The US-based online hard-hitting investigative news portal, SaharaReporters, had for the past months, week in, week out, been reporting about the fiscal sleaze going on in the Lagos State House of Assembly. The (dis) Honourable Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa, was reported to be living obscene opulent life on public funds, laundering some, siphoning some and misappropriating others at his convenience. Millions of Dollars were said to be involved in a multiple financial scandal perpetrated with manifest impunity.
One, the Speaker was said to have used many companies as fronts to launder public funds. Some of the companies are owned by himself, his father, his wives or children! He awarded contracts worth millions of Dollars to the ‘companies’. Two, with the active connivance of some lawmakers he had orchestrated the disbursement of N10m monthly allocation to his wife under the guise of gender inclusiveness programme for women. Three, how he spent N17m monthly to maintain his personal residence and guest house from tax payers’ money.
Four, how the Speaker had mobilised thugs with N50m to invade SaharaReporters’ Civic Media Lab office in Ikeja, Lagos, to commit arson and harm workers found within if only to hit back at the online media for exposing his fraudulent activities in the Lagos State House of Assembly. Five, how lawmakers in the Lagos State House of Assembly had been looting N47.5m per quarter from the state’s treasury for media influencers. That is bribing the media to do favourable reports.
Though Speaker Obasa had reacted through his lawyers to the horrid allegations (some with solid documents to back them up) describing them as “absurd, abusive and malicious” he failed to provide counter evidence or any evidence of defamation or ‘fake news’ in the publications. Instead of debunking the claims with tangible proof of innocence, Obasa and co threatened to sue within a stipulated time frame within which a retraction was sought or they would be heading to court.
The problem with Lagos State governed by an executive stooge, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu treats Lagos as a conquered territory! He single-handedly ‘removed’ Akinwumi Ambode as a potential two-term governor and ‘coronated’ Sanwo-Olu as his successor. Not that Ambode was exemplary in his official functions given the corruption allegations trailing his term but the way he was pushed out.
Even Speaker Obasa was Tinubu’s choice. And he makes a lot of money from these puppets in power in Alausa, Ikeja. Asiwaju smiles to the bank always as his ‘boys’ pay royalties month in, month out, year in, year out! That is how godfatherism in its best element functions. Every ‘godson’ knows his duties, what to do at any given time and does it for ‘peace’ to reign in his domain.
Without any iota of doubt, Asiwaju Tinubu remains the only and last godfather standing in Lagos and he brooks no opposition. There is no other state across the federation that one ex-governor dictates the tune of governance — who rules, and who gets what — like the state of aquatic splendour. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole had tried and failed to play Tinubu in Edo State.
Tinubu ‘owns’ Lagos and he can do whatever he wants with his (e)state! Speaker Obasa remains in his good books; that is why no revelation of fiscal scandal or malfeasance has done any damage to the legislative system he presides with little or no accountability.
To take power back from the Asiwaju gang, power back to the people that is, the opposition must begin now to strategise towards the next gubernatorial poll in the richest, most populous state in Nigeria. Tinubu had failed to extend his ’empire’ to Ondo State during the ‘Iroko’ era. The then governor, Olusegun Mimiko, had vowed to defeat the Tinubu political incursion and he did by trouncing Asiwaju’s well-oiled political machine.
Tinubu’s methods and tactics revolve around using filthy lucre and grassroots mobilisation and intimidation to win or rig elections for his cronies. But he is not invincible politically if the right strategy could be put in place to counter robustly his dominance anchored on thuggery, politicized generosity and electoral manipulation.
While President Buhari had promised in his first coming as a repentant ‘democrat’ in 2015 to deal decisively with graft the anti-graft campaign has done little or nothing to dissuade looters and ten-percenters in the system. Rather than abate corruption is worse now than ever before!
When one finds recycled looters in Abuja — Rotimi Amaechi, Timipre Sylva, Godswill Akpabio — working as ministers in the Buhari giddy administration very much is left to be desired. Buhari cannot claim to be fighting corruption or defeating same when he treats corrupt elements with kid gloves or engages in selective prosecution of economic fraudsters.
The problem of graft is not only an issue at the federal level but at states’ and local government levels. Corruption permeates every facet of our national life. From Abuja to Lagos, Kano to Calabar governance at all levels has obviously been reduced to looting and sharing of state resources by a privileged few.
Speaker Obasa has since received expectedly the ‘clearance’ of his godfathers and godmothers in Lagos. He had redeployed some staff at the financial department of the state assembly suspecting them to be moles or spies. Perhaps he was right. A whistle-blower may be at work exposing the Speaker for whom he is. Yet, his problems would continue until he comes clean and becomes accountable.
Like the ‘media-part’ based in Paris, France, an online investigative medium that has exposed many state scandals and secrets leading to resignations of ministers and other prominent government officials, SaharaReporters are resolutely determined to change the way we see service to our nation. Whatever happens, in terms of repercussions, must be borne with professional and patriotic equanimity.