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Sanwo-Olu And The future of Lagos

By Olabode Ayo-Phillips
29 January 2023   |   9:49 am
For the three and half years that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat have held sway at the Lagos House, theirs have been a perfect study in delight. Mr. Governor, in his inaugural speech at Tafawa Balewa square, was vehement in identifying his government’s posture as a continuation of one of his predecessors Governor Babatunde Fashola’s enviable developmental strides, his focus and faithfulness to the blue print and master plan of Lagos.

Front view of Lagos Blue Rail line

For the three and half years that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat have held sway at the Lagos House, theirs have been a perfect study in delight. Mr. Governor, in his inaugural speech at Tafawa Balewa square, was vehement in identifying his government’s posture as a continuation of one of his predecessors Governor Babatunde Fashola’s enviable developmental strides, his focus and faithfulness to the blueprint and master plan of Lagos.

Governor Babajide, like Governor Babatunde, immediately after swearing-in, hit the ground running on the same day. He moved straight to the office for the day’s work schedule, ready to face the inherited challenges, contentious issues, and the like, headlong since the government is a continuum. He embarked on serious graftings, signed up executive orders typifying the tenacity of purpose he wanted his administration defined by – a new beginning of definitive activities.

Sanwo-Olu’s strategic thinking approach to governance paved the way for his success through the motivational and welfarist interventions of his immediate constituencies that will work with him. The civil servants, the security operatives, the army, police, LASTMA, Judiciary, state doctors, teachers, trade unions and the like, thus maintaining a fairly well-motivated workforce as the human resource base that will drive his material and other developmental resources of the state. This is obviously a good thinking in an atmosphere where doing the work well without compromise seems difficult because of pernicious economic realities and extreme poverty that pervades the country and by extension the world. No thanks to the COVID challenges.

Mr. Governor’s performance index can best be assessed by his THEMES Agenda, which is as audacious as it is ambitious. The six cardinal programme agenda are Traffic management and transportation, the ‘H’ for Health and environment, ‘E’ for education and technology, ‘M’ for making Lagos a 21st century economy, the second ‘E’ for Entertainment and Tourism and ‘S’ for Security and Governance.

Mr. Governor typifies the traffic management posture with a lucid orientation enunciated in the popular Television advertorial, ‘A new sheriff in town,’ which necessarily insist on decorum, orderly behaviour and away with showmanship, bigmanism and impunity on our roads. This orientation drive sent jitters down the spine of road commuters that no matter whose ox is gored, the law will take its course. This brought some level of traffic sanity on our roads. The Governor did not just talk tough, series of arrests were made, and the culprits were taken to mobile courts and convicted.

As regards transportation across the state, various road infrastructure projects commenced within the period under review are ongoing. Some include the Pen Cinema dual carriage fly over and Oniru circulation project, among others. The blue line project is already completed while the red line is in advance stage of completion. 500 shuttle buses have been provided for intracity transport. Waterways infrastructure has been strategically positioned at various locations, mainly in Lagos Island, Ikorodu and Iba, with the newly acquired LAGFERRY Boats working efficiently. These are some bold infrastructure expansion.

The health sector and environment has also witnessed massive boost, with innumerable primary, secondary and tertiary health care facilities. Some include the Massey Children hospital, a new General Hospital at Ojo and a 500-bed mental health hospital at Ketu Ejirin.

In the area of Education and Technology, the Sanwo-Olu administration has been superb; the quality of the teaching staff in our primary, secondary and tertiary institutions has greatly improved. The Governor, in a recent television interview said 1047 new class rooms where built in less than four years, 197 new school projects undertaken, in addition to touching over 1000 different things in schools including providing 200,000 new chair and benches, and 2000 new beds in boarding houses. New Comprehensive Colleges to teach not just book knowledge but also entrepreneurial skills and vocations like music and acting were built, including two additional state universities. All these showcases what he has spent 11 per cent of last year’s state budget on.

For instance, lectures at the Lagos State University (LASU) have been uninterrupted with improved welfare of staff, LASU homes for the staff and the newly commissioned LASU student Arcade. Youths in the state have been provided with more digital skills. The Governor has also commissioned rehabilitated digitalised public school libraries here and there. While entrepreneurs are getting supported with capital from Lagos state Employment Trust Fund, the Job Initiative Lagos (J.I.L) has also been providing support initiatives.

The entertainment/tourism, security and governance sectors have also witnessed major boost. J.K Randle cultural centre Onikan and many social intervention initiatives are credited to the ministry of culture and tourism.

