Thursday, 30th November 2023

Sanwo-Olu’s commissioner-nominees’ list and rash of reactions

By Gbenga Salau
13 August 2023   |   2:56 am
Weeks after Lagos state Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, released the list of 47 commissioner-nominees, mixed reactions have continued to trail its composition from different strata of the state.

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Photo/twitter/jidesanwoolu

Muslim Groups, Regional Blocks Demand Reversal, Review Of Composition

Weeks after Lagos state Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, released the list of 47 commissioner-nominees, mixed reactions have continued to trail its composition from different strata of the state.

While some expressed satisfaction, some other citizens and stakeholders, including some members of the state House of Assembly, vehemently opposed the composition, saying it lacks representation and fairness in terms of religion and geographical zoning.

Those commending the choice of persons on the list argued that it is a composition of technocrats and tested politicians who have the requisite experience and knowledge to deliver on the governor’s Greater Lagos mantra.

There are, however, residents who are surprised that after the length of time it took to compile the nominees, the composition is still enmeshed in controversy.

Before the reaction of a group of Muslims, there have been pockets of protests from Muslim organizations across the state. However, during the week, at a press conference organised by Joint Muslims Forum (JMF), some Islamic clerics, led by the National Missioner of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Abdrahman Ahmad, rejected the list.

Providing insight, Ahmad said: “In line with the dictates of our Islamic faith, which consistently emphasises fairness in all dealings, and in line with our conviction that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr Kadiri Hamzat are better experienced and prepared to uplift the quality of lives of Lagosians, we mobilised our community to, not only vote for the return of the Governor, but also defended the votes under very difficult circumstances.

“With all sense of utmost sincerity, we noted to our utter dismay that Governor Sanwo-Olu’s list exhibited callous insensitivity to diversity, equity, and fairness. Muslims make up less than 20 per cent of the list, even though they constitute over 60 per cent of not just the state’s population, but her voting public. We observed that out of 39 nominees only eight are Muslims.

“It is no longer news that this list is not pleasing to the generality of Muslims in Lagos. It is indeed an affront on our collective sensibilities and tragically confirmed long standing suspected misgivings about Sanwo-Olu’s genuine commitment to fair leadership.”

Ahmad noted that when many in the Christian community rightly or wrongly rejected Sanwo-Olu and his party purportedly to protest the Muslim-Muslim ticket at the national level, Muslims in Lagos stood and voted to ensure his victory.

“Rather than show appreciation, it appears that Sanwo-Olu chose to perpetrate injustice and ingratitude in an ill-thought affront to the peaceful and accommodating Muslim community of Lagos.

“Over the past years, we have witnessed several instances of injustice towards Muslims by the Sanwo-Olu-led state government through its unfavorable policies, lopsided appointments, and infringements on our religious and socio-political rights as a community.

“At various times and fora, we have engaged the government, listing these grievances and concerns, all to no avail, with no well-defined efforts by the state government till date to assuage these grievances.

“The released list of commissioners is thus a continuation of the old, abnormality and a reaffirmation that the state government has no regards whatsoever for the Muslims in the state nor our interest.

“The Muslims have done nothing to deserve this; in fact, they have played their part by ensuring that the government of the day won the election. The Muslims massively voted for APC when others campaigned for other parties. It is also important to mention that this is not a one-off for this administration.

“In the last term of this government, six Tutors-general were appointed and all were Christians, with instances where senior Muslim successors were sidelined for the nearest Christians. Governance should be about fairness and equity.” He wondered why Muslims in Lagos should always beg and fight for their constitutional rights in the present dispensation.

“We recall with utmost sadness really, that until the Supreme Court ruled in favour of hijab for our schoolgirls, successive Lagos governments never felt it should endeavour to align with the global best practice of accepting hijab in addition to abiding with the rule of law.

“The historic pro-hijab judgment was delivered in March 2022 and globally acknowledged. However, Sanwo-Olu’s government in its peculiar idiosyncrasy chose to ignore this until a year later, after ceaseless pressure was mounted by well-meaning individuals.

“It was only on account of our compassion that we still agreed to give all the support we volunteered to Sanwo-Olu’s bid. Unfortunately, Sanwo-Olu assumes that we were simply naïve. We want to emphasise yet again that Muslims of the state are not disposable items to be used and discarded at will. It is time that we insist most emphatically that it cannot and will not be business as usual again.

