By Lukman Olabiyi
It was a moment of joy recently for 50 Lagos residents who got a lifeline at the second edition of the programme tagged Sanwo-Olu Listens.
Sanwo-Olu Listens is a social welfare programme designed to provide financial assistance to vulnerable residents of Lagos State and to solve a diverse number of challenges, ranging from chronic ailments to disasters occasioned by unforeseen situations, to loss of jobs and businesses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event, held on February 9 at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, was full of exciting moments. It was an opportunity for some of the beneficiaries to have one-on-one discussions with the governor. The governor presented the beneficiaries were with cheques of various sums, ranging from N500,000 to N5 million.
Some of those that interacted with the governor included a veteran actor, Mr. Oluyinka Ogundaisi, Oyinlola Lawal, a university undergraduate, Mr. Sulaiman Salami, a vulcaniser whose wife gave birth to triplets, and an Islamic cleric, Tajudeen Salau, who was homeless before the governor’s intervention.
Ogundaisi, an actor, writer and director, played the role of Sango in Oba Koso after the late Chief Duro Ladipo. He was also in the cast of The Village Headmaster, where he played the role of Baba Eleran. He was equally involved in the resuscitation and repackaging of the long-running Yoruba television programme, Feyikogbon.
Ogundaisi, 58, narrated how he sold his only house in Igando, Lagos State, to attend to his health challenges, which he has been contending with for years before being confined to a wheelchair. He said his collapsed spine still required N500,000 monthly to manage even after undergoing surgery.
He aThe actor informed the audience that he would soon be evicted by his landlord due to his inability to pay his rent.
After he was presented with an undisclosed amount of money, Ogundaisi lauded Sanwo-Olu for coming to his rescue.
Salami, a vulcanizer and father of two, whose wife recently gave birth to triplets, was also a beneficiary of Sanwo-Olu’s gesture.
The governor said to him: “I understand what you are going through with your family, and I know what it takes to cater for four to five persons, most especially children. Today, I’m not only going to give you fish but I will also empower and equip you to fish for yourself so that you can be attending to the needs of your family and also be an employer of labour.”
The governor ordered that two workshops should be opened for the man, so that he could work in one and employ another person to work in the second workshop.
Salau, an Islamic cleric from Mushin, also narrated his family’s homeless situation. He said he had been sleeping in a mosque, while his wife and four children took abode in a vehicle.
The governor subsequently gave him financial support to enable him get a new apartment. Sanwo-Olu also promised to facilitate empowerment for his wife so that the family could fend for their needs.
Oyinlola Lawal, a university undergraduate and son of a pensioner from Ayobo-Ipaja, Lagos, is currently undergoing a heart surgery tha would cost to N12 million in India. He was represented at the event by his father, Mr. Olalekan Lawal.
Oyinlola’s father narrated the pathetic story of his son’s health challenge and how he was directed to the Office of Civic Engagement. He expressed appreciation to the governor and commended him on the initiative.
In her welcome address, special adviser to the governor on civic engagement, Princess Aderemi Adebowale, said more people would benefit from the programme, noting that the programme had impacted positively on the socio-economic life of beneficiaries. Adebowale explained that her office had continued to screen and work on applications and nominations received from various platforms in the public domain with beneficiaries emerging according to the degree and nature of their various financial challenges, without any bias.
She said the process of selecting the beneficiaries was through a committee within the office, set up to interview and screen applicants to facilitate selection.
She thanked the governor for initiating the programme to bring succour directly to the people.
In his remarks, Sanwo-Olu said besides providing security of life and property, government must also address the prevalent poverty among the people. The governor stated that that despite government’s limited resources, his administration would not shy away from supporting citizens through social intervention programmes like Sanwo-Olu Cares, Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Office of Sustainable Development Goals and others.
Said he: “I am really delighted to be at this event and listen to some of the beneficiaries as they table their priorities. This is what government entails. We know you would face health challenges, house challenges, children school fees, et cetera, and we will find a way of giving succour and lift citizens out of their problems.”