BY GBOYEGA AKOSILE
The decision of Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to seek a second term in office, came as no surprise to millions of Lagosians, in that the constitution of land permits him to do so. But the move, no doubt, was greeted by spontaneous excitement among the residents, given the quality of leadership, people-oriented policies and clear governance direction brought to the state by Sanwo-Olu and his brother, deputy governor, Obafemi Hamzat.
Little wonder Mobolaji Johnson Arena in Onikan literally became a beehive on Saturday, December 3, 2022, when All Progressives Congress (APC) flagged off the governor’s re-election campaign.
Sanwo-Olu, an exemplary public sector reformer and astute politician, known for his love and passion for public service, has shown leadership in Lagos by giving the electorate a great deal in steering the ship of the nation’s commercial city in the right direction.
As the 15th Lagos governor, and having worked closely with three previous governors – Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Babatunde Raji Fashola, and Akinwunmi Ambode in different capacities, Sanwo-Olu understands the state and the various challenges facing the mega city. His knowledge of the challenges confronting residents made his administration adopt a six pillars policy programme tagged T.H.E.M.E.S in solving the identified problems through good governance. The six pillars are Traffic Management and Transportation; Health and Environment; Education and Technology; Making Lagos a 21st Century state; Entertainment and Tourism; Security and Governance.
Each of these six pillars is carefully thought out as the government’s priority in delivering solutions across sectors.
Sanwo-Olu, in his speech at the swearing-in on May 29, 2019, spoke passionately about his plans for the State, especially his dream of building a Greater Lagos. This passion seemed to have motivated his quest for good governance. The governor, without any iota of doubt, has delivered significantly on his campaign promises during his first term in office. His achievements are visible in different sectors and have been commended by people within and outside the state.
A little over seven months when the Sanwo-Olu administration had barely settled down, the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the entire world and Lagos became an epicentre of the airborne disease. The governor showed leadership in rising up to the occasion and responding to the pandemic. As incident commander, he protected the citizens of the state by ensuring that the ravaging infection was well managed.
Sanwo-Olu, with the assistance of his commissioner for health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, and other stakeholders controlled the spread and ensured that those who contracted the virus were well attended to. He was the first governor to come up with a clearly defined containment strategy and response, which was later adopted by the presidency for the national response plan. This intervention by the Sanwo-Olu administration made Nigeria the fourth-best country in the world which impressively curbed the spread of the COVID-19 virus according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Sanwo-Olu also displayed great leadership during the #EndSARS demonstration, a youth-motivated civil action against police brutality, which was later hijacked by hoodlums. The campaign, which started peacefully, turned violent after it was hijacked, leading to violence and the destruction of many private and public properties in Lagos State. Rather than allowing Lagos to be brought to its knees by the ugly incident, Sanwo-Olu rose up to the challenge by championing the “Rebuild Lagos” plan.
The administration’s traffic management and transportation blueprint has significantly brought the dream of Lagos to have an efficient and reliable intermodal system of transportation to a reality. Sanwo-Olu’s government has invested hugely in waterways and a light rail system as alternatives to road transportation.
The governor’s administration started the 37-km Red Line rail project from the scratch and the project is at the completion stage. At full operation, the Red Line will move about a million passengers daily.
The administration also injected huge resources into the 13-km Blue Line rail, commissioned in January by President Muhammadu Buhari, to ensure mass mobility from the Mile 2 axis into the Island.
To ease traffic gridlock in the metropolis, Sanwo-Olu’s administration built and completed Agege-Pen Cinema dual carriage flyover with adjoining roads in Agege, and also commissioned the Lagos-Ogun network of roads with a bridge in Agbado-Oke Odo LCDA. He also carried out junction improvements and reconfiguration at the 18 traffic spots, including the first and second Lekki Roundabouts, Allen Avenue, Ajah and Igando. All these are done to reduce traffic gridlock in the state.
In the last three and half years, Governor Sanwo-Olu has constructed and rehabilitated over 1,000 roads while others are at various stages of completion. The plan for construction of the 4th Mainland Bridge is also on course. The incumbent administration also started the Opebi-Ojota Link Bridge, which is expected to be completed this year. The first phase of the six-lane rigid-pavement 18.75km Lekki-Epe Expressway, stretching from Eleko Junction all the way to Epe T-junction, is completed and delivered to the good people of Lagos residing in the Lekki-Epe axis. The Sanwo-Olu administration has also provided thousands of LAGRIDE cars, First and Last Mile buses, and large-capacity buses and boats for waterways to ease transportation in Lagos.
