The Governor of Lagos state is the head of government of the state. The governor is the head of the executive branch of Lagos state government in Nigeria as well as the commander-in-chief of the state affairs except militarily. The current governor of Lagos state is Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, an All Progressives Congress (APC) member who took charge of the affairs of the state on the 29th of May 2019 from former governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
The Lagos state governor is empowered with the duty of enforcing state laws, and the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the state house of assembly, to convene the legislature, and to grant pardons, except in cases of treason and impeachment where only the president of the Federal republic of Nigeria has the power to grant presidential pardon. Unlike the other government departments that compose the executive branch of government, the governor of Lagos state is the head of the state executive department and is usually addressed by the term His Excellency or Mr Governor and the Lagos state governor as well as other governors in Nigeria is constitutionally considered a potential candidate for the position of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to chapter 6 of the 1999 constitution, the Governor of Lagos state must be directly elected by the electorates through a registered political party to a 4year term which must not exceed 2 tenures (8yrs) and as such, the governor must posses the followings:
- He or she must be a natural-born citizen of Lagos State
- The minimum age requirement for the position of Lagos state Governor is at least thirty-five years of age.
- He or she must be a member of a register political party and must be sponsored by that political party
- To be elected to the seat of the Governor, he or she must possess at least, the West Africa School Certificate or its equivalent.
The Composition and Structure of Lagos State Government
The executive arm of Lagos state government is made up of the following;
- Governor: The office of the Governor is currently headed by the Governor of Lagos state, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu. Aside other functions, he focuses on policies that would drive and foster Public-Private Partnership, increase and improve private sector-led growth, strengthen the Rule of Law, promote transparency and accountability in the government.
- Deputy Governor: The deputy Governor of Lagos state (Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat) forms a part of the state executive council. He represents the Governor majorly in ceremonial functions or takes affairs of the running of the state when the Governor is incapacitated or on leave.
- Executive Council: The executive council of Lagos state is made up of the Governor of Lagos state, Deputy governor of Lagos (Dr Kadri Obafemi Hamzat), secretary to the state government, Chief of staff, deputy Chief of staff, Commissioner for finance, other commissioners and special advisers to the Lagos state Governor. You can read up more on who makes up the Executive council of Lagos state.
- Secretary to the State Government: This office is an Extra-Ministerial Department in the State Civil Service which is under the purview of the Secretary to the State Government with the Cabinet Office serving as the administrative arm of the Office.
- Head of Service: This office is held accountable for the provision of competent leadership and direction in all state agencies in Lagos.
- Chief of Staff: The office of the C.O.S is saddled with the responsibility of overseeing the smooth running of the day to day activities of the state Governor with an aim of creating an enabling environment for effective governance in the state.
The Legislative House is made up of the Lagos state House of Assembly. According to Section 90 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, the state house of Assembly is bequeathed the powers to legislate as well as privileges and immunities to enable it apply these powers without intimidation or hindrance.
The Lagos State Judiciary is the oldest Judiciary in Nigeria. Its existence dates back to the colonial era of the British Government. This office exercises its power within the confines of the law. They interpret the law and pass fair judgement to offenders and contraveners of the law amongst other functions.
There are currently, 27 ministries in Lagos state. All working in unison for the common good of all Lagosians. The various ministries are saddled with their duties. The head of all ministries in Lagos state is the Head of Service who in turn reports to the Lagos state Governor. Check here for the list of ministries in Lagos and their contact details.
Ideally, the aim of every government is to privatize departments hence the setup of parastatals in Lagos state. There are currently 83 parastatals in Lagos. Check Here for the list of parastals in Lagos and their contact addresses.
Having explained the structure and composition of Lagos state government, the duties, functions and responsibility of the governor of Lagos comes to mind.
Roles, Duties and Responsibilities of Lagos State Governor
Judging from the composition and structure of Lagos state government, the role and responsibilities of Lagos state governor is quite wide. However, a thorough breakdown will do justice to such complexity.
1. Chief Legislator:
The Governor of Lagos state is the Chief Legislator. The legislative role of the Governor is the most important role amongst others. Taking cognizance of the status of the Governor, they take the lead in lawmaking process. Even though they are not directly involved in making the law, they are consulted and their approval must be consented before laws are passed by the state legislative body. The office of the Lagos state governor also empowers him or her to make use of the state constitutions and laws and formal tools for their legislative leader roles, including the veto power to present a state of the state address, and the power to prepare and administer the budget. One of the roles of Lagos state governor (chief legislator) might sound simple but in reality, it is one of the most difficult role faced daily by the Governor. The conflicting environment faced daily by the governor makes this role more complicated. In fact, the media, the citizenry, and state officials themselves often characterize the relationship between the governor and the legislature as one of constant discordant.
