After a three-day retreat for Commissioners, Special Advisers and Permanent Secretaries, which was wrapped up on Saturday, the new team begins to translate Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s vision to re-awaken the dream of a greater Lagos and work towards bringing it to reality, writes ADEYINKA ADERIBIGBE

‘’In our pursuit of a greater Lagos, we speak not of an empty dream, but a deep commitment and profound assertion of our intention to devote ourselves to making a difference not only for ourselves but our children.’’

With these words, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has set an ambitious tone for his aides at a three-day retreat which was rounded off penultimate Saturday.

Sanwo-Olu’s strides since his inauguration on Wednesday, May 29, as the sixth democratically elected Governor and 15th Governor of Lagos State, have left none in doubt of his commitment to make the state greater and better than he met it.

In his inaugural speech, he said: “I know where I am coming from. More importantly, I know where I am headed. I have been a part of this progressive journey since its inception. I know first-hand the concerted efforts that went into planning so many of the innovations we now see and enjoy.”

Believing Lagos is not only to be Nigeria’s major economy, but also Africa’s fifth largest, Sanwo-Olu unveiled “THEMES,” formulated along strategic thematic areas, namely, Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy, Entertainment and Tourism as well as Security and Governance.

These six pillars, he said “represents our response to the yearnings of the people. They constitute the foundation that must be restored for future generations. And should we fulfill our promise and deliver on the pillars, we are most confident that we would have succeeded in setting Lagos on a new trajectory of economic growth and development that would be unprecedented in our entire history’’.

Sanwo-Olu promised that his administration would ensure transparency, the rule of law and fiscal discipline and also create the right environment that guarantees security and safety of lives and property of the Lagos state citizens.

Kitchen cabinet

Sanwo-Olu’s early appointments of a retired Head of Service Mrs. Folashade Jaji as Secretary to the State Government (SSG) excited many Lagosians, especially gender enthusiasts who regarded the appointment of a seasoned administrator who is schooled in the culture of the civil service as a blessing to the administration.

Other appointments that resonated with the people is the Chief of Staff (COS), Tayo Akinmade Ayinde and Deputy Chief Press Secretary (DCPS), Gboyega Akosile.

Ayinde, born on August 24, 1964, at Alausa, Ikeja, is the governor’s strategic clearing house. He attended St Peters’ Anglican Primary School, Alausa, Ikeja, Ogudu Grammar School, Ojota, Lagos, and was admitted into Federal Polytechnic, Anambra for his Ordinary National Diploma (OND) in Banking and later the Higher National Diploma (HND) in Accountancy.

He worked for a short period of time with TELL Magazine as Account Officer in 1993. In that same year, he joined the State Security Service (SSS) and he worked as a dedicated, loyal, hard-working, courageous and trustworthy officer until he volluntarily retired in 2009.

While in the SSS, Ayinde was Head of the Accounts Department, Shangisha Office, from 1993- 1999.

He worked with the former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Chief Security Detail.

Ayinde holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in Financial Management from Lagos State University. He also attended University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management, for a course in Strategic Thinking Approach. He later attended the University of Cambridge, Judge Business School for a course on Study in Business Model Innovation.

He was the Director-General for Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu and Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat’s Independent Campaign Group, and later Chairman of the Inauguration Committee after the March 9, 2019 victory at the gubernatorial election.

A media executive in his own right, Akosile, an erstwhile Deputy Chief Press Secretary (DCPS), was later confirmed on Wednesday as the substantive Chief Press Secretary (CPS).

Akosile holds a Bachelor of Art degree in Performing Art of the University of Ilorin between 1991 and 1996 and bagged a Master in Business Administration (MBA) of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) between 2008 and 2010.

Between 2010 and 2011, he was at Super Screen Television, where he directly supervised the daily news bulletins, supervised, coordinated and organised the members of the news staff and the news room, planned and produced the daily editorial schedules, among others.

Unveiling of cabinet

After much horse-trading among the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and power blocs, Sanwo-Olu transmitted the list of 38 aides, made up of Commissioners and Special Advisers to the Lagos State House of Assembly led by the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa for ratification.

On August 19, the state lawmakers confirmed 35 of the 38 nominees.

The fate of the three who the Assembly refused to confirm: Obafemi George, Prince Olarewanju Sanusi and Adekemi Bembe were still hanging in the balance at press time, as the Assembly did not give any reason for the rebuff, but advised the governor to re-nominate them if he so desired.

Despite the setback, Sanwo-Olu, last Tuesday, at an elaborate event, inaugurated the new State Executive Council, comprising old, new and youthful members, with a terse challenge to members to be diligent in their duties.

He said: “We must accelerate the trajectory of growth and development of Lagos State as we can’t afford to disappoint Lagosians.”

