By Amidu Arije
There have been harsh reactions over an order served on the former Managing Director/CEO of the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA), to return a Ford Ranger vehicle that served as his official backup vehicle while in office. Most people see the action by the agency’s leadership as vindictive, an afterthought that is not in line with the the agency’s precedent regarding vehicles for former heads of the regulatory institution.
The concerned people who reacted on social media including some staff members of the Agency wondered why the Agency under the leadership of the current MD/CEO, Mr. Adedemola Docemo would order his predecessor to return the vehicle after he (Sanusi) has left the agency eleven months ago in spite of the fact that other former MDs with full tenure completion went away with two vehicles.
According to them, the move is nothing but a continuation of outright conspiracy against the former MD for being principled and focused on delivering on set mandates while in office. Sanusi is reputed to be purposefully unyielding to compromising overtures while leading the agency thereby stepping on several powerful unforgiving toes.
Regrettably, the Agency, in a letter obtained by THE BLISS and signed by the Director, Administration and Human Resource, Owodeyi M. O. and Legal Adviser/Secretary, Raheem Titilope, ordered Sanusi to return the vehicle that served as his official back-up before November 30, 2020.
In the letter titled: TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP/POSSESSION OF VEHICLE dated 5th, November 2020 with reference number LASAA/AHR/FT/20/11/002 obtained by THE BLISS, the Agency wrote: “I regret to inform you that further to the consideration of Management on the vehicle with the following details: Make of Vehicle – Ford Ranger; Chassis Number – 6FPPXXMJ2PFE69672; Registration Number – KSF 592 EF; Official Plate Number – 11H 40 LA; Year of Purchase – 2016; Colour – Black, which has been in your custody since you left the Agency as the erstwhile Managing Director/CEO in December, 2019, you are hereby required to arrange the return of the vehicle back to the Head Office of the Agency on or before 30th November, 2020.”
Although Sanusi has returned the vehicle on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 as revealed in a letter obtained by The Bliss and dated 17th November, 2020 that he (Sanusi) sent to the agency.
Investigation revealed that none of the former MDs of the agency, with full tenure completion, has ever returned vehicles used while serving it.
This newspaper gathered that the first MD, Mr. Makanjuola Alabi, who led the agency from inception in 2006 to 2010 went away with two cars – one Audi car and a Toyota Land cruiser after serving for four years. The Land Cruiser was bought for him in the twilight of his tenure when his main official Jeep, a Mitsubishi Pajero got burnt.
The second MD, Mr. Tunji Bello, who served for just ten months – from September 2010 to June 2011 equally went away with a Toyota Land cruiser. He was about to get a backup car when he left to become a commissioner of the ministry of environment. Bello, now a commissioner in environment ministry responsible for supervising LASAA was fingered as mastermind of the retrieval of Sanusi’s official back up Ford Ranger.
The case of the third MD, Mr. George Noah, was not different as he also took away one Honda Accord 2012 model and a Toyota Land cruiser bought by the agency with him after the end of his tenure.
A further inquiry also revealed that when the immediate past MD, Sanusi, assumed office, he drove his personal car for six months before former Governor of Lagos state, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode asked him to go and pick a car from Coscharis Motors.
A source at the Agency who spoke under condition of anonymity told our correspondent that in less than a year in office, Sanusi purchased 10 brand new trucks. This confirmed Sanusi’s assertions in his letter to the agency.
The sources further added that he later purchased not less than another 20 vehicles for the smooth operation of the Agency out of which Docemo on his first day of resumption immediately got one of this truck for his use because it is more comfortable than his personal car.
The letter by Sanusi reads: “I wish to put on record that the truck was one of the ten brand new trucks acquired during my tenure’s first eight months despite the biting economic recession of that period. The economic recession notwithstanding, I ensured we earned, and saved enough money from the agency’s monthly revenue percentage share accruals to purchase, in total, not less than 30 operational vehicles. The truck served as my official back up vehicle while serving as the Managing Director/CEO of the agency between September 2015 and December 2019.”
