It was heart-warming seeing members of the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CISNAC) protesting at the Lagos office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission against the Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa.
They eventually submitted a compelling petition on Tuesday, and demanded that the EFCC should dig into the corruption allegations against Obasa and his cronies.
The Coordinator of CISNAC, Shina Odugbemi, told the Head of the anti-graft agency in Lagos, Mohammed Rabo: “Our mission here this morning is to present you a letter about an issue in Lagos State. Everywhere is awash with the accusation that the Speaker of Lagos House of Assembly is squandering money. We pick issues and we ensure that we follow issues to logical conclusions. This is one of the steps. We have come here today to present to you our petition that contains a catalog of allegations… What we are against is that in the Lagos State House of Assembly, there is a conspiracy to sweep these things under the carpet.”
I challenge other civil society groups to join the campaign to force Obasa out of office. The profligacy, mismanagement, and corruption in the Lagos House are frightening. Here, we have lawmakers junketing abroad for all sorts of seminars, wasting huge resources on frivolous things; abuse of office, spending N61 million on its inauguration, hosting the Conference of Nigerian Speakers with N350 million, dipping hands into the public purse and issuing N80 million to their wives for an absurd trip to Dubai, financial misappropriation, using pseudo companies to get inflated contracts and all sorts of garbage. This is happening in a state with so much poverty and Obasa is the man coordinating these misdemeanors. This coldblooded Speaker often echoes that money is meant to be spent because he has N550 million to squander monthly. Obasa has to step aside to end these tomfooleries.
The opinion of Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Head of Transparency International in Nigeria on the “Lagos House of Corruption” is useful. He said: “It is saddening that N80 million would be spent on such an event (trip to Dubai for their wives) when the health and education sectors in the state are in shambles. An act could still be deemed as corrupt even if it is approved officially. If this is not corruption, what would you call this?
“The truth is that there is something called official stealing, looting and diversion of funds and it is happening across Nigeria and what the Lagos Assembly has done is just to tell you what is going on in other states. It is also a reflection of what is happening at the federal level because states usually emulate the federal. Nigeria’s democracy has been hijacked by those stealing the funds meant for development. Imagine how many communities in Lagos would have clean water if that money was spent on development? Imagine if the money was used in equipping a primary health center? Why spend it on legislators’ wives?”
The Chairman of Coalition against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), Debo Adeniran, adds: “For me, it is not really the N80 million that matters but the fact that the state is not supposed to spend a dime on the wives of lawmakers who are not even elected officials. These legislators are already receiving outrageous allowances which ought to cater for their families. They need to explain to us why it was important for the wives of lawmakers, women who were not elected, to be trained in Dubai.”