A Walker And A Doer: Sanwo-Olu Begins Second Term Journey On Strong Footings

By Bidemi Martins

Lagos is the heart beat of Nigeria. A subnational entity that rivals many countries, it is Nigeria’s economic nerve centre and the 5th largest economy in Africa.  The burdens Lagos shoulders and the critical role it plays in the economy of Nigeria, makes the state very strategic politically.

From 1999, the progressive political clan has been in charge of the affairs of Lagos of Lagos State. The builder of modern Lagos, an astute statesman, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is on the ballot as Presidential candidate for 2023 general elections, developed a master plan for sustainable Lagos. 

The actualizer, Babatunde Raji Fashola, took over the baton of leadership from Tinubu and ran an excellent government breaking new frontiers in infrastructure, judicial reforms, education and health among other sectors. The next government after Fashola also nudged Lagos further, before Governor Olusola Sanwo-Olu came into the saddle.

Sanwo-Olu set out with a clear and strategic development agenda, tagged, Theme Agenda. “The acronym, T.H.E.M.E.S, represents the six pillars of the State’s strategic development agenda, namely: Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy, Entertainment and Tourism, as well as Security and Governance”.

Lines upon lines, precepts upon precepts. Sanwo-Olu has been dutifully implementing the agenda to the admiration of millions of Lagosians, business community and other stakeholders in Lagos State. Under the pillar of traffic management and transportation, critical spots, junctions and roundabouts that often cause traffic gridlocks were either dismantled or remodelled to ease traffic flow.

One of those critical spots is the popular Allen Avenue Roundabout, which serves as a major circular intersection for motorists coming from Opebi, Ikeja under bridge, Alausa and Adeniyi Jones. The massive bust of late Afrobeat maestro Fela Anikulapo that occupied the centre of the roundabout was relocated to ease traffic. Today, commuters and motorists experience a jolly ride on the corridor. Perennial gridlock that was a daily harrowing experience had become a forgotten nightmare on that axis.

The same innovative approach was adopted across other locations with similar issues. On transportation, the Intermodal transport system is the winning strategy under Babajide Sanwo-Olu government. In June 2021, the governor handed over newly procured seven high capacity passenger boats and also launched a Cowry Card for water transportation at the five cowries ferry terminal, Falomo Ikoyi, Lagos. The seven new boats are: MF Elegushi (30 passengers), MF Apapa (30 passengers), MF Onigando (30 passengers), MF Majidun (30 passengers), MF Zangbeto (50 passengers), MF Eko Akete (50 passengers), MF Ehingbeti (Utility boat). In a deliberate move to enhance local manufacturing capacity, the Sanwo-Olu government ensured backward integration by engaging Nigerian boat builders to build the high capacity boats. In view of the strong corporate governance structure put in place by the governor Sanwo-Olu government, private investors like Sierra Craft Limited, V-craft Limited, Niger Benue Transport Company (NBTC) showed interest to invest in the water transportation in Lagos.

The governor is also upscaling infrastructure in the sector bodybuilding and renovating 15 new jetties across the coastal lines of the state to open up more routes. The Ferry service is expanding into new routes like Epe, Badagry, Agbowa-Ikosi, Unilag Community and Agbara-Ijanikin.

The mega city status of Lagos necessitated the need for a decent, safer and secure transportation means. Commercial motorcycles, popularly known as Okada, are not a sustainable means of transport.  Hence, the innovative governor launched 500 units First and Last Mile (FLM) buses to cushion the effect of the ban of commercial motorcycles in some local government areas in Lagos. The buses were deployed in inner communities and hinterlands that were relying on Okada.

Sanwo-Olu said, “The launch of the First and Last Mile (FLM) Bus Scheme today is an important milestone in our quest to achieve the intermodal transport system which gives our teeming population the choices they deserve, reducing congestion and journey times, and improving the quality of life. It is also in fulfilment of one of the measures we promised as a solution to the security situation discussed at our recent Security Stakeholders’ Town Hall Meeting.“As a responsible government, we are launching this scheme in response to two major issues. One is the alarming statistics of fatal accidents recorded from the operations of Okadas in Lagos between 2016 and 2019, and the use of Okadas for the facilitation of crime across the metropolis. The goal is the full implementation of a safer and more efficient alternative transport solution that takes out the need for Okadas and replaces them with safer buses that will help us curb incidents of Okada-related accidents, crimes and robberies.” 

Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu has also delivered on the health and environment pillar. Government owned hospitals are getting revamped and equipped to meet the modern health challenges of the teeming population of Lagos. On the environment, Lagos State Parks and Gardens are taking over public spaces that were being occupied by destitute for useful purposes.  Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) is doing a great job in keeping the environment clean under Sanwo-Olu.

Education and technology which is a currency in a 21st century knowledge-driven age is getting the required attention under Sanwo-Olu, young people are being upskilled in digital and innovation and teachers are getting trained and retrained for optimal learning outcomes under the Eko Excel programme.

In the area of infrastructure, Sanwo-Olu has performed excellently. Major roads that serve many communities across the state are being given attention under his watch. In Ikorodu, construction of Agric/ Ishawo Road is moving very fast, Oba Sekumadu Road from Ogolonto to Ebute has been reconstructed. Across the state, the imprints of excellence performance dot the entire landscape.

So, when Sanwo-Olu joined the presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the campaign kickoff on Saturday in Lagos, he was confident and worked majestically amidst cheers from party supporters and leaders. Sanwo-Olu has performed creditably and truly deserves a second term.

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