Despite being indicted for laundering over N500 million by an anti-corruption commission, the embattled Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, on Wednesday, expressed his willingness to vie for the governorship position of Nigeria’s commercial capital.
Mr. Ikuforiji made the remark in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Alausa, Ikeja.
“To tell you that I don’t want to be governor of Lagos State in future, I’ll be telling lies,” Mr. Ikuforiji said. “I want to be the President of Nigeria; but the scripture tells me that it is only God that crowns.”
The Lagos Speaker who is enmeshed in corruption scandals described himself as “an ambitious person.”
“You can have the ambition, but because I am a Muslim, and because I know that tomorrow is not mine, I know it is only the Almighty that knows what tomorrow is like.
“I think that two- and- a- half years is too long for speculation,’’ he said, in reference to the time the incumbent still has to remain in office.
I wanted to be LG Chairman
Mr. Ikuforiji explained that when he visited Nigeria from his U.S. base in 2003, his intention was to contest the chairmanship of his Local Government Area, Epe.
“Some of my friends and cousins that were politically active discouraged me from contesting for a local government chairman and told me to start from the House of Assembly.
“They said if somebody like me could go to state house of assembly, the Epe Local Government, which is my constituency, could say they would produce the speaker in future,” he said.
The speaker explained that he only came for a three-day holiday from the U.S. during the Muslim festival.
“Then I ran back to the U.S. with a change of heart on what office to vie for. Latter I got the ticket of the party to be the candidate for the House of Assembly; I made it at the general election, and then I started running for the speakership of house.
“It is not just getting your colleagues to vote, but the party also has its programme and one thing and the other,” he said.
Mr. Ikuforiji lost the speaker’s election in 2003 to his predecessor in office. He said he had no option to raise the hand of the man who eventually became the speaker.
“But when the time came, I did not even put in 10 per cent of the effort I had put in earlier running for the Speaker, before I became the Speaker of the House. I would say that God decided the path and I was deviating from the path when I was running for speakership in 2003.
“It could not have been better by the time when the Almighty decided to put me on the seat of the Speaker in 2005,” he said.
The speaker appealed to all stakeholders in the political arena to have the fear of God in their hearts and let fairness and justice rule the Nigerian landscape.
The ‘corrupt’ speaker
While Mr. Ikuforiji preaches the fear of God, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, after investigations, concluded that the speaker is corrupt.
The anti-graft commission is prosecuting the speaker, and his aide, for laundering over N501 million.
Despite the case suffering two adjournments at the instance of the EFCC, the spokesman of the commission said the EFCC is taking the prosecution of Mr. Ikuforiji serious.
“It is a top priority case for the commission. We are prosecuting the matter diligently and we don’t want to be distracted by anything that is politically inclined,” Wilson Uwujaren, the EFCC spokesperson told PREMIUM TIMES.