Why LASAA MD, George Noah, Was Removed | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Why LASAA MD, George Noah, Was Removed

Posted: Jul 27, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Olamide Bakare, Lagos

Facts are beginning to emerge on what led to the outright removal of the managing director of the Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency, LASAA Mr. George Noah, from the agency.

An authoritative inside source who spoke in confidence with our correspondent disclosed that the former managing director of the agency was removed on the grounds of several alleged gross misconducts which were perpetrated under his watch while he held sway.

Though no official statement has been communicated by the Lagos state government on what led to the decision, Daily independent gathered that the decision to remove the erstwhile journalist turned administrator may have been informed by series of complaints and petitions said to have been received or forwarded to the Ambode led administration.

While it was not yet clear who were the brain behind the petitions but findings by our correspondent revealed that there were several weighty issues which had been brought to the notice of the new Ambode administration by those that were uncomfortable with his style. These are indeed the issues the new administration could not overlook particularly as it coincides with his determination to embark on holistic reform of all ministries, agencies and parastatals in the state.

Among other issues, the source revealed that Mr. Noah was alleged to have acted in connivance with his counterpart in LAMATA, Dayo Mobereola, who is the Director General to franchise the Badagry/Lagos and Lagos/Ikorodu corridors to an advertising agency on a sole billboard erection monopoly which he unilaterally embarked upon without following due process and procedures of the agency. Not wanting to be caught in the web of controversy as was witnessed during the case of Lekki-Epe concession which was franchised to e-motion, another notable advertising agency, the no-nonsense governor would not want anything to soil his name hence his decision to show Noah the way out.

Information gathered by our correspondent further revealed that the trio of Noah, Mobereola and the managing director of advertising agency which got the franchise right had been engaged in similar businesses in the past, a situation which the new government found uncomfortable.

Other allegation leveled against Noah, according to the source, was the fact that he ran the agency like a family business or as an emperor, a development which staffers and other stakeholders found overbearing.

Apart from the fact that business opportunites were offered to his friends on a platter, Noah was also alleged to have gotten one of his brothers into outdoor practice without being a registered practitioner with OAAN.

As if that was not enough, the source further explained that the sacked Managing director was alleged to have used his position to allocate sites to most of his cronies without proper recognition and registration with OAAN, the professional body responsible for regulating the practice of out-of-home in Nigeria. It was also gathered from the source that Noah got one of his cronies who had earlier been given the franchise right of Lagos /Ikorodu and Badagry/Lagos and which celebrated its twenty years as a business few days ago into outdoor practice.

Available information from the reliable source also revealed that during his reign as Managing director, Noah was said to have acted in manner that could be described as being unprofessional.

According to industry sources, the erstwhile managing director ran the association in a manner similar to the footstep of Makanjuola Alabi who was the pioneer Managing director of the company.

Though the source admitted that Noah started on a good note, no sooner than he began to toe the line of Alabi who was accused of stealing N100billion and setting up outdoor agencies for himself during his time as well as allocating gantry sites in Lagos metropolis

The source reveals: “No doubt, the early period of Noah was welcome by various stakeholders. But no sooner had he won the heart of staffers and other stakeholders than he began to take actions that were seen largely as unprofessional. He went on acquisition spree, setting up agencies and allocating sites to himself and cronies. Besides, he acted like the lord of the manor, issuing threats, imposing unfriendly policies on the sector thereby leaving many outdoor owners to abandon their sites.”

Other sins which he was alleged to have committed include his decision to anoint a lady in the agency who was more or less acting as the substantive MD while usurping the role of the Deputy managing director, Olumide Sogunle who is presently holding the brief as acting Managing director pending when a substantive managing director would be appointed.

It would be recalled that Noah assumed office in 2011, having succeeded Tunji Bello who was then appointed commissioner of environment during the second lap of the Babatunde Fashola administration. At a time when staffers of the agency were expecting a replacement to be done through internal arrangement, the immediate past administration led by Babatunde Fashola  brought in Tunji Bello who many staffers of the agency, then saw as an imposition. Today, Tunji Bello is the Secretary to the State Government.

We further gathered that with the perceived atrocities perpetrated by Makanjuola Alabi, stakeholders felt that the substitution would be done through internal arrangement

Even though the new secretary to the state government had a brief stint, stakeholders including staffers of the agency were of the view that his reign was eventful and appreciated by all  as  he was said to have  been guided by statutory rules and regulations guiding the operation of LASAA..

A leading practitioner has this to say about Tunji Bello.

He states, “His appointment which was cautiously received by industry stakeholders was thought to be that which will not favour all. Unfortunately, the latter transformation changed the whole equation. Simply put, he was not a mercantilist. He did the job professionally and did not acquire site. He recorded some milestone while in the saddle. Don’t forget that he was once a renowned journalist, and commissioner, an experience which was brought to bear in his administration, transparency and good management of the agency. The entire staffers of LASAA cooperated with him. He operated LASAA rules with human face thereby currying favour with admiration and envy of many industry stakeholders. He was a darling of the industry, including the local and external audience.”

Even though Tunji had a short spell, we had hoped the coming of George Noah would be a continuation of the good foundation  already laid.

Background details…

LASAA, a brainchild of Bola Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos state came into being at the twilight of the administration. At a time when the administration was battling with the task of generating revenue, the agency was set up with Makanjuola Alabi as pioneer head of the agency. Even though there were issues raised by corporate bodies and other concerned parties on the establishment of the agency, there was no doubt that the regulatory agency did a lot to change the aesthetics of the Lagos environ and assisted the state in its revenue generating drive.

Indeed, Makanjuola role was largely appreciated but not without weighty issues raised by different stakeholders particularly when some of its action were becoming unbearable. However, the series of allegations leveled against Makanjuola put paid to his reign as he was eventually and unceremoniously terminated.