By Mudashiru Obasa
Our dear Lagos State over the years has carved a niche for itself in matters of governance, economic importance with its attendant sterling qualities that are rare in any other state of the country. Our proximity to ports and presence of seas gave us the title, “state of aquatic splendour.”
Lagos, the most populous black city of the world with the population estimated to be over 21 million people, is widely acclaimed the economic nerve centre of Nigeria. Indeed, with Nigeria’s premier seaport, accounting for over 90 per cent of all maritime trade, with the accrued revenues being delivered into Federal Government’s coffers; busiest airport, and most commercially active land borders, Lagos is Nigeria’s and arguably Africa’s foremost global city and financial centre.
Going by the fact that Lagos State exudes a whole lot of economic peculiarities and opportunities that have strategically positioned her as the centre of all visible economic planning and policy processes in Nigeria, such accumulation of resources should have positive impacts in the state.
Our Lagos through its population can manage its taxation or plan its tax collection in such manner that it can compete with other developed countries of the world. Like other nations of the world that rely on its revenue instead of natural resources, Lagos should look forward to becoming a state like City of Paris, beautiful and alluring. The Lagos of our future is like that of London with effective and efficient transportation.
There is nothing stopping us from breaking the shackle of bondage under this unitary system of government in Nigeria called federalism by placing Lagos in the position of nation on its own in another nation. That is, with well managed physical discipline, eradication of waste in our financial system, blocking of leakages in revenue collection, and encouraging transparency, probity and accountability, Lagos in few years can become what Paris or Tokyo is, clean and smart.
Meanwhile, implementation of laws and policies should be taken with drastic efforts. No minor indiscipline should be allowed to go without its consequence. Since discipline makes a nation great and glorious, let us endeavour to ensure the implementation of our traffic, environmental, physical planning and Urban development laws. It is our strong view that Lagos can transform into a place like Tokyo. In achieving all these, we are ready to collaborate with other arms of government, especially the Executive for the success of this administration. Our doors are open to play a prominent role in taking Lagos to the next level.
On our own, our legislative agendas for the 9th Assembly are: To promote and strengthen legislative institutions from state level to local government level; to establish a Centre for Democracy and Legislative Studies; to review the old laws with a view to bring them to modern reality, particularly laws that establish agencies, parastatals that are no more viable; to rejig our regular legislative consultation; and to ensure prudent fiscal financial commitment through legislative process.
Distinguished colleagues, Lagosians, as we have commenced the 9th Assembly, let me remind my colleagues that we have a huge responsibility before, which is to serve the people and ensure that we perform our constitutional duties without fear or favour in accordance to the Standing Order and Business Rules of the Assembly.
To the management and staff, I appeal to you to do everything within your capacity towards the success of this administration. To Lagosians, we remember our promises during the campaign period and you can rest assured that we will protect your interest and make sure that dividends democracy get to everyone. To the media, otherwise known as the 4th Estate of the Realm, we thank you for the past support. Likewise, we seek your collaboration by reporting news that will be of help to the Assembly. The focus should be on the success of this 9th Assembly.
Overall, let me remind us that Legislature, as one of the basic structures of any political system and the closest arm of government to the people, must be seen to be independent enough to exercise the powers bestowed on it by the constitution. Any attempt to abridge this constitutionally guaranteed right, therefore, must be seen as an aberration.
As such dear colleagues, we must be resolute and ensure that we remove every obstacle put in our collective way to strengthen the Legislature and entrench good governance. We have started this struggle; we must finish it in grand style. I am optimistic, however, that we will not fail.
*Excerpts from a speech delivered by Hon. Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa, Speaker, 9th Lagos State House of Assembly, at the inauguration of the legislative house on Friday.