Yusuf Lasun’s charisma, politics, liberal nature and unimpeachable character endear him to the people of Osun State
For Rt. Hon. Yusuf Lasun, Deputy Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, political relevance and national prominence came earlier than he had anticipated. However, it will be incorrect to say that the Osun State-born engineer, politician and bridge builder did not prepare for the events of June 9, 2015. On that day, Lasun, like a hero in a Greek tragic drama, emerged Deputy Speaker in a most dramatic manner, thereby proving book makers wrong.
But his emergence also came with a backlash which pitched him against some actors in the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the South West.
Those who were unhappy with his election in his zone accused him of being disloyal to APC’S zoning formula. According to them, he breached his party’s selection process of principal officers by supporting candidates that were not anointed by the APC. But there were those also who commended him for his intervention and his victory, which saved the Yoruba nation from the humiliation that Femi Gbajabiamila’s defeat as a contender for the speakership position would have caused.
Now, the narrative around principal actors during the election in the House is gradually changing. Those who won and lost have moved on, and like Lasun, they are already working in preparation for the elections ahead. It is therefore not surprising that like other politicians, Lasun’s issues dominate political discourse these days, both in Osun, Lasun’s home state and Abuja. This narrative is further heightened by a pending governorship election in Osun State in 2018 where he is believed to be a major contender.
Today, the Deputy Speaker is celebrated for his charisma, progressive politics, liberal disposition and unimpeachable character. But above all the virtues, Lasun’s preoccupation and commitment to empowerment remain his biggest asset and selling point
At an event recently in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, he decried the prevailing poverty in Nigeria, describing it as unacceptable. He echoed the view that government, must at all times, work to improve the living conditions of the people. Since the statement came from an important member of an arm of government, it drew applause from everybody present.
This reputation of supporter of the masses is now closely associated with Lasun’s name. He knew there could not have been a better time to speak in support of the people and the working class, and he is taking advantage of the moment. For instance, in Osun, his home state, politicians there are unhappy with the governor over his apparent disdain for stomach infrastructure and patronage which is an integral part of politics in Nigeria. Political appointments in Osun State also come in trickles, making life very difficult for those who live on politics. This is compounded by the fact that public officers are regularly owed salaries, and when eventually government pays, it comes as half salaries. These are serious issues but the Deputy Speaker continues to identify with his people and their challenges, and he has never shied away from speaking out.
At other times, Lasun has also spoken vociferously on the dangers of food importation, calling on Nigerians to stop the importation of food items from other countries. According to him, Nigerians must return to the farm so that they can create employment, earn foreign exchange and save the nation of trillions of Naira spent annually on importation.
As a responsive leader, the Deputy Speaker continues to show uncommon love and compassion to his constituents. A few months ago, he donated tractors to Farmers Association of Osogbo, Irepodun and Olorunda Local Government Areas of his state. Outside encouraging food production through the empowerment of farmers, he is also linked to over three dozen charitable efforts across age, sex and religion. He has also provided educational and employment opportunities to young men and women in Osun State and beyond.
‘I only urge our leaders that people in government should make deliberate efforts to go back to their constituencies and make input in a manner that will allow people to get empowered and be developed. They can build hospitals, produce drugs and equipment and build schools. In the last six years, I have been able to build about sixty classrooms”, Lasun said recently.
Those who know him, including his critics, can attest to his courage, strength of character, strong leadership qualities and achievement during the last Assembly and the current 8th Assembly.
For example, at the 44th session of the ECOWAS Parliament in 2015, he was in an unprecedented manner, unanimously elected 1st Deputy Speaker of the Parliament. And in Geneva, Switzerland, at the Inter Parliamentary Union, IPU meeting, he acquitted himself as a first class parliamentarian with his speech on Nigeria’s position in the union.
But some people have also argued that Lasun is taking advantage of the obvious development and leadership vacuum in Osun State to position and launch himself ahead of next year’s governorship election. This may not be completely false as it is already evident that Osun needs a visionary, charismatic and cosmopolitan governor come 2018. This “saviour”, according to critics of the current governor, Rauf Aregbesola, must not only be knowledgeable, fit and pleasant, but must also be ready to listen, and Lasun is not in short supply of these attributes.
Those who queue behind him as the long-expected messiah and redeemer say they are rooting for him because of his intellectual depth, deep pocket, character, political sagacity and generosity. They also contend that Aregbesola has inflicted enough pain on the people of Osun State and that Lasun is eminently qualified to end the hopelessness, general poverty, lack of vision and the dictatorial tendencies that characterise the current administration.
The only obstacle on his way is that he is not from Osun West, which is expected to produce the next governor in 2018. But his strong supporters are insisting on jettisoning zoning this time around because according to them, zoning does not always produce the best candidate.
It is generally believed also that Lasun, as a governorship aspirant, can count on Abuja and the power conflagration at Nigeria’s seat of power where anything is politically possible. Only recently, the power game at the centre served certain interests in Ondo State prior to the primaries where Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, emerged as APC’s standard bearer and eventually won the governorship election, despite all odds. Osun State, evidently, is a different ball game. How it eventually plays out may depend on extraneous political factors. But surely, Nigeria’s Deputy Speaker is an astute politician that cannot be ignored by his admirers and critics.