Former Lagos Majority Leader, Hon. Agunbiade Shares Legislative, Other Experiences With Scholars

Kunle Adelabu

Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, former Majority Leader, Lagos State House of Assembly (right), Dr. Hellen Kilelo, from MOI University, Nairobi, Kenya, who is doing her post-doctoral fellowship at the Lagos State House of Assembly, working on “Women And Their Policy Contributions in The Lagos State House of Assembly” (left) and Isaiah Olayode, a Doctoral candidate in the Institute of African and Diaspora Studies, University of Lagos (UNILAG), working on “Social Justice in African Society”, during the research session with Hon. Agunbiade on Tuesday.

It was a vintage Hon. Sanai Oyeniran Bolanle Agunbiade, popularly known and called ‘SOB’, the immediate past Majority Leader, Lagos State House of Assembly, who represented the Ikorodu Constituency I for 16 years as he shared his thought on legislative proceedings in the Assembly among other issues.

Agunbiade, who was engaged by three researchers at his Constituency Office in Ikorodu, was also the former Chairman, Nigerian Majority Leaders Forum and that of the Southwest Majority Leaders Forum.

He was engaged by Dr. Hellen Kilelo, who is doing her post-doctoral fellowship from MOI University, Nairobi, Kenya, working on “Women And Their Policy Contributions ln The Lagos State House of Assembly”, Isaiah Olayode, a Doctoral candidate in the Institute of African and Diaspora Studies, University of Lagos (UNILAG), working on “Social Justice in African Society”, and Diekara Oloruntoba-Oju from Harvard University, USA, Doctoral Fellowship and working on “Youths Life in Lagos”.

Other areas of engagement with the four – term lawmaker were: how he got into the Assembly and what he was doing before his election into the State Assembly, the Assembly committees he served in and process of motion and bill making, private member bill, process and inclusiveness of public hearing, challenges, executive – legislative relationship and impacts of female lawmakers and reduction in their numbers.

He was also engaged on his activism; cultism on campus and the larger community and how to eradicate it.

Dr. Hellen Kilelo explained that the choice of the former Majority Leader as one of the major resource persons for her research stemmed from the long time he spent in the house and his contributions as seen in the Assembly hazard (records and proceedings) and his background as a lawyer and activist.

Hon. Agunbiade in group photograph with the researchers and staff of the Lagos State House of Assembly that accompanied them to Ikorodu for the session with him on Tuesday.

“While studying about the records in the house, I realized that he was vibrant and really made a lot of contributions, and I came to find out how he was able to do that”, she said.

“Based on our interaction with him, he is a distinguished lawyer whose works speak for itself and that’s why he was able to serve for four terms. I am convinced about his positive and impactful contributions while in the Lagos State House of Assembly.

“I look forward to following up on him and see how he progresses, because he is truly a leader and even outside the Assembly, he is still there for the people, caring for them”.

Agunbiade, welcoming the scholars accompanied by senior staff of the Lagos State House of Assembly, said that Ikorodu is home to many firsts.

Speaking on his legislative sojourn, the former lawmaker narrated the challenges that he encountered in his successive returns to the House for four consecutive term, which is a record in the annals of representation in Ikorodu.

“In Ikorodu, nobody has ever represented the people for four terms. When I finished my first term, I was asked to go for the second, but some people said that it is not possible because it has never been done, but I said that for the fact that it has never been done does not mean that it cannot be done.

“I went into the election and I won. The third term, they rose again that there won’t be any third term and it became a bit rowdy, but God did it and I won the third term.

“The fourth term run was so hectic, but I won. In 2023, I had callings to contest again for the fifth term. I knew that it would be difficult because those I defeated in the previous years were still out there and they were joining forces to campaign that am l the only person entitled to the office.

“We thank God that everything was peaceful and I was edged out at the primary elections. To God be the glory. I went to the House of Assembly and I returned alive”.

Speaking on life after political office, Hon. Agunbiade said that he is back in school to further enhance his knowledge.

On legislative business, Agunbiade said that it is a serious business and those venturing into it must be well – grounded.

“I was first assigned to the Committee on Commerce and Industry. After that, I led the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Public Petitions. Then, I became the Majority Leader, and I was also the Majority Leader for another term. I was the Majority Leader for eight years”, he said.

“I was lucky to be the first to be the Majority Leader for two consecutive terms”.