Sanwo-Olu believes no resources should be spared in providing quality health care to the residents, which is why the state government delivered secondary health facilities, such as Mother and Child Centers (MCCs) in Eti-Osa, Igando, Epe and Badagry. Lagos Government is building New Massey Children Hospital, which will be the biggest children’s hospital in West Africa. There is also an ongoing construction of a General Hospital in Ojo and the development of a mental health facility in Ketu Ejinrin.
To address waste management and environmental issues in Lagos, the Sanwo-Olu administration is working hard to rid the state of flood. The state government has carried out extensive dredging and desilting on many secondary and tertiary drainage channels across the state.
Sanwo-Olu’s administration has made a lot of investments in education and technology in Lagos by building thousands of classrooms and providing 380,000 units of composite furniture for the students. Among the iconic school projects built by the Sanwo-Olu government are the new Elemoro Community Junior Secondary School, Ibeju-Lekki, and the containerised modular classroom block in Vetland Junior Grammar School, Agege. The governor has also rewarded 13 outstanding teachers with new vehicles on two occasions.
The administration has equally made remarkable inroads in the training of teachers for 21st-century competence. It is of note that through the EKO EXCEL training initiative, more than 3,000 primary school teachers have been trained on how to competently utilise technology in teaching, for better educational outcomes for our children. The government has also paid fully, the WAEC fees of all students in the state’s public secondary schools to date.
The Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) and Lagos State College of Education (LACOED) have been upgraded to universities. Lagos now has three state-owned universities, courtesy of Sanwo-Olu’s education reforms. It should be noted that there has been no disruption of academic activities across Lagos’ tertiary institutions since Sanwo-Olu took over; all issues that relate to students, staff and lecturers’ welfare are promptly attended to.
One of the cardinal programmes of the governor is Making Lagos a 21st-century economy. In this regard, Sanwo-Olu has recorded a milestone in the provision of requisite infrastructure. The recent handover of the Lekki Deep Seaport project is a pointer to this. Lagos has also secured approval for the development of Badagry Port and an international airport in Lekki. All of these will boost Lagos’ economy when completed.
Governor Sanwo-Olu has also made significant progress in the housing sector, as the administration commissioned over 7,000 flats in about 17 housing units in different parts of the state in the last three and half years, while more housing schemes are expected to be delivered in the coming months.
The Sanwo-Olu administration has done so much in the area of agriculture and food security, with initiatives such as the Agro Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project, designed to build the capacity of players in the rice, aquaculture and poultry value chains. The government has also strengthened the capacity of farmers through the Lagos Agripreneurship Programme (LAP), the Sea Food Festival and the Eko City Farmers Food Market.
Above all, Sanwo-Olu has completed and delivered the all-important Lagos Rice Mill, Imota, Ikorodu. This rice mill will inject over 250,000 direct and indirect jobs into employment space for the youth.
Safety is key for development. The governor recently commissioned three newly built fire stations and 62 fire fighting equipment. Sanwo-Olu has also made significant development in entertainment and tourism, which is the fifth pillar of his administration’s THEMES agenda.
He has supported the creative industry across youth-centric initiatives, among which are the building of a Film City and the release of N1 billion seed capital to support the creative sector in Lagos. As of today, over 3,000 youths have been trained and empowered by the Lagos state government in partnership with the Africa Film Academy, Del-York Films Academy and EbonyLife Studios.
On security and governance, the administration’s goal is transformational security, using cutting-edge technology. To achieve this, the state government is building Command-and-Control Centre to efficiently monitor security in the metropolis, while investing heavily in security cameras, data-gathering and processing in order to stay permanently ahead of crime and criminality.
Sanwo-Olu has made Lagos safe and secure through investment in security, which is the reason crime reduced drastically, making Lagos the safest state in Nigeria. The government’s decision to ban motorcycles and tricycles on highways and some roads within the state has also led to a reduction in accident victims in the state.
Governor Sanwo-Olu has, without a doubt, taken governance to a whole new level during his first term. Therefore, his re-election campaign has been based on his sterling performance and hands-on experience. He has delivered on many of his campaign promises and certainly deserves the vote of every forward-looking Lagosian who thinks more about the development of the state.
Akosile is the chief press secretary to Governor Sanwo-Olu