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Crisis Rocks Lagos Assembly; Members Divided Over Support For Speaker & Deputy

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A big rumpus is currently going on in the Lagos State House of Assembly. The crisis may degenerate into a major political crisis in the state anytime from now, if not resolved.  Until now, the general perception has been that the leadership of the state has been enjoying unhindered peace; this latest development however, seems to have proved otherwise.  All is presently not well in the House of Assembly.

 

A story that emanated from the house, which was well circulated in the media last Monday exposed the secret whirlwind currently rocking the house. It was reported in the story that on Monday, April 10, when most of the lawmakers declined to attend plenary session meant to be presided over by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Wasiu Sanni-Eshinlokun. Checks have however shown that the report are not true.

In the story, it was reported that the Deputy Speaker had presided on the sitting on that day after the Speaker had communicated to him that he would not be available on that day.

 

According to that report, when the time for the sitting came and all support staff of the Assembly were ready for plenary sitting to commence, the lawmakers were nowhere to be found. Only about two or three of them were present at the chamber, clearly not enough to form quorum for sitting.

What really confounded close observers of the Legislative House was the fact most of the lawmakers were in their offices ready for the day’s sitting. However when they found out that the Speaker was not going to preside over the sitting, and the Deputy Speaker will take over, they refused to attend.

When it became obvious that quorum could not be formed for the sitting to commence, the support staff left the Chambers and the plenary was cancelled for the day. It was said that of the lawmakers that they decided not to attend the sitting because they did not have confidence in the Deputy Speaker who was supposed to preside over the sitting.

Investigations have however shown that against all the details given in the story, there was actually no sitting at all in the house o Monday, April 10. The Deputy Speaker never presided over any sitting, it has been confirmed.

Our checks revealed that almost all the 39 members of the house were present in their offices to resume their normal legislative business on that day, without the knowledge that the Speaker would not be available. The Deputy Speaker himself was not aware, until around noon when news came that the Speaker was not around. The Speaker, Honourable Mudashiru Obasa did not make any official announcement about his absence prior to that day.

The Clerk of the house, who should have also passed necessary information to members, also didn’t pass the message across.

A member of the assembly, who painted the exact picture of what happened last Monday said that the report that circulated in the media is being sponsored by some members of the house who have an axe to grind with the Deputy Speaker. He confirmed that it was a deliberate attempt to bring down the personality of the Deputy Speaker.

Giving a hint, he said “Some members of the house were already in the chamber to move into plenary. There was no prior notice that the Speaker wouldn’t be around to preside over plenary, so we were not expecting anything strange. The bell to announce the time for sitting had been sounded and even few members, including Hon. Funmi Tejuosho were already taking their seats. It was at this point that the Majority Leader came with the news that the Speaker was not going to be around. At that point, the Deputy Speaker was still in his office. It was the Majority leader that went to break the news to him. Later on, they got on the phone with the Speaker and he told them he was not around. While, all these were going on, other lawmakers who were preparing to go into plenary retired back to their offices. There are CCTV cameras all over the assembly complex, anyone that wants to fault what I have said can come out; the recordings from the cameras are there”.

“The truth is, the Deputy Speaker did not have any plan to preside over plenary on that day, as there was no fresh order of proceedings (which could have been made if the Speaker had communicated his absence officially). There are many channels through which the Speaker could have communicated his absence to the members. There is a WhatsApp chat group that has all the 40 members of the house. He could have just dropped the message there and all members would have done the needful”.

“No one was aware that he was not going to be around, and that there was not going to be a sitting, since the whole house officially adjourned till Monday during the last sitting on April 4. For instance, Hon. Desmond Elliot, who was in South Africa for the Big Brother Naija finale the previous night, flew into Lagos in time, so that he would not miss plenary”.

The lawmaker however expressed shock at the news that was released to the media.

Meanwhile, further checks revealed that the Speaker was later spotted in his office on Monday evening with one of his sons, who he travelled to London with later that night. He travelled to the UK for his son’s graduation ceremony, we heard.

It is however baffling that since the story that circulated few days back came out, there has not been any official statement from the house over the issue. The Speaker, his Chief Press Secretary, and Hon. Tunde Braimoh (who is the Chairman of the Information Committee of the house) are yet to drop any comment about the development.

Interestingly, the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Wasiu Sanni-Eshinlokun, who the story is centred about, has also been silent.

However, beneath this silence is a serious bickering going on among members of the house, particularly in the leadership. We heard that from the take off of this legislative assembly about 2 years ago, all has not been well between the Speaker and the Deputy. It could be recalled that Hon. Wasiu Sanni-Eshinlokun also contested for the Speakership with Hon. Obasa. Since Obasa emerged Speaker, some members of the house who are loyal to him, have always seen the Deputy Speaker as a potential threat to his seat.

