Fashola’s Team Swings into Action in Lagos

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Jul 22, 2011 No Comments ›› ACN (ji)

THE inauguration of the  Lagos State Executive Council, on July 5 by Governor  Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has  ended  speculations and set the ball rolling for the governor and his  team.

As the 37 commissioners and special advisers took oath of office pledging allegiance to the country, the gaily  dressed relations and associates who thronged  the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, venue of the ceremony, were filled with joy.

Governor Fashola was quick to remind that the task ahead was daunting and requires commitment, focus and complete concentration.
According to him, “You have been chosen to hold one of the most sought after offices in our country today. I advise you to quickly set forth to very diligently work to earn and justify your place in the Lagos State Executive Council”.

“If anyone of you come here with the quest for just a status or an office, you are in the wrong place. If you are here looking for an easy job, the Lagos State Government does not offer one,” the governor cautioned.

“People will begin to congratulate you, but I’ll be the last to congratulate you”.

Unlike  2007 when the cabinet had 43 members, the new council has  41 members made up of 23 commissioners, 14 Special Advisers, Chief of Staff and Secretary to the State Government as well as the governor his deputy and Head of Service.

This new cabinet that has about 80 per cent new entrants, returned 10 of the former cabinet members, including the Chief of Staff, Mr Lanre Babalola,  who retained his position former commissioner for Science and Technology Mr. Hamzat Obafemi now commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Former Special Adviser to the governor on Central Business District  now commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture,  Mr. Danmole Oyinlomo, Mr Benjamin Akabueze Commissioner for  Economic Planning and Budget and commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure. The former Special Advisers on Transport and Commerce and Industry Mr. Kayode Opeifa and Olusola Oworu were elevated as commissioners to head their ministries.
Other former Special Advisers appointed in the new cabinet are  Mr. Ade Ipaye Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.  He was former SA on taxation and Revenue; Mr. Jimoh Ajao, Housing;  Dolapo Badru; Youth, Sports and Social Development and works and infrastructure Mr. Ganiyu Johnson, Works and Infrastructure.

Among the new Commissioners are Mr. Abiru Adetokunbo (Finance), Mr Wale Ahmed, special projects, Tunji Bello, Environment, Mr Olutoyin Ayinde, Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr. Oladisun Holloway, Tourism and Intergovernmental Relations and Mr. Aderemi Ibirogba, Information and Strategy.

One unique thing about the newly constituted cabinet is that for the first time since 2007, two strategic ministries, Ministries of Works and Infrastructure, and Education can now boast of commissioners. Hitherto, they were overseen by a Special Adviser to the Governor, and the former deputy governor, Princess Sarah Sosan who served as the superintendent of the Education ministry.

The challenges
The first die was cast barely 40 hours after their inauguration when a four-storey building on No. 4 Mogaji Street, Idumota/Ebute-Ero area of Lagos Island had collapsed and caved in on its occupants. Lives were lost and properties destroyed.

The development however jolted the new commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Ayinde, that indeed, a Herculean task lies in waiting for him..

For three days, some of the occupants were still trapped under the debris, despite efforts by the officials of the Lagos Fire and Safety Services, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), the National Emergency Management Agency(NEMA), the Lagos State Ambulance Service (LASAMBUS) and community dwellers to rescue victims. The situation was further compounded considering the nature and location of the building which rendered it impassable for heavy duty bulldozers, to get to the scene and rescue those trapped for over 72 hours.

As residents struggle to put this tragic incidence that claimed the lives of about 20 people including a couple that just moved into the apartment behind another disaster struck, this time no part of the state was spared as a heavy down pour that lasted for over 12hours flooded the metropolis killing many and sacking thousands from their home.
With this opposition party deploy their antic hiding under the guise of criticism to toil with such issues that has jeopardize the lives of Nigerians.

The first came in form of a telephone sms circulated to residence, which stated that a vote for an umbrella candidate would have provided a shield and prevent the flood from washing residents and their properties away.
As the government wade into the situation through the prompt response of the governor who shelve the state Executive Council meet and rush to the scene of the affected areas to access the situation and assure the people of the government determination to find a lasting solution, came the shocker this time from the president of the Senate Senator David Mark when he suggested an emergency rule for the state, a situation that has been condemned but local and internationally.

Today the new executives has to understand that serving a state like Lagos with over 18million population is not an easy task that should be treated with kid gloves.

The commissioner, Olutoyin Ayinde, a seasoned town planner is not ignorant of this fact, but it is expedient for him to borrow a clue from his predecessor in office, Town Planner Francisco Abosede who  last year revealed that 1,923 buildings with structural defect have been marked  for demolition in the state to prevent further incidences of collapse.

The new commissioner must as a matter of importance carry out periodic enforcement exercise in the state to ensure that residents comply with building rules and regulation.

Some of those structurally defective buildings as identified by Abosede are said to be located in areas such Lagos Island, Ajeromi-Ifelodun and Somolu/Kosofe Local Government Areas among others.
Abosede also noted that. Of the 976 of such buildings identified in Lagos

Island, 617 are recommended for renovation 346 recommended for test while 13 will be demolished in Ajeromi/Ifelodun.

Eyes are also on the Commissioner for the Environment to step up the enforcement of environmental laws and ensure that drains are cleared and residents prevented from erecting structures on canals and drainage channels.

Judging from the promise at the inauguration that the government will consolidate on the achievements of the first administration, Lagosians are hopeful that the Commissioner of Works and Infrastructure must have begun the rehabilitation and construction of collapsed roads across the state.
There is no doubt that much was achieved in the area of road construction during the first administration when the ministry was supervised by the Special Adviser.

But with the appointment of a new commissioner, the stakes are high and residents are hopeful of better roads across the state.
Coming from the Ministry of Science and Technology where he was the commissioner from May 2007 to May 2011, Hamzat, no doubt, knows the task ahead in his new portfolio. Almost every local government area is begging for intervention from the state government especially as it concerns road construction or rehabilitation and this is likely to pose a major challenge which will determine, to a large extent, if the Fashola administration will take a bow by 2015 holding their heads high.

Much is expected in the area of housing and the commissioner must remember that this form the bulk of argument from the opposition during the series of debates organised for gubernatorial candidates in the state prior to the 2011 general elections.

Opposition political parties came down hard on the Fashola government for failing to do anything positive to provide affordable housing for Lagosians.

In all the debates Fashola attended, the opposition parties wondered why a caring government would  build houses and place a staggering price tag from N7million to about N45 million, which public servants in the employ of the state government can rarely afford, low income earners in the state.
But Fashola was always quick to assure that the state government had concluded plans to offer affordable housing through mortgage facility such that interested buyers will only have to pay 30 percent of the total cost of the house and then the balance spread within a period of ten years with just a single digit interest rate.

The buck stops at the desk of Governor Fasholawho is regarded as the revelation of the 2007 – 2011 political club. He appointed his men and would take responsibility for their actions and inaction.


The Nation

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