“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” –Theodore Roosevelt
The last couple of weeks of the inauguration of the new administration of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State have seen Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on a day-to-day tour of different project sites in the state with a great deal of energy. Most often, he shuns corporate attire and opts for Jeans and T-Shirt with a face cap to match, suggesting that the work at hand is indeed a tough one. And it is not unexpected, especially given the circumstance of his emergence. Ostensibly, for him to make a right leap, he needs to first and foremost identify the peculiar needs of each locality and then strike a balance between the available resources and the urgency of the work in progress. In a terse statement he made while on inspection of Lagos-Badagry expressway, he said: “Dear Lagosians, we have identified short, medium and long term projects across the state that require swift attention.”
From the efforts so far, three major areas have drawn public attention: Roads, traffic, and waste disposal management. He demonstrated this commitment when he signed his first executive order to address the issue of traffic control and management, fixing of potholes on the roads, sanitation as well as cleaning of drainages in the state. While signing the Order, he declared: “I think we have to make some points about issues that happen around transportation, potholes on our roads, blockages and rest of it. I think it’s something we need to tackle immediately. Lagosians are not going to wait for us any longer to maintain orderliness on our roads.”
Accordingly, he directed the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to operate a minimum of two shifts by managing traffic until 11:00p.m daily. Reciprocal to their increased responsibilities, on Friday, June 14, Governor Sanwo-olu announced a 100 per cent increase of allowances for officers of the LASTMA with effect from July. He made the announcement during a visit to the agency’s head office at Oshodi. His words: “From the end of next month, we are going to double your allowance. If you are earning N5,000 allowance, we are going to double it for you.”
Pursuant to its new sanitation policy, the state government also created an online poll seeking the opinion of residents on whether or not it should reintroduce the monthly environmental sanitation exercise.
Former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had in November cancelled the exercise, which was hitherto fixed for between 7:00a.m and 10:00 a.m every last Saturday of every month. This followed a court order, which nullified the restriction of movement of citizens during the exercise.
The court had asked the state government to pass a law restricting the movement of persons before enforcing the restriction.
But just some few days after taking over from his predecessor, the Sanwo-Olu administration hinted of its desire to restore the exercise, but decided to democratize the process with the opinion poll.
The account of the poll on its official social media – Twitter and Facebook – showed that over 3,000 voted on Twitter with 67 per cent in favour of the return of the sanitation exercise, while 33 per cent voted against it. There is no official position yet on the matter.
Anyhow it turns, sanitation in Lagos remains a work in progress. The perceived inefficiency of the Visionscape introduced by Ambode further exposed the enormity of the challenge. In order to confront the problem, Sanwo-Olu further ordered the Office of Drainage Services in the Ministry of the Environment to commence aggressive cleaning of all secondary and tertiary drainage systems across the state to ensure the free flow of rainwater during the rainy season, just as he directed the Lagos State Public Works Corporation to commence patching and rehabilitation of bad roads.
In spite of the frenetic energy employed into identifying and addressing the immediate challenges requiring urgent government’s attention, the Apapa gridlock still appears to have defied all known solutions, just as the impact of road repair is yet to be felt in the smooth flow of traffic.
The new governor had upon assumption of office promised to end Lagos gridlock in 60 days, but later recanted.
Sanwo-Olu is a graduate of the University of Lagos. He holds a B.Sc and an MBA in Surveying from the institution. He also attended the Kennedy School of Government, USA; the London Business School, as well as the Lagos Business School (LBS).
Before he took a plunge into politics, he had a successful career in banking where he rose to the position of Treasurer of the Lead Bank Plc. While at the United Bank for Africa UBA, he also served as the Senior Executive Manager. He later worked as Executive Director of Marketing and Divisional Head of Reals Specialties at Reals Group Ltd; where he coordinated the sales and marketing activities of the Specialties Division and also supervised the activities of the field force team dedicated to promoting Specialties products.
On October 2, 2018, he emerged the gubernatorial candidate of the APC in Lagos State and subsequently recorded victory in the last governorship election. He was sworn-in on May 29, 2019.