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Hope rises for Lagosians over Sanwo-Olu’s cabinet

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Babajide Sanwo-Olu


• Hamzat still waiting for portfolio
With the cabinet put in place by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu last week, the initial fear that the governor and his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, may not perform would have been put to rest. The cabinet is a combination of politicians and technocrats from different professional fields assembled to drive the administration’s policies in the next four years.

Following the inglorious manner in which the former governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, was denied a second term ticket in the direct primary organised by Lagos State chapter of All progressives Congress (APC) in October last year, many electorate became skeptical that the power that denied Sanwo-Olu’s predecessor may not give him the chance to perform let alone select an effective team to work with.

Although, the assemblage of the 35-man cabinet members, which include 22 substantive commissioners and 13 special advisers looks bogus, many say the governor and whoever drafted the list did not only do a critical selection job, they must also have carefully appointed politicians with credentials and technocrats that are also entrenched in politics. This is coupled with the fact that the drafter of the list further put into consideration some of the controversial issues that affected the workings of Ambode’s administration before coming out with the list.

While Sanwo-Olu sits atop government as the master policy driver, there is concern over the responsibility assigned the deputy, who as at yesterday is yet to get any official ministry to supervise unlike his female predecessors that usually oversaw the education ministry.

It would be recalled that he (Hamzat) is one of those professionals who former Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu brought back from the United States to contribute to the development of the state. He was the pioneer Commissioner for Science and Technology under the national leader before he moved to Works and Infrastructure under the administration of erstwhile Governor Babatunde Fashola, who is currently Minister of Works and Housing.

Shortly after the governor was sworn in on May 29, his first key appointments were Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mrs. Fokashade Jaji, Chief of Staff, (COS), Mr. Tayo Ayinde and later, Deputy Chief Press Secretary (DCPS) now Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr. Gboyega Akosile. Although, there were minor political bickering over the appointment of Ayinde while it was assumed that Sanwo-Olu might bring someone else to boss Akosile, which never happened.

Some of the grouses against Ayinde’s appointment are about capacity and political settlement in the state, but his academic and political records, however, give a lie to such insinuations. These are aside from his contributions to the success of the governor before, during, and after the campaign period, which started as early as September last year.

If there was anyone Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat leaned on when they had to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly during the campaign period, it was Ayinde going by the dexterity with which he managed the campaign. This was in spite of the crisis in the party, the perceived onslaught from Ambode, who at the time was nursing grudges after being denied the ticket and the subtle rivalry between Justice Forum (JF) and Mandate Group (MG) among others.

This is coupled with the fact that Ayinde once served in the State Security Service (SSS) from 1993 to 1999 and later worked with Tinubu as Chief Security Officer. He was Director-General of Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu and Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat’s Independent Campaign Group, and later Chairman of Inauguration Committee after the March 9, 2019 victory at the gubernatorial elections.

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 and Akosile, another media expert, will be useful.

Despite sentiments that the leadership of APC in the state deliberately offered Omotosho the appointment to edge him out of The Nation where he has been editor since 2005 and farther back since the days of The Comet, another consideration is that he possesses enough media experience that will help him manage the public image of the government unlike what Ambode experienced. Although Omotoso may not directly deal with all media matters and relate with all strata by virtue of his status, Akosile is most likely to fit in to provide the balancing act.

Akosile was Head of Reportorial Desk at Minaj Broadcasting International between 2006 and 2008 where he directly supervised reporters, scheduled reports and other assignments for the reporters in the organisation.

Some observers, however, have faulted the appointment of the former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Tunji Bello, as Commissioner for Water Resources and Environment. They believe it is downgrading to his (Bello) profile. The calculation doesn’t follow as some inner members of the party explained. The former Editorial Board Chairman of ThisDay newspaper, who had also served in various capacities under Tinubu, Fashola and Ambode might have been brought back based on his experience and as a stabilizing factor.

According to a source, the ministry he is to head is one of the key ministries that deployed for political favours in Lagos and Bello never failed when he was in charge under Tinubu. It would be recalled that the incumbent Chairman of Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Dr. Muiz Banire, a three-term commissioner in Lagos, also headed the environment ministry and understood the political implication of deploying the ministry’s assets to good use as settlement platform.

Meanwhile, Sanwo-Olu is receiving massive knocks from Lagos indigenes over his appointment of Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf as Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs. Their complaints arise over putting a woman to supervise the affairs of traditional rulers in a complex state like Lagos.

The appointment of Mr. Joe Igbokwe as special adviser on Drainage and Water Resources (a newly created portfolio) is generating mixed reactions, but the state’s Publicity Secretary of Lagos APC is said to have paid his dues and deserving of the appointment not just because he is a non-Yoruba or Lagosian, but that his appointment, along with two other executive members, were deliberately done to give non-Yoruba and the party a sense of belonging in the government. This was unlike what happened in Ambode’s government when he ignored the party as an arm of government.

It was also understood that the appointment of Mr. Tokunbo Wahab as Special Adviser on Education is to settle the people of Epe and Lagos East among other considerations.

Other appointees are 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, 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, and Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Relations, Dr. Wale Ahmed.

The 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, Mrs. Toke Benson-Awoyinka, Drainage and Water Resources, Joe Igbokwe, Technology and Innovation, Mr. Tubosun Alake, (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, Sustainable Development Goals, (newly created portfolio), and Lagos Global, Mrs. Solape Hammond.


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