The Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration in Lagos is yet to clock 100 days in office. But with the inauguration of the new commissioners and special advisers, the government is on full throttle at present. After the 4-day retreat organised by the governor for the new commissioners, CORRESPONDENT ADEOLA OGUNRINDE examines the challenges before the new officers and their competence and readiness to confront them…
When Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu inaugurated 35 Commissioners last week to assist him in running Lagos State, his aim was to work with technocrats who will help him achieve his pet ideas appropriately termed THEMES (Traffic Management and Transportation; Health and Environment; Education and Technology; Making Lagos a 21st Century state; Security and Governance), for the development of Lagos State. The big question, however, is how prepared are these so-called technocrats?
On their own, with regards to individual attainments, have they demonstrated competence and shown exemplary leadership, which would have qualified them to be appointed commissioners in Lagos State?
Will these Commissioners perform better than their predecessors or their appointment is just an opportunity for them to enrich themselves?
Looking at the portfolios of the new commissioners, starting from Professor AKIN ABAYOMI, the new Commissioner for Health, whose medical career spans more than two decades, he seems a round peg in a round hole. Professor Abayomi, a trained medical doctor from England has n’t just practiced in Nigeria but also abroad. He has produced numerous research publications on Cancer, Diabetes and Sickle Cell Anaemia.
The professor sure has a lot more to do for a population of more than twenty million people. Will Prof. Abayomi be able to climb further through the path his predecessor Dr Jide Idris thread. Though he partnered the Federal Ministry of Health during the Ebola Crisis, how well has Professor Abayomi managed emergency crisis in his medical career, especially when his speciality is in the area of disease control? Only time will tell what the new Commissioner for Health has up his sleeves.
When the tenure of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode abruptly ended, Lagosians were left with a dirty and filthy city with huge refuse in every nook and cranny of Lagos, many in the state began to fear for their health.
The man now at the helm of affairs as Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. TUNJI BELLO, is not a new face in Lagos, having worked with previous administrations in the state. A veteran journalist and reputable politician with vast experience in administration and governance, but the question is what miracle will Mr Bello perform to make Lagos clean again and ensure affordable water gets to all the nooks and crannies of Lagos?
Having worked as Commissioner for Environment during Babatunde Fashola’s administration, is this the game-plan of Governor Sanwo-Olu to re-enact the miracle behind a cleaner Lagos of that era? Mr Bello has been given a Special Adviser on Drainage and Water Resources, BARRISTER JOE IGBOKWE who was for many years the Publicity Secretary of APC in the state, to work with. This is laudable given the fact that Lagos is prone to flooding, a city that seats above the sea level.
During the time of Mr. Steve Ayorinde as Commissioner for Information and later Tourism Arts and Culture Commissioner, Lagos was Lagos. Ayorinde brought the razzmatazz of his solid Arts sector background to bear on the state with the numerous music and arts festival and One Lagos fiesta that enlivened the state. The only major drawbacks is the other part of his calling -culture and orientation-suffered and did not benefit much under Ayorinde.
The new Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. GBENGA OMOTOSO, is not just a prominent journalist but an award-winning columnist who has being a social critic for more than a decade. Though an Information manager who has had trainings not just in Nigeria but outside the country, what may be at issue is how well Omotoso would bridge the gap between the state government and Lagosians with respect to communication of government’s policies and decisions and gauging the necessary feedback?
The new Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs SHULAMITE OLUFUNKE ADEBULU has a long way to go to beat her predecessor Ayorinde’s performance in that office. She needs to do a lot to take the office to greater heights, especially in the area of creativity and tourism, making Lagos the number tourism destination in Africa. Lagosians, it would appear, will not accept anything less from her.
The last Commissioner for Justice in Lagos, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria towards the end of the last administration, the new Commissioner for Justice, Mr. MOYO ONIGBANJO, on his part, was already a SAN before his appointment as Commissioner for Justice. One big achievement of Adeniji Kazeem was the DNA Forensic Center established to help in determining the true paternity of children and others and helping to solve rape cases. What will Onigbanjo bring on board to ease the administration of Justice in the state that and particularly to solve challenging problems in the judicial system of Lagos. One area that needs attention is the suffocating prison congestion. Will Lagos construct prisons to help decongest Federal Government’s prisons.
Education is the bedrock of any nation and the new Commissioner for Education in Lagos, Mrs. FOLASHADE ADEFISAYO, and Special Adviser on Education, Mr. TOKUNBO WAHAB, have a whole lot of work to do in the area of public education in Lagos. A lot of classrooms in not just primary but secondary schools in Lagos need urgent renovation and attention. The dearth of skilled manpower in the education sector is also worrisome. It is an under-statement that the number of competent teachers in public schools in Lagos is on the decline.
