Lagos Assembly Speakership: APC and the contradiction in Zoning Arrangement By Bashir Aboaba Mojeed-Sanni
Lagos is unarguably the commercial and economic nerve centre of Nigeria, such that anything and everything about and concerning her not only deserve attention, it indeed requires an objective, fair, historical, balanced and honest analysis.
Sequel to the successful completion of the 2015 election, specifically, the gubernatorial election in Lagos and the subsequent victory of APC and its gubernatorial candidate Akinwunmi Ambode and 32 state assembly aspirants, attention as expected has shifted to the composition of the government of the state, from the executive down to the legislative arms, come May 29 2015. As a result, a lot of political and public governance analysts and commentators have been making loads of postulations, permutations, sometimes conjectures, and analysis. Most of which either lacks objectivity, fairness or negates the history of political governance in Lagos, unbalance and lack honesty.
Critical among these analysis, conjectures or should I say rumour, is the issue of zoning of the head of the legislative arm of the state. This rumours are not to be seen as an act of misleading Lagosians but a trend in choosing our leaders. History will only be kind to us if the indigenous background and divisional administrative areas of Lagos is not neglected in determining who emerge as the next speaker of Lagos State hallow chamber. In the light of recent argument and counter argument of the history, composition, nature and the making of Lagos and its people (Lagos is ‘no man’s land’ versus Lagos is an indigenous state arguments), it would be a great disservice to ignore the indigenous nature and people of Lagos in the zoning or distribution of political positions in the state.
A brief cursory and somewhat sentimental peep into the historical formation of Lagos state after her creation in 1967 under Mobolaji Johnson as the military administrator would suffice here. Lagos state was divided into five administrative, but more importantly, indigenous divisions of Ikeja, Badagry, Ikorodu, Lagos Island and Epe, which was tagged IBILE and which forms the core indigenous locality in the state. Twelve years later Lagos state was divided into three senatorial district of Lagos West, Lagos East and Lagos Central, without nullifying the initial administrative division. By mathematical calculation, todays’ Lagos East senatorial district comprises of two and half part of the old indigenous divisions of Lagos and its people. That is, the indigenous people of Ikorodu, Epe and some part of Ikeja (Somolu, Mende, Onigbongbo, Agboyi Ketu and Kosofe). On the other hand, Lagos West and Lagos Central senatorial district as they were today comprises just about one and half part of the old indigenous divisions. Lagos West senatorial district being Badagry and some part of Ikeja indigenous divisions, while Lagos Central senatorial district is also made up of one and half part of the IBILE divisions (Lagos Island and some part of Ikeja).
Ikorodu as part of the IBILE administrative divisions in Lagos state has experienced the social exclusion syndrome since the return of democracy in Nigeria in 1999. Social exclusion is seen as the process in which individuals or entire communities of people are systematically blocked from (or denied full access to) various rights, opportunities and resources that are normally available to members of a different group, and which are fundamental to social integration within that particular group. The issue of zoning through senatorial district is just one of the medium Ikorodu division and its people has been denied different political positions. This apparent marginalization of the good people of Ikorodu has not only turned them to second class indigenous people of Lagos, it has indeed impacted negatively on the division. It has led to the snail speed of social and infrastructural development of the division and its people, if any at all.
In 1999, the Governorship position in the state was zoned to Lagos West where Senator Bola Amhed Tinubu, having previously represented them in the senate in the aborted third republic, got the ticket under Ikeja Division. The position of speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly was zoned to Lagos East which produced now distinguished Senator Olorunnibe Mamowora as the speaker representing Kosofe (Ikeja division), the then Deputy Governor Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele comes from Lagos Island (Lagos Island Division) neglecting Ikorodu as an administrative division.
In 2003, we have a formation of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Governor (Ikeja Division), Femi Pedro as Deputy Governor representing Lagos Island (Lagos Island division) and Honourable Joko Pelumi (Epe division) as the speaker of the state assembly, while adding salt to injury, the senatorial seat of Lagos East was occupied by senator Olorunnibe Mamowora of Kosofe local government (Ikeja Division), further relegating Ikorodu as a division in that democratic dispensation. In 2007, Lagos state Governor democratic seat was occupied by Barrister Babatunde Raji Fashola from Surulere (part of old Lagos Island division), Mrs Adebisi Serah Sosan as Deputy Governor hails from old Badagry Division and the speakership position was occupied by Hon Sabitu Ikuforiji (Epe division), while the senatorial seat of Lagos East was zoned to Epe division, again, ignoring the existence of Ikorodu division. Rather unfortunately the same trend of zoning of 2007 resurface in 2011, save that this time around, in a dramatic fashion, the Speakership which was hitherto zoned to Lagos East senatorial district was, though given to an indigene of the senatorial district, occupied by the erstwhile speaker Hon. Ikuforiji who was then representing Ikeja Constituency 1 in the 7th Assembly, which invariable means Lagos West senatorial district. And resulting in the zoning of the senatorial seat of Lagos East to Epe division and the speakership seat back to Ikeja division, without having any recourse to recognise Ikorodu Division and its people in elective position at the top notch in Lagos State.
