There was disagreement in the Lagos State House of Assembly on Monday over the bill sent by the Governor Babatunde Fashola-led executive arm of the state government to the House.
The bill for a law to provide the framework and establishment of the state Infrastructure Assets Management Agency for the effective preservation and maintenance of state controlled assets would provide for the management of the assets by private firms.
But most of the lawmakers argued that the bill should be thrown out.
All the lawmakers at the sitting agreed that the bill was highly defective even though a few other members pleaded with their colleagues not to return the bill to the executive but “dissect it” and infuse whatever details it would require.
The situation also resulted in the use of some unparliamentary terms by some of the lawmakers who were cautioned by the House leadership.
A drama, however, ensued when the Leader of the House, Ajibayo Adeyeye, who staunchly supported the bill later contradicted himself by saying the bill was dead on arrival.
According to Dr. Adeyeye, who had earlier pleaded with his colleagues to let the bill sail through the second reading, the lawmakers had made some efforts to get the executive arm of the government to add some flesh to the bill and expunge areas that were controversial.
He said the House directive was not carried out and that instead two top government officials including the state Attorney-General and Commissioner, Mr. Ade Ipaye, only visited the House to brief members on the importance of the bill.
His sudden reversal caused serious laughter within the chamber with the Speaker, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, reminding him where he stood from the inception.
Speaker Ikuforiji, who lamented the poor preparation of the bill, also wondered how the troubled bill scaled through the first reading.
He confirmed that the House had asked for details on the bill adding: “I don’t know why the bill is still before the members the way it was before.”
After a long debate on the bill which resulted in members invoking some sections of the House Standing Order to back their argument and asking that the Speaker took a final stand on it, Ikuforiji decided to play safe by committing it to the House Committee on Works and Infrastructure instead of making a definite proclamation that would have seen the death of the bill.
The Committee is expected to submit its recommendations in the next three weeks.
Trouble with the bill began when a member of the House, Mudashiru Obasa, kicked against it while it was being read a second time at the floor of the House.
Obasa called the attention of his colleagues to the controversial nature of the bill which he urged them to look critically into.
He was immediately supported by some other members, including the Chief Whip of the House, Dr. Razak Balogun, who argued that the establishment of another agency was not necessary.
Dr. Balogun said the bill contradicted with laws creating other agencies in the state and their functions. He wondered what would happen to such agencies.
He also argued that there were provisions in government ministries, departments and agencies for the maintenance of infrastructures in the state and that as a result, the bill was of no importance.
Balogun noted that many times the House had passed laws only to later discover that laws were not relevant.
Deputy Speaker Taiwo Kolawole also urged his colleagues to jettison the bill arguing that the demerits far outweighed the merits.
Gbolahan Yishawu also raised concerns that if the bill scaled through, the government would be deemed to have failed because it intended to contract the maintenance of government infrastructure out.
He also warned that it would result in retrenchment of workers since their jobs would have been outsourced.
Lawmakers, who argued in favour of the bill included Sanai Agunbiade, Funmilayo Tejuosho and Rotimi Olowo.