For the second time in the life of his administration, Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who seems to be wearing the toga of a tough governor, re-energised his cabinet by dropping two commissioners and a special adviser, and appointing five new commissioners. In this report, GEORGE OKOJIE takes a look at the factors responsible for the frequent sweeping changes.
It initially filtered in as rumour. But last week, Lagos State governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode officially carried out a major cabinet reshuffle, dropping two commissioners, and a special adviser while he also appointed five new ones.
Observers say the trend under the current administration has made holding political office in Lagos State turbulent. This is because it is in Lagos one finds a commissioner occupying an office as a commissioner from one administration to the other for a period of over 12 years.
But that seemed to have changed in Lagos State because the governor appears to be holding tenaciously to the promise he made from the outset not to only embrace continuity but, ‘Continuity with improvement’.
What baffles many observers in the unfolding scenario in holding public office in Lagos is the fact that when the changes are made those hitherto were regarded as sacred cows given their closeness to the strongman of Lagos politics, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and even the governor himself are weeded out.
The governor had in 2016 fired the commissioners for Tourism, Mr. Folorunsho Folarin-Coker; Finance and Transport, Dr. Ekundayo Mobereola who were very close political apostles of the former governor of the state, Senator Bola Tinubu and Dr. Mustapha Akinkunmi who was said to have been invited by the governor to serve in his government.
As it were, the Special Adviser on Transportation then Prince Anofiu Elegushi took over as Acting Commissioner for Transportation and was never confirmed before he was redeployed as Special Adviser Central Business District, While the then Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Akinyemi Ashade automatically doubled as the Commissioner for Finance.
Ambode who thanked the former Commissioners for their service to the state and wished them well in their future endeavours never gave any reason for the decision.
Commenting on the development, the Executive Chairman Committee for the Protection of Peoples Mandate (CPPM) and political analysts Mr. Nelson Ekujumi said the governor had his reasons for changing his team, which according to him may not be far from to the quest for improved performance.
He said, “ At any point in time the bulk stops on the tables of chief executives , either as president or governor. Lagosians will not ask whether commissioner A or B is doing well because they did not go to the polls to elect the commissioners. They are lieutenants to assist the governor in the running of his government. Definitely there is political and economic consideration to the whole of this. Politics is about people, negotiations, political realignments. Don’t forget also we are in an election year going towards 2019.
“There is need to reshuffle a cabinet, I liken it to a football team. If some players in the team are not leaving up to your expectation you change them. The coach of the team from time to takes a midfielder off the pitch and brings in defender as the case may be to get optimal results. The same thing can happen in government. The governor can reshuffle when he is not getting optimal results. He has specific goals, he wants to achieve and there is a time line for this. Don’t forget changing a team could be beneficial or it backfires.”
For Samson Enomhonbor, a Human Resource Manager, a good manager knows when to re-energise his team, saying, “the governor wants to make progress in governance and he saw the need to weed out the dead wood in his team midst and set up a truly virile and positive cabinet.
“Don’t forget 2019 is just by the corner and the objective could also be to put the state helmsman second term ambition on a better stead. You can see that Kehinde Bamgbetan has been brought in as commissioner for Information as Steve Ayorinde is moved to the very vital Tourism ministry where he well versed having being in their circles as veteran Arts and Entertainment Writer with books to his credit. Again Idowu Ajanaku was upgraded to the position of Special Adviser on Information and Strategy to do what he knows how to best, managing the media for electioneering campaigns are success.”
LEADERSHIP investigations showed that some of the commissioners did not live up to the expectation of the governor, while some that were linked to official misconducts were given soft landing to exit the government without rocking the boat.
One of the campaign promises of Akinwunmi Ambode to Lagosians was to ensure that Lagos becomes the tourism and entertainment hub of Africa.
To achieve this, he came up with the term T.H.E.S.E. which is an acronym for Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment and Sporting Excellence. As the pursuit of T.H.E.S.E. becomes an urgent necessity source said the governor could not retain the commissioners and Special Advisers in the sectors when he was not getting returns from the huge investments.
The source said, “Governor Ambode has left no one in doubt about his resolve to grow the Lagos economy and empower the youth through several alternative means which include the tactical promotion of tourism, entertainment and sports.
“ He has made huge investments in theses sector and was not getting returns he expected. There were issues of frequent building collapse, refuse had taken over Lagos metropolis and Lagosians are angry about this. He was forced to drop the commissioners in these ministries and gave others a second chance by redeploying them to other ministries.
The governor had in a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello made some changes. The three affected cabinet members were Mrs. Adebimpe Akinsola, Mr. Femi Odubiyi and Mr. Anifowoshe Abiola.
The newly appointed cabinet members include Mr. Hakeem Fahm (Ministry of Science and Technology); Mr. Ladi Lawanson (Ministry of Transportation); Mr. Segun Banjo (Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget); Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye (Ministry of Commerce and Industry) and Mr. Hakeem Sulaiman (Communities and Communications).
Mr. Rotimi Ogunleye from Commerce and Industry to Physical Planning and Urban Development; Mr. Steve Ayorinde from Ministry of Information and Strategy to Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan from Communities and Communication to Ministry of Information and Strategy; Mr. Babatunde Durosinmi Etti from Ministry of Wealth Creation to Ministry of the Environment; Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf from Ministry of Youth and Social Development to Ministry of Wealth Creation; Mr. Agboola Dabiri from Central Business District to Ministry of Youth and Social Development.
Others include Dr. Samuel Adejare from Ministry of the Environment to Ministry of Waterfront Infrastructure Development; Engr. Ade Akinsanya from Ministry of Waterfront Infrastructure Development to Ministry of Works and Infrastructure.
In the same vein, Mr. Benjamin Olabinjo was moved from Special Adviser Commerce and Industry to become Special Adviser Civic Engagement, while Mr. Kehinde Joseph moved from Special Adviser Civic Engagement to become Special Adviser Housing. Mr. Deji Tinubu, Special Adviser Sports has been redeployed as Special Adviser to the Governor on Commerce and Industry and Mr. Anofiu Elegushi moves from Special Adviser Transport to become Special Adviser, Central Business District.
It is believed that the new Commissioners who are expected to be cleared by the State House of Assembly and other redeployed will strengthen governance, create a new vigour and vitality for service delivery in the state.
There is a realignment going on the government of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and amongst his backers outside of government.
Capturing the essence of the cabinet reshuffle, the new Commissioner for Tourism, Mr. Steve Ayorinde who was moved from Ministry of Information and Strategy said government is a continuous process that abhors a vacuum, expressing happiness that he was handing over the baton of leadership of the Ministry to another professional with vast journalistic experience.
Ayorinde noted that the Ministry is the face and voice of the Government and has remained in the forefront of positively projecting the image of the state government, advising the new Commissioner to sustain the symbolic relations between the ministry and other sister ministries.
As far the new Commissioner for Information and Strategy , Mr. Kehinde Bamigbtan is concerned Lagos has become a unique brand locally and abroad, thereby justifying its position as Centre of Excellence.
Bamigbetan described the change in leadership of the Ministry as one that is meant to provide the best for the people as the current administration is committed to excel in all sectors.
He explained that the ‘One Lagos’ initiative is to appeal to the need of the masses and take them to a higher level in 2019.
Bamigbetan appealed to members of Staff not to renege in their effort at projecting image of the government, but rather be innovative and strategize on how best to further retain the confidence of the populace in Governor Ambode’s administration as one that will take the state to a greater height.
The new Commissioner stated that his focus would be on how to integrate community communication into the Ministry activities to encourage proper harmonisation between government policies and people at the grassroots.
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