By Ebun Sessou
AS part of efforts to promote academic excellence, the Lagos State Government is considering a merit award scheme to personalities who have contributed immensely towards the development of the state in various spheres of life. This was revealed during a Public Hearing on a Bill for a Law to establish the Lagos State Awards Scheme, LSAS, to specify among other things, the privileges of the recipients and for connected matters.
The event which took place at the State House of Assembly, Lateef Jakande Auditorium, was attended by civil servants and other stakeholders.
In his keynote address, the Speaker, Mr. Mudashiru Obasa who was represented by the Majority Leader, Mr. Sanai Agunbiade expressed satisfaction with the initiative to reward excellence in the state. According to him, “the executive bill if passed, would fill the vacuum in the national merit awards.” He added that it is a bill that would include awarding the past heroes who have laboured for the state as well as people who have contributed their quota to the growth of the state. Obasa further stated that the Bill if passed into law would reward breakthrough, excellence, bravery and gallantry.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman, House Committee on Special Duties, Mr. Hakeem Shokunle, also pointed out that the state Government would encourage excellence through the law if eventually passed. He added that one other feature that makes the Bill exceptional is the recognition of those that are dead, saying Lagos State House of Assembly would welcome contributions through memoranda to make the law richer.
Asked about the readiness of the state government to use integrity as measure to determine recipients of the award, he promised that the state would not be compromised.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Majority Leader, Mr. Olumuyiwa Jimoh who gave the overview of the Bill stated that ‘the Bill which has 26 sections is the first of its kind in the country.” He disclosed basically there are two parts in the Bill, saying the Honours and Merit Award.
In his contribution, the state Permanet Secretary on Special Duties, Dr. Jemilade Longe advised that an indisvidal who believes he has contributed to the development in the state should be encouraged to nominate him or herself.
“I may not feel so proud to be given an award at the national level because it has been bastardized. The issue of nomination, you can put forward your case. A case in point was that of late Gani Fawehinmi. If somebody feels he is worthy, we should trust members of the Council,” Longe said.
On her part, the Permanent Secretary ministry of Finance, Olufunmilayo Balogun observed that there was no provision in the Bill which stipulated the withdrawal of the award.
Balogun argued that if anyone that had been awarded found wanting, there should be a way of withdrawing such award.