Recently, there have been allegations of financial impropriety levelled against the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa. In this interview with KEHINDE OLATUNJI, the Speaker said the allegations were meant to detract from the good works that the Assembly is known for.
Allegations have been levelled against you and your office as the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, could you please lead us into what really transpired?
It is harrowing and astonishing how the allegations came about. From the blues; all of a sudden. Too sequential and orchestrated to be natural. Because we strove to instil discipline as ordained by the business rules and standing orders of the House of Assembly, as well as the Constitution. Perpetrators of indiscipline and impunity are calling for my head and the total collapse of an institution, which is our common heritage, and the collective pride of Lagos. The allegations are designed, fabricated and orchestrated to embarrass or distract me, but leadership is run by the courage and not sentiments. So, I remain focused and undaunted.
Again, corruption is a hydra-headed monster; very difficult to fight because it fights back; most times with blind fury attempting to crush or destroy anyone or anything in sight, but the truth is the only constant thing. Some people, through active connivance and abuse of power have committed humongous heist on the state’s natural resources with such effrontery and a false sense of entitlement and I’m determined to stop this larceny at all costs, even at the risk of my own life and comfort. Their recklessness and guts are out of this world and this certainly cannot continue. Work has already begun to checkmate some aspects of their pilfering and leakages and definitely they’re taken aback and have vowed to resist the order. However, we are on top of the situation and as we progress in our investigations, we shall release our phased reports and recommendations.
The House of Assembly is a highly structured constitutional institution with proper fund management and control mechanisms, which prevent flagrant abuses. I don’t sign cheques, neither are payments vouchers or advice raised or made in my office. All I do is to peruse and approve expenditures, most times based on recommendations of appropriate schedule officers. I even have a threshold of approval and sums above that are approved by the funds’ management committee with the knowledge of the body of principal officers.
The House does not incur any expenditure except those planned, budgeted for and contracted or authorized in accordance with all due processes prescribed by the procurement law and regulations.
The allegations are baseless, spurious, vexatious and calculated to impugn the sanctity of my person and office. Some documents were obtained, doctored and tailored in such a way as to suit the ignoble purpose and vendetta mission of the users. For someone to say invitation cards were printed with N250 million for an event the whole of which costs about N61million is hallucinating and can only exist in the figment of the accuser’s imagination.
One of the strong points in the allegation was that the Speaker of Lagos Assembly, Obasa, awards contracts to self through a company registered in son’s name. What is your position on this specifically?
He who asserts must prove. Let them supply the name of the company with equities of my son and the details of any transaction such a company has had with the Lagos State House of Assembly. This allegation is not only unfounded, it is a calculated and orchestrated mischief. Maybe my accusers wish they occupy my type of office and make their entire families contractors and businessmen profit from unmerited patronage.
Did you use a company known as De Kingrun Multipurpose Nigeria Limited to secure for your self, contracts from the State Assembly and ministries? This is utter falsehood. The company being talked about pre-dates my emergence as Speaker and I say without fear of contradiction that the company does no business with the Lagos State House of Assembly under my leadership. It was alleged that you gave thugs N50m to burn down an online media house
How would such a hefty sum come about? Would the thugs burn the whole country? Because I suppose if the arsonists purchase 50-litre gasoline at about N5, 000 and some matchsticks, they’ll wreak havoc. In any case, it’s up to my traducers who know how much they pay for such hatchet and sinister jobs and who must have partaken of the offensive deal to bring their own share of the illegal slush funds to the table in support of the spurious and unscrupulous allegation. Does that itinerant outfit have any base that could be burnt?
In any case, I belong to the Progressive persuasion of politics and it is contrary to our tenets to destroy the efforts of small and medium scale enterprises. As a matter of fact, we work tirelessly to reenact the glorious era of the middle class in Nigeria. With all sense of modesty, I’ve been a lawmaker for 21 years now and it would be antithetical and uncharitable of anyone to imagine I can get to that level. The allegation is simply ludicrous.
The Lagos State House of Assembly was also alleged to be spending about N17 million monthly to maintain the Speaker’s personal residence and guesthouse. How true is this allegation? Perhaps, my accusers should ask themselves how my aides who are employed on the basis of specialization run their respective offices. My personal staff are part of the running of my office, home and guesthouse because they are personal or domestic to me.
Since you say the allegations are false, how do you intend to clear your name and give the Assembly a clean bill having in mind the damage it could have on the integrity of the legislature? Audi alteram partem (Hear the other party) is a fundamental and golden rule of natural justice. When a press organisation that should know better indulges itself in perpetrating rumours, lies and half-truths, it should be ready for the consequences of its acts. He who sows rumours reaps whirlwind. Every freedom granted by Chapter 4 of the Constitution is qualified. No right is absolute without a corresponding duty. To whom much is given, much is expected. Any responsible writer owes his readership or audience a duty of truth.
My Lawyer has already written them with firm instructions to proceed to the court of law.
Some of your supporters insinuate that a minority in the House could be responsible for the leaks. Why so? Well, maybe you should ask them. Leadership is responsibility. Leadership is a sacrifice. If there’s any member who relishes disparaging his colleagues in the House, I won’t wish to make any comment on that for now because I’m the one being accused. I cannot be a judge in my own cause. Nemo judex in sua causa. If I were not directly involved, the House is guided by the Legislative Privileges Act and our business rules and standing orders in this manner of matters. But as I said, the House itself through its appropriate organs might have to review that situation itself.
