Comrade Razaq Olokoba, a social commentator, political analyst and human rights activist is the National President, Campaign for Dignity in Governance (CDG). In this interview with selected journalists in Lagos on Monday, the youthful youth leader took a critical look at the performance of Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and concluded that he deserves celebration, commendation and second term in office. Excerpts:
How would you assess Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s performance till the end of 2021?
Thank you very much our dear media friends and brothers. We appreciate your support all this while. I wish you a happy new year and compliments of the season.
Well, going back to your question, it appears as if you want me to write a book of several volumes on the performance of Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu in office since May 29, 2019. And all of us here appreciate how a herculean task it would be. However, I believe what is possible for the sake of this friendly parley is just to mention a few that all of us are aware of.
But kindly permit me to say just a few things because Sanwo-Olu’s achievements are concrete and visible. It is a case of ‘even the blind can see and the deaf can hear.’
Recall that the man came at a very peculiar time. And if you come at a moment like that, you know, many may not be able to cope with the situation. I mean the time when society was reeling with crisis. Some may start giving excuses for non-performance. But despite the obvious challenges we have in Nigeria, particularly in Lagos, Sanwo-Olu survived it.
How do you mean by peculiar time?
The first one was the COVID-19 pandemic which is a global phenomenon. You know the COVID-19 crisis took some nations several years to come out of it both economically, socially and health-wise and other glaring factors. But looking at Lagos, you would see that experts were in charge. Politically clever people were in charge. People who know the terrain were in charge. Otherwise, the menace in Lagos would have rubbed off on the rest of the 35 states in the country. And God forbid. The nation would have been engulfed with several crises of an unimaginable proportion. It could have resulted into one form of trauma or the other for the country. So, if that is the only thing that he has done, it would have been sufficient to say that he has performed with a very glaring result.
But, he didn’t stop at that. He also survived some avoidable crises we put on ourselves. He survived it. Imagine how he managed the #EndSARS crisis. It is not about pretending that he is doing well. It is about somebody who does not want to take chances for any crisis to snowball into an uncontrollable dimension before taking steps to nip such in the bud at the embryonic stage. He would just do that and move ahead to other vital areas of governance.
What is your reaction to some people’s impression that Sanwo-Olu would not be able to cope because of his gentle disposition?
I am of the belief that first impression is not enough to assess what a person is capable of doing on the long run. I agree that, we need to try to analyse our leaders so they would not misunderstand who they are. Truly, shortly after Sanwo-Olu came on board, there were apprehensions that the pattern of the previous government was not that popular when talking about the relationship it had with so many political factors.
He came on board after such an experience. And you think the next thing was to start gallivanting around as the governor? Making various pronouncements and dishing out policies that are controversial here and there? He has adopted the most perfect character and attitude.
His style is that if you want to conquer, you must conquer with humility. And that humility is the basic ingredient that has been giving Sanwo-Olu success. But many people don’t understand his style of operation. It is when his humility and humble disposition started to manifest on positive note that the erroneous impression about him has changed and people are asking for more.
At the start of this parley, you said a few things would suffice to convince the people that the governor means business in the state; can we have an insight into some of those few things?
Yes, one of the regular things the governor has been doing is transportation sector. It is obvious that, any country that does not have a working transportation system, either Nigeria or any other country in the world would have the error rub off on the economy of such a country. But Sanwo-Olu didn’t fail in that regard. He came on board and first and foremost increased the number of vehicles on the road and properly managed them. He equipped LASMA officials by giving them appropriate training and remunerations. If you remember, it was less than six months that he did that after assuming office.
Then security is another area he gives priority. He has been given the appellation, ‘The Defender of Our City.’ He has worked tirelessly to ensure that, Lagos people sleep with their eyes close. You don’t manage a state like Lagos without having one challenge or the other. Every seven minutes in New York, you record a crime. It is in their Journals. But Lagos, with its population, we have been able to ward off crime and reduce it to the barest minimum. Crime, naturally does rear its ugly head, but the moment it does, it is taken care of.
And you know that all these things we mentioned earlier like working transportation system, security and roads maintenance are ingredients for development.
If you don’t have good roads for movement of men and goods, if you don’t have proper security architecture that would guarantee safety of life and property, it would rob on the other sectors of the economy. This is what the state has and maintained by Sanwo-Olu. If you, therefore, juxtapose this along with other climes around, you would see why Lagos has become the hub of the economy in the Western Sahara sub-region. That economic model put in place and sustained is the magic that has not allowed the state’s economy to suffer any setback despite the COVID-19 pandemic and despite the #EndSARS crisis among several other challenges. And that economic model is the model we have recommended for all other states of the federation to adopt so that they would also learn from it and profit from it.
On education, which is central to all other things, if you have an educated population, it is an asset to any country and state. So, Sanwo-Olu does not joke with education. He regulated educational programmes in the state to the extent that, if you don’t have flair for education, there is no way you would be in business. So, he ensures that all the people in charge, both the private and public institutions are those who have passion and commitment for education. We can keep talking on and on about his plans and successes recorded by this administration under Sanwo-Olu since 2019. In summary, we have realised that he took care of every sector to make it serve as an umbilical cord to each other.
If you look around yourself, you will see that good governance has become the order of the day with the visibly concrete achievements all over the place. That is why our various groups and organizations have reached a conclusion that Sanwo-Olu should proceed beyond only one term in office.
How do you mean?
I mean that reward for hard work is more hard work. Lagos state, you will agree with me is not a state that can be run through trial and error system. It is a state that is better run with continuity and sustainability system. It is a state that can be better run by a tested and trusted hand like Sanwo-Olu who has proved to us beyond any iota of doubt that he knows what the state and its people need and he is giving it to them.
So, if a governor comes and implements all the aforementioned blueprints, you will appreciate that giving him another mandate is not about the governor himself but for the benefit of the state and its people. It is the state that would want the governor to go ahead and operate at the height of universal basis for the people. Universal in the sense that we must factor in the development of the infrastructure he has initiated and allow him to complete them without leaving them halfway to the unknown person that may come after him if we make the mistake of not allowing him to go further.
What then is your advice to the people about that?
Well, on that note, I believe we should allow him to complete all the blueprints he has initiated for the benefit of the generality of the good people of Lagos State. He has to be allowed to implement the blueprint to the level it could become an autorun.
As for me, I want to recommend to our people to let us agree unanimously that Sanwo-Olu is allowed to go for a second term. That is my personal recommendation, however.