The list of commissioners and portfolios as announced by the Governor are: Water Resources and Environment, Tunji Bello, Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, 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, Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Aramide Adeyoye, 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.

Sanwo-Olu, at the event said: “Today, you are inducted into an administration unique in its diversity–both of heritage and of creed – made up of technical and politically skilled men and women who understand the challenges of our state, grasp the grand vision of this new administration, and are sensitive to the yearnings of our people, the citizens of Lagos State whom we must ultimately serve to realise its vision for a greater Lagos.”

He reminded the members of the Executive of his inaugural address on May 29, when he declared that “our ultimate goal would be to ensure that Lagos State remains one of the top destinations on the African Continent to live, work and invest in.”

As they prepared for the challenges ahead, he urged them to imbibe the culture of transparency, accountability, fairness and value for money.

“I therefore, implore you to earnestly commit yourselves to the agenda and vision of this administration,” he said.

He also urged them to show commitment, diligence and exemplary leadership as the necessary virtues needed to achieve the greatness  desired for the state and to deliver the prosperity the people deserved.

Undoubtedly, there are giants in the new Executive Council who are seen as highly experienced and likely to influence government’s policies and agenda in realisation of its goals. These include Bello, immediate past SSG in the state. He worked previously with First Bank of Nigeria, Concord Press Nigeria Limited, St. Petersburg Times, Florida USA, and has various publications to his credit ranging from business to politics. Bello is also a lawyer, whose wife is a Professor of Medicine

Also in the team is Gbenga Omotoso, an award-winning journalist and former Editor (Daily) of The Nation Newspaper who has nearly 35 years’ experience in the media industry.

The media guru, who graduated from the University of Benin, was adjudged winner of the DAME Informed Commentary in 2010, Nigerian Media Merit Award Editor, 2013, 2015 and 2017.

Ahmed, a medical doctor- turned politician, became prominent when he was elected as lawmaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, where he served as Chairman, House Committee on Health and sponsored the motion for free treatment of accident victims within 24 hours which the Tinubu’s administration adopted.

Lawal, is the immediate past Commissioner for Housing and a former Commissioner of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Lagos State. A seasoned security and development practitioner and socio-entrepreneur, he has deep understanding for political economy of development, especially in low and medium-income economies.

Fatai had served as Operation and Sales Manager at different companies and he got his first public office experience in 2003 when he was appointed as Special Assistant to the former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, now National Leader of the All Progressives Congress; a position he held until the expiration of the administration.

A graduate of Political Science from the prestigious University of Ibadan, Arobieke’s foray into politics made her to serve in different offices as the first executive secretary of Agboyi-Ketu Local Council Development Area, LCDA in 2003.

Her outstanding performance as a lawmaker led to her appointment as Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, WAPA, under the immediate past governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.

Benson-Awoyinka, a lawyer-turned politician, is currently the Assistant Legal Adviser, All Progressives Congress (APC) Lagos State.

Fahm is a specialist in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and a former Commissioner for Science and Technology. He is also a Network Infrastructure expert.

Segun Dawodu is the Commissioner for Youth and Social Development. He is a former Commissioner of Sports.

Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, a Pharmacist and politician is the immediate past Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment.

New entrants that will add value to what is emerging as the Sanwo-Olu brand are: Salako, who has garnered over 20 years of experience in town planning, is the Managing Partner at Adesanya Salako and Associates, a town planning firm in Lagos.

Salako, who was born in October 1968, is a member of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) and President, Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria, ATOPCON.

Rabiu Olowo, who celebrated his 34th birthday in June, is a Certified Fraud Examiner, experienced Chief Audit Executive, Adjunct Professor and Authorised Trainer of The ACFE in West Africa, an anti-fraud organisation and premier provider of anti-fraud training and education.

Before being appointed as Commissioner by the governor, Olowo, who had gained admission into Charisma University, British West Indies, TCI for his PhD in Forensic Accounting and Auditing, had served as an accountant in GlaxoSmithKline Nigeria Plc and others.

Folashade is an educationist with more than 20 years’ experience in the sector. She is a Principal Consultant/CEO at Leading Learning Limited, a company she founded in 2014.

Tasks Ahead

Sanwo-Olu stressed, “Let me emphasise that this is not just our goal, it is what the people expect from us and we cannot afford to disappoint them.”

Among the daunting tasks ahead are unlocking the perennial Lagos traffic, deplorable road network, such as Lagos-Badagry Expressway and Oshodi-Apapa gridlock, waste disposal and management, rocketing cost of health care, dwindling educational standard, wealth creation through employment opportunities, particularly for the teeming youths, rising cases of cultism, crimes and general insecurity that pervades the length and breadth of the state.