The Future of Lagos...Babajide Sanwo-Olu: One Good Term Deserves Another .
The man Babajide Sanwo-Olu
By Mayor Akinpelu
Three key factors of good leadership are decisiveness, integrity and dependability. According to an anonymous quote, positive leaders instill in their people a hope for success and a belief in themselves; as well as empowering people to accomplish their goals.
Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, the executive governor of Lagos State, Nigeria, is marking his third year in office in less than 50 days. Yet, in spite of the unusual mammoth challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic recession, the EndSars protest, the hues and cries of kidnapping and strange killings, he has turned in an impressive reports, yet unrivalled by any of his colleagues in other states.
The early sign that Lagosians were in for a blissful four year term under BOS, as Sanwo-Olu is fondly addressed by his admirers, was the well-articulated THEMES agenda which remains the main thrust of the social contract between the people and his government.
THEMES which is the acronym for Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy, Entertainment and Tourism and Governance and Security, instantly became the marking scheme to access service delivery on the part of Lagos State government under Sanwo-Olu and the fulfillment of his electoral promises. THEMES also captures the whole essence of the expectations of the teeming populace on the delivery of the proverbial dividend of democracy by the government the Lagos electorate wholeheartedly entrusted with their mandate, secured future and general well-being, 35 months ago.
At its emergence in 2019, the Sanwo-Olu government availed itself of the three modes of transportation of roads, rail and waterways. Firstly, it embarked on the massive construction and rehabilitation of roads and fulfilled its commitment to complete inherited projects. The completed road projects included Oniru network network of roads, Ojokoro network of roads- 31 in number- the Pen Cinema fly-over, Agege, Oshodi/Abule-Egbe BRT corridor, Phases 1 & 2 of Badagry expressway, Lagos-Ogun boundary roads, 6 major junction improvements at Lekki1 & 2 , Ajah, Maryland, Ikotun and Allen Avenue. Jide Oki / Ade Adedina/ Olugbani streets in Iru/ Victoria Island, Ijegun-Egbe road and Ishuti road in Igando. St. Finbarrs road/Diya street in Yaba Iwaya road etc 216 inner roads in the 20 local governments and 37 LCDAs were rehabilitated.
While on-going projects include the Lekki Regional Roads, Lekki-Epe expressway, Agric Isawo Road, Ikorodu, Bola Tinubu-Igbogbo-Imota Road, Ijede road, Oba Sekumade road and construction of 100 bus shelters, 78 of which have been completed. The intra-city rail projects -the blue and the red lines- are priorities in the commitment to mass transportation across the state. The government has given firm promises for the completion of the rail projects in terms of the on the site progress report and realistic financial closure to underscore the optimism.
At his New Year message at the 2022 Thanksgiving Service, Governor Sanwo-Olu said the vision of having the largest rice mill in Sub-Saharan Africa and one of the largest in the world would become a reality this year, adding that the new year will witness a milestone in the rail transportation system in our state, as we expect the 37km red and 27.5km blue rail projects to commence commercial operations between the last quarter of this year and first quarter of 2023. Equally, he promised, construction work on the 38km Fourth Mainland Bridge, which will be the longest in Africa, and the Opebi/Mende link bridge will be completed.
Traffic management and Transportation is a major challenge of mega cities the world over due to the over 20 million population of citizens whose survival largely depends on unhindered intra-city transportation that has implications for their economic activities, health and security. Therefore, the completion of the Lagos Rail Mass (LRMT) Blue Line Project (Mile 2- Marina) and the Red Line will no doubt bring succor to the multitude of commuters across the state. The implications on the quality of life in terms of saved man-hour and economic growth are unquantifiable.
Thus far, the state government commissioned over 600 buses under the Bus Rapid Transport system, while it recently launched the 500 First and Last Mile Buses. The plan is to have in place 5000 FLM buses to cater for inner transportation and replace okada. The waterways have become a safe and reliable mode of transportation since the inception of this administration. LAGFERRY, the agency in charge of water transportation, has 20 ferries that ply various routes in the state. The agency has 15 jetties under construction to boost its operations. They are located in Apaa, Badagry, VIP chalet, Badagry, Italy, Ajido, Badagry, Ilado, Amuwo- Odofin, Ilashe, Ojo, Ito Omu, Epe, Offin, Ikorodu, Takwa Bay, Eti-osa, Ijede waterfront, Ikorodu, Marina waterfront, Badagry, Oke-Ira Nla, Eto-Osa, Liverpool, Apapa, Ebute-ero, Lagos Island, Mile 2, Ijegun-Egba, Ojo. The construction of a command and control center for the waterways and the procurement of search and rescue boats are geared towards safety on our waterways.
