“My steady rise in politics is owed to God” …Lagos Commissioner, Seye Oladejo

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Hon. Seye Oladejo, is the Lagos State Commissioner for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations. In this interview with the editor, FOLORUNSHO HAMSAT, the astute politician speaks about his office demands and developments.

You’re former Special Adviser on Commerce and Industry in the last administration, and now you’re Commissioner for Special Duties. How do you feel?
I feel good. But if some people think it’s below expectation, well, it doesn’t work that way. It’s a call to service and basically, it’s the captain of the team and by extension the party that will determine who to serve and where to. And they probably feel I am sufficiently equipped to take up another ministry. As you can see, we have hit the ground running.

What goals have you set to achieve as you take up your new office?
The top and most important agenda is to ensure we carry out our ministerial responsibilities to the letter, that we do all the needful as regards getting on top of emergency issues in Lagos State. And you will agree with me that the entire world is like in a state of emergency. The frequency of emergency here and there is alarming. For those who give in to spirituality might be telling you that the world is coming to an end. As the commissioner for special duties and overseer of emergency issues in the state, we have to ensure prompt response to distress calls, and also ensure that we’re sufficiently equipped and we have our men whose capacity have been built to respond quickly to emergency issues to the level of best practices in the world.
Talking about quick response to emergency or distress calls, people have often times complained about the nonresponse from emergency officers when such calls are made. What are you doing in that regards?
What you said is news to me because I know that we response to distress calls from time to time. We work round the clock but all the same we are not going to sleep, we are going to continue working round the clock. The phone numbers of these emergency officials are available in the public domain. From 1st of January till now, we have responded to one thousand six hundred and sixty seven distress calls through these emergencies numbers.

How do you hope to tackle this perennial problem of lack of water in fire emergencies?
The issue of not having water or truck to stop fire outbreak cannot be linked to Lagos State. Our men have always responded adequately to fire disasters with enough equipment and manpower to quench the fire. As we are preparing for next year’s budget, I want to assure you that the ability of the state government agencies to response to emergencies and distress calls is going to be improved upon. We are making provision to ensure that we acquire more equipment so as to respond adequately to disasters issues from time to time. It is a continuous exercise; it’s a work in progress, because emergencies do not give notice.

What new ideas are you bringing on board your new task?
One very important idea we are bringing on that is receiving backing from the necessary quarters is, localizing emergency issues. We believe the local people in the area of emergency are in the best position to first of all through the volunteering scheme, be the first respondents. They are also in the best position to provide the requisite information to our emergency workers. When we have such volunteers in place, they will also give us information that could prevent potential disaster or tragedy as it were. If we are able to get volunteers across various localities who we will call Emergency Volunteers Corps, they will go a long way to help prevent, avoid and to help rescue.

How would you describe your progress in politics thus far?
It’s a natural progress. You learn to crawl before you walk. And without being modest, I can as well say I have paid my dues. It is a natural progression; like from crèche to nursery, to primary, to secondary and to tertiary. That also speaks volume about my relative experience from local government level now to the state level. I am very grateful for the opportunities I have had through the people of my local government and by extension the state government and I am adequately and sufficiently equipped to even handle bigger responsibility.