Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s achievements in his first tenure in office as the governor of Lagos State made him one of the most outstanding governors of the era. The margin of his re-election victory and the myriad of awards, on both local and international platforms, are ready pointers to this.
The creativity, ingenuity and passion with which he has implemented programmes and policies that positively impacted Lagosians, as encapsulated in his administration’s T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda (Transportation and Traffic Management, Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy, Entertainment and Tourism, and Security and Governance), now upgraded to T.H.E.M.E.S Plus, have left no one in doubt of his ability and capability.
Visible achievements in terms of roads and bridges construction, environmental regeneration, employment generation, health care delivery, uplifting of the youth, upgrading of public infrastructure, among others, have created a sense of relief among Lagosians that the governor is leading a government that is capable of delivering the Greater Lagos of our collective aspirations.
Under his visionary leadership, Lagos leads in terms of putting in place a concise and precise infrastructure development vision and programme in the country. He has demonstrated a sincere resolve to tackle the power situation in the state through the delivery of embedded power and energy solutions.
Similarly, the state is currently implementing a concrete intermodal transport viz-a-viz the promotion of all the three available modes of transportation, namely, road, rail and water. In terms of housing provision, in the last four years, the state has delivered 21 housing schemes.
Likewise, the Sanwo-Olu administration has delivered four Mother and Child Centres (MCCs) at Eti-Osa, Igando, Badagry and Epe. The commissioning of the four MCCs amply demonstrates the administration’s resolve to enhance residents’ access to healthcare.
Each of the centres has five clinics for mothers, babies and children, neonatal unit for premature babies, labour ward with delivery room, emergency clinic and a theatre for Cesarean Sections in complicated deliveries, among others.
In agriculture, the state has multiplied increments in agricultural outputs in the area of poultry, fishing, vegetable and agro-processing, such as rice and cassava milling, transportation, among others. Of particular note is that the Sanwo-Olu administration has commissioned the 32-metric-tonnes-per-hour Lagos Rice Mill in Imota, Ikorodu. The rice mill is a 22-hectare facility with two warehouses, 16 silos with a storage capacity of 40 metric tonnes each, water treatment plant, effluent processing plant, staff quarters, administrative block, car park and fire-fighting facility, amongst others.
But then, the governor is not just about brick and mortar. He also has excellent human relations skills. His humility can easily disarm a prowling lion! For many who have had the rare privilege of connecting with him, Sanwo-Olu is a man through whom the milk of human kindness flows ceaselessly. Empathy is an integral part of his nature. He cannot just close his eyes to the sufferings of others. His heart is full of compassion.
The main lesson from the democratic experience paying off in Lagos is that a political leader, who is truly interested in rendering service to the people, can always excel no matter the seemingly insurmountable odds.
The leader may lack the ingenuity to deliver the Ginsburg Address of President Abraham Lincoln; he might be excused for lacking the personality or charisma that endears him to the hearts of the people, but he cannot be excused for lacking courage.
The good changes we are savouring in Lagos today are the fruits of dogged courage. If Sanwo-Olu had been overwhelmed by the myriads of problems in Lagos (and they are countless, with COVID-19 and the destructive aftermath of the EndSARS protests being the major ones) and postponed governance till 2023, if he had sat down quietly in the comfortable air-conditioned ambience of the State House admiring the drawings of the Greater Lagos project, a lot of the remarkable changes we are witnessing today would not have taken place.
It is gratifying to note that the governor has since forgotten his landslide victory at the poll and moved on to other useful things. For instance, a day after his victory, he was already on the street inspecting projects! This is why Lagos is working!
That, indeed, is why Sanwo-Olu’s second coming portends great news for the residents. The first phase of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit Blue Line rail system will open for passenger operations in August. Recall that the 13-kilometre metro line’s first phase of the railway transport system was inaugurated last January by former President Muhammadu Buhari. Since its commissioning, different groups of people across the state have taken part in a series of test-rides aimed at getting them acquainted with the workings of the rail system. Now, the coast is almost clear for full scale passenger operations.
In what looks like a double dose of good news, the first phase of LRMT Red Line (Agbado to Oyingbo) is also nearing completion, and will commence testing and passenger operations around August.
A wide range of transport infrastructure has been offered to investors for branding and Out-of-Homes advertising. This will shore up revenue for the sustainability of the Lagos State Transport Network.
In rail transportation, the government is seeking partnership in the management of advertising and Out-of-Homes (OOH) concessions within the stations, construction and management of multi-level car parks, and skywalk bridges at Ikeja and Marina, while also looking forward for concessionaires for the Green and Purple lines which have a combined distance of 133 kilometres.
If things work according to plan, the Fourth Mainland Bridge will be completed within four years at the cost of $2.5 billion. Messrs CCECC-CRCCIG Consortium won the bid for the project, while Mota-Engil (Nigeria and Africa), China Communication Construction Company and CRBC Consortium emerged as reserve bidders. 52 bidders initially indicated interest in the project, out of which 32 were responsive.
The Bridge, which is designed to have three toll plazas and nine interchanges, is a partnership between the government and the construction company. When completed, it is expected to remove gridlocks on the Carter, Eko and the Third Mainland Bridges and open up the state for future developments.
Other projects that the Sanwo-Olu administration is poised to deliver in the next four years include the second phase of the Blue Line from Mile 2 to Okokomaiko; completion of eight stadia across the five IBILE divisions to facilitate youth development, engagement and community sports; continuous construction and rehabilitation of schools to significantly improve access to quality education, and completion of the 130-bed New Massey Hospital that will be the largest children’s specialist hospital in sub-Saharan Africa.
Others are completion of the ultra-modern 280-bed General Hospital, Ojo (currently at 47% completion); completion of the Mental Health Facility in Ketu-Ereyun in Epe Local Government Area; completion of the Opebi Link Bridge to Maryland that will significantly improve travel time and provide alternative route options in the axis, and the rehabilitation/upgrading of phase II of the Eti-Osa-Lekki-Epe Expressway Project from Eleko T-Junction-Abraham Adesanya, among others.
Ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, says that excellence does not come by accident; it is achieved by habit and conscious commitment to one’s goals and objectives. From 29th May, 2019 till date, Nigeria’s ‘Centre of Excellence’ has been blessed with a leader who is committed to the entrenchment of excellence across all sectors. That, indeed, is why Lagosians are excited by Sanwo-Olu’s second coming.
*Ogunbiyi is Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.