Another source, a senior staff in the assembly confirmed to us that the lawmakers who are loyal to Obasa don’t want Eshinlokun to even come close to leading the house. The source squealed to us that while the news that the Speaker wouldn’t be available last Monday, some members voiced out their opinion that the Deputy Speaker automatically steps in, but some of the pro-Obasa lawmakers led by Hon. Lanre Osun vehemently declined.

This source confided in us that the cold war is thickening by the day as the lawmakers who are loyal to Obasa are plotting to even get the Deputy Speaker removed from office.

Meanwhile, trusted sources say that the Deputy Speaker has a strong backing in the house and enjoys a massive support from the political class in the state. So, an attempt to remove him is an onerous task.

 

 

The Pulse NG

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NASRE Advises FG On Food Crisis, Forex Shortage Amid Calls To Suspend Import Ban

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As Nigeria finds itself at a critical crossroads, grappling with simultaneous challenges of a food crisis and a foreign exchange (forex) shortage.

 

This is even as the nation seeks solutions to mitigate these pressing issues, the debate over whether to open its borders for importation has intensified.

 

The food crisis gripping Nigeria has raised concerns about food security and access to essential nutrition for millions of citizens.

 

Adverse weather conditions, supply chain disruptions, and other factors have contributed to dwindling food supplies and soaring prices, placing a significant strain on households and exacerbating the vulnerability of already marginalized communities.

 

Meanwhile, the forex shortage has hampered Nigeria’s ability to import essential goods and raw materials, further exacerbating supply chain disruptions and exacerbating inflationary pressures.

 

Industries reliant on imported inputs, including agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare, have been particularly hard hit, impeding economic growth and development.

 

In response to these challenges, some stakeholders advocate for opening Nigeria’s borders to facilitate the importation of food and other essential commodities.

 

Proponents argue that increased importation could help alleviate immediate food shortages, stabilize prices, and provide relief to vulnerable populations facing hunger and malnutrition.

 

However, others caution against the potential risks of opening borders amid a forex shortage. Critics raise concerns about the impact on domestic production and self-sufficiency, as well as the long-term consequences of relying heavily on imported goods. They emphasize the need to prioritize investments in domestic agriculture and infrastructure to build resilience against future crises.

 

As Nigeria navigates these complex issues, the government faces the daunting task of balancing short-term relief efforts with long-term strategies for sustainable development and economic resilience.

 

Proffering suggestion on how the government can address the unending inflationary pressures, Forex shortages, food prices hike and revitalise the nation’s economy, the Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors (NASRE), has advised the Nigerian government to adopt collaborative efforts involving policymakers, industry stakeholders, civil society organizations, and international partners to identify holistic solutions that address both immediate needs and underlying structural challenges.

 

On the debate over whether Nigeria should open its borders for importation amid the food crisis and forex shortage, the President of the advocacy group, Mr Femi Oyewale, underscores the urgency of coordinated action and innovative thinking.

 

According to him, now more than ever, solidarity, cooperation, and forward-thinking policies are needed to ensure the well-being and prosperity of all Nigerians.

 

“The question of whether Nigerian borders should be opened for food importation in the face of a food crisis is complex and multifaceted. However, there are factors to consider, which basically, Domestic Agricultural Capacity. Because opening borders for food importation could undermine domestic agricultural production by flooding the market with cheaper imported goods.

 

“However, if domestic production is insufficient to meet demand, importing food may be necessary to avoid shortages,” he said.

 

On the economic implications of borders opening, the President of NASRE, Oyewale, said: “Importing food can have economic ramifications, both positive and negative. On one hand, it can provide access to a wider variety of foods and potentially lower prices for consumers. On the other hand, it may negatively impact local farmers and exacerbate trade imbalances.”

 

The resourceful editors, while commenting on Food Security, pointed out that relying heavily on imported food leaves a country vulnerable to supply chain disruptions and price fluctuations in the global market. Therefore, it urged the federal government to develop a robust domestic agricultural sector, which is crucial for long-term food security.

 

According to Oyewale, the Nigerian government must consider its broader economic and agricultural policies when making decisions about food importation. This includes evaluating subsidies, tariffs, and investment in agricultural infrastructure.

 

“Importing food often involves long-distance transportation, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation. Promoting local production can help reduce the carbon footprint associated with food consumption.

 

“Food is not just a commodity; it is essential for human well-being. Government policies should prioritize ensuring access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food for all citizens, particularly those most vulnerable to food insecurity,” he added.

 

The Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors, NASRE, therefore, noted that the decision to open Nigerian borders for food importation during a food crisis should be approached cautiously, taking into account the country’s domestic agricultural capacity, economic implications, food security goals, environmental concerns, and social welfare considerations.

