By Olufemi Badru
Is the bell tolling for the political death of Mudashiru Obasa, the 5th term veteran of the Lagos State House of Assembly?
Maybe not yet but there are certain ominous signs.
Astute watchers of Lagos politics will understand that the doyen of political power in Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has maintained his iron-like grip on the state’s politics mainly through the control of the the House of Assembly. He used it to effectively intimidate and cajole the Governors and deputy Governors he installed after his administration.
Senator Bayo Oshinowo, aka Pepperito, was his enforcer and kingmaker in the house for close to 16 years and he did a yeomans job reminiscent of a mafia consigliere. In the last 5 years he was ably assisted by Mudashiru Obasa who had been lifted from humble beginnings by Oshinowo to the exalted position of Speaker of the House of Assembly.
With the ascension of Babajide Sanwoolu, Obasa emerged as a genetically engineered super hero with political powers apparently beyond his capacity. He is now referred to as the Acting Governor by his admirers and hangers-on and is reported to be super rich and even more powerful than the sitting Governor of the State. This was further boosted by the promotion of Oshinowo to the Senate. Obasa egged on by blind ambition raced to fill the power vacuum by snuffing out Pepper’s stranglehold and loyalists in the Assembly and installing himself as the new power kid on the block. This was a key step as the new sitting Governor Babajide Sanwoolu and his inner team had to be quickly told that the Asiwaju- controlled legislature power block could work for him or against him in a twinkle of an eye.
Obasa further buoyed by a reported close to N2 billion monthly war chest in “statutory State allocations” began to assert himself in a big way by a systematic enthronement of his own “boys” in the house to the detriment of the ranking members and traditional power brokers like Pepper.
But astonishigly, things began to come to a head with reports of high handedness, unilateral sharing of funds, lopsided distribution of perks, sexual harassments, disregard for the party structure and hierarchy culminating in the scandalous N2.4 billion vehicle purchase fiasco.
The clouds have begun to gather and disgruntled members feel enough is enough and it is time to remove Obasa from his exalted perch. The Speaker, sensing that a coup plot was afoot, struck first by “arresting “ the coup plotters and bursting the Coup plot. The apparent arrowhead of this plot and avowed Pepper loyalist, former Chief Whip Rotimi Abiru, has recently come out in a newspaper interview to say that Obasa was a despot who had essentially been elevated beyond his capacity and they would not allow such a “charlatan” to destroy political careers they had laboured to build for years.This scathing newspaper interview has been followed up with an alleged petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by a civil society group, the Human Rights Monitoring Agenda (HUMRA), where serious allegations have been tabled for investigation by the Commission. The chain-reaction that this might set off is better imagined. Recall that Obasa’s predecessor, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, is yet to come out clean of the EFCC’s court case.
Political leaders and the Party in Lagos have told Obasa to reverse these controversial actions but he is understandably dragging his feet to avoid loss of face and influence. However, political pundits are of the view that even if the Speaker reverses the decisions, it may be too little too late as the bell appears already to be tolling.
Olufemi Badru is a political commentator from Lagos West Senatorial District