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Obasa appears before Lagos Assembly panel, explains financial involvement

By Monsuru Olowoopejo

The  Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudaahiru Obasa, has appeared before a nine-man panel of inquiry setup by the Assembly to investigate financial misappropriation raised against him and revealed how several millions of Naira were spent by the leadership of the House.
Obasa, who appeared before the panel chaired by Victor Akande, added that the corruption allegations raised against him were the handiwork of those that were against his transparency and accountability policies which were introduced assuming office speaker.
While arguing that the  allegations made by Sahara Reporters in its series of reports were unfounded, Obasa stated that all funds spent under his leadership were often subjected to scrutiny as stipulated by the laws of the state.
The speaker further argued he was not guilty of any allegations and that reports making the rounds on him were made up against him.
Obasa stressed that the vehicles bought for the members of the House and other expenses made by the House were done with the approval of the House and that of the Fund Management Committee (FMU) of the House headed by him.
“We bought Land Cruisers for Principal Officers of the House. The cars we buy for Principal Officers are always higher than those of other members and we followed the due process in the purchase. We went through the Public Procurement Agency (PPA) and others and the vehicles were distributed appropriately.
“It was agreed at the parliamentary meetings on about four occasions and the Clerk of the House is the Secretary. Also, it is not true that my wife collects N10 Million monthly from the House. Anyone who says she does should come with proofs and evidence.
“My approval limit as the Speaker of the House is N100 million. Anything above that would have to be approved by the Fund Management Committee. On Prado Jeep that we bought for the members, we followed the due process as we did in that of the Principal Officers,” he explained.
The speaker, who also debunked an allegation that N258  million was spent for the printing of invitation cards for the inauguration of the 9th Assembly, added that the whole event cost N61 million while  N1.1 million was spent to print the invitation cards.
“It is not possible to spend N258 Million to print invitation cards. We are not involved in such a frivolous expenditure,” he added.
Concerning the alleged N80 million expended as estacode for the training of women in Dubai, the Speaker said that wives of 20 lawmakers attended the event and that he was there to declare the event open.
“We gave N4 million to each of the participants for air ticket, hotels, feedings and local travel. Air ticket to Dubai alone is about N2 million. Some of these allegations were raised for a crusade to get the Speaker out of office.
“The House of Assembly is above common standard of excellence and we have to train people, and this comes with a cost. Learning is not cheap and I have never collected N80 Million for estacode at a go before,” he said.
The Speaker defended the purchase of eight buses for committee on works in the Assembly and stated that the House was spending a lot of money to repair existing vehicles used by the committee.
To end the frequent expenses, he hinted that the House decided to buy the buses and that the buses were there for everybody to see with documents to defend funds expended on them.
He denied the allegation that he spent N53 million for a trip to the United States of America with his mistress.
“We were invited by the Consular General for a programme in the United States. Later, the programme was postponed,  but I had gone ahead. I had to return home and I told others not to bother to come until the postponed dates,” he said.
The Speaker told the committee that it was not possible for him to spend N17 million for cleaning of his guest house as against the allegation made by Sahara Reporters .
“They only remove documents and fly them around to please themselves. All our payments go through certain procedures. The expenditure had been there before I became the Speaker. There was no way I could have spent N17 million on cleaning my guest house. On the issue of awarding contracts to companies belonging to me, they should come and show evidence of where I awarded contracts to myself,” he said.
Concerning the report that he tricked former governor Akinwunmi Ambode of the state to spend N350 million for hosting a meeting of Conference of Speakers, Obasa said told the committee that this was not possible.
He maintained that such was not possible since Ambode is an accountant, who rose to be the Chief Accountant of the State.
“There was no way I could have tricked Ambode to release such money anyhow. We had a meeting of the Conference of Speakers, who came with three members each and we had subcommittees who were given N2 million each.
“We paid for the tickets of each Speaker, we pay for their hotel accommodation, feeding and souvenirs. We also provided local transportation for them. All these allegations are deliberate actions of my enemies to achieve their aims that they could not achieve in the House to remove me as the Speaker of the House, which was why they came up with such reports.
“On N60 Million spent for social influencers, I did not sign such money. I don’t even know the companies they are talking about. The Bank VeBVN they are flying about is not correct.
“Whatever I have done as a Speaker, all the approvals I gave as Speaker were given based on collective approval of the members of the House,” he added.,

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