Why I Want To Be Lagos Speaker – Eshinlokun-Sanni | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Why I Want To Be Lagos Speaker – Eshinlokun-Sanni

Posted: May 18, 2015 at 1:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni is the immediate past chairman of Lagos Island Local Government and also the immediate past Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Lagos State chapter. He was a member of the state House of Assembly between 1999 and 2003. He contested the just concluded general elections, winning the ticket to return to the House of Assembly to represent Lagos Island Constituency 1. In this recent interview with journalists, including AKINWUNMI KING, he explains why he wants to preside over the Lagos State legislature. Excerpts…

What are the qualities you expect from the next Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly?



The qualities that we expect in someone that will become the next Speaker are that the person must be cool-headed, emotionally stable; somebody who can administer that arm of government for the benefit of the members and the people of Lagos State. Somebody who is versatile; somebody who has been a legislator; somebody who has been administrator and he must be somebody who has been in the scene for quite number of years. All of these qualities I think I possess.

What is the position of your party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), on zoning of selective offices in Lagos State?

Well, what I know is that at the beginning when we wanted to start this journey, the party leadership called a stakeholders’ meeting, which was held at the party Secretariat on Acme Road, and they said that the three major offices will be zoned to the three Senatorial Districts. They said they have zoned the governorship to Lagos East, precisely Epe. Thereafter, people jostled for it from Epe; the only person came from Lagos Central was Supo Sasore. However, it went to Epe, which is under Lagos East. Thereafter, the deputy governorship slot was given to the people Lagos West. So, it therefore goes without saying that the last one should go to Lagos Central.

What would you say qualifies you to be the next Speaker of Lagos Assembly?

Number one is that I am a Lagosian; I am from the Eshinlokun Royal Family of Lagos and when you are an Eshinlokun, you have siblings, cousins in some parts of Lagos like Epe. When you see the Olu of Epe, you will see that his title is also Eshinlokun. We also have siblings in Eti-Osa, Sangotedo to Ado. There are also siblings in Ikorodu, especially Ebute Iga. Ebute Iga belongs to the Eshinlokun. Also in the West, there are Eshinlokuns. For me, apart from being an Eshinlokun, I also have houses in Ajah; I have in Ebute Iga, Ikorodu. If I had wanted to be greedy, I could have gone to the East and say I want to contest from there.

What exactly led to your ouster from the House in 2003 and how true is the rumour going around town that Tinubu has anointed you as the next Speaker because people, especially members of the House, are already saying that if you emerge the Speaker, you will only do the bidding of Tinubu and not the bidding of Lagosians. How do you react to this?

The fact of the matter is that whoever said that – I can tell you that most of them were sponsored by the leadership of the party. Without the leadership of the party, none of the members or most of them will not be in that House. And I’ve told people, he who must come to equity must come with clean hands. In 2003 when we were in our fourth year in the House, the leadership of the party then went to Epe and they raised the hands of Jokotola Pelumi, this is somebody who has never been to the House and they said this is the next Speaker of Lagos State. Those of us in the House and those that were returning then never raised an eyebrow and eventually Pelumi became the Speaker. He became the Speaker without any legislative experience and those of my colleagues who had been there for four years couldn’t become Speaker because it was zoned. Pelumi’s hands were raised by the leadership of the party and nobody questioned the decision. Two years after when Pelumi was removed, the other man from Epe, Rt. Hon Ikuforiji, who had only just two years experience, was pushed forward as the Speaker. Meanwhile, there were others with six years of experience and no one raised an eyebrow. So how could you now say somebody is raising someone’s hands when you have also benefited? Most of them crying foul now, their elections were sanctioned by the leadership of the party. If indeed it is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu that is sponsoring me, I will be highly honoured that I have been identified as someone who can deliver because Asiwaju doesn’t identify with failure. Whatever Asiwaju identifies with is always successful. Go and check it out, Fashola, Aregbesola, Ajimobi, Amosun, they are all successful. So if indeed he has raised my hands, then I should be highly honoured and I am grateful to him. But what I can say is that I know that the Speaker is first among equal and I know that their welfare should be paramount in my mind and what I can say is that I assure them qualitative and effective leadership and representation. And in all my endeavours as a council chairman, as honourable member, as the party secretary, I’ve always been successful. How I left the House in 2003, you know that at the end of every tenure, the leadership of the party will identify those that will go back, I was number four in the list of those that should go back but there was a political crisis in Lagos Island then, and it led to the ouster of the then Chairman of Lagos Island Local Government (Ajose). So the then Secretary to the state government, Aro Lambo and some leaders said I did not support them during the impeachment of Ajose, so they didn’t allow me to return to the House.

Some of the ranking members are of the opinion that you won’t be able to meet up to the standard the incumbent Speaker, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, has taken the House to if you become the Speaker, considering the fact that you left the House 12 years ago. How do you react to this?

It is self-serving, fallacious and the lie of the century. The legislative procedure has not changed for 100 years. If you want to make a law, it goes through the first and second reading, after which it will go for public hearing and report presentation follows, then to the third reading, after which it will be passed and clean copy sent to the governor for assent. Has that changed? It has not changed; it has been like that for 100 years. Also, the standing order of the House has not changed, it has always been the one adopted since. The only thing they can say has changed is the physical development and not the procedural thing. Secondly, the job of the Speaker is not all about legislation, it is just 40 per cent of legislative duty; he does more of administrative duty. In the House, you represent; you make laws; you build consensus; the Speaker tries to leverage on his profile with the party and party leaders. You must also have administrative experience; none of them has administrative experience, which I had for eight years as the SSA and also for six years at the local government. So nothing has changed in the House except the physical development which Ikuforiji has done and which I must applaud him for.

What efforts are you making to sell your candidacy to members-elect, especially the new ones?

Well, I’ve been talking to them and the response has been massive.

There are other members from your Senatorial District, what edge do you have over them?

The edge I have over them is that I am a party man. I’ve been a party man since 1990 and I started from the grassroots. I’ve also been the party secretary and I put it to them that if there is anyone of them that has achieved that, such person should put the profile forward. You can’t be the Speaker without being a party man and even at the House, I’ve been there before anyone of them and that is seniority.

Do you have any plan B?

Let me say that the Speakership is an icing on the cake. The cake we already have and the icing is what we are aspiring to get. But whichever way, we will abide by the decision of the party and the leadership.

There is also this allegation from some of the members that you are an arrogant person, and that should not be part of qualities of a good Speaker.

That is most untrue. I’ve interacted with many of them; especially the old members and I have never shown them any act of arrogance. They know those amongst them that are arrogant. Those who cannot mix with the staff; who cannot meet with even their fellow members. I am not like that, I am very humble person.