Future Of Lagos: Setting Agenda For 2023 And Beyond
Lagos being a cosmopolitan city is bedeviled by very serious security challenges. The massive migration challenge of immigrants of Niger, Chad, Mali, Senegal trooping to Lagos and neighbouring cities almost unchecked on daily basis is a cause for concern. A former Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Lagos and present APC Strategic Communication Campaign Council Director, Dele Alake hinted on a Television programme that 33,000 or more people move daily to Lagos and it is more worrisome that there is no record of their existence. There is a causal relationship between the influx of Aliens to Lagos state and the surge of criminal activities of Aliens in the crime sector especially in the area of kidnapping and okada-aided crimes in Lagos. But again, the Governor Kudus and his security team has done well by taking the bold step of banning okada riders’ activities in more parts of Lagos.
• Olabode Ayo-Phillips is a member of the directorate of Publicity, Tinubu/Shettima, Sanwoolu/Hamzat Independent Campaign Council, Lagos.

Another menace that is fast threatening public order and peace, security of life and properties is street cultism. Street cultism is a bye product of our systemic failure to nip in the bud cultism that is fully entrenched in tertiary institutions. But the success story begins with the quality and readiness to face the assignment of stamping out cultism/street cultism with the will power of the state’s Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Alabi. A former commissioner of police in Lagos, Imohimi Edgar, who was later redeployed deserves commendation and Lagos state special award for public officials who distinguished themselves in the course of their duty and service to Lagos state. Imohimi, during his tenure launched an unforgettable confrontation on the Godfathers, some traditional rulers and cult boys almost everywhere in Lagos, arresting mostly godfathers of major cults in Imota, Ikorodu, Somolu and, Bariga.

Agricultural Revolution: Nigeria is in a terrible state of decadence paralysis threshold. All Applied economic panacea have only worsened the situation. State actors and institutions saddled with statutory responsibility of managing the economy are singing, discordant tunes no synergy of any sort, the falcon can no longer bear the falconer, things have really fallen apart and the centre is gasping for breathe. Sam Amadi an associate professor of social and political thought said, “the economy of Nigeria has collapsed and would need more than a team of geniuses to revive and stabilise. The crisis is beyond economics, if Nigeria does not fast-track and priorities economic growth and distributional fairness as quickly as possible, it will submerge irretrievably in state failure”. In all of these if Lagos the most viable state in Nigeria does not take strategic proactive measures in leading the agricultural revolution now, through collaborative and cooperative mechanized Agricultural active participation especially with state actors Lagos may well be overwhelmed by the concomitants effect of the country’s guagmire. Suffice it to say that all the leading presidential candidates have promised transformative economic development. Let us begin our own restructuring the Nigerian political economy, change the trajectory and by extension Lagos increase the economic well being with more robust Agricultural revolutionary policies.

In Lagos we need to scale up the wonderful products the state ministries of agriculture have offered citizens, in terms of better loan facility and ease of doing agriculture in the state. It is quite commendable. However the exigency of the Nigeria situation require much more. Treating agriculture as a matter of urgent public important activity where the Governor directly takes the frontline the exact way he dealt with COVID-19 as the incident commander. In fact he will save more lives of people dying of poverty than COVID. It will not be a bad idea if all ministry and agency own their Farms This is the road to moving away from a consumption to production nation and Lagos state should take the lead in that regard especially with other state collaboration and cooperation. The truth be said that the federal government and most state ministries have only paid lip service to agriculture in this country with their chivalrous policy and bureaucratic and administrative bottleneck. Professor Femi Ajayi, a professor of agriculture at Obafemi Awolowo University lamented that even Central bank locked up billion meant for the farmer through these bottlenecks and most the real farmers are unable to access the funds. Shehu Muazu, the financial secretary of the federal rice farmers association also gave a hard knock on the CBN in a Tuesday life Programme, NTA, where he contended that CBN direct intervention in the production of rice was retrogression, because of their exclusionary politics of creating their own new structures while undermining the existing structure of the rice farmers producers quoting that in 2020-total production of rice was by 27% while by 2022-the total production had gone down to 23%. This is inspite of the much-touted rice pyramid. It is our suggestion that Lagos State Government should encourage, collaborate and cooperate with research Institutions for optimal result.

We must commend the Lagos House of assembly for being sensitive to the increasing cost of Living of Nigerians and urging the Federal Government to urgently address the farmers/herders clash and flooding which has adverse effects in the food security of the country. The house of assembly going forward should synergize with Mr. Governor’s team to lead the agriculture revolution starting from Lagos through facilitating and granting the necessary approval of funds and interventions for the products initiatives. This is the pathway to success.

All said, Governor Sanwoolu over the years in review have demonstrated enormous capacity to listen to diverse opinions, dissenting alike, little wonder the successes of the people centric policy thrust of his eventful administration. The Governor, an exceedingly hardworking, painstakingly thorough and proficiently brilliant person in the manner he discharges his statutory obligations and the likes. With Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwoolu as Governor the second time, the future of Lagos can only be assured, insured and secured.
• Olabode Ayo-Phillips is a member of the directorate of Publicity, Tinubu/Shettima, Sanwoolu/Hamzat Independent Campaign Council, Lagos.

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