March 4, 2020
Nigerians took to social media to express their outrage after the speaker’s aide confirmed the party with an activist saying such actions make citizens lose trust in their government.
Lanre Lasisi, Mr Gbajabiamila’s spokesperson, said in a statement Tuesday that the speaker’s mother, Lateefat Gbajabiamila, on Monday celebrated her 90th birthday in Dubai.
Mr Lasisi said this in response to a report by Sahara Reporters which accused his principal of using public funds to take 300 guests on a jamboree to Dubai.
While Mr Lasisi affirmed that the party truly held, he refuted the claim that the event fed on public funds.
“It was strictly for family members and a few childhood friends for which no public funds were appropriated or expended,” Mr Lasisi wrote in his statement. “Indeed not a single politician nor a legislator was present at the event.”
Mr Gbajabiamila is a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress and has been a member of the green chamber since 2003.
He represents Surulere I Federal Constituency of Lagos State and has held key principal offices in the House. He was the minority leader in the 7th assembly, the majority leader in 8th assembly and now speaker in the 9th assembly.
The public outrage he has got since the report was out that he celebrated his mother’s birthday on March 2 in Dubai has been premised on the privileges he has had as a representative for 17 years on.
In 2018, he got similar public bashing, when he, apart from a one-day lavish party, gifted his wife, Salamatu Gbajabiamila, a Mercedes G-Wagon, reportedly priced at $300,000, with a number plate customised with the fond word “ASSURANCE” for her 50th birthday.
Suspicion was rife then that the speaker could be living beyond his legal means. This is because in 2017, for instance, the only time the spending of the National Assembly has been made public since 2012, members of the lower house earned an annual pay of $42,000 (approximately ₦13 million).
Call for probe
Coming at a time when members of the House of Representatives are welcoming batches of exotic cars for themselves, the speaker’s show of opulence deserves to be probed, Mr Suraj told PREMIUM TIMES.
The anti-corruption advocate called for an investigation into the House Speaker’s spending spree.
He said as a top official, Nigerians deserve to know what Mr Gbajabiamila has acquired over the period he has had access to their resources.
“You have insurgents killing citizens everyday, you have IDPs, then you have this sort of display of opulence? The world would be laughing at us,” Mr Suraj noted.
Some Nigerians chided the speaker in the comment section of the his rebuttal on Facebook, posted by his spokesperson, Mr Lasisi.
They questioned why he as the number four citizen did not lead by example by “pumping” money into an already booming economy like Dubai’s at the expense of Nigeria’s.
- Premium Times