In the second part of this interview with thegazellenews.com‘s DARE OJELADE, the Majority Leader of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon Sanai Oyewole Bolanle Agunbiade speaks further on his achievements as a lawmaker and why he is seeking re-election.
Can you explain further how your constituents have benefited from your tenure in the House?
Thank you very much. Through my efforts and cooperation as well as support from my colleagues in the Assembly, lots of houses were saved from demolition.
Affected members of my constituency brought their cases here. There was the case of some people building wrongly on the parcel of land already allocated by government to a group of people. The legal owners went to court and the ruling was in their favour and they were to demolish all houses on the said land and take possession.
We went in and mediated. The House sent me to mediate on the matter and I can tell you that today, to the glory of God and through our effort, no single house was demolished on the land. That was how about 320 houses were saved from demolision.
I remember the case of the Jayesinmi community. That is a place where some of our people wrongly built on land reserved for government projects. We discovered that most of the houses that were wrongly built belong to staff of Lagos State Polytecnics. So demolition of these sets of houses would affect most of the lecturers impacting knowledge on our children in the institution. Obviously it will affect teaching and learning processes in the Polytechnic.
I brought the matter to the Assembly, they gave me support and today the houses are still there, the government became compassionate and knew what to do.
In Lasunwan Lambo, some of our people went on again and build houses on land allocated to WAEC and they were to be demolished. We went in canvass and lobbied and thanks to my colleagues, they have been so wonderful, and I think Ikorodu owes the House of Assembly lots of appreciation. They rose and gave me the support and amicably the matter was resolved . Now government has solved the problem and have started giving the occupiers documents with which they can process their C of O. So when you look at these areas that I have intervened, not less than a thousand families have been saved from being rendered homeless.
Is it only in the area of saving house from demolition that you have excelled?
No! Of course there are other areas we have done well. To the glory of God, I have put in place lots of empowerment programmes which have impacted positively on the beneficiaries.
I have trained lots of youths in Ikorodu in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and some of them are today using the knowedge gained from the programme as their source of livelihood.
Through a partnership I have with the Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, lots of youths and women have been empowered in various vocations.
Today, lots of our youths and women are eeking out living as barbers, hairstylists, bead makers and other vocational skills.
For the market women, I initiated the plan where I go to banks to collect loan from them and I pay the interest to the bank and I redistribute the money to the men and women in the markets just to assist them.
This is because a lot of them go to all these small scale financial institutions to collect as little as N20,000 and pay exorbitant interest. inability to comply to the time stipulated for them to pay create problems for the debtors and some even lost their properties in the process. We have done seven editions of this programme, the eight edition is coming up very soon. I have just concluded negotiation with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSTEF) who are my partners in the coming edition of the programme.
In the area of sports, I initiated mini marathon programme for schools under my legislative jurisdiction. This event is now named at the Ayangbunren of Ikorodu, His Royal Majesty Kabiru Shotobi who is performing wonderfully as an Oba and he’s making giant strides in transforming Ikorodu and advancing traditional administration. The fourth edition I the mini-Marathon will take place in October.
I also engage the people in health screening and health insurance. I did health insurance for about one thousand Ikorodu people cutting across all fields. I paid the money and it’s for one year. They attend the prescribed hospitals that have good relationship with us, and they take free medicals.
These are some of the areas we have been able to impact positively on the people of my constituency. My people are really appreciative of all these and they have been very supportive.
One of the major challenging events in recent time was the Badoo saga in Ikorodu. How did you eventually resolve the matter and what was your contribution to its eradication?
The issue of security is not meant for parlour or market discussion. I always say may the Lord almighty reward me according to my intention for my people and what I have used their mandate to do. It is not only Badoo matter that constitutes security problem for Ikorodu people. There was the problem with the Isawo community which also has to do with security.
As a representative of my people, God will reward me for how I intervened and what I was able to do but what I did are not meant to be discussed. Even on the issue of kidnapping and other security challenges, all I know that before God, I have not been found wanting in representing my people in that area.
Some may not know but many people know because they complained to me and I related with traditional rulers, community leaders and the CDAs, I will just say we thank God that all of those things have subsidised now.
One of the greatest problems we had in Ikorodu some few years back is the issue of Ajagungbale and I rose stoutly at the risk of my life, I raised several motions on the floor of the House as records could bear and at the end of the day I presented a Bill.
The bill has been passed into law and ascented to by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode. The Law is called the Property Protection Law. I received a lot of backing on the Law from the leadership of the House particularly the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa and Hon Sikiru Adebayo Osinowo.
The Law is meant to curtail the activities of land speculators.
There were serious challenges but eventually the Bill scale through and it has been able to reduce the activities of land speculators in the state.
The state government even set up a task force to compliment the implementation and operation of the Law and in recent time we have had relative peace on issues relating the activities of the land speculators.
The Speaker has also asked us to review the law with a view to introducing innovations into it. We want to know its impact on the people, if it is serving the purpose it was enacted and ways to improve on it. The Speaker said we must constantly be reviewing our laws to know if they are satisfying the purpose they are enacted.
You have been here for three terms and you are willing to come for the fourth term, what will be your major area of focus when you come back here?
