By OKUNADE ADEKUNLE
The Lagos State House of Assembly has debunked a media report accusing the Speaker, Rt (Hon) Mudashiru Obasa, of spending N17million monthly on maintenance of his residence and guest house. the House described the allegation as baseless and misleading.
The Clerk of the House, Mr. Azeez Sanni, called the attention of the lawmakers to the report published by SaharaReporters on April 26, and stated that the report was erroneous.
Sanni added: “As the sum covers various expenditure of the full offices; the Office of the Chief of Staff, Special Advisers (Budget, Political Matters), Office of the Chief Press Secretary, Special Assistant (Protocol), Special Assistant (Research and Development), Special Assistant (Women Affairs), and 15 Special Assistants engaged to attend to the growing demand and specialty of the House.
“I must also state that this expenditure has been in existence prior the emergence of Speaker Obasa. In fact, it is dated back as far as 2012 when it was N27million monthly and I have the document here to show that the expenditure had been in existence since 2012.
He added that the report by SaharaReporters was a deliberate attempt to tarnish the image of the House of Assembly.
“On the allegation that the company was registered in 2015, how come the company in question was just engaged in 2018?”, said the Clerk.
While condemning the media report, the lawmaker representing Somolu Constituency 1 and Chairman House Committee on Finance, Hon. Rotimi Olowo, said SaharaReporters was not professional and ethical in their style of journalism, saying the media house was known for tarnishing brand image and inciting the public by deliberately publishing misleading reports.
Olowo added: “I believe if it is truly investigative journalism that the medium is practising, it should be able to get the other side of the issue before they can rush to publish lies. The medium is known to publish lies as they published recently that former House of Representatives Speaker (Umar Ghali Na’Abba) was late.
“But this one is one that you can really see that the medium was telling lies because we have procurement law and there are procedures stated by the law. If a contractor makes an overture to the House for contract-bidding, it is not just what he came with but what the House eventually agrees to.
“I remember in 2012, I was a member of this House and I remember the amount that was budgeted was N27m but when Obasa emerged as Speaker he reduced it to N17million.
“I think SaharaReporters needs to be cautioned as it has shown that whatever that is given them is published without crosschecking. Mr Speaker, this House has the power to sue because the lies by this medium is getting to much,” Olowo said.
Also, Hon. Temitope Adewale (Ifako Ijaiye 2), who corroborated Olowo, stated that the publisher is a presidential election loser who was accused of mismanaging his party’s campaign fund.
“The same man was the party’s presidential candidate and at the same time the party’s national chairman. We don’t need to waste our time over his publication, we can explore the legal means by suing the medium”, Adewale said.
In his contributions, Hon Gbolahon Yishawu (Eti Osa 2) stated that SaharaReporters was trying to incite the general public against the Speaker and the House of Assembly, stressing that an attack on Obasa is an attack on the whole members.
Yishawu said the report was in totality published to reduce the image of the House to nothing, adding that from the way the report was written, it was obvious that the medium lacked credibility and does not publish based on facts.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Strategy and Security, Hon. Tunde Braimoh, on his part, said the medium did not reach out to the House to get their own side of the story, adding that the report was malicious and should be totally ignored.
Braimoh who said the medium is known for unbalanced reports, said had the medium reached out to the House before rushing to publish their report, they could have been better guided.
“A responsible journalist would reach out to me as Chairman of Information Committee before publishing what he is told”, said Braimoh.
However, Speaker Obasa explained that it was necessary to correct the wrong impression created by the medium to the general public by letting them know that the House is not reckless in spending and is not known for frivolous expenditure.
Obasa said the essence of mentioning the report at plenary was to debunk it as silence means consent.
“As rightly put by the Clerk, this is an expenditure that has been existing before 2015 and he has been able to trace some documents to 2012, 2013, 2014. So it shows that SaharaReporters and it’s co-travellers would not get anywhere and we are not ready to join issues with them.
“I agree with you that we don’t have to waste our time on them. We remain resolute,” Obasa said.