The Lagos State House of Assembly on Tuesday said that circumstances had removed the need for the offices of Minority Leader and Minority Whip in the House.
The Chairman, House Committee on Information, Strategy, Publicity and Security, Tunde Braimoh, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.
Six out of the eight lawmakers elected on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the House had, on February 16, defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
The defectors, including the two former holders of the offices, claimed they left the PDP because of the crisis in the party and attendant leadership tussle.
With their defection, the PDP is left with two lawmakers – Victor Akande (Ojo I) and Dipo Olorunrinu (Amunwo Odofin I) – in the 40-member House.
Mr. Braimoh said: “Now, we talk of two members in a minority in an assembly, and leadership is not just for appellation or title; it is for function, accomplishment and effect.
“It is not something we just award, it is something that is given and we expect something in return and some performance. We expect some kind of work and service, and here we just talk about two people.
“Now, if we have two opposition members in the 40-member Assembly and we say one is the minority leader, leading who? And at the same time, we say another is the minority whip, whipping who?
“The offices have been extinguished because they cannot be seen to be desired, they cannot be seen to function.
“The office will be non-effectual. The offices will not have the morality. We can’t award office just because we want people to feel important.”
The lawmaker said that the step was not politically motivated but created by the circumstances as only two legislators were in minority and the offices were two also.
“The offices have been obviated by circumstances in which we find ourselves; they are just two and the offices are two. It will not augur well.
“The two members cannot be bosses over themselves; if we have that, the system has collapsed,” he said.
Mr. Braimoh said that the Assembly made it clear when six of the eight PDP lawmakers defected to APC in February that the offices had become unnecessary.
According to him, the 1999 Constitution guarantees only the offices of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, while other offices are the creation of the assembly.
“The only offices recognised by the Constitution are those of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker; the rest are based on the whims and caprices or organisational convenience and comfort of any assembly.
“It is not as if it is compulsory that those offices should exist; they are created by our rules, and where the rules become superfluous, they become obviated.
“I am not saying the minority members are not important; they are, but the truth of the matter is that the offices of the minority leader and the minority whip have become obviated,” the lawmaker said.
Moshood Salvador, Lagos State Chairman of PDP, had earlier warned the house to be guided in its thinking on the matter and avoid taking a “military’’ approach.
“For God’s sake, two is a number and one is a number,” he had told NAN soon after the defection of the PDP members, insisting that the party members would have their places as Minority Leader and Minority Whip.
Meanwhile, information available on the site lagoshouseofassembly.gov.ng indicates: “The minority leader is not required if all honourable members are from the same party’’.
In the fifth Assembly in Lagos State in 2003, the only PDP member in the 40-member House, Julius Ajose, who was representing Badagry II, was named the Minority Leader.