It is one year since Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu became governor of Nigeria’s economic capital, Lagos State. There could not have been a better time to begin to spotlight some of the star performers in Sanwo-Olu’s government than now. Thankfully, Covid-19 has thrown up the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi into public reckoning and admiration. But not much is known about self-effacing, Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin, the Managing Director of Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA). Here is one hero without capes who has delivered services to his fatherland without noise. There have been some feeble attempts to discredit one of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s star performers in the last few days. If the faceless individuals behind the campaign are not using an innocuous blog, they are using a newly and hurriedly registered one to fire their darts.
Just in case you have been wondering why Lagos State has remained clean since August 2019, just shift your focus to a star player in Sanwo-Olu’s progressive team. He is young Muyiwa Gbadegesin. Muyiwa graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Neuroscience in his 20s at the prestigious Georgetown University, United States of America. He is an experienced development policy professional with demonstrated history of working at senior levels of government and private sector in Nigeria. Gbadegesin is skilled in Programme Management, Technology Implementation and Policy Analysis. These skills may have endeared him to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a leader reputed for being a talent hunter.
Upon his return to Nigeria, Gbadegesin was appointed Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Technology and Special Projects by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in June 2003. He held this position for 5 years and 7 months until December 2008 right into the administration of Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN). Gbadegesin it was who superintended on the implementation of the Lagos State Land Registry Computerization Project which entailed scanning and archiving of over 6 million pages of certificates of occupancy, survey maps and land title documents into searchable and interlinked database. His achievement also included processing of satellite imagery and creation of geo-database for the State Restructuring and Monitoring of Property Identification Exercise (PIE) and Land Use Charge Billing System. Gbadegesin led the team that expanded the PIE database by 250,000 properties and doubled revenue for the Lagos State Government from Land Use Charge in the first year. It was the cosmopolitan Gbadegesin who also helped develop technical linkages and training support with the British Land Registry.
The history of the strategic plan for Global Electronic Document Management System to extend Land Registry (EDMS) to all other government agencies cannot be told without the mention of the name, Muyiwa Gbadegesin. It was Gbadegesin who organized a 2-day retreat for the Governor, the then Head of Service and other senior government officials at the Opentext Corporation Headquarters in Switzerland. When it comes to networking international support for any government initiative, Gbadegesin sure knows where to turn to in the international community. He set up the necessary liaison with international donor agencies including the Department for International Development (DFID) to secure significant donor support for the Land Registry Computerization Project in Lagos State.
Today, stakeholders in the real estate business in Lagos State will attest to the unprecedented land reforms that took place during Gbadegesin’s silent revolutionary stint supporting the Lands Department under the Tinubu and Fashola administrations. He secured opportunities for staff of the Land Bureau to serve as trainers for other State Land Registries through DFID programmes nationwide. Gbadegesin was a strategic part of the team that delivered on the Governor’s bold vision to achieve the 30-Day Consent Programme which led to astronomical increase in land transactions and high revenue flow to the State treasury.
A team player, Gbadegesin served as a member of the Committee for Restructuring of the Certificate of Occupancy (C-o-O) in Lagos State; Chairman, Technical Committee for the 2006 World Leadership Awards, London wherein Lagos State won 3 keenly contested awards and Member, Presidential Committee for the Redevelopment of Lagos Mega City Region chaired by the highly respected Prof. Akin Mabogunje.
As the master talent hunter himself, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu continued to groom Gbadegesin, so did the responsibilities he was saddled with grow. By 2006, he was appointed Director, Land Information Systems Support Unit. In this capacity, he also served as the Chairman on Verification of Allotees’ List in the Isheri North Scheme. During his tenure on this beat, Gbadegesin completely restructured Land Information Systems Support Unit with training, hardware and software upgrade, local area network installation and workflow restructuring. Asiwaju’s protégé shocked many when to the admiration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu he completely digitized government scheme layouts for 114 State government residential and industrial schemes in Lagos State, a feat many thought could not be achieved.
Dr. Gbadegesin sought the kind permission of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) to exit government and concentrate on Idea Factory Limited, his ICT consulting firm. From here too, Gbadegesin’s firm, still continued to provide technology support to a number of government agencies as well as reputable media houses such as Television Continental (TVC), PM News, The News, the Ekiti State Government and the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA) to mention but a few.
By the year 2012, Gbadegesin had become Asiwaju’s proud export to the neigbhouring Oyo State where he was first appointed Special Adviser on Projects by Governor Abiola Ajimobi. He repeated some of his tested feats in the area of lands administration yet again in Oyo State. His impressive performance encouraged Governor Ajimobi to elevate him to the position of Commissioner for Lands and Housing. Gbadegesin, the professional problem solver was again redeployed to the health sector where he superintended as Commissioner for Health. To the admiration of Governor Ajimobi again, Gbadegesin designed and implemented the Oyo State Health Sector Reform Programme; designed and implemented the first ever Ambulance and Emergency Service for Oyo State with 33 ambulances and a Control Center with toll free lines and designed and implemented the Oyo State Community-based Health insurance Programme which ran across 14 local government areas across the State. He also designed and implemented the first ever Oyo State Free Health Mission reaching 500,000 Beneficiaries. Gbadegesin worked tirelessly to achieve the upgrade and expansion of the 65-year old Oyo State School of Hygiene, Eleyiele to College of Health Technology, Eleyiele; upgraded and expanded the 66-year old School of Nursing and Midwifery, Eleyiele to College of Nursing and Midwifery, Eleyiele amongst other unprecedented health reform programmes in Oyo State.
His problem-solving capacity may have motivated Governor Abiola Ajimobi to draw Gbadegesin closer by appointing him Deputy Chief of Staff in June 2015, a position he occupied till 2017 when he returned to Lagos again to manage his technology firm, Idea Factory Ltd. This afforded him an opportunity to stay close to his Mentor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and overseeing a number of sensitive strategic assignments for him. This was his preoccupation until Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu again mandated him to help restructure the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) in August 2019. If you are wondering why Lagos State has remained clean despite the Covid-19 pandemic, then this spotlight on one of Sanwo-Olu’s star performers and a protégé of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu may be your best guide. Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin, please take a bow wherever you are. You are indeed a Nigerian hero without capes!
Adekunle Obafemi, A Public Affairs Analyst Wrote from Lagos.
Aledeh News is not liable to opinions expressed in this article, they’re strictly the writer’s.