Following their victories at the just concluded general elections, President Muhammadu Buhari, his Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo alongside Governors of 29 states across the federation and their Deputies on Wednesday took their oaths of office amidst pomp and ceremony.
With the Presidential Inauguration ceremony at the all-important Eagles Square celebrated in a low-key mood following the decision of the Muhammadu Buhari administration to change the nation’s Democracy Day from the traditional May 29 to June 12, in commemoration of what has been the described as the nation’s freest and fairest election held on the date in 1993, the attention of most Nigerians turned to the nation’s commercial capital where a new Governor took the mantle of leadership.
The inauguration of Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu as the 6th Civilian Governor of Lagos along with his deputy, Obafemi Kadri Hamzat took place at the historic Tafawa Balewa Square with so much fanfare and the new chief executive in his inauguration speech, promised to continue the process of refining and perfecting the foundation laid by the preceding administrations.
Here’s his speech in full:
By the grace of Almighty God and your votes, today marks the beginning of a new chapter in our journey to greatness. Today, I ask you to join me on this journey to awaken a Greater Lagos. When we speak of a Greater Lagos, it is a deep and profound assertion.
Today, on this precious land we call our home, let us stand together in the very face of history. Let us vow to ourselves, and to posterity that we shall not just dream of a Greater Lagos. Let us agree that we shall collectively rise up to build the Lagos of our dreams.
We need not be discouraged by the challenges that may be apparent. Today is an opportunity for us to forge ahead in our quest for a Greater Lagos. It is possible!
No one should ever underestimate the spirit of Lagos and the resilience of its people. Yes, hard problems may confront us, but we will also confront them. Every problem will lose its potency to our unity.
Therefore, Lagosians, in this new chapter of our lives, we need not cry or fret. We are united by our common purpose of a Greater Lagos and a fulfilling future.
In Lagos State, our story has been of successes and achievements. Since 1999, our tradition of progressive governance has set Lagos apart and strengthened people’s belief in our ideology.
And that is the very reason I stand before you on this historic day as your Governor. While we celebrate the victory of progressive governance and democracy, tomorrow we must be ready to stand on guard and be fully vigilant.
Democracy and progressive governance hold only to the extent that we protect and nurture them. While Lagos glimmers as a beacon of progressive and quality governance, our nation now undergoes a historic battle to establish progressive and just governance.
Lagos must again rise and help lead this nation to fuller progress and to a closer realization of the greatness that exists within all Nigerians. This inauguration symbolizes such an awakening.
Today, I stand before you as your governor, but also as your friend, brother; neighbour and your servant. I stand here to ask that you join me to script and fashion this greater Lagos with the creativity of our minds.
Let the ingenuity of our hands, the sweat of our labor and the compassion that resides in our hearts be committed to this common goal. We are but human beings. Our time on this earth is finite, and shall one day pass. At some point, we shall all enter the book of history.
But we can choose how we walk into history. Shall we do so as masters of our fate, or as slaves to things that seek to suppress us? When the history of our moment is written, let it not be told in tears of defeat, rather let it resound with the anthem of collective victory.
In this, we simply adhere to the tradition of enlightened government set by those who came before us. We owe a large debt of gratitude to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and to Babatunde Raji Fashola SAN. Asiwaju led the team that created the blueprint for development; both administrations faithfully executed that economic blueprint and established the structures and institutions of progressive governance in the process.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode pushed forward in a special manner. His efforts and actions shall be duly remembered.
As your Governor, I know fully well who I am, because I know where I am from. More importantly, I know where I am headed.
I have been a part of this progressive journey since its very inception. I know first-hand the concerted efforts that went into planning so many of the innovations we now see and enjoy. It will be my job to continue that process by refining and perfecting the foundation laid by the preceding administrations.
In this regard, I shall forever remain loyal to the aspirations of the people and to the developmental blueprint that has brought so much success to our dear state. The Babajide Sanwo-Olu you see today shall not change and try to become something I am not.
My prayer is only that I grow and improve as your Governor to implement good policies and bring the prosperity you deserve.
On this day, I speak to the young and old, Christian and Muslim, those who trace their earliest ancestry back to this land, and to those who came last week. I speak to the poor and to the rich. I speak to the Danfo driver as much as to the millionaire, to the fruit vendor and much as to the real estate titan.
I speak to employer and employee, I speak to teacher and student, I speak to mother and father. The civil service as well as the private sector – We are all Lagosians. I say to you all let us explore how we can best establish a harmony of interests and avoid the growing tendency to focus on those things that differentiate and divide one Lagosian from another.
By the dint of Providence, this small tract of land intersected and surrounded by waterways and lagoons has become home to roughly 22 million people, with their various dreams and aspirations. Not only is Lagos home to so many people and their aspirations, it is also the catalyst of economic growth for much of Nigeria.
The world outside sees Lagos as Nigeria. We are Nigeria’s door to the global economy and the global economy’s door to Nigeria. As long as Lagos flourishes, Nigeria has more than a fair chance to enjoy the development and growth needed for its deserving population. If Lagos falters, Nigeria also stumbles.
The reality of the integral role we play in Nigeria’s ascent to national greatness coupled with the untapped potentials we hold to produce even greater wealth to improve the living conditions of our people are the things that make Lagos a magnificent place. These strategic aspects of our current reality, and of our immediate future, bestow on me and my administration a profound responsibility.
