BY LEKE ADESERI, South West Regional Editor & OLASUNKANMI AKONI
Undoubtedly, Governor Babatunde Fashola’s first term administration of Lagos State remains a reference point for good governance in Nigeria’s current democratic dispensation.
This, to a large extent, assisted the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, to sweep the South West States of Nigeria in April’s general elections.
As the first term of the administration ended with a valedictory session for cabinet members last Monday, action, especially clearance for those that will be in the cabinet during the second term, is in top gear.
While the governor is frantically putting together a kitchen cabinet, to be ushered in after the gubernatorial inauguration on Sunday some names are recurring in the permutations.
The returning Senate President, Senator David Mark took cognizance of how Fashola has been able to transform the state. According to him; “On my way from airport to this place, I have observed a lot of changes in Lagos. Governor Fashola is doing a lot, and he should be allowed to continue his good works in the state.
In line with Mark’s claim, former Minister of Education and former governor of Eboyi State, Dr. Sam Egwu, acknowledged that there is high level of transformation Fashola has brought to the state since he assumed office in 2007.
Egwu, in his assessment of the first tenure of Fashola, said a number of landmark achievements that have profound positive impacts on Lagos indigenes and residents were recorded adding that the governor “deserves the support of all Lagosians”.
He was of the opinion that Fashola should have a free hand if the agenda for infrastructure renewal must continued and sustained in the state.
If his (Fashola) popular axiom; “the reward for hard work is more work,” is anything to go by, then Lagos residents have not seen anything yet in the holistic steps adopted in transforming the metropolis to Africa’s Model Mega City
After, his declaration as the winner of April 26th gubernatorial poll in Lagos, in an unprecedented feat, Fashola has been having a stormy period with the task of who and who will make the next cabinet team of which he is the captain.
One prominent name that has sprung up, according to investigations is that of Mr Dele Alake, former Commissioner for Information and Strategy in the state during the period of former governor Bola Tinubu, who is now leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Alake, who has been a close friend of the Asiwaju, left with the former governor after he successfully laundered the later’s image and took over the running of some of the former governor’s media organisations including Radio and Television Continental, based in Ketu, Lagos.
Since then he has been with the former governor allegedly carrying out jobs that has to do with image promotion for him.
Some of the Commissioner that had signified their intention to go include the Commissioner for Tourism, Mr. Tokunbo Afikoyomi, Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Muiz Banire while Town Planner Francisco Abosede, Commissioner for Physical Planning, the ageing Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Prince Adeniji Adele, whose son made it to the state House of Assembly.
The Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Mrs Aderenle Adeniran-Ogunsanya, daughter of the foremost Lagos politician, Adeniran Ogunsanya and Tunde Babalola, Commissioner for Home Affairs are surely not returning according to permutations.
According to expectations of Lagos residents, the out-going commissioners in the kitchen cabinet of Governor Fashola of Lagos state on Monday expressed different views following the dissolution of the current cabinet during the session held at the EXCO Chambers, Lagos House, Alalusa, Ikeja.
The governor who had earlier held a closed door meeting with all the over 43 EXCO members, hurriedly left for another assignment to reconvene later in the day.
Fashola who later reconvened and held the valedictory session behind closed door, refused to make public pronouncement of the dissolution of the cabinet either for personal or party reasons but an inside source confirmed the dissolution to Vanguard.
The only public indication was when the governor took a group photograph with his Exco members at the balcony of the executive chamber and later returned to his office.
Taking turn to speak on his period of service, Mr Jide Sanwo-Olu, the Commissioner for the Establishments, Pensions and Training, who may return to the cabinet, described the Fashola administration as a brand that everybody now wants to identify with.
He said: “The Ministry of Establishments, Training and pensions has become the threshold for reference point by other states when it comes to pensions’ administration and welfare for its workers and pensioners.
“Serving the state under Fashola would be a unique privilege and opportunity one would cherish in his life. Despite the tedious challenges, we have been able to keep the responsibilities and duties he gave us and we cherish it.
“From the benefit of hindsight, may be one could have created more friendship outside the tedious work beyond what one has done today. To the best of my ability I think one has been able to put his best to the job and responsibilities on the job. Like he always say to us the only reward for a good job is more work.”
According to Commissioner for Transportation, Prof. Bamidele Badejo, one of the out-going commissioners who also performed meritoriously, he would not hesitate to work with Governor Fashola if called upon to do so again.
Badejo who bade staff of agencies in the ministry farewell at the weekend, stressed that it has been a great privilege working with a visionary man, an achiever who will keep everyone on his or her toes
He said: “It has been a very good journey that we have journeyed together. And I want to say thank you. I appreciate Governor Babatunde Fashola for giving me that undeserved favour of being part of his team. I will say it any time any day, I never met BRF until he became the governor of the state and for him to take up such an enormous risk with me, I owe him nothing than to appreciate him for having that confidence in me.
“Obviously, I will expect my successor to be very critical of the improvement on the welfare of LASTMA and Vehicle Inspection Officer, VIO. upward review of budgetary allocation for the ministry and improved inter-agency relationship,” he said.
According to Dr. Kadiri Hamzat, the Commissioner for Science and Technology , it has been service to the people at different levels, a difficult job and a challenging job but we stick to it that is why government would have to go out and campaign , we don’t complain because it is a job that must be done
“To serve a population of 18 million is exciting and challenging but one must thank God almighty for that opportunity , enormous experience , debate within the EXCO has been extremely rewarding, broaden ones knowledge and understanding of the world, vibrancy and see the challenges that the state has.
“As a team member, I was contributing to issues affecting other ministries at the ecxco level despite my being in charge of science and technology.”
In his own view, Dr. Dolapo Badru, the Special Adviser on Youths and Social Development said; “ the call to serve is for humanity and I will be willing to serve in any capacity if called upon. We are available to do that,” he said.
Dr Adewale Elijah, Special Adviser on Education, said that he carried out all the assignments given to him by the governor.
“I have been able to work effectively in scholarships section, the tertiary institutions, library board and be able to provide libraries for schools thus increasing the reading capabilities of our students, and we have been able to raise our pass standard from seven per cent when we came into office in 2007 to 22 percent now which is above average,” he said.
On challenges he stated: “I have no regrets but I know I have challenges which the governor of the state was able to surmount for me when I was unable to. I will oblige to serve in other capacities,” he said.
Prince Adesegun Oniru, was the Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development: “I thank God that things are coming to an end and a new beginning and continuity is happening to Lagos.
“In the Ministry of Waterfront Infrastructure Development, my ministry, the biggest thrust we found in the first four years , a brand new ministry as you all know is – the challenges of creating the Eko Atlantic City Project , turning water into land and turning land into real estate.
“Only God knows who will come back and who would not remain, but whatever happens at the end of the day is for good, but the major challenges was the Eko Atlantic City Project but aside from that I would have loved to continue to enhance the development of the water front of Lagos.”
Prince Rotimi Agunsoye, was the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
Going philosophically, he said; “there is time for everything under the sun, there is time to be born and time to die, the time to be happy and time for sober reflection. This is actually the time to look back in the last four years to see what we have done and achieved so far as a government.
“I will tell you simply that I have been able as the commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs in Lagos, able to improve on what I met on the ground, we have been able to move round and see how the jobs were been done by the chairmen of various local governments and local council development areas, to ensure that we have that standard of the state at the local level also to serve the people better than before because we were in government to serve, we were not there to be served.”