SPEAKER of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Honourable Adeyemi Ikuforiji, is arguably one of the longest serving speakers in the country. In a chat with some journalists in his Ikeja, Lagos residence on Tuesday, he reviewed the activities of the House in 2012 and challenges in the New Year, saying the lawmakers would review some of the controversial laws it passed if majority of Lagosians so decide.
Speaking specifically on the controversial Traffic law restricting the operation of commercial motorbike (Okada) in the state and the Cremation law, he said the legislators would hold town hall meetings and conduct impact assessment studies on the laws to see areas that needed amendment. He also spoke on the relationship between Governor Babatunde Fashola and the House, his opposition to creation of more states and why the Federal Government must shun direct control of the local councils.
How the House saw 2012
For us in the Lagos State House of Assembly, 2012 was a challenging year. We resolved at the beginning of the year to give the very best that we can to Lagosians through collaborative engagement with the Executive and the Judiciary. Of course our governor was very determined to deliver the dividends of democracy to Lagosians. We gave him all the necessary legislative support without which he would not have been able to do much.
A lot of ground was covered because we are conscious of the fact that we still have a long way to go particularly when you consider the fact that Lagos is the real micro Nigeria in Nigeria. We cannot rest on our oars. Last year, we also passed one of the most hotly debated, violently resisted and controversial law of all traffic laws. We passed the law in the interest of Lagosians as a whole. But we are also the representatives of 20 million Lagosians, whatever the 20 million Lagosians understand to be the best for them and whatever we are convinced to be the best for our people we will always do at all times.
Even though the law to some extent became controversial, we did what we normally do before we pass any bill into law. We advertised it, we gave room to Lagosians to voice their opinions, to give us ideas and we collated the ideas. The truth remains that from our findings, the greater majority of Lagosians want better movement of vehicles and they prefer to have traffic laws in place that will put in check the tragedies that have been our lot in Lagos for a while.
Of course, we cannot have enough roads; we cannot pull down all the houses to make roads. Though we have to continue to modernize and repair our roads to create room for free flow of traffic, the truth is that indiscipline on our roads remains the greatest headache that we have. Despite the number of vehicles we have, if we are disciplined like we see in other clime, the traffic flow will be a lot better that what it is right now.
Laws to be revisited after impact assessment
However, the laws we make are not written in gold tablets, they are not laws from Heaven. They are our laws, laws for Lagosians, if majority of Lagosians demand for any change in any law, it is for the House to consider, speak to the people, find out what the interest of the greater majority is and follow the dictates of the people. For now, the law is in place, the review of it and every law of ours is one direction that the House is going to face. We have so many laws we need to revisit. We want to do the impact assessment of our laws and review them based on the results we get from the impact assessment.
Need for cremation law
There are other laws we passed last year. The Cremation law also generated some furore here and there particularly with some religious groups who see cremation as alien to not only our culture but also our religion. But we do know that the law did not say Lagosians that pass away should be cremated. All that the law says is we should give room to people who want their body cremated upon their death to have the opportunity.
Lagos is becoming not just a mega city but a world city. We have people from all parts of the world living with us. We have people from Asia, Middle-East, West and even the South. Some of them already have cremation as part of their normal living. So it will be wrong for us to deny them the opportunity of having such things done.
I am not canvassing for anybody to be cremated. Personally, I don't want my children to cremate me when I die. For us to be convinced, I took some of my colleagues to places where this thing is being done. You will be surprised; if you were there, it will mean nothing to you after watching. In an hour the whole body becomes powder.
The law does not make it compulsory for everybody to be cremated it is those who choose to and again we also have in Lagos the burden of unclaimed corpses that has become a big problem and constitute health hazard. I used to live in Isolo and my house was very close to the general hospital. The mortuary there is not one that any of us can be proud of as a mortuary in Lagos.
At a stage, the House ordered that the mortuary be evacuated and the corpses given mass burial. Over 600 corpses were taken away, believe me when the House Committee visited mortuary after about 10 days, they have more than 600 corpses unclaimed and it got to the extent that decomposing corpses are thrown up and down.
Outlook for 2013
So for the New Year, we are working towards making sure that the campaign promises of our governor, member and party as a whole is kept and our government will give echo support to our governor for him to be able to realize his ambition and desire in this last two years of his administration. We would continue to follow best practices and continue to expose our members to best practices across the globe to attend workshops, seminars and conferences among others.
Of course we are very committed to giving basic enlightenment to our citizen in Lagos and we are also working on another round of town hall meeting with the people of Lagos so that we can have first hand information from our people in order to be able to amend our law to suit the majority of Lagosians.
On alleged frosty relations between Governor Fashola and the House
Personally, when the time comes for the story to be told, I am sure that the Lagos state governor is one governor that will score good mark when it comes to the relationship between executive and the legislature.