Inexperience, Number, Mute Opposition in Lagos Assembly | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Inexperience, Number, Mute Opposition in Lagos Assembly

Posted: Mar 3, 2016 at 5:49 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Augustine Adah, Lagos

Relative inexperience and less membership have subdued the role of opposition in the Lagos House of Assembly, Independent investigations have revealed.

With only eight out of 40 members, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is being perceived to have been overwhelmed by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), a situation worsened by the fact that all eight members are first timers in the House.

Political observers in Lagos are, therefore, apprehensive over the role of the opposition in the Lagos House of Assembly. Against expectations, the eight members of the PDP in the House are yet to show any modicum of opposition, which would have served as check for perceived excesses of the ruling APC government, they argued, adding that PDP lawmakers may have abdicated their role and have been assimilated into the APC fold.

Though they have moved and supported bills and motions since the inauguration of the 8th Assembly last June, they are perceived not to be making the right impact in the House, with observers citing the debate over the state appropriation bill when presented by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode last year where there was no dissent from the opposition despite some gaps and dark areas in the bill.

Timothy Eberechukwu, a political commentator in a chat with Independent, expressed disappointment with the PDP lawmakers. “I expected them as members of opposition party in the House to critically raise some observations during the budget debate, but I didn’t hear anything from them,” he complained.

According to him, Lagosians may not expect anything much from the lawmakers throughout their four-year tenure, judging from what is happening since the House was inaugurated.

However, Martin Onovo, candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP) in the 2015 presidential election, attributed the quietness of the opposition members to their insignificant number.

“The number of PDP lawmakers is insignificant that they cannot make any reasonable impact in the APC dominated House, with members who are specialists in propaganda,” he said.

Akeem Bello, Minority Leader of the House representing Amuwo Odofin 11 state constituency, debunked rumour making the round that members are very docile and may be on their way to joining APC. He said the rumour may be the handiwork of enemies of the House who want to cause unnecessary friction. He stressed that PDP members have been contributing to bills and motions.

“It is wrong for anybody to conclude that we are not living up to expectation when we are only nine months into our tenure.”

Similarly, Engr. Sunday Kudehinbu, Lagos State coordinator, PDP National Youth Vanguard, commended PDP members of the Assembly for speaking loudly over the decision of Governor Ambode to demolish some markets which mostly affected their members in the state.

Kudehinbu believes that members are doing their job effectively considering their number in the state Assembly. “You know, they form only about 20 percent of the total number in the Assembly. Under that condition, you don’t expect them to be outspoken or have their ways like the ruling party,” he said.

Also, Sanai Agunbiade, Majority Leader of the House, explained that it is not true that the PDP members don’t contribute to bills and debates in the House.

“When a bill is brought before the House, we invite the Attorney General of the state and his team to do executive briefing if it is an executive bill. At this briefing, everybody will ask questions as regards the dark areas of the bill.

“The bill will be criticised there, and the executive will tell us the thrust policy of the bill and why it is coming up. If it is an amendment, they would tell us why they want to amend it. So, we will be on the same page with them.

“Everybody is involved. What the opposition is likely to have raised might have been raised there before we will then go for the first and second readings, and discussion,” he declared.

Agunbiade decried the attitude of some people who think it is when opposition members start throwing stones and benches at APC members that they would be adjudged to be working. Such practice, he stated, is not practicable in advanced democracy.

At the inauguration of the Assembly last year, Mr Abdul-Hakeem Shokunle (PDP Oshodi-Isolo 1) specifically declared that the opposition party would support the majority party in the Assembly only on good causes.

Shokunle said in Lagos that the eight PDP members were united and would oppose all wrongs. Some people argued since most of the members are in the House of Assembly for the first time, they may not have knowledge and experience to contribute and oppose bills and motion as expected of them.

Analysts described this period as a learning process for the eight members of the state House of Assembly. Many observers are watching to see how opposition members would prove Hon. Adefunmilayo Tejuosho representing Mushin in the Assembly wrong over her comment that APC lawmakers would lure opposition members to join the ruling party.

“I am sure the PDP members would want to join the APC. We are a party that welcomes everybody, we have set good examples. They also understand and tap into our integrity. We have had PDP members before and they joined our party; we welcomed them; we supported them and we saw them as part of us,” Shogunle added.