A lawmaker is first and foremost a representative of his people. You are first a representative before you become a lawmaker, people will vote for you as a representative to represent them, by virtue of that mandate you now have opportunities to sit with your colleagues and make laws.
I’m sure you are one of the very few individuals who are conversant with the workings of the House of Assembly, and I remember the first award I got as Best Male Lawmaker in the House of Assembly in 2014 was through The Gazelle News. I had wanted to reject the award outright but I realised that it was a process that was painstakingly put together and executed in a transparent manner in which many people voted. It was presented by Senator Ojudu, now Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters. That gave me a lots of motivation and I have continued to put in my best.
A legislator duly voted for by his people, once you get to the House of Assembly, you are representing the state in the area of quality legislation and I am sure your news outfit will know that most laws we are making in this House of Assembly are now being copied by other states.
So aside from you representing your constituency, you are representing the state and the House of Assembly. Lagos state is so peculiar because it has a tradition of allowing some of its lawmakers to return to the Assembly so as to put in the experience they have gathered over the years. The House of Assembly is spending a lot of money in the man power development of both staff and legislators.
As the Majority Leader of the Lagos House of Assembly, I know I have contributed to the quality of laws that we have here. I have been promising my people from the first day I was elected that I will give them practical representation. And my practical representation is that you will not find me wanting. Since 2007 I have been elected into the Assembly, I have been living within my people in Ikorodu except if I have assignment outside the country and of course when it is too late or not too safe for me to go to my house at night. Day in day out, I come from Ikorodu; today, I slept in Ikorodu. I live with my people I am there weekends, my gates are wide open for my constituent and that’s what I mean by practical representation.
On the floor of the House, I thank God that I give face and voice to my people and the fact I am one of the privileged few that are Principal Officers of the House of Assembly I take the pride that I am representing Ikorodu and I’m giving Ikorodu that bright face and loud voice In the House of Assembly.
So coming back is to further improve on what we have been doing and I am sure I will be an asset to the House. Anybody who has spent two years in the House of Assembly and has gone through the training and participated in the processes of law making here is an asset to the House of Assembly.
I have a dossier of the things I have done over the years, they are already compiled, things I have done from 2007 to 2018, very soon I am going to release that to the public. So you have holistic evaluation and assessment to decide: is this person a worthy member of this House of Assembly? Is he a worthy ambassador of his people? And of course, is he a very good legislative tool in the House of Assembly for the state.
Though, it may be argued by some people that am I the only person in my constituency, it is because of the integrinium of the military intervention in the country that has been the reason we do not know that the face of democracy is the Parliament; for the Executive to function very well, the Parliament must be very functional, very good. If you talk about some countries where democracy is functioning very well, it is because they have very good laws; laws that can stand the test of time, and that is why in other countries, they don’t throw away their good hands, their experienced lawmakers. They keep them to continue to develop the laws for them because they cherish law making.
But in Nigeria, for you to be in government, you are going there to make money. That is why they say it’s turn by turn, let another person come and enjoy too. No doubt any office you occupy, whether elected or appointed, will bring some goodies to you.
If you are a good manager the company and people will not want to let you go until your retirement age. In the Legislature, the constitution world over does not specify how many term a person must spend because they realised that the bastion of democracy is the Legislature and you need people who know the act to be there. Even as a third timer in this Assembly, I cannot tell you that I have learnt all the rudiments of law making, that’s why we are still being trained. We still make mistakes here and there. So you have to work and learn the rules. We have to see the Legislature as a serious place of business not a place of trading issues on sentiments and some mundane consideration on societal benefits for all.
So I am saying these are the reasons I am seeking re-election not only for me and my constituency but also for the benefit of the entire state. That’s why you are seeing peace in the Lagos State House of Assembly over the years because those that are there are those that know the importance and understand the rudiments of lawmaking. They know it has to be for the welfare and the security of their people, they know you can only have a progressive House when there is stability and there can only be stability when there is unity and there can only be unity when all of you that are there know that you are there for a particular purpose. So these are the things that I am saying that we should allow our Legislature to grow.
As we move towards the general election, what is your message for your people?
My people should stand by the progressive party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) support the party. Our governor is trying his best and we want Lagos state to continue to progress and people to know that the APC administration is a government that believe in the progress, welfare and security of the people and we have recorded landmark achievements which have impacted positively on the people of the state. We are pace setters in progressive politics. Let everybody go out and register if you have not registered, so that you can have your permanent voter’s card. Those that have done it and have not collected should make special effort to collect it. When you don’t vote in an election, you allow those who shouldn’t have won to win and you prevent those who should have won not to win, because if everybody also does not vote then you will have few votes so let everybody go out and exercise their franchise and use it for APC.
It’s only by voting that you can criticise the government. If you don’t participate in the process of electing someone you don’t have moral justification to condemn the person, because he also has a right. If others have not voted you won’t have anything to criticise. So I am pleading to Lagosians and my constituents because we have been very progressive and will continue to be progressive.
As far as I’m concern, I will continue to represent them well. I have not disappointed them over the years, I pray to God almighty that I will not disappoint them. Another mandate given to me will strengthen me to be more visible and more impactful, that’s why I tagged my next mission as “conviction for greater impact”. I’m convinced that another mandate will embolden me to make more impact for my people because I know how it works.