THE BATTLE TO CONTROL LAGOS HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY: THE AREGBESOLA CONNECTION

•Obasa fights Osinowo, Aregbesola, Mandate group over power

•Teams up with Gbajabiamila, Ojora, Olusi, others

By Our Reporters

Since the indefinite suspension of two lawmakers and demotion of two principal officers at the Lagos State House of Assembly, things are no longer at ease. The Assembly that used to be very lively and peaceful is now like a graveyard.

Four lawmakers including two principal officers – Mr. Rotimi Abiru, Chief Whip; and Mr. Olumuyiwa Jimoh, Deputy Majority Leader; Mr. Moshood Oshun, and Mr. Raheem Kazeem were all suspended indefinitely from Assembly, Monday

There have been claims and counter-claims on the reasons behind the removal of the principal officers. One of them is an alleged plot against Senator Adebayo Osinowo, also known as Pepperito.

With the recent development, power brokers in the state have initiated moves to remove the Speaker, Mr. Mudashiru Obasa over allegations of high-handedness and lack of transparency in the running of the House.

Vanguard reliably gathered that there are moves by some powerful forces within the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to remove the Speaker and replace him with a more pliable lawmaker.

A top source privy to the plans confirmed that meetings are currently being held both in Lagos and Abuja by these power brokers.

According to the source, those involved in the meeting include forces loyal to Senator Bayo Osinowo, a former lawmaker in the House of Assembly, who is now at the Senate representing Lagos East.

Since the crisis broke, there have been series of meetings to address the situation.

However, things are not getting better.

“There are also some key chieftains of the party who are not in support of what is brewing in the House and have been looking for ways to punish the Speaker. So, it is very likely that the Speaker may be on his way out if the feelings of members and party leaders are anything to go by,” a House source said.

It was also learned that APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the Minister for Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, have been briefed on the simmering crisis in the House

Late Monday evening replacements for the two principal speakers were announced by the Assembly, namely: Hon. Noheem Adams, Eti-Osa Constituency 1 (deputy majority leader); and Mojisola Miranda, Apapa constituency 1 (chief whip).

As the crisis deepens, sources said the speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila has teamed up with Speaker Mudashiru Obasa to fight both Bayo Osinowo and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola to standstill in Lagos.

On Monday evening, one of the 26 lawmakers who signed the suspension of the lawmakers said: “We will no longer allow anyone to sit in Abuja and be controlling us in Lagos Assembly.”

Ayodeji Joseph, Special Adviser to Femi Gbajabiamila on Political Matters, South-West was at plenary on Tuesday to observe the proceedings.

Ayodeji took to his facebook page to thank Obasa for making Miranda chief whip.

The crisis as learned was also triggered by a recent media report disclosing that N2.4billion was spent within 11 months to procure 80 cars for the 40 members of the House.

A top source in the House revealed that the Speaker was furious that such information considered ‘top secret’ was leaked to the press. He was said to have accused the affected principal officers of disclosing the information, which exposed the House to public scrutiny.

“The Speaker was unhappy that such information was leaked to the press. So, he accused the principal officers of not being loyal to him, disrespecting his orders and exposing confidential matters,” the source said.

He also accused the principal officers of being loyal to Osinowo, who is still very influential in both the House and in the state.

But the source noted curiously that Osinowo backed Obasa to become the Speaker in 2015 and was also instrumental in 2019 when he retained his position after faceing a stiff competition from the sacked Chief Whip, Rotimi Abiru and the current Deputy Speaker, Eshinlokun Sanni, who had their eyes on the seat and enjoyed the backing of former Speaker of the House, Adeyemi Ikuforiji and Senator Oluremi Tinubu, respectively.

“The Speaker believes that the officers were not supporting him but were instead plotting for him to fail. Don’t forget that Abiru was backed by Ikuforiji to emerge as Speaker of the House in 2019, while ‘Pepper’ backed Obasa.”

Besides, the major decision to sack the principal officers and suspend the two lawmakers indefinitely,Vanguard learned is not unconnected to the manner spending of funds from the coffers of the House is shrouded in secrecy.

When connected the affected lawmakers said they have been holding series of meetings on the development.

Meanwhile, the majority leader, Mr. Sinai Agunbiade and Mr. Tunde Braimoh have not been attending plenary since Monday. Even the lawmaker that replaced Senator Bayo Osinowo in the Lagos Assembly has not been attending the plenary as well.

As it is the fight for the control of the Lagos House of Assembly is between Senator Bayo Osinowo and Speaker Obasa.
Senator Osinowo himself was a four-term member of Lagos House of Assembly before going to the Senate.

The bone of contention is the control of the Lagos legislative House. Senator Osinowo is said to have a huge influence on the House from his new base in Abuja. Said to have been assisted by the Minister of Interior Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, Senator Osinowo played roles in the emergence of Speaker Obasa and the principal officers. He is said to maintain a private office in the complex.

His failure to vacate the office, sources said partly led to the schism in Tinubu’s Lagos political family.
Speaker Obasa was said to have complained to Tinubu that Osinowo’s continue stay in the complex is not only an aberration but also denies space for elected members and career officers seconded to the assembly.

Tinubu was said to have ordered Osinowo to immediately vacate the office. This directive is the first time Tinubu has ever countered any move or action of Senator Osinowo, his political ally since their days in the struggle for the realization of the June 12 mandate.

With this directive, Speaker Obasa became emboldened and curried the loyalty of members with the acquisition of Prado jeeps for each member of the 40 man house. He also dismissed the House Committee leadership positions submitted to him by Senator

Osinowo and appointed his core loyalists into juicy committees to the chagrin of members who were hitherto earmarked for such.
With these three developments politically suave members realized that Speaker, Obasa is the new power base in the House and swung to his side. Obasa is also said to eyeing the Senate in 2023.

Vanguard News Nigeria.

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