My goal is to advance the social and economic progress of this state and its people; regardless of your faith, social class, or your origin of birth. As long as you adopt the spirit of Lagos, Lagos in turn shall adopt you.
As I said in my acceptance speech, I am too focused on moving Lagos forward to give a second thought to where a person may have come from. As long as you are animated by the spirit of achievement, cooperation and tolerance, then you are Lagosian. This is my motto. This is how I see our home and this is how I shall run my government.
I shall select the best and most qualified people to hold positions in our government. My door shall remain open to all. I shall seek the advice of the learned, the wise and the ordinary Lagosian, for in the common man resides much wisdom and fairness of thought. While one cannot help but hear the kind words of friends, I must pay even closer attention to the voice of my critics. In constructive criticism lies the seeds of improvement.
With these things in mind, let me quickly outline my goals for a Greater Lagos. The deputy governor, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat and I are single-minded in our desire to bequeath to our successors a far Greater Lagos than the one we inherited today And to do so, we have formulated a concise framework that encapsulates our collective vision for the state and ensures that our undertaking remains focused and our communication remains clear as we endeavour to build a Greater Lagos we can all be proud to call home.
The framework, as our six (6) Pillars of Development Agenda, is captured by the acronym, “T.H.E.M.E.S,” which I will briefly talk about:
T – Traffic Management and Transportation. Here, we must act with urgency to execute a transport masterplan that will fully integrate road, rail and water transportation into a multi-modal transport system that makes commuting easy for Lagosians. We must also ensure compliance with all traffic rules and regulations on our roads.
H – Health and Environment. Because we know the significance of a clean environment in preventive healthcare, we have a moral duty to provide basic health care for our people, especially those who cannot afford it. Under our comprehensive health program, we will place special emphasis on maternal healthcare, malaria and water borne diseases. We will also focus on sanitation and waste management, by ensuring that our drainage systems are functional and kept clean.
E – Education and Technology. We will invest in the education of our children and young adults. By increasing the budgetary allocation to education, this government will empower teachers in every local government and strengthen their capacity to deliver quality education to our children. New educational infrastructure will cultivate a learning environment that prepares our children for a new world that demands creativity, intuition and critical thinking. We will ensure technology is integrated into our school curriculum and empower our youths with the much-needed skills for the jobs of tomorrow.
M – Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy. By investing in critical infrastructure, we will accelerate the growth of our economy and empower the private sector who are the real engines of growth. We must break the deadlock that shackles our power distribution, provide sustainable urban settlements that addresses the current deficit; while at the same time building a smart city that achieves urban harmony and sets a new bar in our nation.
E – Entertainment and Tourism. We will nurture and showcase our cultural heritage and unique hospitality, support our entertainment, visual arts and sports sectors, and inspire the kind of creativity from our most talented individuals that will enhance our reputation at home – and abroad.
S – Security and Governance. The last of these pillars of development is Security and Governance. It is important to ensure that we set the right tone for good governance and accountability at the top.
To this end, my administration will ensure that we walk the talk as far as transparency, the rule of law and fiscal discipline are concerned. We will make sure that we create the right environment in which security and safety of lives and property are guaranteed.
Our ultimate goal would be to ensure that Lagos state remains one of the top destinations on the African continent to live, work and invest in. These six (6) Pillars of Development represent our response to the yearnings of the people. They constitute the foundations that must be restored for future generations. And should we fulfil our promise and deliver on these pillars, we are most confident that we will have succeeded in setting Lagos on a new trajectory of economic growth and development that would be unprecedented in our entire history.
Let me also add that in doing all of these, the welfare and socio-economic well-being of our hardworking civil servants would equally be given the priority that it truly deserves. Similarly, our youths and women would be well integrated into our governance structure to equally contribute their utmost to our developmental strides. The mission upon which we embark today, shall happen.
As we gather force and momentum, there will be no mortal power that can stop our movement towards greater prosperity, justice and hope. I urge you all therefore to lend yourself to this excellent cause and join our march to victory over our social and economic challenges. Do not stand aside and let this good development pass you by.
The hearts and hands of the Deputy Governor, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat and myself are extended to each and every Lagosian. Join us on this noble journey as we strive together to birth and nurture a Greater Lagos. However, make no mistake, the success of our development agenda must be a shared and collective responsibility.
I implore us all as Lagosians to rededicate ourselves to contribute our individual quotas positively and responsibly in this new drive to reform our society and take it to a higher pedestal. We must imbibe the spirit of being our brothers’ keeper in our daily lives at home, work, recreational places and worship centers, and most especially on our roads.
With these goals, we embark on a new social contract that will ultimately be beneficial to all; irrespective of age, religion, socio-economic status or ethnicity. Every Lagosian has a role in this government and we will on our part, certainly walk the talk in all that we would do as your elected officials.
As I conclude, I agree that Lagos has many challenges before it, challenges that have the power to consume us. We must therefore be prudent, yet not afraid to act, to ensure that this large population enjoys the economic prosperity and social security that our developmental agenda has to offer. We have, without doubt, been placed here at a momentous time. Let us make the most of what God has given us.
We cannot afford to do less than that. On this day, I vow as your Governor that I will serve the public cause with my utmost ability and commitment. With your help, I know we can make Lagos Greater still.
Indeed, our best days lie ahead of us.
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Journalist, Political Analyst and Satirist with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.