Interviews, People

‘Why I’m transforming Office of the Surveyor-General’ – JOSEPH AGBENLA

Joseph Olorunjuwon Agbenla is the Surveyor-General and Permanent Secretary, Office of the Surveyor General, Lagos State. Within a few months of his confirmation, he has transformed everything about the Office of the Surveyor-General.

ENCOMIUM Weekly had an interview with him about this.


How does it feel being appointed Surveyor-General, Permanent Secretary, Office of the Surveyor-General, Lagos State?

It feels good to be rewarded because of your hard work. There were so many opposition to my candidacy but the Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), believed in me. I too have pledged to do my best.

Can you tell us how you rose to the post?

The post of Surveyor-General is a civil service position, though I was appointed by the Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola. He appointed me on March 16, 2015. My position is not political. I grew up through the ranks, from Surveyor Grade II to where I am today. I went through the system. I was cooked in the system.

What are your plans, goals for your office and how far have you gone in achieving them?

When I came in as Surveyor-General, everything was done here with analogue system. People still take files from one office to the other, the process of procuring certain documents were slow. It took a longer period. You needed to see this place then. A lot of people were always here, both touts and genuine ones. It was like a market place, so noisy and so busy. I had to change all that.

We have moved from analogue to digital now in terms of all land transactions in Lagos State. We have a one-stop shop centre where you can get all the information on any land within Lagos State. A one-stop shop for all transactions in the office of the Surveyor-General.

We also decided to work on the security system. We have secured our information in such a way that nothing will go out without the permission from the Office of the Surveyor-General. Like I said, we have a one stop shop for all transactions, be it land information processing, governor’s consent, etc.

We have a better working condition now, the atmosphere is more conducive and attractive to work. Workers are happy and willing to work. We have CCTV in every office. I can see every officer working. We have electronic doors that require finger prints. All these were put in place to secure the office.

What were the challenges in achieving these goals?

Challenges are always there. You just have to get a means of overcoming them first in your mind. If you are truly determined to achieve your goals, you must move above them. People wanted to frustrate the effort of transformation. They believed we were wasting money because we purchased a lot of things. For instance, all the things at the work stations, computers, different office equipment. We also brought in system analysts. Some people were not part of the process because they didn’t like what we were doing. Some did not like it because it took jobs away from other people. For instance, the man that takes files from one office to the other may kick against it because he may be jobless at the end of the day.

What are the advantages of moving to an electronic system?

The transformation is meant to fast track processing. No more taking files from one office to another. In a few minutes, the process is completed. It will also increase our revenue. The more people come, the more the revenue. It also makes work easier for our officers. It will also enhance the image of the office.

It will eliminate fraudsters and activities of land owners (omo onile) who cheat people. It is important that you visit the office of the Surveyor-General before you purchase any land in Lagos State. With a very minimal amount, they can come to the office to ask for information about the land they want to purchase. It will also reduce cloning of C of O and fake survey plans. The transformation is in conformity with the mission of Lagos State Government which is service delivery.

There must have been a downsizing because of this transformation. What will happen to those who are now jobless as a result of that?

That is true. The man taking files from one office to the other will be eliminated because of the process, we cannot avoid that. Before the transformation started, we were short staffed, so it wasn’t an issue really. We were able to absorb some of them. I wrote to the necessary quarters and an approval was given. Just last week, His Excellency approved the absorption of 40 staffers. They have done their interviews. They are now in the mainstream of the civil service.

What next, sir?

We want to integrate our charting system to the enterprise GRS so that people from their homes can click on their system and get all the information they need.



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