Sanwo-Olu, Abiodun, Makinde account for stewardship in 365 days
With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has negatively impacted socio-political and economic activities across the world in the last three to five months, it may not be possible to pass a critical assessment of the performances of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, his colleagues on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State, Governor Dapo Abiodun and their Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart in Oyo State, Governor Seyi Makinde.
As they celebrate their first year anniversary in office today, there have been divergent opinions on their performances based on the promises they made in their inaugural speeches on May 29, 2019. So far, the performance indices, as pointed out in their scorecards, seem to have placed them on the side of the people with opportunities to make adjustments and improvements as they forge ahead in fulfilling their electoral promises to the people.
While some critics, especially those from the opposition, agree that security in Yorubaland in the last year has been seriously threatened, there is also the concession that security challenges in Nigeria are not peculiar to any state or region in the federation, but a metaphor of failure at the national level. In this regard, many respondents who commented on the performances of Sanwo-Olu, Abiodun and Makinde agreed that despite leaving room for improvement, the initiative to launch Operation Amotekun in the zone in collaboration with their senior colleagues, Governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) and Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) on January 9, 2019, irrespective of their political party affiliation, was a commendable move.
The governors were specifically appraised for the determination to sustain Operation Amotekun despite the initial negative disposition of the Federal Government to suppress the idea. As a matter of fact, Makinde, who is of the opposition PDP, was specifically eulogised for his courage to work with APC governors on the solution to security challenges confronting Yorubaland. Although, Amotekun may not have become operational since it was launched, it is believed to have sent a strong signal that Yoruba people can still agree to speak with one voice.
In his inaugural speech, Sanwo-Olu outlined what he aimed to achieve along with his deputy, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, whom he described as having a similar disposition with him. The governor based his policy framework on six Pillars of Development Agenda, which he captured with the acronym, T.H.E.M.E.S, meaning traffic management and transportation, health and environment, education and technology, making Lagos a 21st century economy, entertainment and tourism, and security and governance.
While explaining what the administration has achieved despite several obstacles, the COVID-19 pandemic being a major factor that slowed down economic and social activities across the globe, the state government said it succeeded in opening the bids from prospective firms that expressed interests in the construction of the Fourth Mainland Bridge.
The administration had also beamed a special focus on infrastructure, traffic management and transportation to reduce gridlocks as promised in the inaugural speech.
While engaging the media recently, spokesman to the governor, Gboyega Akosile, said the administration had sustained its “aggressive response” to rehabilitating bad roads across the metropolis to ease vehicular movement. He said about 116 deplorable highways were being fixed by eight construction firms, along with the Public Works Corporation.
To improve on the deplorable state of public infrastructure, the Sanwo-Olu-led administration also deployed Public Infrastructure Improvement Partnership (PIIP) as a strategy to improve the state’s infrastructure by signing agreements with banks and other private institutions to embark on rehabilitation of adopted roads as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which, of course, shows that the T.H.E.M.E.S. Agenda of the government is on course and would be achieved.
Taking a cue from the governments of his predecessors, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola particularly, Sanwo-Olu is also leveraging on the private sector, which controls about 80 per cent of the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as crucial in the drive to bridge the infrastructure gap and building the smart city dream. Access Bank Plc is partnering with the state government in the upgrading of a network of roads in Oniru under PIIP arrangement. This is specifically aimed at bringing relief to the people of Lagos.
Other strides recorded in the first year include delivery of over 35 new buses for civil servants, signing of N873b 2019 budget; Neighbourhood Safety Corp Agency, Domestic Service Provider Registration and Lagos State House of Assembly Service Commission (Amendment) bills into law on Monday, June 3, 2019 and the increment of allowances for LASTMA officers.
Within the space of a year, Sanwo-Olu was able to flag-off of the construction of Lagos-Badagry Expressway, which was practically abandoned by the Akinwunmi Ambode administration he succeeded, just as he declared toll-free passage at the toll plaza on Lekki-Epe Expressway to allow traffic consultants to the government carry out a comprehensive study of traffic flow around Lekki-Ikoyi-Victoria Island axis. Meanwhile, critics have pointed out to the governor to focus more on traffic challenges and on developing road infrastructure to ease traffic.
Ogun State governor, Abiodun has made concerted efforts to improve on insecurity, infrastructure and agricultural in the state in the last year. The administration claimed it has taken road construction to many communities, particularly those communities in the boundary areas. For several decades under the previous administrations, the abandoned Sango-Ota axis of Ogun has been revisited by the current administration.
A commuter in Sango told The Guardian that the once nauseating heaps of refuse that used to dot the roads have been cleared by the current government. He, however, said there is still more to be done to address the problem of traffic and spilling of commercial activities onto the main roads.
To actualise the electricity for all parts of Ogun State, the government has since established an agency to conduct, audit and provide a roadmap to light up Ogun. The project is aimed at ensuring uninterrupted power supply across the state. While this may be considered as part of Abiodun’s strides less than a year in office, several communities in the state are yet to see or really benefit from the project.
For instance, residence of Ogijo community under Shagamu Local Government Area has remained in darkness due to epileptic power supply. Also in the last year, rather than making a myth of public office, which in the past made public officers inaccessible to the citizens. Abiodun’s style and policy have demystified governance in the state, just as he tries to balance the distribution of infrastructure, unlike in the past when a particular senatorial district was allegedly given propriety over others.
In the area of security, it is no longer news that the government bought 100 vehicles and 200 motorcycles that now dot every area in the state, with the result that the security challenges hitherto experienced have reduced significantly.
Abiodun may, however, need to re-address the way he plays politics as some members of the ruling party are already accusing him of tilting towards the opposition in spite of those that really stood by him when he was struggling to attain office.
Meanwhile, Makinde in the last 365 days, is considered as the ‘Peoples Governor” who has brought governance to the doorsteps of the masses, unlike the arrogance of power and ethnic cleavages associated with former governors in the last 12 years.
Makinde paid N60 million worth of bursaries to Oyo State indigent students at the Nigeria Law School. The administration also reduced school fees in some institutions in the state to level up the school fees with other institutions in Oyo State. For instance, there is 10 per cent reduction of fees for students of Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology, Igboora.
In agriculture, the government approved N1.76 billion towards ERUWA and AKUFO Farm settlements, just as it also distributed 10,000 tomato sachets to farmers to boost agricultural produce in the state. To boost security, Makinde donated no fewer than 100 patrol vehicles to the police, just as he procured digital communication equipment worth N178.7 million to security agencies, among others.
Some leaders in the state have, however, criticised governors in the zone for not doing enough on insecurity and accused them of abandoning investing in education, which used to be the bedrock of the development for the Yoruba people.
The National Secretary of Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide, noted that whatever achievements any governor in the Southwest claims now or in future must be backed with a focus on security of life and property, and education of the youth. The YCE scribe said the Southwest could not afford to jettison its pride in and love for education on the altar of seeking relevance at the centre. He, therefore, advised the governors to be bold enough to confront the dual challenges of security and education so as to restore the region to its pride of place.