Disquiet in Lagos APC over Speaker’s disengagement of aides

By Seye Olumide |   14 January 2021   |   4:22 am  

Mudashiru Obasa

Some members of the Lagos State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) have expressed displeasure over the sudden termination of appointments of some aides by the Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa.

The members, who spoke anonymously pending when the leadership of the party would speak on the issue, described Obasa’s action as unfair. They said it could lead to depression in the affected aides, especially at this period of economic crises.

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Obasa had on Tuesday evening terminated the appointment of four of his aides, including his chief of staff and his chief press secretary. Those affected by the decision are Chief of Staff, Saka Fafunmi; Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Tolani Abati; Special Adviser on Political Affairs, Dayo Famakinwa, and Special Adviser on Research, Oladimeji Oriyomi.

The sack of Fafunmi particularly irked members of the ruling party because the former Chief of Staff was a three-term lawmaker and Obasa’s former colleague until he (Fafunmi) decided to contest for the House of Representatives ticket for Ifako Ijaye Constituency 1 in 2019, but lost.

Fafunmi’s appointment was said to have been facilitated by late Senator Bayo Oshinowo, who represented Lagos East zone but died of Covid-19, to help cushion the shock of his loss of the House of Reps ticket. Some said he was not Obasa’s preferred choice for the position in the first instance.

The displeasure over the sack of the Chief of Staff is that Fafunmi is a son of one of the influential women leaders in Ifako Ijaye Constituency 1. Many see his treatment as a raw deal for a faithful party member. Fafunmi is also considered one of the followers of Oshinowo.

It is also being insinuated that Fafunmi’s sack could be Obasa’s push to oust Oshinowo’s loyalists. Until his death last year, Oshinowo was at loggerheads with the Speaker.

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According to the source, “When Fafunmi lost the House of Representatives ticket, Oshinowo, in his usual style, assisted Fafunmi secure appointment as Chief of Staff in spite of Obasa. It was the extension of the aggression of the crisis between the Speaker and the late Senator that brought about Fafunmi’s sack.”

But another source said Fafunmi was nursing ambition to contest the yet-to-be scheduled local government elections, adding; “The Speaker must have considered it appropriate to discharge Fafunmi so that he can focus on his ambition ahead of the council polls in Lagos.”

But the excuse was dismissed on the grounds that someone cannot be disengaged from his job to go and prepare for an election that is yet to be scheduled. Fafunmi himself was said to have been shocked when he received his termination letter, wondering what his sins were before the Speaker.

Yet another version said the Speaker’s action was part of his move to further assert his authority in the Assembly and to dismantle structures that are not loyal to his leadership.

The party members were also unhappy over Abati’s dismissal without reason other than the usual statement that his service was no longer needed. However, Abati is reported to have expressed gratitude to Obasa for the opportunity to serve, even as he stated that there was no discord between them.

Reference was made to how Obasa maltreated his former CPS, Musibau Rasak for four years and later dumped him for Abati after the 2019 elections.

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“Yet, he has used Abati for less than two years and dumped him. Any other person hoping to take appointment from the Assembly under Obasa must give it a thorough evaluation before accepting it,” said the member.

Prodded on what could have led to his disengagement, Abati said, “As regards the content, it reads your appointment is no longer needed. I don’t have any issue with my boss and I will forever be grateful to him for the opportunity given.”

Even before his disengagement, it was reported that Obasa hardly gave Abati the chance to function appropriately as his spokesman neither did the Speaker relate directly with his CPS. The standing instruction, The Guardian learnt was that Abati only related with Obasa strictly through the immediate past Chief of Staff, which impeded the former CPS’s relationship with the media.

MEANWHILE, loyalists of Obasa said the Speaker must have taken the decision as fallout of the bad press he has received, especially regarding corruption allegations in recent times. Recall that a report in March last year claimed that the Assembly spent N2.4 billion on 80 cars in 11 months. This set some legislators against the Speaker, who held the belief that some disgruntled lawmakers deliberately divulged the information to the media to discredit him.

Some of the aides of the Speaker were accused of enabling the bad press about Obasa and how he ran the Assembly. The Speaker’s grouse against Abati is said to be the CPS’s poor handling of the media, as he could not stop negative press against his principal.

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