Here we are again 2015, where we have the Governor-elect Mr Akinwunmi Ambode (Epe division), Dr Adebule Idiat as Deputy Governor (Badagry Division), and the senatorial seat of Lagos east occupied by an indigene of Epe division – Senator Bareehu Ashafa. There are some salient questions we need to consider in determining the next presiding officer of the Lagos legislative arm.
“Will Ikorodu Division and its people be Marginalized Again in This Democratic Dispensation”?
“Will The Leadership Of APC Adopt The Part Of Credibility Over Partisan Politics Or Vice Versa to Determine The Next Speaker Of Lagos State”? We can keep asking question but we all know where the answer lies.
It beggars belief that the highest political position Ikorodu Division as part of the formidable indigenous IBILE has attained since 1999 is a decamping single term senator (Senator Ogunlewe) and a compensatory, irrelevant, figure-head, crisis- settling appointment of less than two months Deputy Governor of the state. The usual mantra is ‘Ikorodu did not have a capable hand’. This mantra does not only belittle the contribution of Ikorodu people to the overall development of the state, it indeed defies logic that a division with many first and landmark achievers (the Bensons, Awojobi, Onafowokan, Allinson, AOK Noah, Ajetunmobi, Gbadamosi, Comrade Ayodele Elesho, Ruben Olorunfunmi Bashorun, Davies Sunmonu, Olowoshago, Sanni-Mudashiru, Ola Animashaun, Alogba, Anibaba, Abike Dabiri, Adeniran Ogunsanya and many more) have not been considered good enough to occupy any of the topmost political positions in Lagos State.
To now think that at this time when Ikorodu Division has not only a ranking legislator, but a competent, vibrant and articulate and a refined barrister by training in person of Hon. Sanai Oyeniran Bolanle Agunbiade who is more than capable of occupying the position of Speaker of the 8th Legislative Assembly of Lagos State, the contradictions in the zoning arrangement of political positions in Lagos is been allowed to rear its ugly head. The insinuation that the speakership be zoned to Lagos Island Senatorial District without due and fair consideration to the IBILE dichotomy of Lagos is not only unfair to the people of Ikorodu Division, it also negates the principle of equitable distribution of power and resources amongst major stakeholders in the state and reinforce the social exclusion syndrome.
On this note, the true people of Lagos who believe in the egalitarian theory of equality (believing in or based on the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities) should not just allow partisan politics to over-shadow credibility, it is a glaring fact that Hon S.O.B Agunbiade of Ikorodu Constituency 1 is capable of steering the leadership of Lagos State House of Assembly. There is need to appreciate our root and togetherness as a great and indivisible state, we need to understand that Lagos State as the commercial hub of Nigeria and Lagos state Legislative arm as a model to other states in the nation would only surpass her present status when we allow merit and competence override the process of selecting who take charge of our affair as well considering the marginalized Ikorodu division. I believe Ikorodu is in the best position to occupy the speakership seat having proven beyond reasonable doubt about how we have been marginalized and our presentation of a Seasoned Intellect, a Legal Luminary, a Grassroot Mobilizer, Parliamentarian per Excellence and a man of the people Hon. S.O.B Agunbiade. It is not a coincident that Ikorodu Division returned the third highest winning vote margin between the APC and PDP in the last gubernatorial election considering the LGA areas where their elected legislators are been touted for the speakership (16802 compared to 21600 from Mushin and 18121 from Lagos Island); and Fifth highest margin of winning votes across the state. It is a testament of the resolve of the people of Ikorodu to politically align with the progressive even in the face of temptation of one of its own contesting on the platform of the regressive PDP, and their believe in equitable compensation in the distribution of political offices by the APC hierarchy in return for dedication to the party.
It is pertinent that APC as a party seriously considers the use of the IBILE in their zoning arrangement if at all it is necessary to zone political offices in the true spirit of equity, fairness and justice.
Eko o ni baje o! Ikorodu o ni daaru o!! Ki ise Oluwa ma te’siwaju!!!
Bashir Aboaba Mojeed-Sanni, Phd (in view) is based in London, a social researcher and commentator, a member of APC United Kingdom, Lagos State Chapter. He can be contacted via email, email@example.com or Tel. +447909094641