The Covid-19 pandemic threw spanners into all areas of human endeavor across the globe. Lagos State as the epicenter of the pandemic had to respond to the enormous challenge which earned it applause across the globe. The pandemic which crept in as the government was settling down, showcased the governor as a great manager of human and material resources. He displayed the expected political will to lead from the front and ensured the provision of the wherewithal to curtail the pandemic and reduce its impact. The constant communication with the people through direct regular briefings went a long way to reassure the citizens and built the much desired confidence.
It is note-worthy and symbolic that the governor was also a victim of Covid-19 to under-score his enormous commitment and sacrifice at a great personal risk for the well-being of the citizens. Despite walking an unfamiliar path of managing a pandemic, hitherto unknown in this century, he excelled to the admiration of his most uncharitable critic. His performance has not only become a reference point but also a manual in top-notch management of a pandemic. Most importantly, the good news is that Lagos State government is now better equipped and prepared to manage such challenges in future in terms of technical know-how and availability of requisite infrastructure.
The Sanwo-Olu government under the auspices of the Medical Project Implementation Unit (MPIU) has commenced the upgrade of infrastructure in the state-owned facilities to build resilient health-care and increase the residents’ access to quality universal health coverage. The implementation of the health projects cut across the primary, secondary and tertiary health-care system. The government has completed and equipped 2 Maternal and Childcare Centers (MCC) in Eti-Osa and Badagry. Another 110-bed MCC has been recently completed in Epe. Among others, the government renovated the Mainland hospital in Yaba with a future plan to convert it to an Institute of Research for Infectious Diseases. The general hospitals at Apapa, Harvey road, Yaba , Isolo, Odan and Ebutte-Metta health Centre were renovated for accessible health care delivery. Presently, a 280 bed general hospital in Ojo and 150 bed New Massey Street Children’s hospital are under construction. The construction of a 1,500 bed Psychiatric Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre at Ajidun has also been approved. The state government in collaboration with the private sector has completed and handed over an oxygen plant at the Mainland and Gbagada General Hospitals. In the same vein, Triage and Oxygen Centres in 10 locations across the state have been delivered. The welfare of health-care workers has also received attention with the construction of a 24 unit Doctors and Staff Quarters at Gbagada General Hospital.
At inception, the issue of the enviroment was a major challenge to the Sanwo -Olu administration. In two years, the state government has been able to re-energize and re- organize the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and the Private Sector Participation in Refuse disposal for cleaner Lagos.
The government launched the LAWMA Academy and expanded the Olusosun Dumpsite to 42 acres to accommodate more waste and ensure that trucks can have a quicker turnaround time. The state government constructed collector drains at various locations across the state. Trapezoidal channels and collector drains were also constructed to check the menace of incessant flooding.
Education and Technology take a prime position in the present administration. The state government is of the view that quality education is germane to the execution of its various developmental agenda. Till date, the Sanwo-Olu administration has completed 1,097 projects in 970 schools across the state. The government has provided blocks of classrooms, administrative offices, school furniture, laboratories and modern toilet facilities across the six Education Districts. 3000 teachers at both primary and secondary schools, were recruited and trained to join the State teaching workforce while those already in service were developed through continuous training to update their skills and knowledge with modern technology. The state government signed an agreement with six private investors for the proposed LASU 8,272- unit hostel. The government implemented a 3,000km of metro fibre connection across the state to promote security. It also provided a fully digital mapping platform and an integrated end to end land administration system which includes an integrated land automation system.
The Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC), with start-up funds of $687,000 to drive investment in research and development of tech-focused solutions across the six pillars of the administration’s THEMES agenda was set up. In two years, the Lagos State government has delivered 14 housing schemes, adding 7,000 affordable housing units to reduce deficit in the sector. The projects which are situated across the state include Lateef Jakande Gardens , Igando, Lagos State Affordable Public Housing Scheme, Idale Badagry, LagosHoms Lekki Phase 2 and Babatunde Raji Fashola Estate, Courtland Villas, Igbokushu.
Other recently completed schemes are located in Odo Onisarutu Ayandelu, Agbosasa, Magodo/Omole, Gbagada and Ibeshe. It is note-worthy that the homes are for both low and high networth individuals. The Lagos Mortgage Board has strengthened the “Rent to Own ” policy to provide many residents, especially first-time home-owners with the desired opportunity.
There’s no gain- saying the commitment of the state government to grow the agricultural sector to promote food security. In line with this, the 5 years Agric road-map was launched. 879 farmers and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) benefited from the Lagos Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) project. The government created the Eko Farmers’ Market to deliberately provide ready-made off-takers for farmers to dispose of their products on a regular basis. The Rice mill at Imota created 250,000 employment opportunities
The government introduced the N1bn Agric Value Chain Fund targeted at businesses that operate within the agric value chain. The EndSars protest, unfortunately, left in its wake unimaginable destruction and developmental set-back. The negative impact of the pandemic on the economy and livelihood took a prime position of concern in the governance of the state. However, Governor Sanwo-Olu, rather than brood on the colossal losses, rallied the citizenry to rebuild, regain and restore the state. The sheer audacity of the leadership naturally attracted support from all and sundry across the nation. The state is not only on course for restoration but looks to end up in the fullness of time like the proverbial palace destroyed by an inferno.
The Lagos State government underscored its caring nature with the various impactful empowerment and poverty alleviation programs. 3,673 businesses were supported with N1.156bn and a plethora of interventions including grants, mentorship, business advisory, capacity building and market access opportunities. 1,835 businesses were supported with N939.97m and saved a total of 10,000 direct jobs and 40,020 indirect jobs via the MSME Recovery Fund which was an intervention program to cushion the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the EndSars protest. The Lagos Economic Acceleration Programme (LEAP) to reduce the effects of the pandemic on small businesses. A N5bn EduFund in partnership with First Bank Plc and EdFin FMB and a N1bn fund targeted at businesses in the tourism, hospitality, entertainment, arts and culture sectors was set up.
The security of lives and property of Lagosians remains one of the most important pillars of THEMES agenda. It’s noteworthy that the novel Lagos State Security Trust Fund remains the rallying point for the provision of the requisite support for the security agencies in the state. The provision of operational vehicles, communication gadgets and other logistics has no doubt made Lagos State the safest in the country.
The Lagos State government under Governor Jide Sanwoolu has become the reference point for good, focused, impactful, inclusive, responsible, responsive, innovative and humane governance. With Sanwo-Olu’s sterling qualities, it shows that there still exist few public officials who are true and honest to the ideals of good governance and to a commitment to focus on their mandates, irrespective of overriding efforts of praise-singers. It shows that, indeed, Lagos State is in safe hands. Sanwo-Olu is, indeed the man for the season; a man who deserves to be entrusted with another four years of wondrous performance. It is hardly surprising that the senate president, Ahmed Lawan, stated at an official ceremony in Ikeja, Lagos, few days ago, that Governor Sanwo-Olu deserved a second term.
Lawan had commended Sanwo-Olu for delivering the dividends of good governance to the people of Lagos state, hence, validating the state’s position as the economic and commercial nerve centre of the country, adding that the All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership across the country had watched with satisfaction the giant strides made by Sanwo-Olu. ”We have been watching you over the past two and half years. You have been very wonderful. You have been consistent in terms of service delivery to the people of Lagos and indeed this country. You were focused,” Lawan noted, adding that the tremendous achievements the state recorded within a short period under your watch needed to progress.”
Without an iota of doubt, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu will go down in history as the governor who took over at an unusual time in human history, rose and excelled beyond the limitations of the enormous challenges. Thus, as he looks set to take another four year shot after 2023, Lagosians are convinced that all projects will be completed and more impactful policies, programmes and projects will be implemented as he finishes strongly.
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