Six lawmakers jostle for Speaker’s seat in Lagos
AS the activities of the 7th Plenary Session of the Lagos State House of Assembly gradually wind down, political permutations and maneuvering have commenced to elect a Speaker that would conduct its affairs for the next four years.
Basically, the contest is between the returning 20 lawmakers, as the other 20 either failed to make it back to the chambers e or have aspired for higher political offices.
The 20 new legislators, 12 from the All Progressives Congress (APC), and 8 from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are expected to join the returnees for the legislative business.
From the returning 20 legislators, 13 are returning for second term, four are on third term, while three are on fourth term.
As at last count, six candidates have already been penciled down to the Speaker, Adeyemi Kuforiji. They include a former deputy, Olufunmilayo Tejuosho, (Mushin, Lagos West); Deputy Chief Whip, Rotimi Abiru, (Shomolu, Lagos East); Sanai Oyeniran Bolanle Agunbiade, (Ikorodu 1, Lagos East); Mudasiru Obasa, (Agege, Lagos West); Moshood Olanrewaju Osun, (Mainland, Lagos Central); and Wasiu Esinlokun-Sanni, former Chairman of Mainland Local Government (Lagos Central).
From all indications, feelers from the ruling party have indicated any direction of zoning of the position to any of the three Senatorial districts, meaning that any of the contenders, irrespective of zone can emerge as the Speaker.
If the zoning system will be adopted, the next Speaker will emerge from Lagos Central since the governor, Akinwumi Ambode is from Lagos East, while his Deputy, Dr. Oluranti Adebule, is from Lagos West.
It was learnt that among the six contenders, five of them are qualified, based on their antecedents in the legislature. For instance, Tejuosho, a fourth term legislator, is very strong in debate and advocacy at the floor of the House. This was one of the factors that led to her emergence as Deputy-Speaker to Ikuforiji before her removal.
Though she might have learnt her lesson by now, another factor that might work against her is the fact that she has a link with Muiz Banire, who is just wining his way back to the party.
Her activities in the house earned her recognition as the best performing female lawmaker in 2014 by tan online news medium, which might be an added advantage to win the race.
However, the major obstacles Tejuosho will be the zoning arrangement if adopted as she is from the same zone with Adebule.
Agunbiade, representing Ikorodu, is another young and dynamic legislator. A third term lawmaker, one of his colleagues described him as someone with all humility who is well positioned to occupy the seat.
According to our source, Agunbiade is conversant with the requirements of the office, which include intellectual alertness, psychological disposition, sufficient leadership skill, and experience in the procedure of conducting the affairs of the chamber.
The former unionist at the Lagos State University, Ojo and one time Welfare Director of the Lagos State College of Education (now Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education), Agunbiade was said to have moved over 30 resolutions, one of the attributes that won him the 2015 House Correspondents award as the “Most Outstanding Lawmaker At The Plenary of The 7th Assembly”.
It was also gathered that his constituency is interested in his occupation of the position, to bring his talent, skill and passion to bear on Lagos. Party leaders in his area are of the belief that this is the right time for them to be compensated based on the fact that their area did not have any key position in the government of the Fasola, despite massive vote and support for the party.
According to feelers, it is enough to point at the difficulty of such voyage, as the major obstacle to get to the seat is the zoning system. That is the reason why some party leaders from his constituency are persuading him to vie for the post of the deputy-Speaker, so that the qualities and skills in him will not be wasted.
But this is not going down well with some of his supporters and party bigwigs who are encouraging him to focus on the office of the Majority leader, which also wields much influence in the house, so that his articulation on the floor will not be buried in the office of the Speaker or his deputy.
Rotimi Abiru, the deputy Chief Whip is also considered to be a strong contender. As the only principal officer returning to the house, one of the factors that would work for the third term lawmaker is his intelligence and good command of English language.
As one of the principal officers in the house, he is also being tipped to occupy the seat although being from the same Senatorial district with Agunbiade (Lagos East), one of the factors that might work against him is the issue of zoning.
Another candidate with very bright chance is Mudasiru Obasa, who is also a fourth term legislator and current Chairman of the Appropriation Committee. A source disclosed that his position has given him financial edge over other contenders, boosting his support base to clinch the seat.
But if the zoning policy is adopted, like Tejuoshso, he will be disqualified having come from the same zone with the Deputy-Governor.
For third term lawmaker, Moshood Olanrewaju Osun, he has the courage and boldness that the seat requires to steer the leadership and he stands a good chance of taking over from Kuforiji for the 8th Assembly based on his qualities. The zoning arrangement would also favour him as he is from the Lagos Central.
If the rumour that made the round late last year is anything to go by, then Esinlokun-Sanni, who was a member of the Assembly between 1999 and 2003, after which he was made a Special Adviser on Political and Legislative Powers to Tinubu and later became the Secretary to the Board of the state’s micro-finance institution, would be next speaker.
A factor that might work for him, according to investigations, is the fact that he is widely supported by the Islanders, especially the white cap chiefs and political bigwigs, who are also routing for him.
However there are arguments that as he left the chambers in 2003, he could have lost touch with procedures and that the party may not support him because he had once went to court without the party’s consent.
As the antics and political calculations continue, days ahead will determine whom the cap fits to occupy Ikuforiji’s seat.
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