Dear Lagosians, we have identified short, medium and long term projects across the state that require swift attention.
— Babajide Sanwo-Olu (@jidesanwoolu) June 2, 2019
After the initial furore of the inauguration, our new governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has sprung to action, engaging us via social media and making all the right moves. He has honed in on the Apapa port crisis which has lost the state and the country millions of dollars in potential revenue, saying all the rights about how the multi-faceted crisis that includes bad roads, accusations of corruption among port officials and poor infrastructure that leads to delay in shipment deliveries can be salvaged. It is almost inspirational, almost. The only problem with this whole spiel, is that we have seen it all before.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has followed the APC governorship playbook that ex-governor Akinwunmi Ambode used when he first got into office, almost to the letter. He’s gotten a makeover to appeal to Lagos’s fashionable milieu, is aggressively courting the entertainment crowd by allowing himself be thrown an inauguration bash, though he is ditching Shina Peller’s Quilox for Cubana Lagos (Shina Peller is a government official now so he has bigger fish to fry). Most importantly, he is hitting the streets and trying (visually at least) to give us the impression that he’s a hands-on governor. But does that mean we’ll see any real change?
The Lagos state APC has a long history of handpicking political candidates. Governor Ambode’s ascension to governorship was marked by a political tussle between him and Olasupo Shashore, the candidate favoured by former governor Babatunde Fashola. Ambode’s own candidacy was marred by a very public humiliation at the polls, after he was rumoured to have gone against Alhaji Bola Tinubu and tried to divert their coin. It is clear that no Lagos state governor or governorship candidate has 100% autonomy, and whatever autonomy they do have while in office, is a direct consequence of the level of rebellion they undertake against Lagos APC leadership. Sanwo-Olu’s position is especially tenuous because of the circumstances surrounding his race to governorship and the expectations that have come with his new position.
Is Sanwo-Olu going to be a rebel like Fashola or a rebel like Ambode? Is he going to be a pawn? It is too soon to tell, but we have genuine reason to be wary.