Synergy Of Fresh, Old Lawmakers Will Enrich Law-making – Agunbiade | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Synergy Of Fresh, Old Lawmakers Will Enrich Law-making – Agunbiade

Posted: Jun 4, 2015 at 12:21 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Hon. Sanai Agunbiade is a member of Lagos State House of Assembly representing Ikorodu Constituency 1. In this interview with AUGUSTINE ADAH, he speaks on the implications of financial autonomy for states House of Assembly and the numerous challenges facing the incoming administration of APC, among other issues. Excerpts… 

In the proposed constitutional amendments, it was provided that financial autonomy should be given to state Houses of Assembly. How do you think this would improve quality of representation in various constituencies?

The implication is to prevent that institution of government from going cap in hand to the executive arm of government. That means if it is given financial autonomy it would be on first line charge, that the members would have their budget and are able to spend it based on the provisions of the budget. So if it eventually approved and the legislature is autonomous, it would make the legislature to work without fear of intimidation, it would make money available to it and it has to be spent as provided and the money cannot be released without the support or knowledge of minister or commissioners for finance as the case may be. I think it is a good thing because it would make the representatives of the people free to do their job without going cap in hand and it would also reduce a lot of friction and intimidations and make the job of law making very effective.


Do you share the opinion by some people that lack of financial autonomy in the state Houses of Assembly may be responsible for turning some of them into rubber stamp institutions?

They have been arguments for and against financial autonomy. Some people query why we should have financial autonomy for an arm of government in one government headed by chief executive. But another school of thought says if we have three arms of government and there is a separate budget for each of these arms of government it is better for each arm to get its own share of the allocation as the money comes in. Some people are even saying there is no difference either autonomy or no autonomy.  Since there is a budget provision, the proponents of financial autonomy for local governments are clamouring for what belongs to Caesar to be given to Caesar. Whether financial autonomy or not, if you want to be a rubber stamp you will still be a rubber stamp.  I think the quality of elected legislature and the personality of the person who is the governor or president would determine whether the house will be rubber stamp or no. If you have members that are dynamic, very versatile who know their onion and you have a good and effective leader managing the affairs of the house of assembly, it will be fact for fact and superior argument in the interest of Nigeria or state, whichever is applicable.  If you want to solve the problem of rubber stamp legislature, you must allow capable hands from different areas of life: professionals, politicians, and people who know what they want and can articulate views effectively in the state houses of assembly and national assembly. If the governor is bereft of ideas but just want to rule and not amiable to other people’s opinion, then he can become so overbearing. But we thank God that such does not happen in Lagos State, I don’t know where such happen and I don’t  think it happened at the national assembly because on one or two occasion, members have  cause to disagree with the president, and I cannot recollect any occasion where the members of the National assembly cheaply succumbed to issues.  So, I feel that there is nothing bad in disagreement in democracy, there will be problem when you are unable to harmonise your different opinions. As far as Lagos State is concerned, we have enjoyed a good understanding with the governor, may be because of his exposure, background or because of his professional calling. But we believe the same thing will happen with the incoming governor who has proved to be amiable with wealth of experience and passion for Lagos State, together with the incoming members of state House of Assembly, the state will enjoy more lively environment and governance in the state.


About 50 percent of members in the Lagos State House of Assembly failed to make it during the 8th Assembly, what is the significance of their failure to return to the house with quality representation?

Election is exercise of franchise by people because power resides with the people. So when there is election, you either return unopposed or contest to defeat others or you are defeated, whichever way it goes unless there is rigging it is expected that the outcome of the election is a reflection of the will of the people. There may be sundry reasons why one loses or wins election, but for 20 members of the Assembly not returning goes to show that we will have a balanced house, new comers into the house who will have to learn patiently and the 20 returnees who will serve as example and at the end of the day fresh ideas coming to meet experience. My concern and experience is that both of us returning and those who are coming for the first time would place the interest of Lagosians paramount in their minds and would not want to engage in unnecessary rancour. More interestingly is that eight out of the 20 members coming into the house for the first time are members of the opposition party; they should prepare to come and make laws and not to stand as opposition members. The House of Assembly is a place where superior argument would determine where the decision will go.  I feel that to make debate very healthy, robust, to have the best spectrum of argument at the end of the day, we need a composition of both new and old members.


Do you canvass for more federal constituencies and local government areas in Lagos State?

Lagos State has created more 37 local governments in addition to the 20 we had before, bringing the number to 57. We have fulfilled all that we need to fulfill under the constitution.  What was required was the pronouncement by the national assembly naming the names of the new local government areas, but then there was political wrangling between the then party in control and those us de facto as opposition party. But thank God that the party in opposition before has become the ruling party and the once regarded ruling party has moved into opposition.  What we need to do is not to create additional local governments but the ones that were forced to be converted to Local Council Development Areas (LCDA)  can be converted to full bona fide local government areas with all the benefits attach to them, having done that, we can now decide whether we want more states.  As regard to Federal Constituencies, I want to say that Lagos deserve more Federal Constituencies. For example, Ikorodu that I represent should have more than one constituencies, presently, we have 19 wards in Ikorodu Local Government Area, in my constituency, I have 11 wards, if we are to go by the new arrangement in the delineation of ward then I have 17 wards and constituency two has 13 making it 30 wards. At the last time there was delineation, the population of Ikorodu has not grown to the present level.  The essence of governance is to take government close to the people at the grass root.  I think it is time to create more federal and state constituencies in Lagos going by our population, going by the influx of people from all parts of Lagos to Ikorodu.