Lagos State has often been described as lucky by most political analysts in the country.Lagosians are quite luckier to have an efficient, able and committed Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the front seat in driving the state towards development and prosperity.
Consistent with its slogan “Centre of Excellence”, the state has enjoyed excellent leadership over the years. From the legendary Baba Jakande to the millennial governors, high performance is a norm, much so that every new administration has been burdened with the need to fit into the big shoes of their predecessors. Whereas in other states, few roads, bridges, school and hospital buildings here and there would cut as exceptional performance. But in Lagos, such is seen as below minimum standard. Lagos is often focused on quality, continuity and dream-concierge.
This entrenched culture of excellent performance over the years has built the politics of the state. Beyond orientating it towards the people, it has deconstructed every aspect of its make-up into a performance checklist for appraising a leader for future relevance, starting with a second-term ticket. It goes beyond endearing the people with laudable projects;performance must align with a perfectly orchestrated blueprint and masterplan already designed to make Lagos a mega city. There is also a figurative big picture of Lagos that most Lagosians hold up to sight whenever it comes to judging a governor’s performance. As it turns out, Lagos being the most populated cosmopolitan city in Africa is home to the very best of us – dreamers, hustlers, hard workers, self-achievers, builders, leaders, travelers and inquirers. Therefore, nothing runs aloof without a prying public eye and political participation of majority of the people either through the ballot or through their wallets!
Lagos politics is made up of four players – The Passive Deciders (business men with deep pocket who are not active politicians but fund promoters of their interests), The Active Deciders (career politicians with strong grassroots support), Active Promoters (card-carrying members who do the political legwork) and the Passive Promoters (non-partisan citizens who horn support for their candidates within their circles of influence). There is practically no silent inactive resident in Lagos; everyone is involved one way or the other.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu is past the half-mark with 2023 just around the corner and with his recent winning of the APC flagbearer for second term, we take a look at his administration’s efforts at realizing his dream for a Greater Lagos .
A. Empathy, Communications and Association with the people
Until he became governor and the people got the chance of experiencing the person of Babajide Sanwo-Olu, he was only defined by the words of the political class, mostly his party chieftains. And that reputation was purely ambiguous. A set extolled his virtues and capabilities, but the other painted the picture of a junky, gutless errand boy that the cabal wanted to force on the people. Many Lagosians were apprehensive of him and what would become the experience of Lagos for the next four years. If there is any litmus test Sanwo-Olu has passed, it is the sanity check! In fact, the governor, through his frequent association with the masses, has demonstrated high level emotional intelligence, power of articulation and depth of understanding. Give it to Sanwo-Olu, he has never struck as clueless or classless. Even though he has exposed himself to a lot of public inquisitions, Sanwo-Olu always provided robust responses, demonstrating a deep understanding of the economy, governance, the people’s expectations and desires.This is something Lagosians would want to continue to enjoy in 2023.
The public has come to relate with a man they fondly call MrGovernor, as a listening leader. His quarterly briefings, active use of the social media for feedbacks and orientation, the several town halls and live-streamed Lagos events, prompt responses to concerns and requests of random citizens have taken away the elitist image the people have of the office of the governor of Lagos state.The EndSARS protest was a litmus test of the stuff Sanwo-Olu is made of.
Despite the political backlash, he went all out to associate with the youth, managed the fallouts and followed through with his promise to offer his shoulders, through prompt visits to victims on their hospital beds, settling bills, constituting the first and perhaps the only genuine panel of inquiry, etc.It was a tough call for those who understand the inner workings of federal and state politics, but the conscientious MrGovernor never faltered nor failed.
Planning and Strategy
When Sanwo-Olu filtered into the polity in the build up to the Lagos Gubernatorial Election of 2019, someparty stalwarts spoke about him, emphasized his excellent planning and strategic thinking abilities. He was accredited for a lot of excellent policies that boosted the state’s IGR and the brilliant Lagos Security Trust Fund that solved the funding problem and elevated the security operations and apparatus of the state. It was also noted that he led the publication of the Lagos State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (LASEEDS). Well, over two years down the line, he has proven his prowess.
