Hon. Sanai Oyediran Agunbiade is 51 and is serving his third term in the House of Assembly, representing the good people of Ikorodu Constituency I.
He was a teacher, then a lawyer and now a politician. He has been a member of Lagos House of Assembly since 2007 and in 2015, he was unanimously elected by members as the Majority Leader of the 8th Assembly.
How has it been in one year that you have been the Majority Leader of Lagos House of Assembly?
I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to be the Majority Leader of Lagos State House of Assembly. This is about the best state Assembly in the federation. Lagos State itself is the heartbeat of Nigeria. We have a lot of activities going on here (Lagos). The legislature must continue to assist the executive in ensuring that the welfare and security of people and property are adequately taken care of. That places a lot of pressure on the Lagos State House of Assembly 40 members. So, being the Majority Leader means that one has to ensure that things go on very well with the legislature. To an extent, I must say that it’s been very challenging, exciting and interesting.
What exactly are the functions of a Majority Leader?
The Majority Leader of the Legislature is first, the eyes and ears of the party that has the highest number of its members in the parliament. He leads the party caucus in the parliament.
The business of the House is essentially entrusted into the care of the Majority Leader. This is because he chairs the committee that formulates the agenda and the calendar of the House. The day to day running of the House is the responsibility of the Majority Leader. He is, however, ably assisted by members of that committee (Business and Rules).
The Majority Leader also coordinates the activities of all the committees of the House. He also assists the Speaker and other principal officers of the House in deciding who gets what in the committees. He, in collaboration with other principal officers, decides members of delegation that will represent the House in any function. He takes any other responsibility as assigned to him by the Speaker.
Are there privileges attached to the office of a Majority Leader?
I will like to say that every office confers certain privileges on the occupier. The Majority Leader is seen as first among equals in his own caucus. The first among equal is the Speaker. Followed by the Deputy Speaker and the Majority Leader. In order of protocol, the Majority Leader comes third.
Is there financial remuneration attached to the office of Majority Leader?
Every committee has a vote (allotted fund) to take care of the activities of the committee and I lead Business and Rules committee. There is also running cost (imprest) for the offices too and since I run third in the hierarchy of the house, my running cost too runs third to that of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
What would you say has been the most exciting moment for you in one year that you’ve been the Majority Leader?
Everyday I spent in the Assembly has been exciting moments for me. Every time I help anybody to solve his or her problem is exciting moment for me. But, possibly the most exciting would be the day I was pronounced the Majority Leader of Lagos House of Assembly. That is memorable for me.
Was it something you were expecting or it came as a surprise?
O yes. Before that particular day, everybody had gone out to wish what he wanted. Consensus of my colleagues had always been that I would be better as Majority Leader. I suspected it and when eventually we got there and the APC caucus, even the minority caucus consciously agreed that I lead as the Majority Leader. It was an exciting moment for me.
Was there a major challenge in the one year that you’ve been the Majority Leader?
There was no major challenge except the day to day challenges. There are 40 members in the Assembly and you can’t satisfy everybody. I cannot please everybody.
I have not seen any particular challenge. Every day came with its own challenges and they were tackled as they came.
As anything changed about you since you became the Majority Leader?
Oh, I have become wiser. I have become less temperamental. I have learnt more on the side of wisdom that a very huge responsibility has been placed on my shoulders. As the Majority Leader, all the members are looking up to you and people are expecting so much from you. So, my social engagements have been seriously affected. I have little time for myself these days.
The office has taken its toll on my personality, my perception of things and attitude.
What will you say is responsible for the cordial relationship between the executive and the legislature?
Focus. The two arms of government are focused on the need to take Lagos to the next level.
Also, there is mutual respect. The governor respects the House of Assembly. And what do you say to a man that respects you than to also reciprocate such respect. Respect begets respect.
The governor sees us as partners in progress and we see him as partner in progress too. The legislature and executive interact freely and warmly. We also realized that our National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is from Lagos. His major base is Lagos State. So, we cannot afford to disappoint him.
If given the opportunity, would you prefer to be in the executive arm of government than the legislative arm?
Never. I will any day, anytime, even after this world. I want to come as a legislator. That is the arm that primarily defines democracy.
Democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people. That means that people must elect you to go. People were elected in Lagos State. Forty-one, 40 from the legislative arm and one from the executive side – the governor with a joint ticket with the deputy governor.
It is the governor that now appoints the commissioners. They were appointed, we were elected. When you are elected by the people, that means you have gone to the nooks and crannies to intimate them of what you want to do. One is actively involved as a elected member than an appointed person.
Where do you hope to see the House of Assembly in three years?
Better than I met it, far better than I met, because there is every tendency for us to grow. Society is dynamic. When you are doing things differently from the way it’s being done, you are bound to have amazing progress.