expected to be a tough call.
The drama started with the popular Nollywood Actor, Desmond Elliot coming into the Chamber improperly dress, according to the House Rules. Elliot was dressed in a native attire but without the sprawling overall (popularly called agbada) and a cap, as mandated by the rules.
The actor raced to his office to redress when a senior lawmaker representing Alimoso I Constituency, Bisi Yusuf, drew his attention to the rule. But on returning to the chamber, Elliot had to be bounced from three seats before finally locating his Surulere I Constituency seat.
Sequences of plenary procedure were more of a challenge for the new Speaker, Obasa. He, however, took solace in the support provided by some of his principal officers that on several occasion saved the House from ensuing confusion.
While several of the 20-new lawmakers merely observed the session, about three found their voice though made their own errors.
Lawmaker representing Oshodi/Isolo II Constituency, Emeka Odimogu, at some point admitted he is “a JJC” in the House and said: “Didn’t know if I have overstepped my bounds by talking,” The sitting was adjourned to Thursday, June 18, 2015, when the proceedings will be conducted in Yoruba language.