THE issue of who becomes the Speaker of Lagos House of Assembly has never been devoid of the usual intrigues and the politicking associated with securing a powerful position.
Since the inception of the present democratic dispensation in 1999, the emergence of the Speaker of Lagos House of Assembly has been interesting.
In 1999, the tussle for the Speakership was between Hon. (Dr.) Olorunimbe Adeleke Mamora, from Kosofe Constituency II and Hon. Ola Animashaun from Ikorodu Constituency I.
Mamora, a medical doctor and Medical Director of Nimbus Hospital had the backing of Chief Busurat Alebiosu, a.k.a Bush, his political godfather in Kosofe/Somolu axis. While Animashaun, a lawyer, had the backing of late Funsho Williams and late Alhaji Ganiyu Dawodu, the Lagos Chairman of Alliance for Democracy (AD), the political platform on which 37 out of the 40 members were elected into the Assembly then.
Bola Tinubu, who was the governor had his own group too, BATCO (Bola Ahmed Tinubu Campaign Organisation). But, because he just came back from political exile, his group was not much on ground like that of Network Alliance controlled by late Engr. Funsho Williams and his friend, Engr. Oluseye Ogunlewe.
Majority of AD members in the House then belonged to Network Alliance Group and Ola Animashaun was confident he was going to be the Speaker of the Assembly going by the numerical strength of the group.
Bola Tinubu, who rumour had it was initially promoting Olanrewaju Ope as his own candidate for the post of the Speaker had to drop him for Mamora.
But of the 37 AD members, Mamora only had 14 in his support, while the remaining 23 were rooting for Ola Animashaun.
Tinubu, the master strategist knew his governorship seat was not safe with Ola Animashaun, who was a protégé of his rival, Funsho Williams as Speaker of the assembly.
Thus, coupled with the fact that his deputy, Senator Kofoworola Akerele-Bucknor was also an ally of his arch rival, Funsho Williams. So, he started wooing, cajoling and lobbying some Network Alliance Group members to the side of Mamora, who he had gotten his loyalty and support.
On Wednesday, June 2, 1999, when the newly sworn-in governor, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu came into the Assembly complex to perform his first official duty inauguration of the Assembly, there was a fracas which led to some furniture and louvers broken.
The cause of the fracas were the Network Alliance members who couldn’t believe what hit them when most of their members crossed over to Mamora’s side. They disrupted the inauguration and staged a walk-out. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t lay their hands on the mace which the Mamora group had kept away from their prying eyes.
After the walk-out by the Network Alliance members, 27 members who remained behind voted massively to elect Dr. Olorunimbe Adeleke Mamora the 4th Speaker of Lagos House of Assembly.
He completed his tenure without blemish and became a senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2003.
On Monday, June 2, 2003, when the 5th Assembly session was to be inaugurated by Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, there was no acrimony at all. This was because even before the elections were conducted, Tinubu had made it known that Barrister Jokotola Pelumi, from Epe in Lagos East senatorial district with his predecessor Rt. Hon. Adeleke Mamora was going to be the next Speaker.
So, those who were jostling like Hon. Olaitan Mustafa, Hon. Jide Omoworare and Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, to be the next Speaker after Mamora had to jettison the idea when it became clear that Tinubu, who had taken over the entire party structure was rooting for Pelumi.
Rt. Hon. Jokotola Pelumi was made Speaker on Monday, June 2, 2003, but just two and a half years at the helm of affairs of the legislature, he was booted out by 31 out of the 40 member Assembly.
Of course, the removal of Rt. Hon. Pelumi was not without the consent of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu with whom we gathered he had fallen out of favour.
Hon. Adeyemi Sabit Ikuforiji was the beneficiary of Rt. Hon. Pelumi’s removal. He became the second Speaker of the 5th Assembly in December 2005 and was there till June 1, 2007.
On Saturday, June 2, 2007, Rt. Hon. Ikuforiji was inaugurated as the Speaker of the 6th Assembly without rancor or acrimony. It was assumed by members that the less than two years he was Speaker in the 5th Assembly session could not be counted as his tenure. That he only completed Pelumi’s tenure.
So, he was allowed the seat for the second time on a platter of gold. Daggers and swords were, however, drawn by some members in 2011, when Rt. Hon. Ikuforiji said he was going for the Speaker’s seat again for the third time.
Hon. Kolawole Taiwo, who was the Majority Leader in the 5th Assembly was eyeing the Speaker seat and felt Ikuforiji should not be a stumbling block to his own ambition of becoming the Speaker. Aside the fact that he was the Majority Leader, he was also the highest ranking member. He was the only member who was in the House since inception in 1999. He, therefore, felt he should be the next Speaker.
Hon. Funmi Tejuosho, the Deputy Speaker to Rt. Hon. Ikuforiji, before she was removed felt it was her time to become the first female speaker of Lagos House of Assembly. She too felt Ikuforiji should not be the stumbling block to her ambition.
There was so much acrimony and rancor within the Assembly complex that allegations and counter allegations of fraud and mismanagement of the Assembly started flying around. The situation was so bad that former allies became foes.
In fact, Mrs. Mayowa Ikuforiji, the wife of Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji told ENCOMIUM Weekly in an interview during her 50th birthday celebration in October 2013, “My husband’s emergence as Speaker of Lagos House of Assembly for the third time taught me a lot of lessons about human beings and friends. Some people that you call friends might not really be your friends. I learnt a lot from that experience. God is the only one that you can depend on. Despite the intrigues and backbiting that went on then, Rt. Hon. Ikuforiji, still emerged the Speaker on June 2, 2011, for the third time. Thus, making him the longest serving Speaker of the Assembly so far.
The 8th Assembly session will commence on Tuesday, June 2, 2015. Who will be Speaker?
The intrigues and politicking has started again. Now, those jostling to be the next Speaker have risen to seven. They include Hon. Rotimi Abiru, the Deputy Whip; Hon. Funmilayo Tejuosho, former Deputy Speaker; Hon. Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, Hon. Moshood Oshun, Hon. Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni and Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu.
They all have been overtly and covertly canvassing for support from their colleagues and giving different reasons they should be the next Speaker of the 8th Assembly session.
As we have said, the next Speaker will certainly come from the Lagos Central senatorial district where Hon. Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni, Hon. Moshood Oshun and Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu are from.
One thing is certain, Asiwaju Tinubu who has been playing a pivotal role in who become the Speaker of the state Assembly since 1999 is still very much around and will surely play the same role this time around.
– TOLANI ABATTI