Transportation is a major problem in Lagos, and from one administration to another, diverse strategies have been put in place in the past to solve the problem. The man who has taken the job as Commissioner for Transportation in Lagos is not new to these challenges, having worked in LAMATA for more than a decade. But he needs to bring up more ideas to confront the challenge transportation poses in the state. Dr FREDRIC OLADEINDE is a Transportation planning expert who should be up to the task.
Housing is also a major problem in Lagos. A lot of the government-built houses remain un-occupied because it is very expensive. They are no longer low-cost houses as espoused and embarked upon by Alhaji Lateef Jakande during his time as governor when almost every Lagosian living in that era had a roof over his head. Former governor Babatunde Fashola also performed a yeoman’s job in housing. He gave out more houses to Lagosians under his administration than in Ambode’s time. What will the new Commissioner for Housing do to ensure that more low-income earners in Lagos have a roof over their heads?
An administrator and two-term House of Representatives member from Lagos who also runs a vocational training for widows, Honorable MORUF AKINDERU FATAI, is experienced enough for the job. And he has a Special Adviser, Mrs. ADETOKE BEBSON-AWOYINKA, an Insurance Lawyer, to work with him in the ministry.
Commissioner for Finance and that of Commerce, RABIU OLOWO-ONAOLAPO, and Honourable LOLA AKANDE need to buckle up their shoes for the task ahead and meet the expectations of Lagosians.Will Onaolapo bring more innovation to bear on his assignment in order to get more tax payers into the net? Will he work to increase the Internally-Generated Revenue of the State? What happened during the last administration when the Land Use Charge was increased and many revolted against the government remains a drawback in this areas. What this means is the government must be smarter if it plans to increase land use fees. As for the Commissioner for Commerce, will the Lekki Free Trade Zone begin full operation under Lola Akande? Again, how many Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises will be created during Akande’s administration as Commissioner?.
LAKE Rice, the product of a partnership between Kebbi and Lagos governments, was birthed under the Ambode’s administration. Some Lagosians felt the impact of this initiative in Lagos, will this be re-enacted by the new regime? After Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was inaugurated, he visited Imota Rice mill, where he promised that Lagos would soon start producing its own affordable rice.The new Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince GBOLAHAN LAWAL, has a responsibility to make this come to reality. Will this administration produce more rice for Lagosians? Will Sanwo-Olu look at other areas within the agriculture value chain?
Lagos is determined to be a 21st Century compliant city when it comes to science and technology. To continue to bring this to fruition is the Commissioner for Science and Technology in Ambode’s administration, Alhaji HAKEEM FAHM, who is still in the saddle. Fahm is an expert in ICT. He has proved his mettle working with some reputable technology companies in the U.S. He needs, however, to bring more of his expertise to bear on the sector in the state for Lagos to stand out in technology and make the sector a job-creator and big revenue-earner. He should move to suck in more young tech experts into the industry to achieve the dream of Lagos.
Crude oil was allegedly found within the Western axis of Lagos, Badagry precisely, during the last administration. Already, there is a massive construction of a new refinery at Lagos East by Dangote perhaps to refine oil from Lagos West. The new Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources in Lagos, Mr. LERE ODUSOTE, has a lot to do to ensure Lagos joins part of the oil producing state and the Light-up Lagos project started by the Ambode’s administration continues.
For effective Physical Planning and Urban Development and for the restoration of the original plan of the state, there is no doubt that Lagos would have to wield the big stick. Houses built under high tension would need to go. Well, the new commissioner, Dr IDRIS SALAKO, is an experienced Town Planner who can enforce the law. Building collapse was more rampant during the time of the last administration, which may not be the undoing of the government though. But will Salako make building collapse a thing of the past in Lagos? That would be the big question.
Mrs. AJIBOLA YEWANDE PONNLE, the new Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pensions will need to be ready to put on the right shoe size to measure up in that position.The last Commissioner brought in certain innovations, which brought out the best of the Lagos workforce. Under her administration as Commissioner for Establishment,Training and Pensions, will the backlog of pension of retired civil servants be paid hastily or will she add more to their agony? Will she push for the N30,000 minimum wage across the board in the Lagos Civil Service, or will the new wage structure impact only the junior workers as some have speculated?
When one talks about Economic Planning and Budget, what is always on the lips of many is budget performance. One key area where the Akinwumi Ambode administration also performed abysimally is in the area of Budget performance. The Cleaner Lagos Initiative and Visionscape deal were supposed to be income areas but turned out a big setback in the state.The new Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. SAMUEL EGUBE, has lot of work to do in this area, that is key to the overall performance of Sanwo-Olu.