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Lagos: Revving up public service performance

Monday, 15 May 2017


It was a historic moment on Thursday, May 4, 2017, at Agege Stadium during a parade-cum-exhibition organized as part of the activities marking the Lagos-at-50 celebrations. The public servants in the country’s centre of excellence were about to be lionized for their contributions to the Lagos success story. Attractively arranged around the stadium were totems of public service accomplishments, garnered over the years.

The crowds had gathered from across the five administrative divisions of the State: Ikeja, Badagry, Ikorodu, Lagos Island and Epe. The atmosphere was electric. Then the moment came! One after the other, all ministries, departments and agencies; local governments and local council development areas which constitutes the state public service filed out, dressed in their unique outfits, on a long and large red carpet. Elation was palpable across the athletic field.  Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, represented by his deputy Dr. Idiat Oluranti Adebule, noted the valuable contributions made by the public servants before challenging them to show greater commitment and diligence towards building ‘a public service that is creative, innovative and globally competitive’.

Of all the states in the federation, Lagos arguably boasts of the highest number of government agencies/parastatals; rakes in the highest internally generated revenue (IGR) and whirls daily with entrepreneurial zest. No wonder, it’s referred to as the epicenter of our economy. In spite of all these positives, there is still an urgent need for massive improvement in our country’s public sector which is mainly plagued with issues of laxity, incompetence and corruption. Unless these problems are decisively tackled, it would be impossible for the electorate to enjoy the dividends of democracy. Public service plays a pivotal role in nation building; implements government policies, provides basic social amenities and ensures the general wellbeing of the people.

Being a former capital of Nigeria and the nation’s commercial nerve-centre, Lagos is highly strategic. As a Lagosian, I must confess that I have felt the positive impact of innovative public service. My frequent interactions with some of the agencies of the Lagos State Government have shown me that there is hope in the horizon for the nation’s public sector in terms of effectiveness and efficiency.

As a keen observer in the advertising industry, it will not be out of place to highlight the role of Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA) as a high performing agency especially on this occasion of the state’s golden jubilee celebration. The Agency has been in the vanguard of redefining the outdoor advertising environment in Lagos State, servicing individual and corporate clients with over two thousand businesses as recently estimated by a trade business journal.

For those who may not know, LASAA is empowered by the Lagos State Structures for Signage and Advertisement Law, 2006 (as amended), to regulate and control outdoor advertising and signage displays. Its functions include controlling the number, size and location of outdoor structures, and protecting the environment from potential adverse impact from visual blights. There are other connected functions but the ones already mentioned would suffice.

For about four decades after the creation of Lagos State, there was no signage control and outdoor advertisement was largely unregulated. It was almost impossible to see a street or road within the metropolis that was without a mishmash of advertising signs. Today, the story has changed. With the establishment of LASAA, its mission was clear: to sanitize and transform Lagos streetscapes. It’s over a decade now, and the Agency has continued to live up to its mandate, changing the look and feel of Lagos.

Over the years, the Agency has embarked on several reforms but the present leadership has taken it a notch higher. Upon assumption of office, Mr. Mobolaji Sanusi, the current Managing Director of Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency, did a thorough restructuring with a view to reinvigorating LASAA. Leading by example, Mr. Sanusi quickly instilled in the staff a new sense of discipline. This way, a new consciousness of conscientiousness enveloped the Agency, leaving no room for laxity. Leadership is critical to the effectiveness and efficiency of public service.

To stamp out incompetence and build the capacity of the Agency’s workforce, the Sanusi-led management team places premium on staff training and the introduction of Employee-of-the-Month Award has enhanced staff motivation. The turnaround time for rolling out bills as well as resolving customer complaints has improved tremendously. Revving up public service performance definitely requires appropriate staff motivation. As done in Lagos State, salaries and allowances of public servants should be paid promptly. Highly motivated public servants will take ownership of the government business and serve the public diligently without asking for bribes or engaging in corrupt practices.

As of today, Lagos State sets the pace for other states of the federation when it comes to outdoor advertising regulation. LASAA has been able to share its wealth of experience with states like Ekiti, Osun and Kwara. Guided by its vision, the Agency is poised to instigate a sweeping transformation of streetscapes across the mega city. As Lagos celebrates its golden jubilee, one hopes that this revolutionary regulatory agency would not relent on its oars in giving the citizens the best it has to offer while striving to rev up its performance.

Idowu Omisore is an advertising enthusiast.

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