In this report, TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI profiles those who are behind Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s success story.
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Lagos state governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu was last month endorsed for a second term by the Governance Advisory Council (GAC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Lagos state chapter led by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. While many may not consider this a big deal since most governors usually secure the reelection ticket of their party, it is a big deal for Sanwo- Olu given the intrigues that has trailed his rumoured one term on religious grounds and the fact that his predecessor, Akinwunmi Ambode was denied by the same GAC.
A leader of the GAC who spoke with our correspondent said while it was true that the initial agreement reached with the governor was to serve for a single term, they rescinded the decision and approved a second term for him owing to his sterling performance in office which saw him winning many awards including 2021 Governor of the Year (Infrastructure and Urban Renewal) by Independent Newspapers Limited (INL).
He also added that Sanwo-Olu won the hearts of the party leaders, especially Tinubu by learning from Ambode’s mistakes and eschewing bitterness by completing virtually all the ongoing projects by his predecessor.
“Those saying there was a one-term agreement for Sanwo-Olu may not be wrong. But that is not the issue for now. The focus now is that he has been granted approval for second term by the same GAC that denied his predecessor a second term”.
“We strongly believe that the governor has performed creditably well and deserves another term to complete his programmes for the state. He came in with a THEMES agenda but he couldn’t do much as he wanted because he spent most of his time ensuring some of the projects started by his predecessor were completed, most especially the Agege Pen-Cinema Flyover”.
“Looking at what he has done since coming into office on May 2019, we all believed that he (Sanwo-Olu is an astute manager of men and resources. His sterling performance in infrastructure, health, education, transportation, technology and other areas is highly commendable”.
“We also consulted with other critical stakeholders before arriving at the decision to approve a second term for him. It was generally agreed that the governor is a loyal party man and technocrat who faced the business of governance squarely and allow the political leaders who brought him on board to run the affairs of the party. He never lobbied for a second term and even if he should be denied, given his character, he is someone who will accept his fate and not fight back like his predecessor did in 2018”.
“Above all, he is a listening leader who is in touch with the electorate. Having considered all these, we agreed that he is the best bet for our party for Lagos governorship election in 2023”.
Governor Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat forms a complete ‘tag team’ and they complement each other well in the day-to-day running of the affairs of the state widely regarded as the Centre of Excellence. Wherever you see Sanwo-Olu, you are most likely to find Hamzat with him. Many in the cabinet informed our correspondent that the secret of the success of Governor Sanwo-Olu is having a loyal, hardworking, committed and dependable deputy in Hamzat. Earlier, there were reports that Hamzat will be dropped as running mate to Sanwo-Olu in the 2023 general elections but that rumours were laid to rest when the APC leaders in the state led by Tinubu publicly raised the hands of the two leaders at a stakeholders meeting earlier this month.
Tayo Akinmade Ayinde:
Unassuming, humble and soft-spoken Ayinde is the Chief of Staff to the Governor. A very media-shy personality, he is described as the engine room and one of the unseen pillars of the Sanwo-Olu administration. A highly respected official in the Lagos APC circle in which he is a founding member, his duty as Chief of Staff is to ensure Governor Sanwo-Olu’s vision and programmes are understood, advanced and implemented. He devotes considerable attention to make sure the governor’s staff, administration officials and state employees are focused on the governor’s priorities.
He also has a formal role in the governor’s office plan for emergencies, which includes developing the standard processes for managing crises, putting together an ad hoc team to address the specifics of any given emergency, and rationing the governor’s visibility in a crisis.
In his capacity as the Chief of Staff, he is automatically the Chief Operating Officer of Lagos State whose duty is to ensure the governor’s vision and programmes are understood, advanced and implemented. Daily, he devotes considerable attention to make sure the governor’s staff, administration officials and state employees are focused on the governor’s priorities. He also has a formal role in the governor’s office plan for emergencies, which includes developing the standard processes for managing crises. Many testified that he has performed his role creditably well to the admiration of the governor and his entire workforce and the party leaders in the state.
Popularly called HMO, it is not unusual to hear many people say Hakeem Muri-Okunola the urbane, youthful Head of Service of Lagos state who clocked 50 years doesn’t look his age. When he was appointed as Head of Service in January 2019, his appointment was criticised by some Lagosians, including Jimi Agbaje, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). However, three years after, Muri-Okunola has clearly demonstrated that leadership is not a function of age as he has brought utmost professionalism and innovation into the Lagos civil service. As the lead Human Resource executive in the Lagos State Civil Service, HMO, a stickler for excellence has always led by example in terms of punctuality, work ethics and value-added services and this has also greatly endeared him not only to his principal but the entire civil servants in the state.
Folashade Sherifat Jaji:
Appointed by the governor a day after his inauguration in May 2019, Jaji who joined the Lagos state civil service on October 27, 1980 is seen as one of the stabilising forces of the Sanwo-Olu administration. Although she had retired as the Head of Service of the Lagos state government in March 2017, the governor who believed that he years of experience will be pivotal to the success of the administration appointed her as SSG in 2019 and she has received several accolades since assumption of office.
The image maker of the governor. Prior to his inauguration in May 2019, Governor Sanwo- Olu had already penciled Gboyega Akosile, a thoroughbred, versatile and highly experienced journalist who effectively managed his media team during the electioneering campaign as his Chief Press Secretary (CPS). However some hawks approached the governor, saying the party will be the one to nominate the CPS.
In deference to them, Sanwo-Olu, a day after his inauguration named Akosile as his Deputy Chief Press Secretary. This set tongues wagging especially among journalists in the state as to who will emerge the CPS to the governor. Having waited for few weeks and realising the ulterior motives of those who want to foist a spokesman on him, Sanwo- Olu on August 21, 2019 confirmed Akosile as the CPS. By defying the odds and sticking to his guns, many hailed the governor’s decision as a masterstroke given how effectively Akosile has managed the governor’s relationship with the media since assumption of office.
Akosile, who is from the broadcast industry has also broken the jinx that only a spokesman from the print industry, notably a newspaper editor can be appointed as the CPS. He enjoys a smooth working relationship not just with the Commissioner for Information, Gbenga Omotosho but with the governor’s Press Crew as well as other media aides such as Wale Ajetunmobi, the governor’s Special Assistant on Media, and Jubril Gawat, the Senior Special Assistant, New Media.
A good listener who is always receptive to ideas on how to effectively manage the governor’s image in the media, Akosile has greatly used the goodwill he enjoys in the media to project the achievements of the governor. It was no surprising that the governor was a recipient of several newspaper awards, the latest being Sun Newspaper Governor of the Year award earlier this month.
At the party level, Oladejo played a pivotal role in x-raying the achievements of the governor. Feared by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the former Commissioner for Special Duties and House of Representatives aspirant for Mushin Constituency II in the 2023 general elections is always equipped with the right information about the activities of the governor which he effectively uses to puncture some of the false claims by the antagonists of the governor and project him in good light before Lagosians.