- Mufutau Egberongbe says Babajide Sanwo-Olu will succeed with the current crop of lawmakers in the Lagos Assembly
- Egberongbe insists that Femi Gbajabiamila remains the most qualified candidate for the speakership of the House of Representatives
- The lawmaker-elect says part of the gains to expect from the ninth House of Representatives is the granting of special status to Lagos
The lawmaker-elect for Apapa constituency at the House of Representatives, Mufutau Egberongbe, believes the 9th National Assembly will be different from the eighth session. In this interview, the former Lagos lawmaker speaks with selected journalists on why Femi Gbajabiamila is primed to lead the lower legislative chamber starting from June, 2019.
You are moving to the House of Representatives, but let’s know your rating of the eighth Lagos state House of Assembly.
There are evidences in more private member bills that were churned out in the Assembly as against what used to happen in the past, when most of the bills were executive. This shows that the members of the eighth Assembly are hardworking and are capable. The reason is not far-fetched; they have been able to show that they have the love of the people at heart. Town hall meetings are held by the members across the 40 constituencies and the details are compiled to form the budget of the state government for the succeeding year.
What should the ninth Lagos Assembly do better?
Basically, the activities of the legislature are by convention. Why the next Assembly would be different is that the current speaker is returning and most members are also returning. This would definitely help the ninth Assembly. In the last session, we had eight members from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before they crossed to the All Progressives Congress (APC), but the ninth Assembly is starting with everybody being members of the APC. They would have the same focus and ideas. This would give them more opportunities and things would be done quickly because they would all be on the same page as they are from the same political party. Credit should go to the national leader of our party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the state chairman of our party, Alhaji Ibrahim Babatunde Balogun.
What would have taken us back is if we had a new governor and new Assembly members. In this circumstance, however, the legislature, which is the number one of the three arms of government, will have a lot of people coming back. The governor-elect, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwoolu, has been part of the government since the time of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, when the latter was the governor of the state and Sanwo-Olu was the managing director of the LSDPC until recently. So, our government will work well better now.
I must add that the current speaker of the Lagos Assembly, Rt Hon Mudashiru Obasa, must be returned as speaker because there is no time for experiment and this would make it better as the governor is coming for the first term. We need an experienced speaker to work with him.
There are beliefs that being a one-party legislature, the members would end up being rubber-stamp lawmakers?
They would not be rubber-stamp; they would be a cohesive and combat-ready Assembly. They would be able to run the affairs of the state well. Parties are formed based on ideas. So it is better nobody is from the PDP, APGA or any other party with different manifestoes. They will all be working on the ideologies of the party.
You will be representing Apapa at the House of Representatives. What should your constituency expect from you?
Like I said, legislature is the first arm of government. The duties of the legislature at the federal level are not different from those of the state. They have people at the back of their minds. I was a member of the Lagos state House of Assembly for eight years from 2007 to 2015 and I was the special adviser to the speaker of the Lagos state House of Assembly for four years, but I have since resigned my appointment. I think I am in a better stead to do what the people want as a federal lawmaker. Some of those things that I would have done as a member of the state House of Assembly would be done better at the National Assembly. There is a serious synergy between me and my constituents. I would copy what Senator Oluremi Tinubu is doing in Lagos Central by holding townhall meetings with my people regularly. I might not be able to do it frequently as she does, but at least I should be able to do it once in a year.
The speakership of the House of Representatives has been zoned to the south and Hon Femi Gbajabiamila has signified interest in the position. Do you think he has what it takes to manage the office?
Members of the National Assembly came from various political parties and we are bound by the dictates of the party. We came in through the APC and the party has spoken through the chairman and the leadership of the party. They said that the leadership of the House of Representatives should be zoned to the south and that it should be Hon Femi Gbajabiamila. I have said it severally that it is not just about the position being zoned to the south or Hon Femi Gbajabiamila being preferred, but the personality of Gbajabiamila himself should be considered.
Hon Gbajabiamila is a very serious-minded person, look at his contributions on the floor of the House; he is a very disciplined and versed person. Sometimes, you hardly find up to 50 or 60 members on the floor of the House, but you would find Hon Gbajabiamila there dishing out one section of the constitution or the other to support his claims on a particular bill. He had been a minority leader and he later became the majority leader of the House. It only behoves on us that having seen it from the minority perspective and later the majority perspective, he should be supported to become the speaker of the House of Reps in the interest of the Nigerian people. Gbajabiamila has been there on five occasions, so he has the necessary experience, he would then hit the ground running once the ninth National Assembly begins. He even said it once that he would not run for the office if the position is not zoned to the south. That tells you that Hon Gbajabiamila is selfless.
What measures have the party put in place to ensure that Gbajabiamila emerges the speaker of the House of Reps because it might not be an easy task?
The 164 newly elected members of the House of Reps have embraced Hon Femi Gbajabiamila as the next speaker after we met in Abuja. I am amazed by the kind of support he got from the north. For the first time, we are talking about integrity and meritocracy, so we are moving the country to the next level. Even the presidency has said that Gbajabiamila is the way to go.
Would you say others are not qualified like Gbajabiamila?
It is not that others are not qualified. What I am saying is that Femi Gbajabiamila has been tested and trusted, why do we need to experiment with others?
What are those things you want to achieve in the House of Reps?
Basically, our job is lawmaking for a better society. We will ensure that we churn out laws that would make the country better. We will uphold excellence and protect the rights of the people. You will agree with me that there is separation of power among the three arms of government, yet the president of the country would have to make a proclamation before the National Assembly begins a session and the governor does that for the state House of Assembly too. That would tell you that there is still checks and balances among them. We will ensure a special status for Lagos state. Lagos state is a mini-Nigeria. You will agree with me that Lagos state is still the commercial capital of Nigeria. It is in the interest of all of us that Lagos state continues to thrive and excel so that it can continue to move forward.
Legit.ng earlier reported that two Peoples Democratic Party members of the House of Representatives on Sunday, March 31, declared support for Femi Gbajabiamila, an All Progressives Congress lawmaker, for speaker in the 9th Assembly.
Wole Oke and Jerry Alagbaso from Osun and Imo states respectively endorsed Gbajabiamila for the position in Abuja.
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