The Lanre Osun Interview: New Lagos Speaker Must Be Honest, Enjoys Support Of His/Her Colleagues, Love Lagos

Honourable Moshood Lanre Osun is a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly representing Lagos Mainland State Constituency 2. An experienced and ranking member of the Assembly, Osun is not a novice in the art of lawmaking as he has been one of the most resourceful membes of the Assembly, an active member.

A very strong contender for the seat of the Speaker of the Assembly, the current Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, in this interview with journalists include, speaks on his sojourn in the Assembly and why he wants to lead the Assembly. Excerpts:

The recently held elections came with some lessons. What lessons did you personally learn?

The major lesson is that when Nigerians have put their minds together on something they can do it. The erroneous belief that everything should be done the Nigerian way is no longer possible. There is no more the Nigerian way. Nigeria is not different from other countries where true governance exist, but some leaders here simply want people to believe that nothing can work or go right in the country. The last election has shown us that everything is possible. We had good and credible elections. The little flaws that happened can also happen anywhere in the world. There is no perfect election in any part of this world. Even the United States does not have perfect elections. So now, we can raise our heads high and say we are proud to be Nigerians.

As a politician, what was the impact of the smart card reader in the elections?

The use of card reader machines and the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) helped to minimize ballot box stuffing and also minimize the use of fake PVCs which we believe had been prepared by some desperate politicians to rig the elections at all cost. It minimized a situation where one person uses another person’s card, what we call impersonation. During the election, identification of voters became a qualification to exercise your franchise. It helped in a long way towards having credible elections. You can view that from the way the world had been commending Nigeria over the successful conduct of the elections.

Going by the impact of the smart card readers in the elections, would you subscribe to its usage in subsequent elections?

Of course there is no way we can’t continue to use it in the subsequent elections. We understand that there were some challenges using the machines at some points and in some areas. But these challenges are not enough to discourage the use of card readers; rather, they should serve as lessons to be improved upon by the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), in subsequent elections. Sincerely, if not for the card readers, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), was prepared for everything that would return President Goodluck Jonathan. This election has been rated in terms of the June 12, 1993 elections. If you were to compare or analyse the best election so far since 1999, I’m sure you would want to pick this 2015 general elections. The only few places like Rivers and Akwa Ibom states where the results are being contended, evidence abounds of the electoral violence and malpractices that characterised the exercise. So I think it would just be great to continue to build upon the achievement of INEC here.

As you prepare for the Eighth Assembly, what are your expectations as a lawmaker?

You would agree with me that the Lagos State House of Assembly is the best in the country if not the best in West Africa. The House of Assembly has come up with very good laws that have been replicated in many parts of Nigeria and the African continent. Every time we make laws, we are proud to say that those laws prove that we have your people’s inputs. We are representatives of the people since we are holding their mandates. For us to pass any law, we usually organise a public hearing where we invite the stakeholders and other people to know what they want. Now, the seventh Assembly is winding down just as you have rightly know. We are now preparing for the eighth Assembly and we hope things we get better. And for things to get better, it means we must be be ready to improve. Talking about some members of the PDP coming in as lawmakers in the Eighth Assembly, it is a matter of realising that after elections, politics ends and governance starts. It is about governance now. It is not PDP that gave you the mandate. For instance, in my constituency, it wasn’t everybody that voted for me, some people voted for PDP but immediately I was elected I become a representative of everybody and must do things in the interest of everybody in the constituency. So it is with the state. Immediately you are elected, party politics ends and that simply means that you need to start representing everybody whether they voted for you or not. By the grace of God, we will continue to lift the banner of Lagos State beyond the common standard of excellence.

Now the 8th Assembly is getting on board soon, what are the areas that needed improvements?

