ADDRESS BY THE RT.HON. OBASA MUDASHIRU AJAYI, SPEAKER LAGOS HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY AT A MEDIA PARLEY IN COMMEMORATION OF THE 2ND ANNIVERSARY OF THE 8TH ASSEMBLY HELD ON THURS, JULY 13, 2017
Distinguished gentlemen of the Press and members of the Civil Society Organizations, it gives me great joy to address you today on how the 8th Assembly of Lagos State House of Assembly fared in its second session.
Looking back at our achievements in the last session of this Assembly, I cannot but give thanks to the Almighty Allah and entire Lagosians whose love and support have been resoundingly inspiring. The task has been very challenging, but my colleagues, management and staff of this Honourable House have shown avowed commitment towards retaining the pride of the House as the best in the country through positive and tireless disposition to plenary and committee activities.
Distinguished guests, it is common knowledge that Lagos State House of Assembly prides itself as the best in the country. No doubt, this is what birthed its slogan: “above the common standard of excellence”.
As it is expected, this claim puts a burden of high expectation on the assembly to live up to this standard, particularly the 8th Assembly to retain the status of Lagos among the comity of state houses of assembly in the country.
You will recall that about a year ago, we were all here like this, when I shared with us the achievements of this house within its first year of administration. A year after, we have not rested on our oars in making sure that dividends of democracy get to our dear electorates without any delay.
For the purpose of record, it is gratifying to note that this House passed eight bills into laws in the second session while 72 resolutions have been made; other bills are at various stages of passage, one of which is the bill targeted at tackling cancer in our society. These resolutions and laws are those that border on the welfare of the people living in Lagos, which have had direct impact on them. For the record, I will like to emphasise some of these laws and resolutions.
The Neighbourhood Watch Law of 1996 was repealed by the House of Assembly in the second session and signed into law as Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Law (2016). The aim of this law is to ensure that emerging highbrow crimes like killings by herdsmen, kidnapping, ritual killings and terrorism do not take root in Lagos State. Its corps was launched early this year.
Also, the house made the much-talked Lagos State Properties Protection Law (2016) within the last one year, which is meant to prohibit forceful entry and illegal occupation of landed properties in the state. The law provides for prohibition of forceful land take over, entry by force, illegal occupation of property, use of land agents, illegal use of law enforcement agents, encroaching with a weapon, sales of property without authority and professional misconduct among others by the “omo oniles” (land grabbers) with their attendant punishments as regards the particular offence.
Similarly, in a bid to curb the rising wave of kidnappings in the state, the Lagos State House of Assembly passed into law the Kidnapping Prohibition Bill (2016), which is now Lagos Kidnapping Prohibition Law (2017).
The Environmental Management and Protection Bill (2017) too has been signed into law by our governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode towards the proper and total sanitisation of Lagos environs and also to adapt and mitigate the challenges posed by climate change to the state.
More so, this House is amending the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension) Law. This amendment is a private member’s bill and is titled Public Office Holders (Payment of Pensions) Amendment Bill, 2016. The Bill has been read first time and awaiting second reading. The intendment of this bill is to save tax payers money while addressing the cost implication of some parts of the law. For instance, the law allows governors and the deputy to have a house each in Lagos and Abuja while both governor and the deputy are also entitled to 6 and 5 vehicles respectively. But with this amendment, both governor and the deputy will be limited to a house in Lagos where they served as well as have 3 and 2 vehicles respectively.
At the same time, the amendment is targeted at avoiding undermining the legislature and not giving the executive undue advantage, which could cause unnecessary rancour while safeguarding separation of power. As such, it seeks to accord due recognition to the legislature, which is the symbol of democracy in the state, by allowing the speaker and the deputy speaker benefit in the payment of pension.
In the same vein, some of the resolutions made by the present assembly are Call for the Amendment of All Tertiary Institution Laws in Lagos State; Menace of Traffic in Lagos; Need to Ensure Quality Control of Manufactured and Imported Products in Nigeria; Call to Check Harmful Activities of Faceless Recruitment Organisations and among others. No doubt, the impacts of the resolutions have brought new lease of life to the good people of Lagos State.
Evidently, through all these efforts of ours as parliamentarians, Lagosians have benefited immensely from the dividends of democracy. Of course, we shall not rest on our oars in meeting their diverse needs.
As part of my 10-point agenda, we have organised the second constituency stakeholders’ meetings simultaneously in all the 40 constituencies of the state. At the same, we have not failed in 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 programmes for lawmakers and staff, a factor that has improved them in no small measure.
As promised at the last forum, today, I am delighted to inform you that this House now livestreams its proceedings, being the first State House of Assembly to do so in the entire Africa.
Distinguished guests, in line with the success of this administration, which is pivoted on our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), seven out of the eight members from the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of this assembly have defected to our party, APC.
This assembly was also, for the first time in the history of assemblies in Nigeria, visited by the Imperial majesty, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi (Ojaja II) and his entourage earlier this year. The courtesy visit was borne out of the good news that the Oba heard about our stupendous and exceptional achievements as a house of assembly.
Gentlemen of the press and members of the civil society organisations, we cannot exhaust the details of our achievements so far. You all and Lagosians have been part of our success story and I enjoin you to make useful contributions towards the realization of our dreams for greater Lagos state.
However, it will be uncharitable not to mention the roles played by the Press and the Civil Society Organizations as catalysts for good governance in any democratic environment.
Indisputably, civil society groups are agents of development in any nation. CSOs play important role in social, political and economic development activities through constructive debate and criticism. The transformation of any society or system, particularly the developing societies like Nigeria depend on the effectiveness and efficiency of its civil society organisations.
In the same vein, the Press, popularly known as Fourth Estate of the realm, in Nigeria have significantly contributed to democratic sustenance in the country and particularly in Lagos State through stimulating and reliable reportage.
However, I charge you all not to rest on your oars. I encourage both the media and CSOs to continue partnering with the government and this House in delivering the dividends of democracy to Lagosians. Your advocacy plays a valuable role in our commitment to maintaining the pride of Lagos state as a pacesetter. Our job as a parliament is to help coordinate all efforts and ideas from all and sundry for the good of all Lagosians through existing legislation and public policy.
Nevertheless, may I use this medium to implore both the CSOs and media to rise in safeguarding the legislature. Recently, about 6 speakers of states house of assembly have been removed, which was not without the involvement of the governors in the affected states. For us to sustain our democracy, we must protect our institutions, most especially the parliament at the state level. You must see it as an obligation to protect our democracy so that your efforts will not be in vain.
Ladies and gentlemen, I likewise salute the efforts of the Lagos State House of Assembly Correspondents’ Association (LAHACA), which has been part of the success story of this House.
While we appreciate your contributions all to the development and growth of the society, we are appealing to you to be constructive in your criticisms and, of course, magnanimous with your praises.
Once again, I welcome you to this forum and thank you all for your listening pleasure.
Itesiwaju ipinle Eko, lo je wa l’ogun.
Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa
Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly