By Eric Elezuo
“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”
The 6th of September, 2019 when the much sought after Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, clocked 100 days on the seat of power, did not come upon Lagosians by accident. They waited for it. They wanted to celebrate it. This is because from day one of his administration, Sanwo-Olu had put mechanisms in motion to create the proverbial ‘greater Lagos’ which formed a major part of his campaign slogan. And true to type, the ever jovial governor did not disappoint. He blessed Lagos State with an avalanche of achievements that most of his counterparts were wondering how he did.
Sanwo-Olu did not mince words when prior to inauguration, he promised to clear the problematic Apapa gridlock within his first 60 days. Today, the Apapa gridlock has undergone creative overhauling that has seen gradual disintegration of the hellish situation.
“In collaboration with the Federal Government, the Task force we set up to remove illegally parked trucks went on tough assignment to return discipline along the Apapa-Oshodi corridor. I am glad to inform you that we have seen tremendous improvement and we are happy with the results in the last 100 days. We will continue to attend to the situation for permanent solution,” the governor said.
Again, the Sanwo-Olu Lagos State Government has set aside N4 billion as grant to Lagosians with “ingenious business ideas”.
This was disclosed by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, during a media briefing herald the governor’s first 100 days in office.
The grant being handled by the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund Initiative in collaboration with Access Bank Plc., is aimed at promoting ingenious business ideas. Presently, 600 people had already been billed to benefit from the initiative.
The Commissioner added that about 1,700 people have been shortlisted to benefit from a World Bank-assisted agricultural programme, and each of the beneficiaries will receive the sum of N2m, bring to a total of N3.4 billion.
Recall that at inception of his administration, Sanwo-Olu hinted that his government will be making Lagos State the Heaven it is meant to be through the the well thought out vision encapsulated in the Six Pillars of Development, with the acronym, T.H.E.M.E.S. This stands for Traffic Management & Transportation; Health & Environment; Education & Technology; Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy; Entertainment & Tourism and Security & Governance. These were carefully formulated to tackle the problems identified in sectors that are strategic to the growth of Lagos State.
Sanwo-Olu in 100 days is one governor who made a promise, and kept a promise, doing it in style as he took steps to build on the foundations of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Mr. Babatunde Fashola and Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, his predecessors.
Kick starting his administration, Sanwo-Olu dished out an executive order declaring emergency on traffic management and transportation in the Lagos State. This singular act brought about reasonable relief to residents in their day to day activities. Not only that, it saw to the speedy rehabilitation of arterial roads, which has in essence reduced travel time and stress for motorists and commuters.
The governor’s Executive Order empowered members of the state’s traffic management agency to increase their shifts so as to control traffic till 11 pm daily. The move has brought an element of sanity on the roads after dark. Their salaries were also enhanced to undertake the great task in a rub my back, I rub your back arrangement. To whom much is given, much is being expected. The synergy has delivered great benefits.
Having a health background as he is married to a medical doctor, Sanwo-Olu has tackled the health sector with the agility of a horse within 100 days.
He has opened a 110-bed Maternal and Childcare Centre (MCC), domiciled in a tastefully built four-storey edifice at Eti Osa Local Government. The whole essence is to prosecute the war against infant and maternal mortality. The end game lies in upgrading the facility to a general hospital. In addition, another 140-bed MCC had been completed in Alimosho area, and will be commissioned anytime soon, and will strengthen the capacity of the state in providing sound maternity care for residents.
For 31 whole days in August, the prolific governor embarked on a festival of surgeries, where a team of volunteer doctors, specialists in diverse areas of medical practice, and other medical practitioners performed thousands of surgeries, especially on children with deformed limbs. This was totally free. The project was christened “Healthy Bee Initiative” and about 25,000 residents benefited.
Again, the state-owned Health Insurance Scheme has received boost to extend its services to more than one million residents in order to give them affordable and quality healthcare services.
In education, Sanwo-Olu has built, in partnership with the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Tabernacle of David Parish in Alaguntan village, Eti Osa, a beautiful school, containing 12 blocks of classrooms and other modern learning facilities.
In addition, plans have been concluded to recruit more than 10,000 teachers for various categories of education and learning, just as resources have been appropriated for the upgrade of public schools, as well as equip them with required materials to aid quality learning.
ENVIRONMENT AND WASTE MANAGEMENT
Before now, the environment state of Lagos has become a matter of utmost concern, as the state had became a massive heap of refuse, necessitating drastic measures. These measures included the immediate upgrade of Lagos’ waste management infrastructure fashioned to achieve efficient services in waste disposal towards realising a cleaner environment.
To this end, Sanwo-Olu, as a matter of urgency improved the capacity of Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) to remove heaps of waste that littered streets and highways. This policy saved the state from an imminent outbreak of epidemic occasioned by the indiscriminate dumping of refuse by residents following the disengagement of LAWMA from waste management duties. As a follow-up to environmental management, the government launched the Blue Box Initiative, designed to recyclable waste for the purpose of creating jobs and wealth.
As a chip of the old block, Sanwo-Olu had pledged not to discontinue inherited projects. Therefore, contractors handling construction of various infrastructure projects had return to site and complete them. He has also ensured that work resumed on the Mile 2/Badagry Expressway project, hopefully to be completed by December 2019, among others. This will further boost tourism and international business.
The administration of Sanwo-Olu has perfected plans to actualise the Smart City initiative, which is billed to hit airwaves in the coming weeks. The high points of the initiative is the deployment of metropolitan fibre optics across the State. The project, when launched would provide Internet infrastructure for the populace to boost aid e-commerce and tech innovation.
The administration has made arrangements with key power distribution firms to distribute 20,000 metres to residents to ease challenges of accessing power.
In his usual modest mien, the governor has has promised that “The coming days will be filled with good governance and more successes.”
Describing the 100 days of the governor, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, said it is “excessively eventful”.
Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu is widely regarded as a public sector expert in
human resources and policy formation a power sector consultant per excellence,
an astute banker, a compelling public speaker and an inspirational leader.
Apart from a robust public sector service experience which spanned over eight years during
which he was Honourable Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Honourable
Commissioner for Budget and Planning and Honourable Commissioner for
Establishments and Training, Lagos State, at different times, the very dynamic governor
also has an enviable background in the private sector and close to ten years of exemplary
banking experience during which he contributed immensely to the growth and
development of Lead Bank Plc, UBA, and First Atlantic Bank (now First City Monument
Bank) in various critical capacities.
He has distinguished himself as a boardroom guru and has since become a widely
recognised force in both the private and public sector, serving as Board member,
Department for International Development, DFID/DEEPEN Fund; Member of the Board
Audit Committee of Caverton Offshore Services Group, PLC and as Director, Light Level
Nigeria Limited, the foremost digital signage company in Nigeria.
A man of admirable social skills, who is generally believed is capable of achieving the greater Lagos initiative, Sanwo-Olu is happily married to Dr. (Mrs.) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu and they are blessed with children.
Protesters Boo ‘Buhari’ in London
Over a dozen people gathered at the Abuja House in London to boo a Nigerian official they believed to be President Muhammadu Buhari.
The protesters gathered in front of the building to boo the official who was driven in a black painted car with a Nigerian diplomatic plate number (FGN1).
The videos of the protest were published Thursday night by a Twitter user, Revolutionary Tunde, using the Twitter handle @IsaacOgunmoyele.
Many of the protesters carried placards calling for freedom for the detained publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore. Others condemned the treatment of the leader of the Shiite movement in Nigeria, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
“Buhari, Stop Poisoning Sheikh Zakzaky,” one of the placards read.
“Omoyele Sowore is not a criminal,” another placard read.
Mr Buhari is currently in London for what the presidency described as a private visit.
He has spent over a week in the UK during which he has continued to perform the functions of the Nigerian president including signing a bill into law.
It is not clear if the president was in the vehicle or inside the building while the protest and the boos went on. The Nigerian embassy in the UK is yet to issue a statement on the matter.
The protesters shouted ‘ole, ole, ole…’ meaning ‘thief, thief, thief….’ while mentioning the name of the Nigerian president.
They also condemned the disrespect for the courts by the Nigerian government.
The two prominent names whose release the protesters called for are being detained by the State Security Service in Abuja.
Mr Sowore is being held despite meeting his bail conditions set by a judge. He was arrested for calling for a revolution against bad governance. The state charged him with treasonable felony and money laundering, charges he denied.
Mr El-Zakzaky has been detained since December 2015 when soldiers massacred over 300 Shiite members. The soldiers accused them of blocking a road being used by the chief of army staff, Tukur Buratai.
Mr El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah, were first held for over a year without trial and despite a court order that they should be released and compensated.
He was later charged for the death of a soldier during the December 2015 incident.
Just In: Bayelsa Guber Election: Court Annuls APC’s Participation
The Federal High Court, Yenagoa, on Thursday declared that the All Progressives Congress (APC) does not have a governorship candidate in the forthcoming election in Bayelsa State.
This development is coming two days to the election.
The court was presided over by Justice Jane Inyang.
The court declaration, on Thursday, was part of its judgement in a case filed by Heineken Lokpobiri, one of the APC governorship aspirants.
Mr Lokpobiri, a former minister of state for agriculture, had approached the court, asking it to declare him, and not David Lyon, the authentic candidate of the APC.
“The court pronounced that the governorship primary conducted by the APC in Bayelsa state was not done in compliance with the guidelines and the constitution of the party, and, therefore, the party has no candidate,” Mr Lokpobiri’s lawyer, Fitzgerald Olorogun, told reporters immediately after the court ruling.
