Ahead May 29, Lagosians list expectations from Sanwo-Olu

DAYO OYEWO writes on the task before the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, as he is set to begin his second term on May 29

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was re-elected on Monday, after being declared the winner of the governorship election in the state by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

He polled a total of 762,134 votes, defeating Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party, who had 312,329 votes, followed by Peoples Democratic Party’s Abdul-Azeez Adediran, aka Jandor, with 62,449 votes.

But prior to the governorship and House of Assembly elections, the presidential candidate of the APC, Bola Tinubu, lost to his LP counterpart, Mr Peter Obi, who won in the state.

Obi polled a total of 575,735 votes, while Tinubu garnered a total of 573,001 votes.

The development, however, unsettled the Lagos political space. This also inspired the LP candidates in the state as they sought to achieve a winning streak at the governorship and state Assembly polls.

This, of course, saw the major frontrunners in the governorship contest make frantic moves to canvass for votes ahead of the polls, which were later extended by a week.

Sanwo-Olu, however, fought back to win re-election three weeks after his former principal was defeated in the state.

Although there was considerable anxiety in some areas of the state leading up to the election, he was ultimately victorious at the polls.

While this was fuelled by divisive ethnic politics by some candidates, it also became a source of concern for the crusaders of one indivisible Nigeria.

In a bid to douse the tension and restore the confidence reposed on him as the number one citizen of the state, Governor Sanwo-Olu, bared his mind on the development during his acceptance speech, as he condemned ethnic profiling and promised not to pursue a divisive agenda.

He said, “During the course of the campaign, we sadly saw a lot of divisive rhetoric used. There were those who tried to make these elections about ethnicity and religion, when, in fact, they should only have been about capacity, competence, and experience.

“We saw hateful and hurtful ethnic profiling by fellow citizens—which is totally out of place for us as Lagosians, the proud residents of West Africa’s preeminent melting pot. I want to recognise and salute all of the multitudes of Lagosians who refused to succumb to those who sought and still seek to divide us with their unguarded and inciting comments.

“Unfortunately, there are reports of skirmishes in some local government areas wherein some citizens were reported to have been injured. We strongly condemn these reprehensible incidents; that is definitely not who we are as a people.

“The relevant law enforcement and security agencies have been directed to investigate these breaches of the law and to ensure that those found culpable face the full wrath of the law. Now that the elections are over, we must reaffirm the spirit of solidarity and togetherness that binds us as Lagosians.”

Following his acceptance speech, there were calls from different quarters to the governor to reunite the state.

This is notwithstanding the debate about Lagos being ‘a no-man land,’ which sparked off during the electioneering period.

Among those who made the call is the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Alfred Martins, who urged the state government to call all the parties to order and to put in place machinery for the quick restoration of peace and normalcy.

He said, “The ethnic and discriminatory comments making the rounds, particularly on social media, are not a reflection of the true nature of Lagosians, who are known to be very peace-loving, accommodating, and cosmopolitan, including by promoting inter-tribal marriages for many decades.

“I call on everyone to put a stop to the spread of hate speech and fake news and to shun all forms of rancour. The divisive comments and behaviours, particularly along ethnic or tribal lines, are not conducive to good neighbourliness and peaceful coexistence.

“We are all Nigerians and have lived and interacted together as one people for decades in Lagos and other parts of our country.”

Beyond the rhetoric of ethnic profiling in the state, residents expressed their concerns and also spoke about their expectations for the next four years.

A public analyst, David Adewale, urged the governor to promote inter-ethnic relationships and invest in education against bigotry.

He said, “The governor should work on curbing ethnic bigotry in Lagos State. He needs to promote cultural diversity, encourage dialogue, and foster understanding. He should also enforce laws against discrimination, promote interethnic relationships, and invest in education against bigotry.

“These will deal with the issues relating to ethnic profiling in the state. Also, one of the things the governor did that I felt was a bit funny, though some might consider it disingenuous, was to visit public places and make social contact with the people.

“I think the governor should make it a norm from time to time and not just something he uses as a campaign strategy. He should make random visits to some social places and meet with people. After all, he has a perception of a governor that can be easily accessible.”

Doctors’ expectations

The General Secretary of the Lagos State chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association, Ismail Ajibowo, said the state government needed to do more to retain the medical staff in its hospitals.

He said, “A lot is going on in the health sector. There is a lot of ongoing construction across the hospitals. The state governor should ensure that all these projects come on board and facilitate the employment of adequate staff to man these hospitals so that it won’t just be infrastructure alone.

“The governor should also do more in trying to retain staff and in implementing welfare policies and other measures that can help retain the few staff. There is brain drain everywhere; it is not limited to Lagos alone, but I believe there are low-hanging fruits that probably will encourage people to stay back in the country.

“If you have a structure and the medical personnel are not there, then the structure will not do the job. There is an ongoing discussion between the state government and some relevant unions on how to make this possible, and we hope things will work out.”

LASTMA headache

Another resident, Oladele Bello, urged the state governor to formulate policies that would check the excesses of the officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority and the Lagos State Environment and Special Offences Enforcement Unit.

“The Lagos State government has done well in the area of infrastructure and security. The state is relatively peaceful. But the area that requires the attention of the state governor is the issue of taxation in the state.

“The tax and compulsory levies imposed on Lagosians are quite burdensome. The governor should be mindful of the current situation in the country and what the average Nigerian is going through. He should also look into the activities of LASTMA.

“Their unprofessional conduct is another burden Lagosians live with every day. The reports of their unprofessional conduct, including deliberate extortions, should be looked into. He should also mandate a routine sensitisation for all the officials and let them realise what obtains in the developed world as it relates to their job.”

Hundreds of commuters were stranded on Wednesday as commercial bus drivers staged a protest in some parts of the state against the ridiculous levies collected by officials of the Lagos State Park and Gardens Management Committee.

The drivers, who carried placards bearing inscriptions indicating their demands, complained that the fees had affected their daily income.

The PUNCH reported that commercial drivers operating under the aegis of the Joint Drivers Welfare Association embarked on a one-week strike action over similar reasons.

The Commissioner for Information, Gbenga Omotosho, said the governor was dedicated to uniting the residents and completing some projects during his second term.

The governor said during his speech that the tendencies towards divisive rhetoric that took us into the campaigns do not represent who we are in Lagos. We all have compassion for our fellow human beings. We will not promote ethnicity or religion. And for all the things he promised Lagosians, he is going to do them.

“He promised Lagosians in his first term that he would take us on a journey to greater Lagos. He is going to complete all the projects that he started. In the case of law enforcement agencies in the state, the government does not joke with any complaint against LASTMA. Some of them have been suspended, while others have been fired.

“The administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu will continue to look at the whole thing and see how he can reform them and make them behave better, and be friendlier in the discharge of their duties. The administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is very considerate and compassionate. When there was currency scarcity, the Lagos State government reduced the transport fares on BRT buses by 50 per cent.

“He will also not support anyone going and imposing taxes unnecessarily. What happens is that people do not really complain about those things; if people complain and the government sees a reason to come in, it will come in. Even with the land use charge that people pay, there is room for people to come and complain that the charges are high. We look into these complaints, and we do what is right.”

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