Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State on Monday inaugurated the eighth Lagos State House of Assembly appealing from support from the members to lift the House beyond the common standard of excellence.
The House also elected one of the most senior members, Mudashiru Obasa, as its Speakers thus ending months of bickering and subtle campaigns among members for the celebrated seat.
The House also finally jettisoned the principle of zoning as it elected Obasa, a representative from Agege Constituency 1 in the same zone as the state Deputy Governor.
While Wasiu Eshilokun-Sanni, a former local government council chairman, emerged as Deputy Speaker, Sanai Agunbiade was elected Majority Leader, Wahab Olumuyiwa Jimoh emerged as Deputy Leader, Rotimi Abiru was elected Chief Whip while Omotayo Oduntan was elected Deputy Whip.
Obasa, first nominated and endorsed by the party leadership, was finally approved by the members even in the face of grumbling among some other contenders.
Inaugurating the Assembly, Ambode solicited for support from the members adding that inaugurating the House was constitutional.
He told the members: "We have a great task, not only in the complexities of governance, but in sustaining the high standard that has been set by both the immediate past legislative and executive arms of government. As you settle down to commence your legislative duties, I seek your support.
"On my part, I am committed to ensuring that all policies of government are legitimized in this hallowed chambers. I will work and collaborate with you and also respect your views and opinions irrespectively of the party that you represent.
"While we must recognise the principle of separation of powers, a cornerstone of the presidential system of government, it is significant to also recognise the imperatives of interdependence among the three arms of government. We shall have our moments of deferring opinion and views, however, when such occur, it must always be resolved quickly and in the best interest of our people.
"Distinguished members, this brings me to a very important issue of putting Lagosians at the centre of all our actions. As their servants, their opinions must always count. It is in this regard that I urge you to maintain close relationship with your constituencies.
"This is the only way that their aspirations can be gauged and harmonised into laws and policies. A great opportunity beckons on our state and our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), providing leadership at the centre.
"Dear members, our time is already counting, we need to get down to work and give our people the very best service we can offer. The people of Lagos deserve no less.
"Finally, in line with the provisions of Section 105, Subsection 3 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Amended in 2010, I have issued and handed over to the Clerk of the House of Assembly, a proclamation for the commencement for the Eighth Assembly of the Lagos State House of Assembly on this 8th Day of June, 2015.
"I wish you all a successful legislative time."
The governor promised to take advantage of a recent promise by President Muhammadu Buhari to work with Lagos to ensure the state remains a viable commercial hub.
In his acceptance speech, Speaker Obasa appealed for support from his colleagues especially those who contested against him for the position.
His full speech below:
It is one of the greatest honours and privileges of my life to stand before you as as the elected Speaker of the 8Th Lagos State House of Assembly. This is the pinnacle of the career of any State Parliamentarian and I am indeed eternally grateful to Almighty God, our National Leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, my most honourable colleagues and leaders of the 7th Assembly, the people of Agege Constituency 1 who have deemed me fit to represent them here and indeed my honourable collagues who have found me worthy as the first amongst equals.
2. To my colleagues who are returning members, I say welcome back. To our new colleagues, I give a hearty welcome to this chamber of ideas. Almost half of us has taken the oath of office for the first time today.
3. Our job as legislators has been cut out for us by Lagosians. Perhaps one of the most profound themes of the last gubernatorial campaign in the last election in Lagos was the one fittingly styled, “Let’s Keep Lagos Working.” Your Excellencies and my honourable colleagues, this is the most important job description our real employers, the people of Lagos have given to us. If we fail to keep Lagos working, then we would have failed on this job individually and collectively. We are stewards of the public trust. Our employers have given us the mandate. A mandate to keep Lagos working. A mandate to steer Lagos in the direction of greater opportunities, greater prosperity, development and real growth.
4. Today, you have elected me as the Speaker of this legislative house. I see my job as helping to coordinate our efforts - to channel our energy - to bring forward the best ideas from wherever they come - and turn them into legislation and public policy that helps all Lagosians. In all, our ultimate success would be seen if we succeed to keep Lagos working. Our people do not want to listen to excuses. They want to see their State working. They want to see a Lagos where dreams become achievements. They want to see a prosperous State. They want to see a Lagos that is equal in opportunities, City State confident of her future, and secured within her borders.
5. I on this occasion call on His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode to let us unleash the inherent powers in collaboration. There is so much we can achieve to move Lagos to the next level if we work together towards one common goal as defined for us my our employers, the good people of Lagos State.
6. Let me use this opportunity to appeal to my honourable colleagues to forget the healthy and democratic expression of aspiration by some of us in the course of our selecting the speaker of this great House. All our differences, I implore we must set aside today for us to have a smooth running of the huge tasks placed before us by the people.
7. Let me emphasize - we are here to serve the people. Our new members will find that we are often besieged by lobbyists. Their advocacy plays a valuable role here. But we must never forget whom we really serve - our real employers, the people of Lagos State.
8. Whether it's the teacher from Badagry, the farmer from Ikorodu, the small business owner on Mainland or the taxi drivers plying the ever-busy Lagos roads untiringly - when we talk about serving "the people of Lagos State," these are the people we must have in mind.
9. As we are all aware, Lagos State has not specially benefitted from the federal government for the past sixteen years of our evolving democracy. Our created LCDAs are still inchoate not been recognised owing to the kind of politics played by the past administrations at the federal level. Also, our State has been deprived of some of her entitlements.
10. It is our hope that with the APC government now at the center, we can rest assured that all our LCDAs will now be given their full-fledged local government status. Likewise, entitlement owed our great State will be paid without further delay.
11. As speaker, I will do everything in my power to advance legislations and policies that will secure and strengthen "the people of Lagos State," tomorrow and for generations to come.
12. I am fully aware of the significance of today and the responsibilities our citizens in the 377 wards in which they live in Lagos have given to us to change their world.
13. In furtherance of the historical response-bility and after due consultation, I will be proposing the followings as part of the Legislative Agenda of the 8th Assembly.
1. Regular town hall meetings in our 40 Constituencies
2. Introduction of Ward Legislative Assistants
3. Publication of Abstract of Annual Budgets
4. Regular and time-tabled Executive Legislative Summit
5. Improved Capacity Building and Relevant Training Exercise.
6. Public Access Parliamentary Library
7. Regular Publication of House Committee Reports
8. Introduction of the First Parliamentary Custom Software Solution for the Public Procurement Oversight and management in Nigeria.
9. Better improved welfare facilities for members and visitors to the House of Assembly.
10. Establishment of the Lagos Youth Parliament.
13. Let me reiterate it here for avoidance of doubt that the doctrine of Separation of Powers which is key to good governance will be our watch word. Separation of Powers is one of the basic structural principles of democratic societies. Separation of Powers is not an end in itself, but the foundation for the principles of checks and balances of powers in a democracy.
14. Never shall we as the legislative arm of government usurp or encroach on either the territories of the judiciary or those of the executive. I appeal that our legislative boundaries will be respected by both the executive and judiciary respectively. As Speaker, I will make sure we work hand in hand with the Governor of this State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, members of the State Executive Council when constituted and other government parastatals to make Lagos State a great place to live and work.
15. Our State is not composed of abstract numbers or mere statistical data, but of real people, and of their hopes, their fears, their dreams and their aspirations. Our job, honourable members, is to build a better Lagos State - a Lagos State where we and our children can follow our dreams and pursue our aspirations.
16. I'm eager to get started. I am persuaded you are too. Let’s keep Lagos Working.
17. Thank you for your listening attention and God bless.
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Long live Lagos State
Long Live Lagos State House of Assembly