TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE writes on the one-year anniversary of the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led administration in Lagos State
On May 29, 2019, there were exchanges of batons as well as continuity in some states as 29 governors took oath of office. Among the new governors who took oath of office last year is Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State. He was sworn-in along with his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, in his inauguration speech at the swearing-in ceremony witnessed by thousands of Lagosians who attended the event or those who watched the live broadcast in the comfort of their homes and public places, spoke passionately on his plans for Lagos State, especially his dream of building a Greater Lagos. This passion seemed to have motivated his quest towards providing good governance and dividends of democracy to the people.
Looking at the present state of things, there is no doubt that the governor, with support from his deputy, Hamzat and members of the State Executive Council have fulfilled some of the promises he made to Lagosians while taking oath of office at the swearing-in ceremony held at Tafawa Balewa Square.
Sanwo-Olu, while addressing Lagosians last Friday in a Democracy Day broadcast titled: “Great leap towards a Greater Lagos” in commemoration of his administration’s first year in office, not only listed achievements of his administration in the last one year, but also assured the people of the state that there is no going back on the ‘Greater Lagos’ agenda, using the six pillars policy programme tagged T.H.E.M.E.S to deliver good governance to millions of Lagosians.
The six pillars are; Traffic Management and Transportation; Health and Environment; Education and Technology; Making Lagos a 21st Century state; Entertainment and Tourism; Security and Governance.
The 15th governor of Lagos State is not a novice in Lagos politics and governance, having served under the last three governors. He served as Special Adviser on Corporate Affairs to ex-deputy governor, Otunba Femi Pedro and later commissioner in different ministries – Commerce and Industry, Establishment, Training and Pensions during the tenure of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Mr. Babatunde Fashola.
He was also Managing Director/CEO of the Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC) under the immediate past governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.
The deputy governor is also an active participant in Lagos politics and governance since 2005. Dr. Hamzat served as Commissioner for Science and Technology during the tenure of Tinubu. He retained his position when Fashola assumed office in 2007. Hamzat also served as Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure during Fashola’s second term.
Having served together in different capacities, many Lagosians were not surprised when the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), presented them as governorship and deputy governorship candidates during the 2019 gubernatorial poll. In fact, many were of the view that Lagos is lucky to have Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat as governor and deputy governor in the same administration because of their track records.
The relationship between Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat, who the governor refers to as “my brother and co-traveler on the Greater Lagos journey,” is very cordial and the combination without any iota of doubt is a model to many states on how a governor and his deputy can govern a state without rancour.
One thing, someone cannot take away from the Sanwo-Olu administration is focus on governance and leadership. Unlike many governors, who have started playing politics at the expense of governance in their respective states, the Lagos governor is committed to providing dividends of democracy to Lagosians and that is why he had records of laudable achievements to show the people of the state during his administration’s first year in office.
Sanwo-Olu’s first year in office is mixture of the bad, the good and the ugly, considering praises and commendations as well as criticisms and condemnations the governor received from Lagosians over some of his policies.
It is of note that when Sanwo-Olu emerged as governor-elect, Lagos had literally become a dumpsite as heaps of municipal waste littered the streets. There were also several issues of concern that he faced after he was sworn into office, among which are heavy traffic, bad roads and blockage of drainage.
One year is not a child’s play in the life of a state as it is expected for a governor to have put in place dividends of democracy to the people who gave him there mandates. Governor Sanwo-Olu hit the ground running from his first day in office by taking bold steps in the early days of his administration to provide leadership and responsive government in the state. Within few weeks in office, he made key appointments to set the ball of governance rolling in Lagos State.
Knowing the task before his government, while some governors were still learning the rope, Sanwo-Olu announced names of members of his cabinet exactly 47 days after his swearing-in and later sworn them in and assigned them portfolios as commissioners and special advisers.
The composition of the cabinet members is infusion of technocracy and political know-how and there was also fair representation of women and consideration of ethnic diversity in the choice of the cabinet members. The decision of the incumbent administration to have square peg in a square role has actually paid off as Lagosians are now reaping dividends of democracy in different sectors.
Within one year in office, Sanwo-Olu’s government provided dividends of democracy, which is visible considering several policies and projects executed by the administration toward the welfare and wellbeing of the people. The projects were executed in line with the ‘T.H.E.M.E.S’ he promised during his campaign.
