By Okunade Adekunle, Lagos
The Lagos State House of Assembly has commenced the screening of commissioner-nominees of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the state.
First to be screened by the Committee was Mrs. Toke Benson, Assistant Legal Adviser of the Lagos All Progressives Congress (APC).
Benson, who was a House of Representatives aspirant of the party in Ikeja Federal Constituency in the 2019 general elections, promised to bring her experience as a legal practitioner of 30 years standing to bear if her nomination is confirmed.
The politician, who said she has been speaking against domestic violence and child abuse through the social media, stated that she spoke against Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of COZA, when his alleged rape case against Busola Dakolo broke.
“I have been speaking against all issues relating to domestic violence, rape and child abuse through the social media and other means. We need to teach our boys, who grow into men that when a girl says ‘no’ it is ‘no.’ We should make some scapegoats to put a stop to it.Though there is an awareness on rape, the awareness is not enough. On child abuse, we have fathers sleeping with daughters and mothers sleeping with sons,” said Benson.
“Lagos is the model state in Nigeria. If we don’t speak against rape and child abuse, we will be like India where a man will enter a bus and rape about 50 women. We should have laws in place that will take care of all these,” she said.
While speaking on gender sensitivity, she revealed that she did not like to be regarded as a feminist and detested being pushed to the Ministry of Women Affairs all because she is a woman.
Another nominee, the immediate-past Secretary to the Lagos State Government (SSG), Mr. Tunji Bello, while fielding questions from the screening committee, revealed that he had worked in several places and that he worked as the speech writer of the late Chief MKO Abiola.
The trained lawyer, journalist and former commissioner for the environment in the state advised that the state must intensify efforts on waste management and conversion.
“There are a few areas you can’t set up dumpsites in Lagos State because the state is below the sea level.
“You cannot set up a dump site in Lagos Island, except in places like Agege, Abule Egba and others.
“On flooding in Lagos, we have nine main drainages in the state, and while six are developed, three are not developed.
“The Lagos Mainland drainage system is the oldest and it has about six divisions.
“The tertiary drainages and channels must link up with primary channels,” he said.
This was corroborated by the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Rotimi Abiru, who stated that everybody was concerned about the environment in the state.
Abiru advised Bello to impress it on the government that the state could not afford not to improve on the environment.
Miss Adekemi Olanike Ajayi-Bembe, who was also screened, stated that she had worked in the finance and telecommunications sectors for many years, saying that these adequately prepared her for the task ahead.
Ajayi-Bembe stressed that though Lagos State realised about N388 Billion in 2018 as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), the state could not rely on IGR alone.
The nominee explained that everything cannot be fixed at once, and that the state must have priorities.
She added that DFI could assist the state on development, but that they had to see what the state had on ground.
“Infrastructure is very important, we need to fix roads, provide power and affordable housing for the people for them to feel the impact of the government.
“Once the structures are in place the revenue of the state would increase. This is what they practice in Singapore, China and other places,” she said.
The Secretary of the APC in the state, Dr Wale Ahmed, was asked to take a bow by Hon. Rotimi Abiru as a former member of the Assembly, who left in 2003.
“The party scored 100% under the watch of the current executive members in the last general elections.
“It is a good thing that the party appointed you to be a commissioner in the state.
“He was a member of the 4th Lagos State Assembly from 1999 to 2003. We will want him to take a bow and go because of this,” Abiru said and this was accepted by other members of the committee.
Professor Akinola Abayomi, the sixth nominee screened by the committee, said that free health was not possible and backed the health insurance scheme of the state, saying that with this the rich would pay for the healthcare of the poor.
Meanwhile, after today’s screening exercise, Hon. Rotimi Abiru stated that the committee shall be taking two more sets on Friday and Saturday.
“You have been part of the exercise, I would not want to be a judge on my own case. The nominees demonstrated a high level of knowledge and the understanding of government. They realised that this is a call to service and they have promised that they would add their experience to governance. I don’t have any doubt that those that we have spoken to so far are good and that they would join hands with the Governor to make the state better,” said Abiru.
“The man that enjoyed the privilege of taking a bow and go was a member of the House and we have agreed to give a former member of the house that privilege. He was a commissioner in the state and the state secretary of the APC and he worked assiduously with others to achieve 100% success for our party at the election. The final decision lies in the 40 members of the House. Ours is to screen and make a report to the entire house. If the entire house finds them suitable the decision would be communicated to the entire people of the state,” Abiru concluded.