The former Majority Leader, speaking on the process of sponsoring motions, said:

“You either decide on your own to look at contemporary issues or you in conjunction with your colleagues discuss some things and reduce it into writing in form of motion, stating your prayers and why you are taking up the motion.

“After that, you will discuss it with the Majority Leader who will in turn discuss with the Speaker. If he approves of it, the motion will be slated for first reading on the floor of the house.

“In the Lagos State House of Assembly, you are not allowed to read from a prepared document. You must discuss your motion. Once you move the motion, someone will second it and it will be open to debate.

“If it merits being considered, the Speaker will put it into vote and if the majority support the motion, that is it”.

The former lawmaker said that sponsoring a private member bill is a tedious process which requires a lot from the sponsor.

“It is very tedious. The main challenge is that, to come up with a bill, you must conceptualise what the subject will be. You must discuss with the legal department and work with them to have your document ready.

“After approval of the Majority Leader and the Speaker, it is slated for the first reading where the title is read out on the floor and after that, it will proceed to the second reading where it will be trashed – looking into so many things: enforcement, relevance and benefits to the society among others.

“Then, we will go into divide, whether the bill should be approved or not and once the majority says it should be passed, the bill is committed to a committee which responsibilities tally with the subject matter of the bill”.

He explained that the committee, in return, organized a public hearing which he said was only done in Lagos State House of Assembly, until recently when other State Assemblies started doing it.

“We hold public hearing to enable stakeholders in that area (focus of the bill) and other members of the public to discuss the bill and make inputs. We usually publish the bill in the national dailies to give people access to it.

“At the public hearing, the Majority Leader will always come around to do an overview of the bill for better understanding. Thereafter, there will be contributions from individuals, groups and other stakeholders, while members of the committee will be recording their contributions .

“After the public hearing, the committee will go back to the legal department to consider all that are relevant in what were said at the hearing, juxtaposed them with the bill and where necessary, change some of the narratives, correct some opinions and restate some proposals and prepare a report.

“If the committee is ready, the house will be informed and eventually report what transpired at the public hearing. The report will be considered; rejected or accepted. Once it is approved, the committee would sit with the legal department to do a clean draft of the bill.

“It is the clean draft of the bill that would come back to the house for the third reading which is just to cross ‘t’ and dot the ‘I”. Once the bill passes through the third reading, it means that the bill has been passed.

“It will go back again for clean draft which will be sent to the Governor for his assent and when the Governor is ready to give his assent, he would inform the house which will send a representative to witness it and once the Governor appends his signature, the bill becomes a law of the state”, he said.

He emphasized that public hearing in Lagos State House of Assembly, is always inclusive and counts.

While listing bills like Cremation Bill and Bill on Forceful Entry Into Private Properties also known as Anti – Land Grabbing Law, which he sponsored, as some of the highly controversial and highly debated but were eventually passed, Hon. Agunbiade recalled that Sun Yatch Bill, which was about the purchase of a yatch for the Governor, did not survive after the public hearing.

“Bill on Forceful Entry Into Private Properties also known as Anti – Land Grabbing Law, which I sponsored is the bill that stayed the longest before it was passed. We had it ongoing for almost three years”, he said.

He also recalled the challenges that he faced for sponsoring the bill.

“I insisted on the bill because Ikorodu, which is my constituency, is the most affected by the issue of landgrabbing because we have a lot of expanse of lands that were unoccupied. So, they would just jump on it to take over”, he said.

Another area touched was the Executive – Legislative relationship which the former lawmaker said was cordial during his time as a state lawmaker.

“In Lagos State, up to the time I left the Assembly, the relationship between the executive and legislature was very cordial, because of the template that we put in place.

“Once the bill comes into the House of Assembly from the Ministry of Justice with a cover note, we will read it on the floor as first reading and after that, we will invite the Commissioner for Justice & Attorney – General, for the executive briefing on the bills, so that we can ask questions and look at the grey areas.

“We did not inherit the template. We put it in place by ourselves…”.

While reacting to questions asked by Kilelo on committee members using their position to seek favour for themselves or their constituency, Hon. Agunbiade denied such occurrence in the House.

“The Lagos State House of Assembly, up till the time that I left, was a conglomeration of highly disciplined individuals. The Speakers that I served under – Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji and Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa, do not condone nonsense”, he said.

“They are very tough and do not allow any nonsense. If you are caught compromising the integrity of the house, is either you are removed or they use other internal disciplinary measures to whip you back into line. So, everybody was on his or her toes”.

Related posts

Leave a Comment