“We the Muslims of, and in Lagos State, wish to categorically state that the entire leadership of the Muslim Community of Lagos State, representing various Muslim organisations, unequivocally and unanimously reject the list of commissioner-designates of Governor Sanwo-Olu and we demand a reversal and review to reflect 60 per cent in favour of Muslims in a fresh list.”

Aside from those who are displeased with the list for lacking fair religious representation, there are those who felt the composition of the commissioner-nominees lack regional equity.

Groups in Ikorodu and Mushin claim that one of the local councils in the state has 12 representatives, yet over 10 others has just one each. Providing a breakdown, they alleged that Badagry has two; Lagos Mainland has three; Eti-osa got 12; Surulere – 2; Lagos Island – 2; Somolu – 1; Ikorodu – 1; Epe – 2; Apapa -1; Amuwo-odofin – 1; Ifako Ijaiye – 1; Oshodi-Isolo – 1; Ojo – 1; Mushin – 1; Ibeju-Lekki – 2; Agege -1;Ikeja – 2; Kosofe – 1; Ajeromi Ifelodun – 1 and Alimosho – 1.

Spotlighting the list based on senatorial districts, they claimed that while Lagos West has 12 representatives, Lagos East has seven and Lagos Central has 20.

Considering the list from the perspective of the state’s five divisions, they alleged that Ikorodu Division could only boast of one representative; Lagos Island Division has 20; Ikeja Division -10; Epe Division – 4 while Badagry Division had four too.

Nevertheless, a cursory examination of the commissioners and special advisers’ list presented to the Lagos State House of Assembly paints an image of Sanwo-Olu as a forward-thinking governor, determined to bring to fruition positive projects he initiated during his initial term in office.

At the forefront of the distinguished cabinet is the re-appointment of Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, a man whose prowess in public communication has redefined the state’s relationship with its citizens.

Omotoso’s approach to engaging regularly with the residents, especially during the trying times of the coronavirus pandemic, revealed his skills in communicating the very essence of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration.

In a departure from the past, the people of Lagos received consistent updates on their elected governor’s daily activities through traditional and other media channels. This open flow of information not only fostered transparency but also bolstered the administration’s commitment to accountability.

Omotoso’s illustrious journey in the realm of media and public communication has been nothing short of extraordinary. As a distinguished Nigerian journalist, writer, and public relations expert, he has made indelible contributions to the Nigerian media landscape. With a profound background in journalism and a wealth of experience working with reputable media organisations and contributing to various newspapers and publications, Omotoso’s insightful writings and captivating style have garnered him a vast readership and earned him deep respect within the journalistic community.

His appointment as the Commissioner in charge of the Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy marked the culmination of his exceptional career journey, further cementing his role as a pivotal figure in the State’s governance.

Another person making a return to the governor’s cabinet is Professor Akinola Abayomi. His pedigree and global acclaim are in Internal Medicine, Haematology, Biosecurity, Environmental Health, and Human Development.

Having graduated from the prestigious Royal Medical College of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, University of London, Abayomi’s academic achievements are commendable. Additionally, his fellowships from the renowned Royal College of Medicine and Pathology in the UK and the College of Medicine of South Africa underscore the depth of his expertise and reputation.

As the immediate past Commissioner for Health, Abayomi spearheaded transformative improvements in health infrastructure, human development, and accessibility to health services. His innovative approach to healthcare and proactive public engagement was appreciation. During the COVID-19 crisis, he displayed huge sense of commitment.

This earned him well-deserved national honours and awards, including the prestigious National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM) award and the esteemed Officer of the Order of Niger (OON) by the Federal Government of Nigeria, recognising his exceptional productivity, unwavering dedication, and unparalleled excellence in Nigeria’s health sector.

One of the welcoming, experienced, and recognised faces among the new additions is Lawal Pedro (SAN). He joined the Lagos State Ministry of Justice in December 1987 and worked in various directorates and became Director of Civil Litigation in 2006; a position he held until he was appointed the Solicitor General of Lagos State and Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice in April 2008.

He retired from the public service of the Lagos State in 2015 to commence his private legal practice at Lawal Pedro, SAN & Associates with offices in Lagos and Abuja.

Also on the list is Yacoob Alebiosu, a former Special Assistant to Babatunde Fashola on Housing and a two-term representative of Kosofe Federal Constituency, Lagos State.

Alebiosu, an architect, once served as the Chief Operating Officer, Jaseal Construction Limited. After completing his Higher National Diploma in Architecture at Yaba College of Technology, he was at University of Northumbria, Newcastle, United Kingdom for a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science (MSC) in Leadership and Management.