‘True life is lived when tiny changes occur.”
Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo- Olu, on Wednesday, November 6, made good his promise when he formally announced that the prefix title, His Excellency, should no longer be added to his name.
This is coming 11 days after he declared at a Redeemed Church event that the title made him uncomfortable and promised to jettison it. So, the action was not surprising when it finally came.
Sanwo-Olu at the King’s Court Parish of the Church, in Lagos, had on that fateful Sunday of October 27, while addressing worshippers said that he would be coming with an executive order to give the abrogation of the title legal backing.
Last Wednesday, he said that he would now want to be addressed simply as Mr. Governor, to constantly remind him that he had been chosen out of so many fellow compatriots to lead the state.
“I don’t want title in front of my name. I am actually going to come up with an executive order. This Excellency thing, I think it is when you have finished and if you earn it, then you should be called Excellency. If you haven’t earned it; if you haven’t delivered, there is nothing excellent in the Excellency.
His action is backed by his conviction that only God, the Almighty, the Creator, and the Protector is the Most Excellent and that no man can share His eternal qualities.
Sanwo-Olu said that for whatever reason, he’s human and should be seen as such. “Whatever might have been the reason for this myth, let us be honest, the office is occupied by a mortal who has been called upon to serve the electorate with humility – and sincerity. The office of governor is a public trust that calls for sacrifice, modesty and willingness to add value to the lives of the people,” he submitted.
The governor, in a statement he signed renouncing the prefix, explained that in the last five months that he has been privileged to exercise the mandate freely given to him by the great and hardworking people of Lagos State, it has come to his consciousness to review certain features of citizen-government relations which impede the genuine expression of the democratic spirit of the society and the meaningful exercise of the sovereignty of the people.
Part of his argument was that “the office of the governor has been celebrated as the paragon of excellence, a temple of perfection and a throne of purity. This demi-god mystique spreads over the entire machinery of the executive arm of the government, symbolising an authoritarian disposition on the governed. It has deformed the orientation of elected and appointed persons who are paid from the taxes of the people to see themselves as oppressors who can do no wrong and must be served, rather than serve the people.”
Of a truth, most observers would share the view of Sanwo-Olu, especially considering the air of executive arrogance that surrounds “His Excellency” title in part of our clime.
But good as his intentions may be most Lagosians think that what should matter most now for the Mr. Governor is performance, delivering election promises which many are convinced is not happening going by continuing decay in most sectors.
Most Lagosians still believe that it is not the title or its removal that does the job, just as they complained that it does not seem as if the governor is in-charge as nothing much has been done since he stepped in.
According to Edward Clifford, a lawyer, “If the truth must be told I do not think that Governor Sanwo-Olu is in-charge yet because we are not witnessing any serious action. Do you see how terrible the roads have degenerated to? There is no Lagos road that you can point at and say this is good. I saw them doing something at Allen Avenue but just go there and see the rubbish patching that they are doing. There is gridlock everywhere each passing day and it is getting worse.
“My worry for him is that Lagosians are already concluding that he has nothing to offer. Imagine people saying that they prefer Ambode to him, even when the former governor did not do anything outstanding.”
Clifford simply captured the views of most Lagosians that set the social media abuzz with their reactions, some instructive while some others are sarcastic.
For instance, @Badmanisdimka twitted “Babajide Sanwo-Olu dropping the “Your Excellency” title is nice. So Mr. Governor can we move to the part where all roads are reconstructed, please sir Lagosians are suffering going out to make ends meet is not easy at all. Thank you in advance sir.”
Also, @Oluwabukunmi posted that “While Seyi Makinde is repairing roads in Oyo State, printing free copies of past questions for schools and basically just working, your Pontius Pilate in Lagos is concerned with being called His Excellency or Mr. Governor. Tragic.”
Sanwo-Olu has promised repeatedly to tackle the roads as soon as the rains are over. This is a promise, observers say, he cannot afford to fail to achieve or else he may likely be cornered to irrelevance and ridicule by public opinion.
If indeed Sanwo-Olu intends to get the appellation of “His Excellency” at the end of his tenure, the majority consensus is that he must rise to the challenge of practical governance immediately.
However, there are Lagosians who think that Mr. Governor should be commended in the area of his security effort so far, despite minor lapses.
Sanwo-Olu, 54, was born on June 25, 1965. He was announced the governor under the platform of the All Progressives Congress after contesting and winning the gubernatorial primaries of the party against the incumbent governor, Akinwunmi Ambode in October 2018.
He is a graduate of the University of Lagos, as well as the London Business School, Lagos Business School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Before his gubernatorial ambition, he was the Managing Director/CEO of Lagos State Property Development Corporation (LSPDC).