The cry over power imbalance by the south west zone of the country is now a national conversation with a school of thought faulting the group and admonishing that rather than cry foul, the south west more than ever before should rally support around the Deputy Speaker Honorable Lasun Yussuf and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, writes Correspondent, Richard Akintade.
Against the background of accusation in some quarters that the emergence of the leadership of the 8th legislative Assembly was in contrast to the dictates of party supremacy, the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, will have to contend with the reality of the times ahead and their emergence.
Save for this, there is no-gainsaying the fact that what has consistently brewed in the south west since the emergence of Saraki, Dogara, Ekweremadu and Lasun aside the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari is the spirit of ego and self centeredness.
Interestingly with the election of Bukola Saraki as the Senate President and Yakubu Dogara as Speaker of the House of Representatives on June 9 this year, all the nation’s six geo-political zones have benefitted from power sharing in the current dispensation.
The zones as it were are North West, North East, North Central, South West, South East and South-South.
While the Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki hails from Kwara state in the North Central zone, in the House of Representatives honourable Yakubu Dogara from Bauchi State comes from the North East zone.
The newly-elected Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, is an indigene of Enugu State in the South East zone and of the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party.
The Deputy Speaker of the House, Yusuf Lasun, is from Osun State in the South West.
President and commander in chief of the armed forces of Nigeria, Mohammed Buhari hails from Katsina State, North West zone while his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, also hails from Ogun State in the South West zone, making the zone the highest with the number of highly rated political office holders in the country and at the centre.
The National Chairman of the APC, John Oyegun hails from Edo State in the South-South zone, making the south south represented in key decision making of government in line with manifestoes of the APC.
However highlighting the even- representation of the zones in the power base of the country has become compelling following the continued hues and cries from an inconsequential group to the misgiving that the Yorubas, nay the south west have been shortchanged from the power equilibrium.
Not too long ago, a group of south west leaders expressed regret over voting for Mr. President. As if it was not enough, chairmen of south west APC states say they won’t recognize Saraki, Dogara as well as their deputies as constitutionally and popularly elected principal officers of the national assembly.
Regrettably all these current misgivings about power imbalance at the centre by a section of the south west boils down to just one man’s insatiability; one entity which holds the soul of the APC and on whose back majority of the present agitators rose to become what they are and the various political offices they currently behold.
However as it has come to the fore, bankrolling or supporting political office seekers for whatever position does not confer legitimacy or automatic negotiating power for high political position, essentially when a sensitive arrangement like that of the Vice President post which the Ahmed Tinubu ‘s south west agitators have suddenly found to be the literarily ‘spare tyre’ was offered the group.
Although, it is no more news that beside having Professor Yemi Osinbajo as the Vice President, the slot of Deputy Speaker, another key principal position in the national assembly is in the domain of the south west and in the person of the Ilobu born politician , honorable Lasun Sulaimon Yusuf , an esteemed member of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Lasun with a great wealth of legislative experience was a member of the 7th Assembly (2011-2015) also on the same party. He was the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Water Resources. The hitherto little known politician from Osun State came to the limelight when he joined the race for the Speakership two weeks to the inauguration of the Assembly.
With this development, the prestigious position which Lasun found himself with the support of his faithfuls in the upper house ought to be by a general blessing to the people of the south west if at this stage the zone can put ego, self-indulgence aside and support both him and Prof Osinbajo who are the current political leaders from that zone, according to a consensus of analysts and close watchers of events in the national parliament and politics of the south west.
To them, it is a thing of joy and jubilation to the entire people of the South-West geo-political zone and the nation to have these two unassuming and level headed personalities attain these enviable positions.
According to a group ‘Truth and Justice coalition’, honourable Lasun has been a honest party man whose current position is a blessing to the south west and Osun state instead of the contrary view by his critics.
“We can attest to the verifiable contributions of Rt. Hon. Lasun Yusuff to the struggle to restore the mandate of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, and even beyond his constituency, spread across the State of Osun and the south west zone. Hon. Yusuf is an avid supporter of the Governor, and also the party through the evolutionary path from the Action Congress through the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN till date.”
The coalition’s Coordinator, Adeyemi Olakunle, in a chat with Nigerian Pilot Sunday, noted that: “Contrary to the insinuation that the Deputy Speaker was driven by personal interest, inordinate ambition that beclouded his loyalty, he was elected in 2011 on the platform of ACN which transformed into APC in 2014 and won”. Based on satisfactory performance and effective representation, he was drafted by the people of his constituency to represent them for the second term, and he won. So at what point did he manifest inordinate ambition; or did he manifest disloyalty the coalition asked?
Again ‘How has the emergence of Lasun Yusuff compromised or jeopardized or affected the fortune of the APC and the collective interest and well being of our people in the federal constituency or the state and the Yoruba race. What injury is suffered by the party at any of the levels from ward to state, they further asked”
But Chairman of the party in the state, Hon. Johnson Opakanmi, and secretary, Pade Olaniregun, said respectively, “That Hon Lasun Yusuff by this action allowed his personal interest and inordinate ambition to becloud his sense of loyalty to, and interest in overall development and stability of the party that nurtured him and on whose platform he was elected: That his action negates the principle of the supremacy of the party for which All Progressives Congress, APC is known’’.
But a prominent party stalwart in the state who does not want his name mentioned in the ongoing controversy confessed to this paper, that truly Lasun’s position as the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives will further add value, complement the efforts to turn around the fortunes of the state by Governor Aregbesola, “thereby helping to make life better for our teeming people across the length and breadth of the state and the south west zone.”
He noted the exalted position of the Deputy Speaker as a ranking principal officer: who is chairman committee of whole where bills that eventually become laws are passed, deputy chair selection committee, presiding officer, who takes the chair when the speaker is unavailable. He can influence developmental projects to Osun state and the south west zone.
“While he is the eye of the zone in parliament, Osinbajo is there in the executive branch, so the south west has not lost anything, except pride of some people”, this paper further learnt.
But while reacting to his critics, the deputy speaker was quoted, reiterating his loyalty to the party and the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola. “My loyalty to my Governor and the people of the state and the south west zone is not in doubt”, recalling his role during the struggle to restore the mandate of Aregbesola between 2007 and 2010.
The Deputy Speaker maintained that he was duly elected by members to occupy the place.
Interestingly mention must be made how Hon. Lasun who, represents Irepodun, Orolu, Olorunda and Osogbo Federal Constituency of Osun State provided democratic dividends to uplift the people of the state and with such support the Yorubas will also benefit with time.
It will be recalled that in the last elections into the office of deputy speaker, Yusuf Lasun beat Mohammed Mungono who was the ruling party’s choice with 203 votes to 153.
However, speaking on the need for an independent legislature, a beneficiary and immediate past speaker and now Sokoto governor, Aminu Tambuwal, commended the parliament for exhibiting a high sense of maturity and defence of legislative ethos in the choice of their leaders.
Tambuwal reiterated that the outcome of the National Assembly elections showed that democracy had come of age in Nigeria and that the independence of the legislature was gradually taking root.
While it has become imperative for the south west zone to support the leadership of both chambers of the national assembly including the deputies and other principal officers that will emerge in due course, what is brewing at the national parliament now is a new development which will not only further liberate the national parliament but also indicate a sign post that indeed, parliament like the Judiciary and Executive should be self-determining.