They also allege that a former member, now Senator is behind the leaks. True? It is not actually who is saying what that matters but the veracity or authenticity of what is being said. Not the messenger that matters but the message. The container may be bad but the content is all that matters. Whoever is behind this, even if highly placed as you suspect, is doing a great disservice to himself and co-travellers to the land of destruction because if money is lost, something is lost, but if integrity is lost, everything is lost. Their misdeeds of today will be their albatross tomorrow Some even allege the face-off could be linked to 2023 and positioning for the next election. Could that be true?
Human beings contrive, manipulate, maneuver and meander, leaving out God who has the sole control of life and death. What you said is not impossible. In fact, it has been said to me severally. Many charlatans and opportunists masquerade as politicians, including the one who participated in an election, lost woefully only to turn around and declared an ineffectual but unsportsmanlike revolution. Those are the people who want to gain access to political power through the backdoor and without working for it. To gain political control you must be ready to engage the people who are the sovereign and seek their consent.
More importantly, I belong to a political persuasion where there’s order. What the Leadership decides is what I do and I don’t go out of line to pursue inordinate or unsupported ambitions.
In line with the Personal Income Tax Act (PITA) Cap P8 LFN 2011 (as amended), The Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) urges all employers of labour in Lagos State to file their Company’s Annual Tax Returns on or before the statutory deadline of January 31, 2021 to avoid penalties.
The Agency’s eTax platform, launched in October, 2019 gives taxpayers the opportunity to comply with all COVID-19 protocols, by filing their tax returns from the comfort of their offices or homes. In addition, all digital platforms and tax portals are available for taxpayers’ use and convenience.
The Annual Tax Returns, which show each employee’s emoluments and tax paid in year 2020, are to be filed via LIRS online portals only, as manual filing is no longer acceptable. Tax assessments, payments and other tax administration matters can also be carried out on the same platforms. The LIRS customer care hotline: 0700 CALL LIRS (0700-2255-5477), website: www.lirs.gov.ng, chat rooms and the various social media platforms @lirsgovng are available for enquiries.
The Executive Chairman of LIRS, Mr. Ayodele Subair, stated that in the face of the prevailing realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on businesses, penalties and fines may be an additional burden on companies’ finances, and therefore urges all employers of labour to file their returns within the period stipulated by law. The essence of the ongoing media campaign and numerous reminders and appeals to companies on this statutory obligation, is to ensure they file early, to avoid sanctions.
The steps to file are available on all our communication channels, however, taxpayers with difficulties filing are also welcome to seek assistance with specially designated staff at our tax stations.
We have made the process simple, quick, secure and reliable for our esteemed taxpayers. We are also available on various digital platforms to assist taxpayers on the process of e-filing.
The LIRS urges all Lagos State residents and businesses to stay safe and obey all Covid-19 guidelines as stipulated by the relevant health authorities and the Lagos State Government
“Every health professional in Nigeria is concerned about the second wave and the rate at which the virus is spreading in the country. It showed that people didn’t keep to required protocols despite the warnings. Our health system can’t handle an exponential increase, and the majority of Nigerians can’t afford the cost of private treatment. So the sensible thing to do is wear your mask at all times. Wash and sanitize your hands. Avoid crowded places. The peculiarity of the virus is such that your own hygiene is not enough. You have to make sure your family and close friends imbibe the culture else, they can infect you. A collective effort is required to limit the spread of this virus.” These were the words of Doctor Owolabi of Plato hospital, while speaking on the ravaging second wave of the deadly covid-19 virus in Nigeria.
Since the deadly second wave began, Nigeria has witnessed a surge in number of daily cases more than the nation experienced during the first outbreak. Presently, the nation’s health system is stretched to its full limit as patients scramble for few available treatment spaces.
Latest developments have shown that the safest way out is prevention. More than before, Nigerians are being urged to keep covid-19 protocols to avoid alarming spread that could spell a second national lockdown. Top on the list is the call for people to avoid large gatherings. People however need essentials such as food, groceries and hygiene products for their daily upkeep. Offline markets consisting of brick and mortar stores are often crowded with customers.
Ecommerce platforms were of immense help to customers keeping safety protocols during the nationwide lockdown in 2020. Online marketplace thus remains a valid alternative for customers to keep safe distance and shop for essentials from the comfort of wherever they are. According to Jumia Nigeria CEO, Massimiliano Spalazzi, online shopping will help promote the adoption of social distancing measures and eliminate the contact risk associated with brick and mortar stores, as people can purchase different products of their choice and get them delivered from the safety of their home.
“Covid-19 pandemic is showing the importance of online marketplace and why it should be part of people’s lifestyle at this time. As the world battles with the realities of the second wave of the virus, people are being urged to avoid large gatherings, limit human contact as much as possible and observe strict hygiene practice. And it is becoming increasingly obvious that online shopping remains one of the ways individuals can take precautions to limit the spread. Ecommerce platforms possess all these features that will help customers keep to the safety culture.”
The online retail market is expanding as several brands are keying into available platforms to reach their customers. Several food restaurants are partnering with the likes of Jumia Foods, to get their food services, beverages and groceries products delivered to customers at their doorsteps. Also, hygiene products such as hand sanitizers, soaps and toiletries can be ordered online with the global manufacturers such as Reckitt Benckiser and P&G partnering with Jumia.
“From the comfort of their safety, customers can shop on the Jumia platforms with our range of products partners, make payment through online payment solutions like JumiaPay and get them delivered via Jumia Express, or our contactless agents. As the leading online marketplace in Africa, we are committed to ensuring that people get the necessities for their daily needs with adherence to safety protocols,” Spalazzi added.
From the relevance and impact of ecommerce during the first wave of the virus in Nigeria, it is safe to say that online shopping will help reduce the spread of covid-19 as it eliminates the possibilities of physical contacts associated with an average brick and mortar store.
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