The laudable projects and programmes by the Sanwo-Olu administration in different parts of Lagos State has made many Lagosians, who criticized the government few months ago to change tune as they are marveled by his performance within one year in office.
Sanwo-Olu has also shown leadership in managing the affairs of Lagos State and protecting the citizens of the state, especially against COVID-19 pandemic. Since Lagos became the epicentre of the pandemic in Nigeria in February, the governor has been up to the task as Incident Commander in ensuring that the pandemic is well managed in Lagos State.
Speaking during the Democracy Day broadcast, Sanwo-Olu said: “Without doubt, in the last 365 days, so much has happened in our State that we must be proud and thankful for.
“Good people of Lagos, in my inauguration address, I promised you a ‘Greater Lagos’. Today, on the first anniversary of that inauguration, it is my pleasure to brief you about the progress we have made in the journey towards a ‘Greater Lagos’, using the THEMES agenda as our vehicle.”
On the issue of traffic management and transportation, the governor disclosed that considering the pivotal role of transportation as a major driver of socio-economic activities, the administration developed a reliable intermodal system of transportation, noting that his government has invested in waterways and a light rail system as alternatives to road transportation.
He also informed Lagosians that several roads have been rehabilitated while others are at various stages of completion, adding that the plan to construct the 4th Mainland Bridge is on course. The administration also recruited and inducted 1,017 LASTMA officers to achieve better flow of traffic and reduction in travel time.
On health and environment, Governor Sanwo-Olu believed nothing should be spared to give Lagosians quality health care, and that is why the state government has put in place many health facilities, among which are the two Mother and Child Centers (MCCs) at Eti-Osa and Igando respectively, which has already been commissioned. This is in addition to the Badagry and Epe MCCs, which will be ready for public use in the next couple of weeks.
It is also of note that within the first 200 days in office of Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos State government, working in collaboration with the BOSKOH Health Mission International and the Benjamin Olowojebutu Foundation, delivered diverse free medical interventions to over 250,000 Lagosians across several locations in the State.
To address waste management and environmental issues Lagos State, he said the state government is “working hard to ensure a flood-free Lagos. We have carried out extensive dredging and disiliting on many drain channels across the state, and we will continue to do this even as the rainy season intensifies.”
Education is very crucial in every society, and this is why Lagos State government made a lot of investment in education and technology in the last one year, among which are construction of 13, 18 or 20 classroom blocks in some schools in Egbe, Ikorodu, Bariga, Shomolu, Ifako-Ijaiye and Epe areas of the state.
The administration has equally made remarkable inroad in the training of teachers for 21st century competence. “Through the EKO EXCEL training initiative, 3,000 primary school teachers have been trained on how to competently utilise technology in teaching, for better educational outcomes for our children.
“With the current trend in the globe, we are also keen on making Lagos the fortress of digital enterprise, an urban hub of technology-driven creativity, innovation and commerce, which in turn becomes a magnet for domestic and foreign investment,” the governor disclosed.
One of the cardinal programmes of the governor is to make Lagos a 21st century economy. The incumbent government has recorded a milestone in infrastructural development with the signing of $629 million financing facility aimed at completing the Lekki Deep Seaport project. It has also made significant progress in the area of housing, through four major housing projects that are ready for commissioning, while more housing schemes are expect to be delivered in the coming months.
The Sanwo-Olu administration has done so much in the area of agriculture and food security, with initiatives such as the Agro Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project, which is designed to build the capacities of actors in the rice, aquaculture and poultry value chains. Government has also strengthened the capacity of farmers through the Lagos Agripreneurship Programme (LAP), the Sea Food Festival and the Eko City Farmers Food Market.
In the area of security and governance, the administration’s goal is transformational security, using technology, and to achieve this, it has revamped the security Command-and-Control Center, as well as investing heavily in security cameras and improved data-gathering and processing, to stay permanently ahead of crime and criminality.
“The Lagos State Security Trust Fund will continue to be the arrowhead of our interventions in security in Lagos State. We are also partnering with neighbouring states, and one important step in this regard is the establishment of the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN), which has been codenamed ‘Operation Amotekun’,” the governor said.
Looking at the last one year of the Sanwo-Olu’s government, Lagosians will have difference views about the administration as people will use different yardsticks to measure the performance of the Sanwo-Olu administration. But irrespective of people’s views about the governor, he has done his best for the state as his moves showed the state is on the right path to “Greater Lagos” the governor promised Lagosians.