By Tayo Ogunbiyi
IN his book, What is History? Historian, E.H. Carr, attempted to put in perspective the role of people and personalities in defining and shaping events in society. While Carr agrees that the society offers the platform for individuals to achieve set goals, he nevertheless, argued that there are personalities whose vision and strength of character have significantly shaped, defined and influenced their respective societies.
No doubt, Carr’s position is supported by numerous empirical facts. Through the ages, the history of several societies has been massively influenced, if not entirely altered, by the actions of certain individuals or a group of people. For instance, personalities such as Adolf Hitler, Mikel Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, to mention but a few, have radically modified the course of history in their respective societies and, by extension the entire world.
In the same vein, in the current political dispensation (1999-date), the socio-political landscape of Lagos State, the nation’s Centre of Excellence, has been significantly enhanced by the thoughts, visions and activities of some personalities who toiled endlessly to ensure that Lagos retains its status as the nation’s destination of choice. These men and women, who have been privileged to be members of the State Executive Council, have no doubt, remarkably contributed their quota to the growth and development of the State.
In order to really underscore the strength of character as well as the profundity of their contributions to the evolvement of a modern Lagos, today, many of them occupy various prime positions across all strata of governance in the country. For instance, Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Minister for Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Vice President, Mr. Ade Ipaye, Chairman Asset Management Company, AMCON, Mr. Muiz Banire, Chairman Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr. Babatunde Fowler, Mr. Ben Akabueze, Director General Budget Office and a host of others are among men who had once served as cabinet members in the State at one time or the other.
The bottom line here is that Lagos State, especially since 1999, has always been renowned for putting in place sophisticated cabinet comprising hardworking, competent and visionary individuals with a knack for achieving greater results and accelerated progress. This is the path that Lagos has been following and that is the road that has translated into a huge success for the State. The result has been sustained policy consistency and resultant remarkable strides in continuous improvement in revenue generation and fiscal performance, infrastructure modernization, renewal and expansion, social service delivery, improved judicial system, enhancement of security and implementation of poverty alleviating and job provision programmes to succour the most vulnerable segments of society in Lagos State.
In Lagos today, capital expenditure is given prominence over re-current expenses. New blocks of classrooms daily spring up in public schools, new roads and bridges are being constructed and commissioned while existing ones are being rehabilitated in different locations across the state with quality delivery being the watchword. Similarly, first-class health facilities now adorn most of the public hospitals while the Operation Green Lagos project has transformed the environmental landscape of the state. Against all odds, the Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, the system has become a relative success as its scope of operations is being expanded to other parts of the state. There is also a renewed effort to transform the rural areas of the state through the provision of access roads, electricity and water.
It is, therefore, not surprising that Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu has decided to follow in the same noble pathway as he recently put in place a cabinet with an intricate blend of professionals, administrators, scholars and politicians. On parade in the Sanwo-Olu ‘Greater Lagos’ cabinet is a senior advocate of Nigeria, first-class economist, a distinguished professor, veteran administrators, shrewd accountants, experienced politicians, successful entrepreneurs, world-class bankers, trail-blazing transport consultant, accomplished engineers, reputed journalists and knighted surveyors, among others.
Among the new appointees, for instance, is an experienced and versatile medical doctor who has served as a lecturer and practitioner in Africa as well as the West Indies and written numerous research publications on cancer, diabetes and sickle cell anaemia. Dr Akinola Abayomi, the Commissioner for Health was a Consultant Hematologist and Lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe Medical School and Harare Group of Teaching Hospitals, Zimbabwe between 1994 and 1998. He was also Chief Physician at the Princess Marina Hospital, Gaborone, Botswana in 1998. He was instrumental to the successful expunge of Ebola from West Africa.
Therefore, the new cabinet was carefully chosen to help in achieving and executing the greater Lagos agenda of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration and it can only elicit hope of better days ahead in the developmental journey of the State. From their antecedents, there is no doubt that the new cabinet members understand the challenges of the State and are prepared to key into the present administration’s vision of an engendering a Greater Lagos.
“Members of this new cabinet were carefully picked based on their cognate experience in their respective professions. We took our time to pick the best hands for the tough job Lagosians elected us to do. This cabinet will be unique because as usual, we take the lead in innovation, gender-balance and youth inclusion”, Governor Sanwo-Olu said. The governor, who took the oath of office on May 29 this year made it clear that the goal of his administration is to advance the social and economic progress of the State and its people regardless of faith, social class, or origin of birth.
Going through the profiles of the new commissioners and special advisers, it is quite certain that Governor Sanwo-Olu and his Deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, now have the right individuals that would assist them in achieving the Lagos of their dream. Within a spate of a short time, the Sanwo-Olu administration has shown great determination to sustain and surpass tradition of excellence which the State is widely known for. Hopefully, as members of the new cabinet settle down in their respective MDAs, their actions and activities would translate into a safe, secure and prosperous Lagos for all.