A shocked Mr Olorogun said the court declaration was not part of their prayers. “It’s strange,” he said.
Asked what was the next option for his client, Mr Olorogun said “We’ll do the needful. But for now, the pronouncement of the court is that APC has no candidate.”
There was heavy police presence within and outside the court premises. The main highway way leading to the court was barricaded by the police. Visitors, including journalists, were frisked before they were allowed to enter the court building.
Mr Lokpobiri, before now, has been urging the people of Bayelsa to vote for the APC in the November 16 election, despite his court case against Mr Lyon and the party.
“I’m a very strong member of APC and I came today to formally tell our chairman and to speak to Nigerians, in particular, the electorate in Bayelsa that all of them should vote for APC regardless of what happens in the court case in which judgment is slated for Nov. 14, 2019,” the former minister said in Abuja after a courtesy visit on the national chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole.
“I told my supporters even before I came here that no matter what happened, I will remain in APC having served as a minister under this administration.
“There is no way the outcome of the governorship primaries will make me leave APC. We are working and campaigning at different levels.
“I always advise that anybody that is grieved, the only place to go is the court.
Senate’s Hate Speech Bill: Atiku Abubakar Speaks
A former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has cautioned Nigerian senators against moves to pass a bill criminalising purported hate speech.
The bill being sponsored by Sabi Abdullahi of the All Progressives Congress is targeted at punishing anyone found guilty of spreading “misinformation.”
The bill also prescribed death penalty for anyone found guilty of spreading a falsehood that led to the death of another person.
But civic groups have been critical about the bill because of its narrow and unclear definition of what constitutes hate speech.
The advocates argued that the Senate’s interpretation of ‘hate speech’ would be at odds with the Nigerian Constitution if the bill becomes law as designed. The Constitution protects the rights to unhindered speech, expression and association.
Mr Abubakar aligned with those who believe the constitutional safeguards for free speech should be strengthened rather than undermined by lawmakers and other politicians in power.
The former vice-president and main opposition candidate at the 2019 presidential election said the freedom of speech and other key elements of civil liberties which Nigerians enjoyed between 1999 and 2015 should not be taken away by the current administration.
“It is prudent to build upon the tolerance inherited from those years and not shrink the democratic space to satisfy personal and group interests,” Mr Abubakar said in an emailed statement signed by his spokesperson, Paul Ibe.
Efforts to regulate the media has been keenly considered and publicly pushed by politicians since Muhammadu Buhari assumed power in 2015.
Mr Buhari has a history of brutal repression from his military era in the 1980s, a label from which he remained unflinching.
The president has repeatedly told the country that his government will continue to ignore rights in favour of national security.
Some of his appointees, especially information minister Lai Mohammed, have insisted Nigerians’ free speech will be curbed.
Mr Mohammed said social media has become a tool of irresponsibility amongst elements determined to foment chaos in the country. He has equally overseen imposition of heavy fines on broadcast stations over alleged hate speech on their platforms.
There were efforts to push a variation of the current hate speech bill through the parliament in 2015, but it failed amidst nationwide uproar.
The reintroduced version contained essentially the same fundamentals and Nigerians have vowed to resist it as they did four years ago.
Read Mr Abubakar’s full statement below:
Atiku Abubakar wishes to sound a note of caution to those now toying with the idea of an Anti Hate Speech Bill, with punishment for supposed Hate Speech to be death by hanging. The contemplation of such laws is in itself not just hate speech, but an abuse of the legislative process that will violate Nigerians’ constitutionally guaranteed right to Freedom of Speech.
Atiku urges those behind this Bill to awake to the fact that Nigeria’s democracy has survived its longest incarnation, because those who governed this great nation between 1999 and 2015 never toyed with this most fundamental of freedoms. It is prudent to build upon the tolerance inherited from those years and not shrink the democratic space to satisfy personal and group interests.
Freedom of Speech was not just bestowed to Nigerians by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), it is also a divine right given to all men by their Creator. History is littered with the very negative unintended consequences that result when this God given right is obstructed by those who seek to intimidate the people rather than accommodate them.
We should be reminded that history does not repeat itself. Rather, men repeat history. And often, to disastrous consequences.
Nigeria presently has too many pressing concerns. We are now the world headquarters for extreme poverty as well as the global epicentre of out-of-school children. Our economy is smaller than it was in 2015, while our population is one of the world’s fastest growing. We have retrogressed in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, from the position we held four years ago, and our Human Development Indexes are abysmally low.
It therefore begs the question: should we not rather make laws to tackle these pressing domestic challenges, instead of this Bill, which many citizens consider obnoxious?
Again, Atiku cautions that we must prioritise our challenges ahead of the whims and caprices of those who do not like to hear the inconvenient truth. Stop this folly and focus on issues that matter to Nigerians.