What Governor Sanwo-Olu should consider in appointing new LASAA helmsman

In African modern comparative politics, when it comes to political appointment, the first thing that would come to mind would be party politicians and their cronies. However, transformations in several developed countries’ governmental arena indicate that partisan presence in key strategic offices, and, more broadly, the general model of party government, is in a decline. Such a decline owes much to the increased government involvement of technocratic personnel – i.e., professionals with little or no political affiliation.

While the foregoing premise does not strongly suggest that African nations’ and states’ governments should establish themselves as the promised lands of technocracy, or form a fully technocratic cabinet, it is imperative to note that ceding key technical and professional positions to seasoned technocrats would not only serve as a viable way of enhancing the political appeal of African public office holders, but also a practical way of putting a square peg in square hole.

Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency (LASAA) was established by the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Law, 2006 (as amended), and saddled with functions, which include: control of outdoor structures to be used for signage and advertisements; issuance of licenses and permits for the construction and placement of outdoor structures in any part of the state; protection of the environment from potential adverse impact from visual blights; and control of the number, size and location of outdoor structures, among other functions. In addition, Lagos as a megacity brand is home to multinationals and corporate giants that spend top dollar on marketing and advertising.

With this status, Lagos remains one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, where Mr. Babajide Sanwa-Olu recently resumed his second four-year tenure in office as the Executive Governor of the state.

So far, it is obvious that in the last 8 years, LASAA’s vision has been stunted due to the choice of its chief executive officers who have been more of political appointees than a technocrat. Because the leadership did not possess the professional acumen and wherewithal to take the LASAA vision to the next level, their tenure in office has always being allegedly marred with gross misconduct, crass unprofessionalism and prebendalism.

With the recent exit of the former occupier of the position, Prince Adedamola Docemo, Governor Sanwo-Olu is said to have been window-shopping for a new replacement while the state government said it wants to restructure the agency for better performance while ensuring that it delivers optimal returns for all stakeholders. It is thus important to set an agenda for the state government on how best to achieve its desired objective, if sincerely the agency would be allowed to be professionally managed.

Now, the burning question on the lips of many marketing communication experts’is: “Who will be appointed the next helmsman of LASAA, a strategic subsector that is critical to Lagos as a destination brand and Nigeria’s commercial hub with over 25 million people?”

To get it right this time, the first strategy for Governor Sanwo-Olu is to conduct an interview for interested candidates probably by himself before any appointment to the executive office of LASAA. Such interview will provide a rigorous opportunity for interested candidates to share their strategic vision and plans directly with Mr. Governor so that he will be able to know that the applicant’s world view is in tandem with his own. This is said to be far better than allowing such a highly technical office to be left to the whims and caprices of a handpicked political jobber. The office of LASAA helmsman is not supposed to be meant for just any individual to patronise their percuniary interest and primordial sentiments.

To reflect and reverse some of the processes that almost crippled LASAA revenue in the last 8 years, Mr. Sanwo-Olu must cancel some of the concession processes forthwith. The proposed concessioning of some high-brow road corridors in the metropolis are like time-bomb waiting to explode as it will create the most complex and image sagging legal battles.

Already, there are internal contradictions and loud rumbles and ripples over the management of the agency as well as boards allocations over the years. The industry is also not unaware of the illegal processes some of the agency’s past activities have been subjected.

Even if the concession programme must continue, it should be done in such a transparent manner that the managing director of LASAA will not be the sole beneficiary. In fact, the reason why many industry watchers want the process canceled is because they know it will cripple LASAA’s revenue as the CEO will always have interest in some of the successful companies of the concession.

It is, therefore, pertinent to state that a technocrat will never want to run LASAA like a personal enterprise because it will negatively impact the industry business afterwards even if he benefitted from such policy.

Moreso, to balance the responsibility strategy in contemporary governance and enhance the quality of democracy, alongside economic and institutional drivers, Mr. Sanwo-Olu will do great by appointing a seasoned technocrat as the head of LASAA.


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