 

“A balanced approach that supports both domestic production and responsible trade practices may be necessary to address immediate food shortages while also promoting long-term food security and sustainability,” the Association stated.

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Lagos State Government to prosecute 11 suspects for extortion

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The Lagos State Government said 11 suspects arrested at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state will be prosecuted to serve as deterrents to others extorting residents and motorists in the state.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Olawale Musa, disclosed this while addressing journalists on Wednesday.

He added that the suspects parade themselves as enforcement officers to extort unsuspecting motorists and residents in the state.

Musa said, “Lagos State Government has declared zero tolerance for extortion of unsuspecting residents, especially motorists, by miscreants parading themselves as enforcement officers at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state.

“We have announced severally that nobody is allowed to collect money for the local government on the street of Lagos, and the government has set up a team to ensure that anybody that does that is picked up and from that Lekki axis.

“They will be charged to court to explain themselves, and I want to sound a note of warning to others that do the same thing that we will not relent; the government is all out for them.”

He noted that it is unlawful for any local government area within the state to place personnel to conduct such operations on the highways.

“If you have any issues, you call us, and we will come and address them, but when you have people coming on the road on the guise that you want to have revenue at this hard time, collecting money from motorists on the road is not fair, and it is illegal in Lagos State to resist it.

“It is illegal for any local government area in the state to deploy people on the roads as it negates the Lagos State Road Traffic Law, Section 18, 2018, which empowers only the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority to carry out such operations on the roads,” he added.

In March 2023, The PUNCH reported that the Lagos State Government arrested four suspected hoodlums in some parts of the state over extortion.

The suspects were arrested in the Amuwo-Odofin area of the state while attempting to extort motorists.

 

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N10bn fraud: EFCC to arraign Abdulfattah Ahmed, ex-Kwara Governor Friday

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will arraign the immediate-past governor of Kwara State, Abdulfattah Ahmed, for alleged N10bn fraud on Friday, The PUNCH has learnt.

Credible sources in the anti-graft agency said the ex-governor would be dragged before the Federal High Court in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

“He is going to be arraigned on Friday at the Federal High Court in Ilorin for diversion of funds, amounting to N10bn,” the source told our correspondent.

The ex-governor has been detained by the EFCC since Monday when he honoured an invitation for interrogation.

His Chief Press Secretary, Alhaji AbdulWahab Oba, confirmed his principal’s visit to the EFCC office on Monday, stating that it was only “procedural and routine”.

“Dr Ahmed’s visit to the EFCC is procedural and routine. He was invited and he honoured them as he’s always done. He’s always ready to respond to any query or question regarding his tenure as a governor of the state.”

On Tuesday night, Oba lamented that the EFCC was still holding on to Ahmed, saying he was given stringent bail conditions.

“Yes, he is still with the EFCC and we are now in a dilemma over the issue because they keep changing the goalpost during the match. The case is taking a new dimension, which we don’t really understand for now.

“Initially they said they wanted him to produce two sureties who are federal directors. The sureties came and were asked to provide landed properties in Abuja. We see this as a contradiction. The case was initially handled by the EFCC office in Abuja before it was transferred to Ilorin over the issue of jurisdiction. Additionally, he has been denied access to his doctors, medication and direct access to his cook,” Oba said.

Meanwhile, members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in Kwara State on Wednesday staged a peaceful protest to the EFCC zonal office in Ilorin, where Ahmed was being detained.

The protesters, who carried placards with various inscriptions, expressed displeasure over Ahmed’s detention.

Led by the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olusegun Adewara, the party members alleged that the All Progressives Congress in the state was behind Ahmed’s troubles.

Some of the inscriptions on their placards read: “EFCC should stop being a tool in the hands of Abdulrazaq led-APC”, “Governor Ahmed was very transparent”, “EFCC is not a department in the APC, EFCC, stop the harassment”, “The opposition cannot be silenced”, “Maigida will not join the APC no matter the persecution”, “EFCC, don’t instigate political crisis in Kwara State”, “No to illegal detention. Respect the rule of law”, among others.

But addressing the protesters, the zonal commander of the EFCC, Michael Nzekwe, said Ahmed had been given an administration bail but he could not meet the conditions.

“We’re wrapping up. Once we wrap up, the law will take its course. The anti-graft agency, being a creation of law, would not go contrary to law.

“Everything we’ve done is within the ambit of the law. The former governor is cooperating with us and we’re making good progress following rules of law. As I speak, he’s with his lawyer, a SAN; he attends to everyone who comes to see him, and he has a doctor who has attended to him. He eats what he wants to eat. I urge us to allow the law take its course. We’re not partisan nor prompted by anybody. This body is solely sponsored by the Federal Government,” Nzekwe said.

 

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