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ObasaGate: What to know about fraud allegations against Lagos Speaker


ObasaGate: What to know about fraud allegations against Lagos Speaker

Mudashiru Obasa, the Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly, has been accused of financial impropriety, illegal diversion of funds, and abuse of office, sparking a scandal that could have significant impact on the politics and leadership of the state.

The ObasaGate coverage in a nutshell: Sahara Reporters released a series of leaked documents in its exclusive reporting on Obasa’s alleged corruption.

Backstory: Since the turn of the year, Mudashiru Obasa has been enmeshed in a political struggle. This is reported to be motivated by the desire of some members of the House, with the backing of other influential figures, notably a ranking Senator from the state, to force a change in the leadership of the Assembly. In March, the crisis got into the public domain when four members, including two principal officers, were suspended and their offices ransacked.

Why it matters: The crisis in the Assembly is likely connected with a bigger fissure in the ruling All Progressives Congress in Lagos with leading figures, some occupying important federal positions, jostling for influence and control within the state. This could negatively impact governance and distract the Assembly from its important duties of oversight and policymaking amid a crippling pandemic that has slowed revenue and caused the awarding of special intervention fund to the state.

The #Obasagate revelations, though product of yet-to-be-verified leaks, have renewed concerns over the lack of transparency in the operations of the Lagos State Government. For years, the state government has faced criticism from NGOs focused on public spending for refusing to publish details of its especially fat annual budget, instead of the released thumbnails that offer little insight and thus make accountability and due diligence almost impossible.

What to watch: Whether or not the EFCC will commence investigations of the allegations made against the Speaker – as it has been petitioned to. Unlike the Governor and Deputy Governor of the State, Speaker Mudashiru Obasa does not enjoy immunity from prosecution, though he may be wishing that attempts to undo this in the National Assembly through a constitutional amendment had been successful.

Peter Adeshina is a journalist who reports politics, policy and governance.

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