2. Chief Executive
The second most important role of the Governor of Lagos state is his Executive functions.The role of chief executive is an very challenging and difficult one that offers little or no political rewards. While the governor must actively pursue this job, he or she will no doubt find it more time consuming and often less successful than the other key role, that of chief legislator. The governor of Lagos state must oversee the execution of his executive functions which includes;
a) The power to remove the state commissioner of any department if he or she feels that his government is not enjoying the confidence of the majority in the State house of Assembly or is not working according to the provisions laid down in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
b) The power to exercise major appointments like select the Chairman and Members of Public Service Commission, Vice-Chancellors for Lagos state university (LASU). Please note that in exercising this role, he requires the services of the State Chief Minister and the State Council of Ministers.
c) The Governor of Lagos state exercises all his executive powers in accordance with the advice of his commissioners and special advisers as entrenched in the constitution. But in the case of a constitutional emergency, the Lagos state Governor skips other protocols and take timely decisions as the executive head of the state by exercising all his executive powers with the help of some advisers.
d) Governing a state has its complexities, the Lagos state Governor cannot carry out the administration of the state alone hence the state bureaucracy to carry out the laws. However, the Governor of Lagos state is responsible for managing the bureaucracy. This managerial role is another truly massive undertaking. Governors may be tempted to ignore this job and focus instead on the more politically rewarding roles, but this is a critical job for the state. Bad administration of the laws equals bad laws.
3. Crisis Manager
The role of crisis manager is not solely the responsibility of the governor of Lagos. However, when this role is called for, it will most likely dominate his or her time and attention until the crisis at hand is settled. The job of the government is to respond to crisis of any manner (Man made and Natural disasters). A perfect example of this is the recent explosion at Abulado where the Governor of Lagos state was the first government official to visit the scene in less than 24hrs and immediately made impacts on how to alleviate the sufferings and losses of the affected landlords and tenants by releasing 250Million naira immediately and opened an emergency relief of of 2billion naira for the affected properties and people.
The Lagos state governor can also be referred as a crisis manager because of the managerial and symbolic role played in times of crisis and the timely response and provision of immediate relief materials would determine his effectiveness, public view and acceptance.
3. Chief Judge of Lagos State:
The Governors of Lagos state also plays a judicial role in the state, he posses some of the judicial powers of the President. The Lagos state governor traditionally possess the power of executive clemency (to pardon a person convicted of a crime), this gives governors and pardon boards the ability to show leniency to criminals by granting pardons, or reducing sentences to serving prisoners. For example, a criminal that is awaiting a death sentence death sentences may be reduced to life imprisonment. Note that when a Governor exercises the power of clemency on a prisoner, this automatically erases his or her criminal record and restore all civil rights (such as the right to vote and be voted for). Though such powers are rarely exercised by the Governor. Some governors do not exercise the power of clemency or commutation throughout their entire tenure because it could make their stance on crime being perceived as weak by the electorates.
4. Intergovernmental Liaison
Even though the duties and responsibilities of Lagos state governor lies directly within the state, the, governorship are exercised outside the state. Nigeria operates has a federal system where multiple governments have the power to make decisions. However, the decisions made by the Federal government of Nigeria is oftentimes, binding on the lower levels of government (state and local) which brings us to the intergovernmental liaison duty of Lagos state governor. In addition to the above, the governor of Lagos represents the interests of the state at all government and nongovernmental functions or could appoint his deputy to represent him.
LSG governor and his working committee often lobby to convince the Federal government for projects thay believe are best for the state and the people. To make this possible, they have representatives at all level at the Federal house of Assembly who come up with bills and if assented and approved, is of great benefits to the state.
Furthermore, governors in Nigeria have a forum where they discuss the interests of their various states and as such, the Governor of Lagos in this scenario is the individual who represents his state. The role of Lagos State governor cuts across various fields, which is why the deputy governor of Lagos fills in or represent him in less compelling matters.
In Summary, the role, powers and duties of Lagos state governor can be bullet-pointed in the following sequence;
- Signing or vetoing bills passed by the Legislature.
- Power to sack, appoint or suspend the local government chairman.
- Approve state budget for the year
- Convening special sessions of the Legislature for specific purposes.
- Delivering a report on the condition of the state to the Legislature at the beginning of each regular session and a report on the condition of the budget.
- Recommending the General Bill to appropriate each year’s funding, which the Legislature then amends.
- Granting reprieves and commutations of punishment and pardons upon the recommendation and granting paroles and revoking conditional pardons.
- Declaring special elections to fill vacancies in certain elected offices.
- Protection of lives and properties of the residents of the state.
The duties and responsibilities of Lagos State governor isn’t solely tied to the above paragraphs, there are other roles and functions that may not have not been highlighted, however the above are the major duties and responsibilities of Lagos State governor towards every eligible resident of the state while others are secondary.