Expectedly, an avenue created to foster means of getting back to the people by their leaders would stimulate reactions. It is no doubt, an appraisal mechanism of the activities of public office holders wielding power on behalf of the people ultimately to put them on their toes.
It is based on the above premise that the 2nd Edition of the Lagos State House of Assembly/Media & Civil Society Organisations parley which took place at the Assembly premises July 13th provided a platform for men and women of the pen profession and from the CSOs to remind the Lagos lawmakers on the need to tackle the current security challenges as well as address other issues of governance across the state.
However, not unexpectedly, security concerns took the front burner during the session. Specifically, the participants said the menace of Badoo boys in Ikorodu, kidnappers, falling containers, prison congestion among others were giving Lagosians a lot of sleepless night and that there is palpable fear among citizens as a result of these threats to lives and property.
The parley which was organised by the Assembly according to chairman of the house committee on information, Hon. Tunde Braimoh for the purpose of briefing the media and CSOs on how far the legislators had fared in the last two years and also foster robust relationship with them.
The event which witnessed large turnout had in attendance some Editors and Managing Directors from print and electronic media, online and other social media practitioners as well as officials of CSOs.
Before the interaction proper, the Speaker, Lagos House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa highlighted some major achievements of the assembly since June last year. But in his contribution, which centred on the need to address the insecurity in the state and Nigeria as a whole, Mayor Akinpelu of Global Excellence advised the Assembly members to lobby their counterparts in other states and the National Assembly to set in motion machinery for further amendment of the 1999 Constitution as amended to allow State Police be as a way out of current security challenges in the land.
Speaking in similar vein, the President, Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola appealed to the lawmakers in conjunction with security agencies to address insecurity especially kidnapping in Iba area of the State.
“I want to appeal to the House to come to the aid of our people especially residents of Victory Estate to save them from the activities of kidnappers. Iba area has been at the centre of kidnapping,” he noted even as the Professor commended the State government on the six months maternity leave given to women instead of three months obtainable at the federal level.
While reiterating the necessity to address the issue of kidnapping in the State, the Editor of Daily Champion, Mr. Thomas Imonikhe who was also at the parley argued that the recently passed Lagos Kidnapping Prohibition Law (2017) against kidnapping in the state has not fully address the menace as some students of the State Model College Igbonla, Epe local government area seized weeks ago were yet to regain their freedom.
He therefore charged the lawmakers to use the current agitation for restructuring in the country to lobby other federal and state lawmakers to effect the necessary constitutional amendment for the birth of State Police saying that the time has come for it to be in order to address security challenges in the land.
Recent flooding in parts of the state, indiscriminate arrest of beggars and street hawkers resulting in congested prisons, landlords/tenants relationship, re-introduction of history in secondary school curriculum were other issues addressed by the speaker and other participants.
Earlier in his address, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa thanked God, Lagosians and his colleagues for their support in the tasks before the House even as he recognized the role of civil society organisations and the media in the achievements recorded by the Assembly in the past two years.
According to him, in the last one year the House had passed eight bills into law with others at various stages, while it had also passed 72 resolutions “all bordering on welfare of Lagosians particularly security.
“Among these laws are: Neighbourhood Safety Corps Law; Kidnapping Prohibition Law; Lagos Property Protection law; Environmental Protection Law amongst others to tackle security and other problems in the state”. Lagosians have benefited from all these laws and we shall not rest on our oars. We have also held Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs to account through effective and efficient oversight functions while a Bill for a Law to establish Lagos State Cancer Research Institute which has gone through second reading and has since been committed to the House Committee on Health”.
While reacting to the concerns raised by participants, the Speaker assured them that the Conference of Speakers of Houses of Assembly’s in the 36 states as well as the National Assembly leadership held in Lagos last week end would champion the call for State Police during its annual conference.
He said, “Am sure on our part as representatives of the people in Lagos state, we have done our beat and I am happy that some of you have acknowledged those things that we have done to protect our people in Lagos state and this has to do with the enactment our of the anti kidnapping law and neighbourhood watch security corps which is in existence as an agency of government.
“And our thinking remains same that the most important responsibility of any government is to protect lives and property. It is only when you have achieved this important role that you can claim to be a government and claim you are representing people. I want to assure you that we have been doing our beat and we will continue to do that.
“But we are limited as you all know by the Constitution of the Federal Fepublic of Nigeria as amended still remains same when it comes to the issue of security. The state is not allowed to organize security agency in the same form with the Nigeria Police Force. That we cannot do but we try to wriggle our way to come out with something that we feel
“They have just started but as representatives of the people we are watching and monitoring as well… We have criticized this agencies and have told them that they have not met our expectations, your impact has not been felt in our society.. The security committee headed by Hon. Tunde Braimoh will further investigate and found out why they are not performing up to expectations.
“I welcome your suggestion because we are having Conference of Speakers with the Senate and the House of Representatives which will start today July 13 to bring about amendment of the Constitution and one of the issues to be addressed is creation of State Police which you have suggested. I am sure every state wants State Police to help improve the security situation in each state because there is hardly any state in the federation now that is not confronted with one form of security challenge or the other. It is either kidnapping or ritual killing or herdsmen attack and other violent crimes. So we are trying to proffer solution to the problem”, he assured.
According to Obasa, the primary purpose of any government is to ensure safety of lives and property of the citizenry, adding that ongoing calls for restructuring should not just be focused on resource control and quest by regions to have access to power only, but address issues bordering on security of each state and region. This, he said could be easily be achieved if each state/region was allowed to have its own State Police.
He pointed out that the Conference of Speakers would help him and his colleagues discuss issues relating to State Police, among other burning national issues.
He therefore gave the indication that the Lagos State legislature would leave no stone unturned in complementing the efforts of the executive arm of the state government in ridding the state of crime, especially through timely and people-oriented legislation.
While recognising the contribution of the media and CSOs to the achievements of the 8th Lagos Assembly, the speaker said, “the press has significantly contributed to democratic sustenance in Nigeria”, and appealed to the press to continue to partner with government and the legislature to deliver dividends of democracy to the people.
He urged them to do more in safeguarding the legislature as no fewer than six speakers of State Houses of Assembly were recently impeached under questionable circumstances. “To sustain democracy we must protect the legislature”, urging them to be objective in their reportage and fair in criticisms.
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