We will continue to praise ourselves for our achievements so far, but apart from God that is perfect, no other being is perfect. So as you said, there is need for improvement on what we have been able to achieve in the last session and, indeed, other sessions of the Assembly. The leadership will have to look at the achievements of the seventh Assembly and try to improve on it. There are so many things we have done that could be improved upon. There are ways to touch our constituents, improve on the welfare of members, staff and the people of the state. The ultimate is to make everybody laugh and be ready to work for the progress of Lagos State. We have a reached a situation where standards can only be improved upon. Anything short of that must be seen as abomination. Lagos must remain the envy of states in Nigeria and countries in Africa. I am therefore very optimistic that the eighth Assembly will be better.

Lagos State Governor-elect, Akinwunmi Ambode will assume office soon. How do you think the leadership in the legislative arm should look like to have a robust relationship with the executive arm?

These two: the executive and legislative arms are separate arms of governments. There is no doubt that we need an experienced hand in the leadership of the legislative arm. Apart from the experience, we need somebody who is honest; we need somebody that can carry other members, staff and stakeholders in the Lagos project along and above all, we need somebody who cares passionately about Lagos; somebody who cares about the people. We need to remember that the governor is not new because he has been in governance in different capacities in the last 27 years. And the legislative arm needs somebody that can team-up for the good of the state, I mean a team player, that would be people-oriented, somebody that we can rely on, not someone that is not reliable. The same way we have some crooked doctors or journalists or in any other profession is the same way we have crooked politicians. It is not about your career; it is about your person. If you are a crooked person, no matter which field you find yourself, you will be crooked. If you are a straight-forward person, no matter where you find yourself you will be straight forward.

How qualified are you for the Lagos Assembly speakership seat?

I am very much qualified. You have been in the Lagos State House of Assembly for sometime now and I know you can say much  about me.

What parameters would you use to put yourself forward for the speakership position?

I don’t think it is easy for me to judge myself, it would be easy for other people to judge me. There is this Yoruba adage that says: “if you give a hoe to a mad man, he will till the land towards himself. But I have given you the qualities the next Speaker of the state Assembly should possess. And to the best of my knowledge I possess these qualities. I am a straight-forward person, you can tell of my honesty; I am a team-player, I work with my colleagues to achieve the best and I am very passionate about Lagos. Check and you would find out that I am one person who is conscious of my every move and action, because apart from my name, I have the image of APC, my political party, to protect. I was born in Lagos and I have lived all my life in Lagos.

What are those steps you are taking to realise your ambition?

The first and major step I have taken is that I have spoken to God. God is Omnipresent, Omnipotent, the Almighty. He decides who takes up any position. If you canvass from the people and God does not want you, it is not possible for you to get there. You remember we all voted for Chief Moshood Abiola in 1993 but God did not want him there. He didn’t get it. I have spoken to my God. The party position is important and I am also looking at getting the support I need from the party, the House position is also very important. I am sure  my colleagues who know my worth, who had worked with me for either four or eight years and know the kind of person I am, would find it easy to support me. But I know God is in control.

What are your expectations from the APC-led Federal Government come May 29?

Well, the Lagos residents first of all expect the governor-elect, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, to continue from where the out-going governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola would stop. He (Ambode) is now termed the Consolidator. The second expectation is that we expect a close working relationship with the government at the centre. Lagos has suffered in the last 16 years because the government at the centre tried to frustrate us. That is why we would continue to rever Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Rather than cave in to the frustrations, he idealised concepts that have become cases of study today. Lagos is the only state in Nigeria that comprises of every other state. Lagos has the largest population, not only in Nigeria, but in Africa. We are not getting any consideration from the Federal Government. Now that we have APC-led Federal Government, if you are giving 13 percent to oil producing states, we can also agigtate since the Federal Government makes a large amount of money in Lagos. When you go to the ports, you would see the activities going on there. Lagos is undoubtedly the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria and there is no state in Nigeria that does not depend on Lagos; that is to say that they need our education, our health care system, LASTMA. All these should be compensated. If the roads in Lagos are meant to last for six years, because of the pressure, there will be the need to rehabilitate those roads for every three years. Lagos deserves a special status. The amount of money the Federal Government gets as VAT from Lagos is incomparable with other states. We need that special status.

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