Take for instance, the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund. Within the last three years of this administration, this organization had greatly impacted the economy and social security of the state. It is a strategic way of addressing unemployment, women and youth empowerment and insecurity. Over 14,000 businesses have been funded to the tune of 9billion, over 6,500 have been trained and placed in jobs, workspaces insured for startup businesses in tech, created 197,000 jobs and added 57,000 new tax payers.
Administration and Continuity
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has no doubt fulfilled one of his campaign promises by fully filling his cabinet and setting up the structure to immediately run this progress agenda within the first few weeks in office. He quickly restored the Lagos waste management system and the mounting trash vanished across the state. He resuscitated the Lagos State Public Works Corporation, invested heavily in equipment and allocated required funding. Within the last three years, most of Lagos roads have been repaired, upgraded and some still under construction by the Corporation.
Governor Olushola Sanwo-Olu spent the first two years of his first term completing numerous projects of his predecessor, according him full credit and not minding the public backslash that would follow. To him, every good Lagos dream deserves to be realized regardless of the name tag on it. That is the character of the man Lagosians would want to keep come 2023.
One of the biggest problem any government around the world has faced in the last 100 years is the COVID-19 pandemic. How it was handled has caused several world leaders their position from presidents to governors, to even city mayors, COVID-19 pandemic management was all the people needed to judge them. If that is what the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu would be evaluated by, he will eternally remain relevant in the Nigerian political sphere; he did excellently well!
Recently, the World Health Organization rated Nigeria 4th in the world in handling of the pandemic. Without equivocation, that credit almost completely goes to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu . We all know Lagos is the heart of the nation as over 12% of the nation resides in Lagos State. More so, it is Nigeria’s number one gateway to the world and its inhabitants are the most traveled and tightly settled. If Lagos had gotten it wrong, the entire country would have been in a total mess.
The initial projection for Lagos by world health authorities was several millions of infections and hundreds of thousands of deaths. But it came at a wrong time, when an astute strategic planner and thinker who understands crisis management is at the helms of affairs.
First, Governor Sanwo-Olu was the Incident Commander who put himself at the frontline of the the fight against the pandemic. He also practically commanded the implementation of a well-articulated stemming plan. His government was the first to swing into action and locked down the state. He activated all the state apparatus – media, security, public health, emergency management, etc. He worked with the private sector to pull together resources and encourage the acceptance of the lockdown protocol. His years of experience in the private sector came handy and he quickly worked with major players to set up isolation centres. The government within few weeks upgraded facilities to create Infectious Disease Centres, helped with logistical problems of health workers and enforced movement restrictions across the state. He quickly mobilized the equipping of all government buildings, including thousands of Lagos schools with prevention and testing facilities.
The education ministry partnered state media companies to air educational materials, to make up for educational losses caused by the lockdown and all primary and secondary students benefited.
Most importantly, his perspicacity in the formation of his cabinet came to positive light in the face of the pandemic, when his choice of the commissioner for health became pivotal to the fight; a professor who intelligently and actively managed the pandemic and turned down the hand of the curve. Prof. Akin Abayomi, who recently got an award as the most responsive COVID-19 State Government of the Year at the Nigerian Healthcare Excellence Award 2021, was just a timely round peg in round hole. The perfection of this administration at this time saved thousands of lives and possible economic collapse that shocked even the developed nations of the world and global public health experts.
Governor Sanwo-Olu has impacted all major areas of development that will be too numerous to list – built and upgraded over 1,071 schools, launched the Lagos Health Insurance Scheme (costs only N40,000 a year for a family to get from primary to tertiary health care), completed several housing projects, fixed traffic bottlenecks, added hundreds of public buses, etc. How Governor Sanwo-Olu raised the finances for the Lagos Blueline Rail project in the midst of a pandemic and economic slowdown has been a wonder to the book makers and economists. Again, he is forging ahead with gusto to commence work on the 4th Mainland Bridge. These are some of the projects Governor Sanwo-Olu fittingly described in his State of the State Address titled, “Glimpse of a Greater Lagos”.
At the last SUN Newspaper Awards of Excellence, GovernorSanwo-Olu was unanimously announced as the Best Governor of the Year, to add to the list of manyhonourary and meritorious awards he has received since he became governor well over three years ago.
The wise, they say, count the cost before building. For 2023 elections in Lagos State, the wisdom remains energy conserved in-house to support an efficient servant leader for continuity and greater progress.