By Our Correspondent
For the first time since 1999 when Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu assumed the position of strong man of Lagos politics, there are obvious signs that he would be disrespected by members of the Lagos State House of Assembly many of whom have vowed to work against his alleged choice for the position of Speaker of the House.
Tinubu is believed to have anointed Wasiu Eshilokun-Sanni, the immediate past chairman of the Lagos Island Local Government Area ahead of other qualified members of the House and despite the baggage the former council chairman is bringing to the House as lawmaker-elect for Lagos Island Constituency 1.
Though the position of Speaker of the House, ahead of June when the eighth Assembly would be constituted, is still open as up to seven current members of the House are currently jostling to be favoured, there are indications that it has been zoned to the Lagos Central Senatorial District so that the three senatorial zones would be represented in the state government.
Those currently jostling for the position include Adefunmilayo Tejuosho, Rotimi Abiru, Mudashiru Obasa, Lanre Ogunyemi, Moshood Oshun, Gbolahan Yishawu, Sanai Agunbiade.
But the State governor-elect is from Lagos East while his deputy is from Lagos West. Thus, the position of the Speaker would naturally go to Lagos Central.
However, this paper can reveal that as a result of what some of the lawmakers see as the overbearing influence of party leaders who have also tried to sell Eshilokun to some of the members, the members have also resolved that upon commencement of the eighth Assembly, they would “take their destinies in their hands.”
The grouse against Eshilokun is multi-pronged. There are those who consider him a fresh member of the House irrespective of the fact that he once served as a lawmaker in the state Assembly.
These set argue that Eshilokun, having served in the House for only one term between 1999 and 2003 when the legislature engaged in experimental processes and when activities of the House had not advanced, his return should instead be to learn and not become the head.
“During his time, lawmaking was still a trial and error thing. There were no provisions for travelling and a lot of the development and transformation in the lawmaking process we see today was only a mirage. How can you bring such a person to become the Speaker?
“I’m sure Asiwaju is getting the wrong advice from some greedy leaders of our party. Anyone who would become Speaker must be someone who would be able to fit into the shoes left behind by Adeyemi Ikuforiji and not one who would only come and behave like a primary school pupil.
“The period to start teaching Eshilokun about the House and legislation is enough to hit the ground running. Watch out, if they eventually succeed in making the man Speaker, be sure we would be a laughing stock throughout his period and I am even sure not all of us would take that; thank God we now have PDP members among us,” a second-term lawmaker said.
Another set of the lawmakers, especially the second-term lawmakers, hold that Eshilokun’s election was a betrayal of the agreement reached between the party leadership and first term lawmakers that they would get automatic tickets to return to the House.
Two members of the House, Hakeem Masha and Bashir Oloto, both from the Lagos Central and first term lawmakers were betrayed as Eshilokun and another former chairman of a local government council, Oladele Adekanye, were given the tickets during the primaries.
The case between Eshilokun and Masha is currently at the Appeal Court. A Federal High Court declared Eshilokun the authentic owner of the mandate, but Masha’s argument is that Eshilokun was a party executive.
He was the Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos and was responsible for receiving forms from aspirants and signing the forms. He is alleged to have resigned to contest as lawmaker only few days to the election thus flouting the party’s constitution that stipulates that executive members must resign at least a month before the election.
Other first term lawmakers at the Assembly are said to be grumbling that their colleagues were short-changed and thus remain aggrieved with the situation.
Some of them who spoke to this reporter threatened to support aspirants for the speakership position from other zones if the party leaders in the Lagos Central zone remain resolute that Eshilokun is the only person from the area to fill the seat.
“One thing leaders of the APC in the Central zone fail to realise is that there is no time. They must think of rallying round other aspirants from the zone who are acceptable. We have some of them in the House who are capable and are aspiring. Some of us from that Central zone do not really understand why it must be Eshilokun.
“The party leaders must learn not to regret because some of my colleagues are already saying they could end up supporting someone from another zone. Remember we are 40 lawmakers; the Lagos East has 10, the Lagos Central has 10 while the Lagos West has 20.
“When it happens, someone from the West could pick the ticket with the support of already aggrieved members from other zones. Then West would have Deputy Governor and Speaker. I hope we won’t regret especially as there are already eight lawmakers from the PDP, whose votes could also determine the outcome to an extent,” a newly elected lawmaker from the Central zone told our correspondent on Wednesday.
As a result of the anger over the plot to foist a Speaker on the House, returning members, new members-elect and even outgoing members are all pitching tents.
For example, Speaker Adeyemi Ikuforiji is said to have started canvassing for Rotimi Abiru, the only surviving principal officer of the House.
The major disadvantage Tejuosho has is her alleged poor human relations with colleagues and staff of the House. She is also believed to be a staunch supporter of Muiz Banire, a chieftain of the party many describe as a rebel because his position on many issues.
Obasa is believed to have the backing in his bid by the outgoing Deputy Speaker of the House, Taiwo Kolawole, and another top member of the House, Bayo Oshinowo. He is also at a disadvantage because apart from not being from Lagos Central, many believe that he does not have good relationship with his colleagues and staff of the Assembly.
Agunbiade is considered very qualified for the position of the Speaker. He however has a challenge from the fact that he is from the same zone that produced Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
The only two aspirants from the Lagos Central zone are Gbolahan Yishawu and Moshood Oshun both of whom are believed to be qualified except that Oshun, according to sources from the Assembly, is older in the House and more experienced than Yishawu, a second term lawmaker who recently granted an interview declaring that he does not need much experience to be Speaker.
Some of the lawmakers including the Deputy Speaker had been calling on the part to jettison zoning in the choice for Speaker, but this could be counter-productive, according to some members of the House.
The division, if not managed, could lead to a situation where the lawmakers would dump the party for a replay of the emergence of Speaker Aminu Tambuwal as Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2011.