Ambode ignored as Tinubu, Fashola join Sanwo-Olu for Lagos cabinet retreat

Mr Sanwo-Olu, his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, and former governors Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola at the retreat. Photo credit: Lagos State government
Mr Sanwo-Olu, his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, and former governors Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola at the retreat. Photo credit: Lagos State government

The retreat organised for members of the Lagos State Executive Council and Permanent Secretaries ended at the weekend with participants resolving to apply their expertise and energy towards achieving the vision of the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration.

The retreat, which held at the Eko Hotels and Suites in Lagos, aimed at fostering teamwork and unity of purpose among administrators who will be implementing key items in the governor’s development agenda in the ministries, departments, and agencies of government.

While former governors Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola participated in the retreat, their successor, Akinwunmi Ambode, was conspicuously absent.

Mr Ambode’s spokesperson, Habib Aruna, told PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday that he does not know why his principal was left out of the retreat.

“You should ask them why they did not invite Mr Ambode,” Mr Aruna said over the phone.

“They are in the best position to know why they didn’t invite him.”

Mr Sanwo-Olu’s spokesperson could not be reached on Sunday as his phone lines were switched off.

The governor is currently attending the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) in Japan.

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Solving Lagos’ problems

Earlier, during the four-day retreat, Mr Tinubu urged Governor Sanwo-Olu and his team to make the welfare of the people the cornerstone of the administration’s social development programmes.

Mr Tinubu, who was governor between 1999 and 2007, reminded the cabinet members of the “difficult task” they had in hand and challenged them to deploy their expertise for the realisation of the APC programmes for the state.

“Many books on leadership and administration have been written by great thinkers which focused on talent of individuals,” he said.

“But, is leadership about talent alone? I say no. Talent can only give you the opportunity to shine and get recognition among your peers. But it cannot pave the way for success. Talent without character is an effort to nowhere.”

Mr Tinubu said although Lagos still confronts some challenges in key sectors, the challenges should be converted to opportunity to drive the development of the state.

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The APC national leader observed that successive administrations in Lagos had been implementing a development masterplan initiated by his administration, but he said the blueprint was not inflexible. He urged Mr Sanwo-Olu and his team to tinker with the masterplan in driving more development in the state.

In his speech, Mr Fashola, who was governor between 2007 and 2015, saluted the courage of the commissioners and special advisers to accept the roles, and added that the appointees had signed up for “a tough task.”

Mr Fashola, who spoke on Personal Perspective on Leadership, said public office was created to solve problems facing the people and not to show off. He said the Sanwo-Olu administration must design a public communication strategy that would make citizens defend the government before becoming agitated.

Governor Sanwo-Olu, who also spoke at the retreat, noted that the new cabinet members had a rare opportunity of receiving hands-on training from two most experienced and highly qualified administrators in Messrs Tinubu and Fashola.

He charged the Executive Council members to utilise all that had been learned for the betterment of the average citizen of Lagos.

At the end of the retreat on Saturday, the cabinet members came up with a communiqué indicating their resolution and expectations as they prepared to fully resume at their respective positions on Monday.

Giving a summary of the communiqué on behalf of the cabinet, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, noted that the participants had intensive sessions with all the facilitators, who, he said, shared practical thoughts on governance and measuring performance.

“We have just concluded a four-day intensive, energy-sapping and intellectually fulfilling retreat,” said Mr Omotoso, the former editor of The Nation newspaper.

“We have been fully equipped and prepared for the task of governance. It is just a springboard for us to take up our programmes.

“Now, Lagosians are going to be seeing a lot of actions from this government, because everything that has been planned will now be put into actions.

“We have been told all that could bring about bottlenecks implementation stages, programmes and policies. We are fully armed and energised to engage our duties for the realisation of better Lagos that would be the pride of everybody.”

Mr Omotoso said the cabinet members made a commitment to work together and complement one another’s efforts towards achieving the governor’s vision.

The Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Samuel Egube, observed that each member of the Executive Council had made a commitment to a joint responsibility of tackling the challenges facing the state, stressing that the government would give no excuse to the residents.

“We also discussed the need to drive a performance evaluation mechanism that would enable us to measure our progress in a transparent manner. This, we believe, will make us fulfil all the promises we have made,” Mr Egube said.

The Head of Service, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, said the retreat set the tone for the implementation of the administration’s plan for a “Greater Lagos”. He said each session of the programme was facilitated by “highly resourceful” leaders that shared their practical experience about administration and leadership.

“Part of the highlights of the retreat was to devise a mechanism that would create synergy between the Permanent Secretaries and Commissioners in their ministries,” he said.

“We also looked at ways of strengthening the relationship between all arms of government and bring them on common platform for the purpose of taking Lagos to greater heights.”

Some of the speakers that graced the retreat included Ben Akabueze, Director-General of the Budget Office; Fola Arthur-Worrey, former Executive Secretary of Lagos State Security Trust Fund; Fola Adeola, founder of FATE Foundation; and Wale Edun, former Lagos Commissioner for Finance.

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