16th February, 2011
Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, one of the most vibrant members of the Lagos State House of Assembly spoke with Assembly Matters on his philosophy, emphasising that the National Orientation Agency should be scrapped.
Some civil and human rights groups are pushing for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference. Do you subscribe to it?
True federalism and Sovereign National Conference would continue to hit the rocks until Nigerians, by our own making, decide to make it work. Who are those calling for the conference when progressives in the country are unable to come together and everybody wants to his party and lead? What is wrong with the progressives coming together to say they would wrestle power and send to the National Assembly those who understand the concept of governance and legislation and not those who would continue to dabble into some infantile radicalism in the affairs of the legislature? It is unfortunate. Of recent, your hear of the comments credited to the President, a man we feel is an embodiment of humility, someone we feel would reflect his academic status has long been pretending.Â So, we want a nationalist at the National Assembly who would assist the people to meet the issues that are not addressed by the constitution that was put together by carpenters and bricklayers in the guise of a Constitution Drafting Committee, tailored by the military regime.
Time is moving and we must move with time to take care of present challenges which must be captured in the way we govern ourselves. You can see that, not withstanding that the constitution does not recognise regions again, we still have Northern States Governors, South-South Governors, South-East Governors. That itself is criminal because the constitution does not recognise them. Again, all these mounted up and we now begin to hear Arewa not prepared to accept Jonathan and South-South is saying another thing making us thread the part of disintegration because once tribal sentiments come in, we remind ourselves of the era of the north against the south or the Igbo against the Hausa.
Many of those in politics are not there to serve the people but for class status. But a man who really wants to serve the people would subject his whole reasoning to the welfare of the people just like Babatunde Fashola is doing. The way the ACN shopped for Fashola is how they have now shopped for Nuhu Ribadu. So to me, it does not matter where Ribadu comes from, but he has antecedents and traits we can be comfortable with when it comes to discipline with the National treasury.
How do you feel when people appreciate your efforts at the House?
It only challenges me to do more. I have been into service to the people right from my childhood. I was a member of the Student Union Government at Ijanikin. There was no time I have led the people to destroy properties but constructive, scientific struggle. During my period, we fought Mike Akhigbe telling him though he gave us the school, we needed a lecture theatre and the man saw the angle of our argument and promised us. Before I left the place, they started the foundation of the first lecture theatre in the institution. When I became a member of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, as a teacher, a colleague from Ondo State beat a student from Ikorodu and the student died, we knew there were complications because the cane couldnâ€™t have killed the guy. Because of professional hazards we know the man was facing, I led the struggle with the chairman of the NUT and the guy was released from detention. I went back to the university and from my first year, I was the representative of my faculty in the Student Parliamentary Council and in my final year, I was elected the President of the Student Union Government. In the Law School then, we realised that other states were paying bursary to their students and Lagos State was not doing same. In the school, I was again made the President and we approach the government which granted a bursary of N40,000 per student.
When people appreciate me, it makes me want to do more. I did Philosophy of Life and I realised that an individual is an infinitesimal unit of life. You are not recognised unless you make your indelible mark. Awolowo was born the same way every other person was born, but he became a reference point because of what he has done. Why are you born if you cannot change things?
In all these, what are the challenges you faced?
Currently, I have been threatened so many times and I have an issue with the Nigeria Police in Igbogbo, Ikorodu, over a threat call I received from some people who said that they have instructions to kill me. I struggle to create time for my children because I come from a very disadvantaged position. In Lagos, my constituency gets the lowest allocation. Lagos State was initially five divisions from which 40 constituencies have been created. While Ikorodu, which is one of the five divisions has two constituencies, former Ikeja division now has Somolu, Kosofe, Ikeja, Ijaiye/Ifako, Oshodi-Isolo, Alimosho, and Agege with about 14 lawmakers. We also have the highest challenge of infrastructure because new settlements are springing up.
As a lawmaker, you would have to bear insults. Of course, the federal government is not helping matters. There is the national Orientation Agency, but this agency is only feebly relevant during elections where they use speakers on top of vehicles to tell people to go and register and vote. That is all they do yet monies are being allocated to the agency. It is supposed to be a continuous thing whether there is election or not. They should let people understand the basic functions of elected officials from councillors to the president. If I had my way, the federal government should scrap that agency; redefine it so that Nigerians would have political education. It should also be inculcated in school curricular so that Nigerians would be very enlightened.
You are seeking re-election. What do your people expect from you now?
When I was coming for my first term, I promised them practical representation. I told them I would live in their midst and always be there whenever they wished to see me. I told them I would always argue for their interests and always strive to know their problems. And for four years, I have ensured that I did all that. For this second term, I am promising them more practical representation and will continue to make their problem my problems. I will spend my time defending them and ensuring they get good infrastructure. They should expect more of what I have done in my first four years.