Sanwo Olu: The Executioner And Actualizer At Work, By Tunde Abatan
It was the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, SAN, of blessed memory who popularised the saying, “The glory of life is not in never falling but in Rising again after each fall”.
Throughout his political and public service career, he had a chequered life but always coming out on top of his travails and today still highly revered by friends and foes alike for setting a benchmark in governance even 36 years after his demise.
When he assumed office forty-four months ago, Babajide Sanwoolu, now the ‘poster boy’ among today’s 36 state governors, has never been given a chance to equal talk less of excel his predecessors in office.
This is so given the circumstances of his emergence as he was seen as an impostor who took his predecessors place to satisfy the ego of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu whose twenty five years development plan has changed the face of Lagos and indeed governance in Nigeria.
As one who is not given to praise singing or dressing leaders and public officers in borrowed robes and garment ,it has taken me some time to write about incumbent Governor Sanwoolu.
Yes,in the early days of his administration he met and encountered a deluge of problems from the Ebola outbreak toward the tail end of 2019 to the Covid -19 pandemic which revealed the underbelly of inadequacy of our health management and the EndSars hitherto peaceful but bloody youthful protest against police brutality and bad governance, Sanwoolu had a bloody nose.
Though not so bloody as to draw the stethoscope of his medical doctors wife, Dr Claudiana Ibijoke Sanwo Olu, yet he must have had his adrenaline shot up several times in his bid to rise to the occasion leadership and governance demands which the situation in Lagos requires.
Today, as President Muhammadu Buhari begins his two- day working visit to Lagos, he-Sanwo olu, and his sponsors must have looked back and thank God for giving him the grace to rise above his initial challenges with the commissioning of five iconic projects tagged “Festival of projects commissioning”, that will definitely redefine the landscape of Lagos.
The projects have thus come to define his governance of the fourth largest economy in Africa and Nigerias most populous megalopolis .
With the commissioning today of the first phase of Blue Light rail,which runs from Mile 2 to Marina in the heart of metropolitan Lagos, Sanwoolu has his destiny intertwined with Buhari who though I’ll advised stopped the first of such project in 1984, he today have the grace and privilege of commissioning same revived by another civilian government.
Buhari will also turn the sod for the second phase of the project from Mile 2 to Okokomaiko.
The kudos for the execution of the Blue Rail must also go to trio of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former Governor of Lagos and now All People’s Congress,APC presidential candidate whose vision enable former Governor Babatunde Fashola to kick -start the project in 2007 and the late former President Umaru Yaradua who gave the go- ahead for the project brushing aside claims of rail being an exclusive affair of the federal government a claim championed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Sanwoolus promise of never to abandon any project initiated by his predecessors was the motive for the credit he had today.
And by extension his attitude and principled stand, has decorated him as a man with heart of Gold typified by his unusual spirit of continuity not common among todays public office holders.
Sanwoolu has shown that public service is not about self glorification and ego boosting but ability to implement programmes and deploy government resources for public good.
The rail project is just one of the five iconic projects started before Sanwoolu came to office but which portrays that he has pushed ego and sentiment apart to continue in keeping with the vision set by his mentor Tinubu in 1999.
The Imota Rice Mill, reputed to be the biggest of such in West Africa will not only thrill Buhari as a benchmark of his agriculture drive for food self- sustenance but will be a big relief to rice farmers in South West Nigeria who must have sign a big relief for the intervention.
Eko rice,to be churned out from the Mill,will also be a replacement and complement for the Lake Rice.
Lake Rice,a project between Lagos and Kebbi state started years ago. While Lagos provided the funding, Kebbi donated the land for planting.
Third in the series of projects to have Buharis signature is the much- talked Lekki Deep Sea port initiated and started by previous regimes.
In it’s grandeur, the multi- billion dollar Dangotte Refinery and Petrochemical complex,easily the biggest private sector driven project in the country and second biggest refinery in the world will be complemented by the Lekki Deep Sea port also first of it’s type by any state government in Nigeria.
The President will also commission the 18.7km 6-lane rigid pavement Eleko junction to boost intracity transport in the state of aquatic splendour.
Also coming on the heels of Dangottes job creating and foreign currency safer project for Nigeria and the economic benefits of the Deep Sea port is the opening of the iconic JK Randle Yoruba Cultural centre in the hearts of Lagos.
The project completed by Sanwoolu will also be commissioned to round up Buharis historical and landmark visit to Lagos.
It is ironic that this 2day working visit may be the President’s last official visit to Lagos before leaving power by May 29.
Buhari also owe Sanwoolu and by extension Tinubu and Fashola, a debt of gratitude for restoring the bad name and image he got when he terminated Lateef Jakandes Metro line project in an obviously ill -advised manner in 1984.
Also when you take a look at the zeal with which Sanwoolu is pursuing the completion of the Opebi-Ojota Link bridge and the Red Line rail -two projects which are the only fresh projects he initiated,he will earn the Actualizer tag which he deserves for bringing to fruition the dreams of his predecessors.
As he declared in an interview last month,”the completion of the Red line is top in his heart” in order to solve the transportation problem in the fastest growing city in Africa.
With the Blue and Red Line rail projects,Sanwoolu has posed a challenge to Ogun state which has taken the back seat in intergrating it’s economy with Lagos in spite of the obvious advantages.
What is more, the Gateway state is talking with Lagos to extend the two rails to Agbara and Ijoko,it’s two strategic borders for obvious economic advantages.
Today, the growing population of Lagos and pressure on health facilities has dwarfed any appreciable progress made in the area of health delivery in the past years but if by anything, the various newly completed health projects like hospitals and child maternal facilities has contributed in no small way to justify Lagos portrayal as a centre of excellence.
Sanwo-Olu said in an interview,that the design and innovation of the Cowry card payment system now being used on the Bus Rapid Transport,BRT and Ferry services by young Lagosians is also a smart way to ensure seamless travel by residents and visitors alike.
Sanwo olu revealed further in the interview that the Cowry card will be deployed for the Blue and Red line Rail.
In other words,his government has improved and adapted local technology to ensure synergy in Lagos transport system.
But then,one have also lost count of the several flyovers which are now in different stages of completion in the five divisions of Lagos namely Ikeja, Iju,Mile 2,Alaba,LASU gate and other areas both to ease transportation and remove rail crossings in line with Federal governments new policy on the development of the rail sector.
The fly overs and ferries are to complement the bimodal transport system in the state.
With the creation of a new University- the Lagos State University of Science and Technology, LASUSTECH and upgrading of Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education to University of education,there is no taken away Sanwoolus appeal to Lagosians to renew his mandate for a fresh four years.
There is no doubt that a fresh four years will birth a new beginning of new projects after completion of on going projects.
This of course represents a new challenge for him to upgrade the environment challenges like refuse control and disposal to cope with the challenges of mega city status the various projects and influx of people from all parts of Nigeria have conferred on Lagos.
One would have expected that much vigour will go into unfolding and promoting the several bold initiatives in the media which will help to let the people know that an Executioner has surfaced in Lagos.
Information dissemination of projects requires more dynamic approach as it obtains now.
The media has to let the people know that,Lagos has an Executioner who has keyed into an upgraded vision to make Lagos better from 2024 when the first 25 years would have been completed.
Sanwoolu has on his hand the task of setting up a development plan for a new quarter of a century vision needed for a fastly growing megapolis of 50 million residents.
An Actualiser never sleeps.
The reward for hard work is more responsibility and Work.
Wishing Governor Sanwo-Olu well in his efforts to retain Lagos as a Centre of Excellence it truly is.