22nd November, 2010
EROMOSELE EBHOMELE revisits the special session held by the Lagos State House ofÂ Assembly in honour of the late Hon. Rotimi Sotomiwa, a member of the House from theÂ Ikorodu Constituency
The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, is oftenÂ known for his hard stance on issues relating to the state. To some, he is soÂ principled and would hardly reverse any decision he believes he has taken in theÂ interest of the people of the state.
However, this was not the case last week Thursday, when the corpse of a member ofÂ the House, representing Ikorodu 11 Constituency, Hon. Rotimi Sotomiwa, was wheeledÂ into the Assembly chamber in a white casket.
That afternoon, the Speaker remained restless on his seat which was directly facingÂ the corpse unable to bear the sight. He would shake his head, remove his cap and fixÂ it back, then lean forward as if something pierced him, stay a while and then sit upÂ again.
Meanwhile, the 38 other lawmakers were teary and speechless. When it was his turn toÂ speak, Hon. Ikuforiji reminded everyone in attendance that he is a fierce politicianÂ who operates on the principle of truth and justice. â€œBut this day, it is not so, asÂ we are witnessing a black day in the history of the sixth Assembly,â€ the SpeakerÂ said.
He paused briefly and as he was about to continue, tears suddenly flooded his eyesÂ and this further provoked another round of wailing within the chambers. The SpeakerÂ could not even muster the strength to wipe the tears with his handkerchief which wasÂ lying before him on his table.
Ikuforiji recalled how the late Sotomiwa would endlessly disturb him over issuesÂ relating to his constituency. â€œDays before his birthday, he called to see me and IÂ thought it was related to his constituency again, but he told me about his 50thÂ birthday anniversary which he was organising that week.
â€œHe also told me that he had an empowerment programme, for which I know he borrowedÂ some money, for that same day and he said, â€˜I want you to do me the favour ofÂ bringing Asiwaju Tinubu to the event for my sake,â€ he added.
Ikuforiji said he promised to come with the former governor of the state but on thatÂ day, the Iyaloja-General, Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji also marked her birthday and,Â â€œAsiwaju asked me to go to Ikorodu and call him if I still needed his presence.â€ TheÂ Speakerlamented that when he got to the venue,Â he was told that the man who had putÂ in place such a big event was himself absent as he had been hospitalized.
â€œI was afraid to go with the Deputy Speaker and others to the hospital because weÂ just came back from the burial of the wife of one of our colleagues. I was onlyÂ saying, â€˜God please allow this cup to pass over me. But it did not. Instead, itÂ stopped right there.â€
The speaker added that when he contacted a medical doctor and member of the House,Â Hon. Dr. Babatunde Adejare, on the chances of the manâ€™s survival, â€œAdejare said,Â â€˜Mr. Speaker, it is just 90:10. We only need prayers now.â€ That was where theÂ Speaker first lost strength.
Again, while the Speaker was figuring out what to do, the deceased called him on hisÂ mobile phone and said: â€œMr. Speaker, please do whatever you can for me. Iku ni moâ€™nÂ wo ni waju mi bayi o, meaning â€˜it is death I am looking at in front of me now.â€
Sotomiwa also told the Deputy Speaker, â€œjoo ma je kiâ€™n ku bayi o’, meaning â€˜please,Â do not let me die like this.â€
The Speaker, who took his sermon from the book of Ecclesiastics 3, which states thatÂ there is time for everything under the sun, added that Sotomiwa had celebrated hisÂ burial with the birthday that held while he was in the hospital.
Hon. Babatunde Adewale Jimoh, who also spoke with P.M.NEWS on the incident said hisÂ committee, Agric and Co-operatives, would miss the late lawmaker because he was aÂ very committed member of the committee.
â€œHe was my confidant because he is experienced. He had been in politics forÂ sometime, so I meet him for advice.
â€œOn the day of the event, I got to the venue and he was not there. We later went toÂ the hospital where he was admitted and on sighting him, I was never myself again.Â All I could do was pray and till he died, I was praying.
â€œWe have lost a good politician while Ikorodu lost a very intelligentÂ representative,â€ he said.
For Hon. Ayoola Ahmed, the late Sotomiwa was more of a brother than a friend. HeÂ loved his people and it reflected in his empowerment programme. â€œHis politicalÂ antecedents will be difficult for any new politician from his area to surpass.
â€œDespite being a politician, he devoted time to his family and music,â€ he saidÂ lamenting that the deceasedâ€™s second term bid had failed to come to pass.
Sotomiwaâ€™s colleague from Ikorodu 1, Barrister Sanai Agunbiade, who cried like aÂ baby thoughout that day said though the late Sotomiwa had left him to champion theÂ course of Ikorodu people alone, he would not disappoint him in the discharge of hisÂ duties.
The lawmakers then paid their last respects and at exactly 2.58, the corpse wasÂ conveyed in a motorcade to his house in Igbogbo-Baiyeku area of Ikorodu amidst theÂ blaring of horns and trumpets.