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Sanwo-olu’s second term: Beyond religious bigotry

By Rasheed Ojikutu
29 April 2022   |   3:59 am
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) led by the Ile-Ife born Professor Ishaq Akintola was reported by the media to have objected to the endorsement of Governor Sanwo Olu of Lagos State for a second term because, according to news reports, the Islamic organization “does not welcome Sanwo-Olu’s re-election...

Sanwo-Olu. Photo/ facebook/jidesanwooluofficial

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) led by the Ile-Ife born Professor Ishaq Akintola was reported by the media to have objected to the endorsement of Governor Sanwo Olu of Lagos State for a second term because, according to news reports, the Islamic organization “does not welcome Sanwo-Olu’s re-election despite being endorsed by the Governor’s Advisory Council”. The Professor of Islamic Studies at the Lagos State University was said to have described the decision as “unfair and provocative and that a possible uproar might ensue if not attended to with urgency”. MURIC and the Professor are certainly not speaking nor representing the interest of Muslims in Lagos. He should as a professor understand that Governor Sanwo-Olu is securing a second term not because he is a Christian but because of his performance in office. In Lagos, we love peace and accommodate fellow human beings irrespective of their race, creed, religion or political affiliation. The typical indigene of Lagos is a community spirited individual who appreciates people for who they are rather than what they are. MURIC is selling a bad product that has extremely low appreciation rate and abysmal marketing value to the people of Lagos, who, in all ramifications do not have taste for its consumption.

In Lagos, we appreciate good governance and loathe religious and ethnic intolerance and that is the reason for the continuous development of our state. We have been very lucky in Lagos to have good governments and skillful managers of human and material resources as governors. If our consideration in choosing leadership is as narrow as MURIC want it to be, then our statistics of societal growth would not have been what it is in the annals of World Statistics. The present government in Lagos State has not faired badly at all in governance and the administration of the environment and resources of the state.

Even, Governor Sanwo-Olu’s worst enemy will have no choice but to score him high in governance. The Management of the scourge unleashed on the world by COVID-19 pandemic is an enviable feat. The repairs and expansion of roads in all the nooks and crannies of Lagos could go into record as one of the largest multiple road network repairs of our time. The railway network from Lagos Island to Okokomaiko, the connecting line from Yaba to Iganmu to Oyingbo and the connection to Alagbado are projects that will further affect Lagos State and its residents positively. In Lagos State today, Federal Government tertiary hospitals give referral to patients to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital. The administration inherited the Lagos State University from its predecessors and today, added two new Universities, namely, the Lagos State University of Education and the Lagos State University of Science and Technology. The efforts to turn the state into a smart city is ongoing and it is second to none in Africa. One can provide an unending list of the achievement of this administration in health, education, its economy and security. What else do we need in governance? Only a naïve person would want to sacrifice all these in the name of religious bigotry.

Lagos State has never been and will never be the enclave of religious fanaticism. One remembers with nostalgia how we share sumptuous frijol with our Christian cousins during kayokayo and how parents would sew us new clothes during Christmas so that we can celebrate the festival with our cousins in Popo-Aguda and Olowogbowo and they, the Christians in return will parade the streets of Lagos with us during the “Sukunabia” while we carry bamboo cages with lite candles embedded and moved from door to door with the melodious song . Men and women who dropped coins in our plates during that festival did so not because of our religion but because we were children. Our houses were filled to the brim with friends, relatives, and total strangers of various religions and beliefs during the Eid-Kabir merely to rejoice with us. Like Chinua Achebe said “ A man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to save them from starving. They all have food in their own homes. When we gather together in the moonlit village ground it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so”

The history of gubernatorial contests in Lagos has shown that the Lagosian votes for the leaders based on performance and not religious bigotry and sheer myopias. The first Governor of Lagos was General Mobolaji Johnson, a Christian who ruled from 1967 to 1975. This was followed by Commodore Adekunle Lawal, a Muslim, who was in office from 1975 to 1977. Commodore Ndubuisi Kanu, a non-Yoruba Christian was governor from 1977 to 1978, followed by Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, another non-Yoruba Christian from 1978 to 1979. Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, a Muslim, took over from Commodore Ukiwe in 1979 and he was governor of Lagos State from that October 1979 to December 1983.

Alhaji Jakande was succeeded by a Muslim Air Commodore Gbolahan Mudashiru who was in Alausa from 1984 till 1986. Navy Captain Mike Akhigbe, another Christian succeeded Mudashiru from 1986 to July 1988 before he was replaced by a Muslim, Bridgadier Raji Rasaki from 1988 to 1992. In 1992, Sir Micheal Otedola was voted into office and remained in office until he was overthrown in November 1983 and replaced by Colonel Olagunsoye Oyinlola, another Christian who occupied the Oval office from 1993 to 1996. Oyinlola was followed by Colonel Buba Marwa, a Muslim who was in office from 1996 to May 29, 1999. On May 29, 1999, the mantle of leadership fell on Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a Muslim who governed Lagos from that moment till he was succeeded by another Muslim Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, who was in office in till 2015 before Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, a Christian took over from him and he was in office till 29th May 2019. Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, the incumbent took office in May 2019.

The above statistics shows that from Colonel Buba Marwa to Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola were three consecutive successions of Muslim Governors and MURIC never raised eyebrow while Lagos Christians never complained. Asiwaju Tinubu and Mr. Fashola received overwhelming support from all and sundry because the Lagosian will always focus on efficiency, effectiveness, and administrative competence rather than religious intolerance and sectional thoughtlessness. It is instructive that from the above statistics, we, Muslims have had more years in Alausa than the Christians. The arithmetic is simple.

Prof. Ojikutu is of the Faculty of Management Sciences, University of Lagos.