Features Write-Ups

KEEPING HOPE ALIVE FOR A GREATER LAGOS

Olusina Thorpe

Upon his inauguration as the 15th Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu unfolded T.H.E.M.E.S (an acronym for his administration’s strategic development agenda namely; Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy, Entertainment and Tourism and Security and Governance) as a vehicle to achieve his  administration’s ‘Greater Lagos’ vision. 

500 days after, through a combination of resourceful thinking and sincere desire to achieve impactful governance, the Sanwo-Olu administration has caught a niche for itself as a people-centered government. 

Considering its conviction that the entrenchment of a well-oiled social security system is essential for the evolvement of a better society, the administration has embarked on populist programmes aimed at enhancing Lagosians’ standard of living.

From the ‘BOSKOH Health Mission’ to the ‘Thought for Snacks’ initiative to ‘Sanwo-Olu Cares’ and many other people-oriented initiatives, it has been a narration of impact governance all through. 

With the strong impact of the EKOEXCEL training programme, the face of public education has been positively altered in the State. An acronym for, “Excellence in Child Education and Learning”, the programme is designed to reposition public education and improve methods of teaching to meet contemporary demands. 

Improvement of public schools’ infrastructure is also being vigorously pursued as evident in the commissioning of 18 Classroom Blocks at Muslim Junior College, Egbe, 18 Classroom Blocks at Maya Secondary School, Ikorodu, 18 Classroom Blocks at Eva Adelaja Junior Secondary School, Bariga and Block of 20 Classrooms at Bashua Military School Primary School, Shomolu.

Similarly, 13 Classrooms at Saviour Primary School, Ifako-Ijaiye LGA, Block of 20 Classrooms at Ayanleye Memorial Primary School, Ifako-Ijaiye LGA and Block of 6 Classrooms at Ansar Ur Deen, Ibonwon, Epe were also commissioned. This is aside from others being constructed and rehabilitated across the State by the Special Committee on Rehabilitation of Public Schools (SCRPS) and the Ministry of Education.

In order to ensure unhindered access to healthcare, two Mother and Child Centers (MCCs) at Eti-Osa and Igando respectively were completed and commissioned within the administration’s 200 days in office. Before the end of the year, the Badagry MCC will also be ready for commissioning while the Epe Center is equally nearing completion.  

The compassionate side of the administration can best be captured by the life changing impact of the free medical interventions it embarked on to bring soccour to many ailing residents. In its first 200 days in office, through the BOSKOH Health Mission International and the Benjamin Olowojebutu Foundation, over 45,000 Lagosians benefitted from diverse free medical interventions across several locations in the State. 

Similarly, in order to bridge housing deficit in the State, new housing schemes such as Jakande Gardens, Igando, Courtland Villas, Behind Alhaji Femi Okunnu Estate, Igbohushu, Lekki with 120 units of 4-bedroom Maisonettes and BQs and Lekki Apartments, Ikate-Eleguishi, Lekki were completed and commissioned. 

The LagosHoms, Igbogbo Scheme with 360 home units comprising 120 1-bedroom, 120 2-bedroom and 120 3-bedroom apartments as well as the Lagos State Affordable Public Housing Scheme, Topo, Badagry with 252 2-bedroom apartments are equally ready for commissioning. 

Considering the strategic role of transportation as a key driver of economic development, road construction is being given a fresh impetus. Anetwork of 30 roads was commissioned in Ojokoro LCDA, while many other roads are at various phases of completion. Mr. Governor recently flagged-off the construction of 377 new road projects while the Oshodi-Abule-Egba BRT Corridor was recently commissioned. The Pen-Cinema Bridge is equally slated for commissioning before the end of the year. Also, four junctions at Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Maryland, Ikotun and Lekki were redeveloped to improve traffic at strategic locations across the State. 

Eight new state-of-the-art ferries were commissioned on 4th February, 2020, to improve water transportation, while the remarkable conclusion of the Continuous Beam Bridge for the Sea-Crossing of the Lagos Rail Line Project at Marina, Lagos rekindled hope for the achievement of the Blue Line initiative.

To boost food security, the government is concentrating on value chains where the State has comparative advantage, while also developing an Agro-economy that would serve the twain purposes of producing sufficient food for the growing population, as well as developing a smooth-running Agric sector that would truly transform the State into 21st financial hub. The 22-hectare Imota Rice Mill facility will be commissioned before the end of the year.  

Other food security initiatives of the government in the last 500 days include Lagos Agripreneurship Programme (L.A.P.), which has empowered 15,000 youths and women in the various agricultural value chains, Lagos Seafood Day, which projects the aquaculture and seafood potentials of the State, Fish Farmers Cage Culture System, Home Grown School Feeding Programme, reform of red meat value chain and maiden international Coconut Summit among others

In the last 500 days, with its strides in infrastructure development, provision of quality health care, improved learning environment at public schools, environmental regeneration, employment generation and wealth creation, implementation of youth friendly programmes, improvement in public security architecture, promotion of law and order, support for local tourism and sports among others, the Sanwo-Olu administration has, indeed, given Lagosians great cause to keep the hope of a ‘Greater Lagos’ alive.

Perhaps, the most intriguing perspective of governance in Lagos in the past 500 days is the government’s penchant for improving Lagosians’ standard of living. This is reflected in all its plans, policies, programmes and activities. For the government, the people come first.

Thus, as roads are being constructed and overhauled, as more hospitals are being built and equipped, as drains are being cleared, as intermodal transport is being developed, as more residents are being empowered for better economic opportunities, as public schools infrastructure is being upgraded, as more farmers in the agriculture value chains are being empowered, as pensioners and Public Servants’ welfare is being enhanced and as the government heroically confronts the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the good of the people remains a major motivating factor.

On the whole, in the last 500 days, the Sanwo-Olu administration has demonstrated unwavering resolve to improve the lot of the citizenry. This, indeed, is not surprising as the governor made it clear in his inaugural speech that the people would be the focal point of his government. Given the complex nature of the State as the melting point of several people and cultures from across the world, the Sanwo-Olu Administration has done well by investing in the development and social integration of the people. 

Famous French political thinker and historian, Alexis de Tocqueville, in his immortal classic, ‘Democracy in America’ (1835), insists that building the people is more necessary than creating wealth, for the value of the latter is tied to the existence of the earlier. 

Undoubtedly, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had Tocqueville in mind when he pledged, in his inaugural address, to always put Lagosians first in all his administration’s plans and programmes. With what his government has achieved in that direction in the last 500 days, Lagos is, no doubt, on the path of greatness. 

Lagosians are, however, enjoined to cooperate with the government to make this prospect a reality by protecting public infrastructure, obeying traffic laws and promptly paying their taxes among other civic responsibilities.  

Thorpe is Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.

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