By Tunde Alao
“Hamzat is a person that exemplifies intelligence, a rare humble man, coupled with uncompromising integrity and love for the lowly. He’s somebody no reasonable person would want to offend. This gentle man, though, a politician, will not toy with his integrity”.
That was how Hamzat was described by one of his colleague, Mr. Francisco Abosede, former Commissioner for Physical Planning in Lagos State when the former was the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure.
Truly, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat is a man of uncanny analytical mind, with great disposition for details, who will not do anything haphazardly.
Perhaps, because of his training as system engineer, where he got his Doctorate Degree.
One of the greatest attributes that stands Hamzat out is that his relationship with people devoid of what he will gain from you, but rather, the enormous benefits people garner from association with him. No wonder, those who have the opportunity to relate with him rarely wants to depart.
Although, while Hamzat looks at issue dispassionately, he detests hypocrisy. Indeed, mendacious and fickle elements and character assassinators have no place in his heart.
Hamzat doesn’t need a third party to express concern with people. If one is ever found on the wrong side of his sustained principles, he will call you and table the matter, albeit, with his usual coolness!.
Hamzat is a shining example in politics of purpose, progressive and sportsmanship, which came to public glare in his swift acceptance of the proposition of the leaders of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) for him to drop his gubernatorial ambition in the last general elections and work as a running-mate of his long-term friend and the then candidate of the party, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in order to present a formidable team with necessary political clout that will deliver incontrovertible victory for the party at the polls.
Promptly, and in demonstration of his commitment to public good and interest, Hamzat collapsed his political structure and merged it with Sanwo-Olu’s campaign, a deft political move that heightened the popularity of the party during the campaign and resulted in their eventual electoral success.
It is, therefore, not surprising that this rare show of camaraderie and purposeful synergy has characterised the running of the affairs of Lagos State since the assumption of Babajide Sanwo-Olu, as governor of Lagos State and Obafemi Hamzat, as his deputy.
His passion for the development of Lagos State
As the Holy Book says: “Can two work together except they are in agreement”? This saying aptly describes the unique relationship between these adorable friends. The Lagos state THEMES project, which is the bedrock of the policy of this administration is so paramount to both of them that they are never seen afar from each other in an effort to accelerate the attainment of the project, perhaps, except when they went to sleep!.
Little wonder that since May 29, 2019, when they assumed office, the duo have been working on full throttle. It’s either one is here doing something and another one is there doing another thing, or the two being together at a time. All to ensure that government activities are seamless and coordinated.
Hamzat, who was named the 2013 Lagos Man of The Year, was born in September 19, 1964 in Lagos, into the family of Late. Oba Mufutau Olatunji Hamzat and Late. Alhaja Kehinde Hamzat who is from Iga Egbe, Lagos state.
The patriarch of the Hamzat family, Late. Oba Mufutau Olatunji Hamzat served as a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly and as a Commissioner for Transportation in the state (1979 – 1983), before becoming the Vice-Chairman South West of the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD). Hamzat jnr., had his primary education at Odu-Abore Memorial Primary School, Mushin, Lagos State, and his secondary education at Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo state.
He graduated from the University of Ibadan, with a degree in Agricultural Engineering in 1986, and a master’s in Agricultural Engineering in 1988. In 1992, he had his Ph.D in System Process Engineering at Cranefield University, England.
His early political career
In August 2005, Hamzat was appointed Commissioner for Science and Technology during the tenure of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He retained his position when Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola assumed office in 2007.
It was during his tenure as Commissioner for Science and Technology that Hamzat enforced the application of modern technology in the state’s ministries, thus changing the face of data and record keeping in Lagos and at the same time eliminating the trend of notorious “ghost workers”-euphemism for financial malpractices by the unscrupulous government officials.
After a successful tenure at the Ministry for Science and Technology, Hamzat was appointed as the Commission for Works and Infrastructure. That was between 2011-2015. He was later appointed as Special Adviser on Works to the Honourable Minister for Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola in 2015.
In September 2018, he resigned that role to contest in the Lagos State gubernatorial elections. After a long-fought primary, Hamzat emerged as the running mate to Babajide Sanwo-Olu for whom he had stepped down during the primaries. Sanwo-Olu would eventually become the party’s nominee, and later Governor-Elect. Both men ran together a campaign that went to different parts of the state.
On March 10, 2019, after the election, Hamzat was declared Deputy Governor-Elect of Lagos State by the Independent National Electoral Commission and presented a Certificate of Return. And since his inauguration as deputy governor of Lagos, Hamzat has been working round the clock and in accordance with the vision for a greater Lagos, which dominated the Sanwo-Olu-Hamzat campaign during electioneering.
“Lagos is lucky to have this team with clear vision on how to take the Centre of Excellence into a greater high”, said Chief Tayo Olayemi, an Ikorodu-based community leader, who said he was not in doubt that Lagos will continue to excel.
-Tunde Alao is the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Governor on Media, Office of the Deputy Governor.