By Olasunkanmi Akoni
WITH an estimated population of 23 million people, Lagos has been in slumber in recent times considering the decaying infrastructure and slow pace of developments.
There were expectations in different quarters when the immediate past Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, assumed office. Though, the race which he started well crumbled midway. He lost his second term bid to political power brokers in the All Progressives Congress, APC in the state, paving the way for the emergence of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat.
They were sworn-in as the sixth democratically elected governor and 15th deputy governor on May 29, 2019 with a promise to “walk the talk” and actualise campaign promises of making the state greater and leaving it better than they met it.
In his inaugural speech, Sanwo-Olu said that the challenges before Lagos were huge and could drown the state if not urgently addressed.
The governor set about tackling the challenges when began work on May 30, 2019 signing three Executive orders on traffic, waste management and environment.
He based his agenda on six pillars, tagged: “THEMES”, formulated along strategic areas, namely, Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy, Entertainment and Tourism, Security and Governance.
In addition his administration promised to pursue and execute the blueprint for a new Lagos and the Development Plan (2012 to 2025) which are still relevant as strategic reference materials for a systematic implementation of medium and long-term policies in line with the overall vision for the state.
Tasks before Sanwo-Olu
The daunting tasks that must be carried out to achieve accelerated growth and development of the state include: unlocking the perennial Lagos traffic; fixing fast decaying road infrastructure like Lagos-Badagry Expressway; resolving Oshodi-Apapa gridlock; effective waste disposal and management; providing affordable healthcare services; ensuring wealth creation and employment opportunities; checking rising cases of cultism, crimes and general insecurity.
To get the job done, the governor inaugurated a team of 35 commissioners, and special advisers and assistants.
A chieftain of APC in Lagos, Otunba Jide Oni, after the inauguration of commissioners urged Sanwo-Olu to double efforts considering the daunting and myriad challenges facing the state.
He said: “Lagosians expect the Lagos State light rail project to be completed as soon as possible. It’s critical to Lagos State. I also expect Lagos-Badagry Expressway to be completed. I learned contractors have been mobilised to site and opened the axis. I’m also expecting to see the beginning of the Fourth Mainland Bridge, and we begin to explore water transportation and deal with inner roads because this is how the grassroots feel the government.”
“Also, the issue of security is number one. Every businessman will invest in a safe environment and clime where he can recoup his investment. Sanwo-Olu should tackle the issue of security squarely. I know Lagos I is already working towards that with the setting up of Lagos State Security Trust Fund. LSTF.”
Prior to his inauguration, Sanwo-Olu at a briefing with some media executives, promised to set up his Executive cabinet within 90 days after inauguration in order to fast-track the developmental agenda of his administration.
Putting round pegs in round holes
Unlike Ambode, who weeded out all perceived loyalists of his predecessor, Babatunde Fashola, from his government, Sanwo-Olu, not only returned some of the good hands but also retained and promoted some of Ambode’s allies he inherited.
In his first appointments made, shortly after his inauguration, Sanwo-Olu announced the appointment of key officers, the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Mrs. Fokashade Jaji, Chief of Staff, COS, Tayo Ayinde and later, Deputy Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile, now Chief Press Secretary, CPS.
Ayinde, who is holding a vital role in the administration, was pivotal in the emergence of the administration through his wealth of experience in governance.
If there is any other strategic area Sanwo-Olu needs to master, it is the information unit, which management was a major minus under Ambode. This is where the professional skills of the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotosho, a former Editor of The Nation Newspaper will be very useful.
Meanwhile, Sanwo-Olu has come under criticism for the appointment of Yetunde Arobieke as Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs. The grouse arose from the fact that a woman was being put to supervise the affairs of traditional rulers in a complex state like Lagos.
The appointment of Mr. Joe Igbokwe, an Igbo man as special adviser on Drainage and Water Resources (a newly created portfolio) was deliberate in order to give non-Yoruba and the party a sense of belonging in the government. A departure from what happened in Ambode’s government when he treated the party like lepers.
It was also believed that the appointment of Mr. Tokunbo Wahab as Special Adviser on Education is to compensate the people of Epe and Lagos East among other considerations.
Sanwo-Olu reorders designation
However, barely three days after inauguration of the cabinet, Sanwo-Olu, re-ordered assignments and designations of two key ministries -Works and Infrastructure, Science and Technology, with his Deputy, Hamzat, to oversee the affairs of the ministries.
While Hakeem Fahm, remains as the Commissioner, Science and Technology, erstwhile, Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Aramide Adeyoye, has been stepped down to Special Adviser on the ministry.
By the reordering, Fahm has been directed to work in collaboration and report directly to the Deputy Governor’s office.
The new order was designed and approved during deliberations at the just concluded Four-Day Executive Council, Permanent Secretaries’ Retreat.
The reason for the change was to boost results of the ministries considering the wealth of experience of Hamzat, who had performed creditably well as commissioner in both ministries during Governors Tinubu and Fashola’s administrations.
List of commissioners and SAs
The list of commissioners and portfolios as announced by the Governor, are: Water Resources and Environment, Tunji Bello; Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho; Finance, Mr. Rabiu Olowo Onaolapo; Education, Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo; Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi; Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Idris Salako; Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, WAPA, Mrs. Bolaji Dada; Energy and Natural Resources, Mr. Lere Odusote; Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde; Agriculture, Gbolahan Lawal; Housing, Moruf Akinderu Fatai; Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyo Onigbanjo, SAN; Science and Technology, Hakeem Fahm; Establishment, Training and Pension, Mrs. Ajibola Ponnle; Youth and Social Development, Segun Dawodu; Home Affairs, Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf; Local Government and Community Affairs, Mrs. Yetunde Arobieke; Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Lola Akande; Tourism Arts and Culture, Mrs. Olufunke Adebolu; Economic Planning and Budget, Sam Egube; Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Relations, Dr. Wale Ahmed
Special Advisers and portfolios are Agriculture, Ms Ruth Bisola Olusanya; Office of Civic Engagement, Princess Aderemi Adebowale; Political and Legislative Affairs, Mr. Afolabi Ayantayo; Housing, Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Aramide Adeyoye; Mrs. Toke Benson-Awoyinka; Drainage and Water Resources, Joe Igbokwe (a newly created portfolio); Technology and Innovation, Mr. Tubosun Alake (a newly created portfolio); Urban Development, Architect Kabiru Ahmed Abdullahi; Central Business Districts, CDB, Anofi Olanrewaju Elegushi; Arts and Culture, Bonu Solomon Saanu; Transportation, Mr. Oluwatoyin Fayinka; Commerce and Industry, Oladele Ajayi; Education, Tokunbo Wahab; Sustainable Development Goals (a newly created portfolio); and Lagos Global, Mrs. Solape Hammond.
As they prepare for the challenges ahead, he charged them to imbibe the culture of transparency, accountability, fairness and value for money.