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OPINION: Sanwo-Olu And The Future Of Lagos


January 17, (THEWILL) – For the three-and-half years 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 the Tafawa Balewa Square, was vehement and quite laconic in identifying his government’s posture as a continuation of one 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, same day, moved straight to the office for the day’s work schedule he already drew, ready to face the inherited challenges, contentious issues, etc, headlong since government is a continuum. He embarked upon serious graftings, signed up executive orders, typifying the tenacity of purpose he wanted his administration defined – a new beginning of definitive activities.

Sanwo-Olu’s strategic thinking approach to governance paved the way for his success through his motivational, 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, etc, thus maintaining a fairly, well motivated workforce and the human resource base that will drive his material and other developmental resources of the state.

This is obviously 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 whole 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.  We intend to briefly examine them.

The six cardinal programme agenda are ‘T’ for Traffic management and transportation, ‘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, bigmarism and impunity on our roads. This orientation drive sent jitters down the spine of road commuters that no matter whose horse 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, a series of arrests were made,  brought them to mobile court and got convictions.

As regards transportation across the state,  various road infrastructure projects were completed within the period in review – Ojota-Opebi link bridge, lyana Iba interchange Agege, Pen Cinema dual carriage fly over, Oniru circulation project, among others currently ongoing.

The blue line project is already completed, while the red line is in an advanced stage of completion.  500 shuttle buses for intra-city transport, the waterways infrastructure strategically positioned at various locations, mainly Lagos Island, Ikorodu, Iba and the newly acquired LAGFERRY Boats are all working efficiently, with the latest rescue gadgets. These are bold infrastructure expansion and many more.

The health sector and environment has also witnessed massive boost, the primary, secondary and tertiary health care facilities are so innumerable, 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 institution has greatly improved, teaching aids in classrooms and programmes in all the media, radio/television  etc.

The Governor, in a recent television interview, said 1,047 new classrooms were built in less than four years, 197 new school projects and have touched over 1,000 different things in schools including 200,000 new chairs and benches and 2,000 new beds in boarding houses schools.  New Comprehensive Colleges to teach not just book knowledge, but also entrepreneurial skills and vocations like music and acting. Two additional state universities showcase so much he has spent 11% of the last year state budget on. Lectures at LASU have been uninterrupted with improved welfare of staff, LASU homes for the staff and the newly commissioned LASU student Arcade. Lagos youth have been provided with more digital skills, the Governor also commissioned rehabilitated digitalised public school libraries here and there, while entrepreneurs are getting supported with capital from Lagos state employment trust fund and the Job Initiative Lagos (J.I.L) have all been providing support initiatives.

All these within this time frame to all intent and purposes cannot, but give Sanwo-Olu’s administration an excellent mark. In fact, the achievements are so numerous, but for lack of space, we would have been able to chronicle some more.

The entertainment/tourism, security and Governance have all witnessed major boost. J.K Randle cultural centre, Onikan and many social intervention initiatives from the ministry of culture and tourism.

THE FUTURE OF LAGOS.  (Setting Agenda for 2023 and beyond)

Lagos, being a cosmopolitan city, is bedevilled 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 a daily basis is a cause for concern. A former commissioner of 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, daily move to Lagos and more worrisome, 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. Kudos to Mr Governor and his security team for taking the bold step of banning okada riders activities in some more areas of Lagos.

However, the bolder step and the ultimate is outright ban of Okada. Also the influx of these Aliens if not checked from the sourcem – the borders surrounding Lagos, whichever security policy that should be put in place in collaboration with the federal government right on time, Lagos may be sitting on kegs of gunpowder waiting for explosion.

The other area that is fast threatening public order and peace, security of life and properties, is street cultism, which is fast extending the frontiers of criminogenic areas and spots in Lagos state – Somolu, Bariga, Ilasa, Mushin, Imota, Ikorodu, Odogunyan, Odonla, among others. Street cultism is a bye-product of our systemic failure to nip-in-the bud cultism that is fully entrenched in the fabric of the structure of our tertiary Educational Institutions, which has extended to Secondary Schools, few artisans in Lagos and our neighbouring state.

Our success story will begin with the quality and the readiness to face the assignment of stamping out cultism/street cultism with the will power of our commissioner of police. Imohimi Edgar, a former commissioner of police in Lagos, 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, Bariga.

In fact, Lagos breathed a sigh of relief in his time. Sad enough, the story of cultism and street cultism is on the increase today. This goes to show that you do not have to be an indigene to know the terrain. Infact, the indigenes who have been Command police commissioners have not performed better. This is not a matter of being unnecessarily judgemental, on the contrary, the records are there, the days of Fulani Quajafa, Tsav and Okhiro, who later became I.G, are all instructive in this vein. Although it is not within the purview of Mr Governor to determine the command police commissioner in Lagos, on the contrary, it is the prerogative of the Inspector General. However with the special funding Lagos is giving the police, Mr Governor should be able to have input in who comes to Lagos, as only the best with an impeccable, proven track record is good for Lagos and not just by the state of origin. Let us face it, there is a clear causal relationship between the commissioner of police and the increase in the wave of crime. The real criminals are the Godfathers of crime, the untouchables in society, when we go after them like Buba Marwa is doing now with drug agencies, we are uprooting the fabrics of criminality. Of course, this is not without the cooperation and collaboration of critical security stakeholders in the state. This is an honest, considered and reconsidered opinion.

AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION: Our Country, Nigeria, is in a terrible state of decadence paralysis threshold. All Applied economic panacea has only worsened the situation. State actors and institutions saddled with the statutory responsibility of managing the economy are singing discordant tunes with no synergy of any sort, the falcon can no longer bear the falconer, things have really fallen apart and the centre is gasping for breath. 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 prioritise 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 mechanised Agricultural active participation, especially with state actors, Lagos may well be overwhelmed by the concomitant effect of the country’s quagmire. Suffice it to say that all the leading presidential candidates have promised transformative economic development. Let us begin our own restructuring of the Nigerian political economy, change the trajectory and by extension Lagos increase 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 facilities and ease of doing agriculture in the state. It is quite commendable.  However, the exigency of the Nigerian situation requires much more. Treating agriculture as a matter of urgent public importance, 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 ministries and agencies own their Farms This is the road to moving away from consumption to production 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 the Central bank locked up billions meant for the farmers through these bottlenecks and most of 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 live Programme, NTA, where he contended that CBN’s 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 in spite of the much-touted rice pyramid. It is our suggestion that Lagos  State Government should encourage, collaborate and cooperate with research Institutions for optimal results.

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 on the food security of the country. The house of assembly going forward should synergise with Mr Governor’s team to lead the agricultural revolution starting from Lagos through facilitating and granting the necessary approval of funds and interventions for the product initiatives. This is the pathway to success.

All said, Governor Sanwo-Olu, over the years in review, has demonstrated an 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 Sanwo-Olu as Governor for the second time, the future of  Lagos can only be assured, insured and secured.

*** Written by Olabode Ayo-Phillips, a member of the Directorate of Publicity, Tinubu/Shettima, Sanwo-Olu/Hamzat  Independent Campaign Council, Lagos.