Sanwo-Olu: One Good turn Deserves Another by Otunba Femi Davies
It is general knowledge that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State over the last three years has continued to grace the front pages of many National Newspapers. Of course, the governor has continued to make the news since his assumption of office for good reason over his outstanding performance as the Governor of Lagos State.
Sanwo-Olu was welcomed into the office and besieged by internal refugees running away from the security problems of the North and East. In 2019, Lagos was in bad shape and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu seemed clueless about what to do.
Then COVID came. It was like, “cometh the hour, cometh the man”. While the Federal Government fidgeted, Lagos State took charge. Isolation facilities were quickly set up; medical personnel was primed; distribution of face masks and sanitizers was revved up; and guidelines on interactions to limit exposure were quickly and efficiently disseminated to the people. To cap it all, copious briefings by the Governor and his aides became a daily affair.
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In speaking with so much assurance and confidence about what was happening and what efforts were being made to keep the people safe, at a time when precious little was known of the virus that had scared the world into a hole, panic, and fear were largely avoided in Lagos. From him, the Federal Government took a cue, replicating pretty much everything that Lagos had put in place. All these enabled Nigeria to come out of the pandemic with a success story that has been duly recognized across the world. The leadership of Governor Sanwo–Olu during those scary months should be a template for all who have any interest in public service. It was a tour de force in public health emergency management.
From COVID, Governor Sanwo-Olu has moved on in leaps and bounds. Like the heads of vast cities and conurbations, the Governor of Lagos State has to deal with 3 major issues – transportation, security, and housing.
Despite his slow start, Governor Sanwo-Olu has quickly caught up with the transportation challenges in Lagos. Massive road repair works have been undertaken and today, in several parts of the city, it is possible to drive around without fearing for the shock absorbers of one’s car. Several major road projects, on the Island and Mainland of the city, are ongoing and, in many cases, near completion. The reconfiguration of roundabouts in several parts of the city, with the deployment of traffic lights to ease the flow of vehicles, has also gone a long way in reducing the notorious traffic jams in key spots.
Regardless of the littoral status of Lagos State, Governor Sanwo-Olu has also stepped up efforts in the agricultural sector of the state. Conscious efforts have been made by the governor to expose Lagos youths to the inherent benefits of agriculture. In the last three years, Sanwo-Olu’s administration has trained many youths in various agricultural ventures thereby availing them the chance of earning a livelihood through agriculture. Also, the governor has again positioned Lagos State youths for 250,000 job opportunities at the Imota Rice Mills.
Undoubtedly, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has gainfully used the THEMES template to transform Lagos State. The governor is indeed turning Lagos into a modern mega city with a 21st-century economy that is supported by a world-class infrastructure and all sorts of social amenities.
On housing, Governor Sanwo-Olu has also been busy with multiple housing projects in different parts of the State. So far, over 4,000 housing units of different shapes and sizes have been started and completed by the Government. More importantly, these have been spread across the State, from Ikorodu to Epe to Badagry to Surulere. Are these enough to plug the housing deficits in the State? Not by any means. But they represent a start in the long and steady journey to bring affordable housing to the teaming populace.
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Have things gone very well since 2020? No. The #EndSARS protests and their aftermath still leave a sad taste in the mouth. Lagos, as is often the case in Nigeria, became the focal point of a national struggle by the youths against a repressive police force in dire need of reform. Once again, Governor Sanwo-Olu found himself at the front of a national crisis. While Federal Government officials cowered away, he stepped up to meet youth leaders on the burning issue. He sought to play the peacemaker all through. Sadly, when the Federal Government finally used the military to end the standoff, all the blame ended up, rather unfairly, on the desk of the Governor. He continues to carry and bear the vicarious liability for the show of force by Federal agencies that, constitutionally, are beyond his powers to control or order.
The THEMES acronym which stands for Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment Education and Technology has been taken to the level of a sublime degree of functionality within an extraordinarily short space of time. More so, it’s quite encouraging that these outstanding achievements have been recorded within the first half of the first term of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s administration.
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Also worthy of commendation is the simple, noiseless, and administratively efficient manner in which Sanwo-Olu has been governing the Centre of Excellence.
Sanwo-Olu will also be advised to continually improve on his unequaled record of performance and achievements. If the current level of performance by the governor is sustained, Lagos is expected to rank among the best megacities across the world in the nearest future.
Lagos State is equally well positioned to have fully manifested her slogan as the true Centre of Excellence by all standards.
His uncommon commitment to see that Lagos remains a primus inter pares (first among equals) among the comity of states is one of the driving forces behind the enigmatic personality of Governor Sanwo-Olu. He is determined to do more for Lagos as he has a vision of a greater Lagos which we all must key into for an assured future for our children.
As the saying goes, one good turn deserves another. It is therefore expected that Lagosians would return a performing helmsman to continue to steer the ship of Lagos as it is being driven to a greater pedestal. We must resist any urge within us as a state or by any other inglorious elements to take Lagos back to the abyss. Lagos cannot be governed by inexperienced hands.
In conclusion, Lagos State has witnessed an interesting, tumultuous, and progressive 4 years (less than a few months) under the leadership of Sanwo-Olu. He has not been perfect. But when viewed dispassionately, few could have successfully weathered the storms that he has had to contend with. An even fewer number could have made a success of his tenure, and ended up producing lemonade out of the many lemons thrown at them. It is for these, and many more reasons, that Lagosians should go out and re-elect Babajide Sanwo-Olu come the 11th of March. He deserves it, and Lagos deserves his even–keel, forward-looking leadership.
Otunba Femi Davies
President, Society of Digital Newspaper Owners of Nigeria.
Seunmanuel Faleye is a brand and communications strategist. He is a covert writer and an overt creative head. He publishes Apple's Bite International Magazine.