“Your demand for its return through your correspondence dated November 5, 2020, was delivered on November 10, 2020: (eleven months after the vacation of my appointive position in the agency).
“I wish to note that no time was a demand, verbal or in writing, made to me for the return of my official backup truck or the other vehicle graciously given to me by former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, until your belated letter was delivered to my office again, eleven months after my illustrious service to the agency and our dear Lagos State.”
The letter further read: “My record/legacy as the MD/CEO remains a benchmark for past and successive heads of the agency and, this gives me immense joy than any fleeting worldly possessions. Afterall, I worked selflessly for the Agency for four years and three months without any severance pay nor courtesy of receiving my December 2019 salary till date.”
Another source, who spoke to our correspondent under anonymity, said the erstwhile LASAA MD might be suffering for his obvious forthrightness and due diligence in handling of issues while in office.
According to the sources, the request for the return of the vehicle is a conspiracy against him by some forces that were not allowed to turn the agency into their ‘oilwell’ during his tenure.
The sources claimed that Sanusi made sure that protocols were followed for anybody who had anything to do with the agency.
The sources noted that he was able to make great achievements for the agency by being principled and refusing to allow corrupt elements destroy the agency. That sectoral stability and sanity was what Docemo inherited.
The sources declared that “Why is it only him that is ordered by the new MD to return the backup vehicle while none of the former MDs that completed their tenures was asked to return theirs?
“I know it is a conspiracy between the new MD and some other forces who felt he hindered their corrupt moves to destroy the agency.
“They are all envious of his achievements in LASAA because his records and rare discipline amongst public officials, stand out among previous and current leadership of the agency.”
According to an anonymous top staff of the agency, “he was too principled that some saw him as a blockage to their nefarious activities since he didn’t condone laziness and corruption during his time. Sanusi led by example and not precepts. He made more revenue for the agency than any heads and was able to restore sanity to the place. Sanusi is just being misunderstood despite his complete loyalty to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.”
The sources, who questioned the reason for ordering the return of the vehicle, further confirmed Sanusi’s loyalty to the National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as he always exhibited by his loyalty to the political chieftain with words even during management meetings at that time.
The sources even wondered why Sanusi was not returned as the MD of the agency despite his loyalty to Asiwaju, Babajide Sanwoolu’s election and his dedication to work at the agency.
The sources within the agency further disclosed that the “decision to retrieve the vehicle from the former MD was not made by the management, saying the management did not sit to deliberate on it before the letter was sent to the Sanusi.”
According to the sources, the decision was made by the incumbent MD and some few others working on the directive of some higher outside forces in government.
They said the incumbent MD, Docemo has to work harder to make significant achievement rather than pursuing the shadow of his predecessor.
Another source in the Lagos State House of Assembly told our correspondent that Sanusi was the only LASAA MD that generated the most revenue for the government despite the fact the the agency did not receive capital vote throughout his time in office.
The sources confirmed that he (Sanusi) was commended for his dedication to work in the House of Assembly.
Commenting on the issue, an outdoor advertising practitioner with over two decades experience, Demiji Olatunji, said has knew Sanusi while he had encounter with him as the MD of LASAA.
According to him, he initially thought Sanusi was high handed but later got to know him for his principles and respect for rules and policies which made the agency thrive beyond the expectations of many.
“With his diligence, he repositioned the agency. I never heard of any compromising demands on outdoor practitioners from him. I think he deserved more honour than the insult of telling him to return a truck. He served the agency with all truthfulness.”
A member of an advertising advertising agency in Lagos, Daramola Adegbola, said: “Mr. Mobolaji Sanusi deserves to be treated better. He was so dedicated to the job. He would never take anything from you before rendering the service he was supposed to render to you. He also warned his staff members against taking bribe while discharging their jobs. I think he should be treated better than this.”