The current governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, seems to be more vested in the presidential ambition of former governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as he drums support for him. At the same time, uncertainty surrounds his second term ambition.
“I believe we are doing a very good job. I will let the people decide. The citizens know what they will be missing if they don’t allow us wrap up what we’re doing,” said Governor Babajide on Friday, regarding his reelection bid during an interview on Channels TV.
For the Lagos governor, he will have to consult Lagos residents before deciding on whether to run for a second term in office in the 2023 general elections or not.
Babajide said, “As we speak, we’ve done two-thirds of our time, about 66 per cent because we count it every day. The field is not open yet; the race has not been declared open but for me, this four years that I have promised my citizens, I put in every bit of my sweat into it.”
Indeed, if a governor were running for a second term in office, the announcement would have been made , except you think 12 months to the election is too early. But, what is most striking is Babajide saying we will miss out on infrastructural developments if we do not vote for him and his team a second time.
On Channels TV‘s Sunrise Daily, Governor Babajide, 56, had the opportunity to list some of the achievements of his administration, whose agenda upon assuming office was titled T.H.E.M.E.S – Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy, Entertainment and Tourism and Governance, Security.
The governor noted that his government planned to reduce gridlock in Lagos, and create more employment and investment opportunities.
He said, “The vision is to reduce traffic time, reduce gridlock on the road and be able to do what we call a better journey planning where you can predict pretty much that this journey is going to take you 25 minutes it is going to take you 30 minutes, it is not the one you get stuck on the roads that we have right now and you are there for two/three hours.”
Recall that Babajide announced that his government secured two unused high-speed rail trains from Wisconsin in the United States for its train system.
According to Gboyega Akosile, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Babajide, the trains will be heading to Lagos for the Red Line – a 37 kilometre track rail project which will have 11 stations and will be the first operational metro system in West Africa, when completed.
The governor is keen on having the Lagos blue and red lines rail system up and running by the fourth quarter of 2022, following previous administrations’ failure to improve public transportation.
Street reality – using some parts of the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda
It may not be comfortable to say that traffic has significantly reduced in Lagos, but there is some respite compared to a few years ago. There used to be areas in Lagos where trucks park through the month, constituting a nuisance on the roads. Users of the Ikorodu road, in-Surulere streets, surrounding Apapa and so on will provide better testimonies. Notwithstanding, Lagos has a long way to go. No wonder Lagos residents praised the High Heavens when it was suggested that danfos be taken off the roads and replaced by new organised ticket buses. Some of the buses came, but danfos increased on the roads.
The blue and red rail lines will give relief to the traffic situation – significant only if Lagos residents do not go out with all the cars in their garages. The Blue Rail Line from Okokomaiko in Lagos West on Lagos-Badagry Expressway after Lagos State University (LASU) comes from Okokomaiko to Mile 2 through Orile, elevated to pass the National Arts Theatre, then sea crossing and finally end up in Marina. The Red Rail Line is on Lagos Central District into Lagos West.
Ah! yes, the 1.4-kilometre Dual Carriageway Flyover Bridge in Pen Cinema Junction, Agege, was commissioned in March 2021, and the nightmare stories have been reduced. The bridge ascends from Oba Ogunji Road, drops at the Oke Koto axis of Agege, and opens to the old Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway through Abule-Egba.
Babajide should be commended on how he handled the COVID-19 outbreak on health. Lagos was the entry point and spread centre of the disease and the state with the most cases. But, the performance of Babajide in leading the coronavirus response has washed some part of his white babariga. A couple media houses called him a shining light.
Governor Babajide showed empathy and a genuine desire to stop the pandemic on its tracks. He was quick to open isolation centres ensure activities outlined for the further spread of the virus were followed up. He also did not allow misconceptions deter efforts as he kept communicating and has not stopped.
However, healthcare in Lagos is still deplorable. Health facilities are underfunded, underequipped and understaffed. Private hospitals are still the preference, except when you consider the cost.
The Lagos State Health Scheme proposed by the government in 2020 has gone quiet. It aimed to ensure that all Lagos residents are registered with the Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASSRA) to get compulsory health insurance. The government proposed to make it compulsory, so everyone is mandated to get it. But, we do not even have accurate data on the population of Lagos.
Although, in January 2021, the governor commissioned a 110-bed Maternal and Child Centre (MCC), School of Anaesthesiology in Badagry General Hospital, and 252 units of a two-bedroom housing project in Idale – all in Badagry. He also flagged off the construction of the 5.5 kilometre-long Hospital Road being rehabilitated to create easy access to the Badagry General Hospital and the new housing estate in the town.
There is a two-edged sword in the centre of the roundtable on security. Areas in Lagos where gang wars were part of their weekly un-fairytales, like Iyana-Oworo, have another story to tell these days. Traffic robbery became a phenomenon at some point, but there are hardly any reports of that anymore. And, the ‘one chance’ menace? Gone for good. We stand corrected.
But #EndSARS is the big stain on Babajide’s babariga. Indeed, he took responsibility for what happened, especially on October 20, 2020 – the night of the Lekki shooting, where he moved from one hospital to another in the Lekki axis of Lagos to ensure that all injured protesters were given prompt and required medical attention. He also ensured that Lagos Government would foot the medical bills of all the injured protesters.
The governor had gone ahead to address the state two days after the Lekki Toll Gate episode to mourn those who lost their lives during the #EndSARS protests and followed the same with a public apology.
“We mourn the lives we have lost across the state and to the families that we could have better protected, I sincerely apologise”.
Even in the face of the destruction of public properties, Governor Babajide continued to give preference to the economic wellbeing of Lagos residents whose businesses were negatively affected in the riot across the state after the Lekki toll gate shooting.
Yet, in another light, Governor Babajide blamed the shooting on “forces beyond his control.”
“As the Governor of our state, I recognise the buck stops at my table and I will work with the FG to get to the root of this unfortunate incident and stabilise all security operations to protect the lives of our residents,” he said.
To date, no one knows who ordered the shooting, and the governor has been silent on the deaths at the toll gate. Besides, when he mentions forces beyond his control, he either says he has relinquished part of his power as governor or does not want to admit that the shooting happened with his knowledge and could have been prevented. There may be other reasons, which makes it even sadder.
As for the question…the answer is in your books.
Omoleye Omoruyi… an apprentice web/game developer, novelist, sensitive to happenings in the world. Meet him @Lord_rickie on Twitter/Instagram