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Lagos 2023 Heats Up As Afenifere Leader, CAN, Lawan Back Sanwo-Olu

Lagos as a melting pot and Nigeria’s nerve centre leaves no one envious of anybody at the helm of its affairs.

Its ever-growing population and social needs make the city a continuous work in progress.

In describing the megacity of about 21 million people, the BBC in 2017, said it was “the city that won’t stop growing.” And that wasn’t far from the truth.

The growth in virtually every aspect is exponential. Simply put, as Lagos grows, so are its challenges and vision.

These indicators and their peculiarities leave anyone occupying the seat of government in Aluasa walking on a rough road.

Irrespective of the capacity of any governor of the state, his road is often rough-apologies to the late Tai Solarin, author of May Your Road be Rough.

It’s on this rough road that Governor Babjide Sanwo-Olu has been walking since May 29, 2019.

Like India’s Jawaharlal Nehru in Solarin’s essay, in leading Lagos, Sanwo-Olu meets his troubles in frontal attack, sees himself tossed into the aperture between the two horns of the bull, determines he is going to win and, therefore uses all his faculties in the fight.

Verdict

All these have manifested in several areas of governance in the last four years. And the verdict from influential organizations and persons gives a robust understanding of Sanwo-Olu’s nearly-four year stewardship. Apart from setting the stage for the 2023 governorship election in the state, the endorsements could pass for the governor’s scorecard.

Leading the pack was the Senate President, Sen Ahmed Lawan, who said Sanwo-Olu’s stewardship has validated the state’s position as the economic and commercial nerve centre of Nigeria.

Lawan, who said the national leadership of All Progressives Congress, APC, had watched with satisfaction the strides being made by Sanwo-Olu, declared that the governor deserved to be reelected.

He made the remark at the fifth Town Hall Meeting and Empowerment Programme organised by the lawmaker representing Lagos West in the Senate, Senator Solomon Olamilekan.

“We have been watching you over the last two and half years. You have been very wonderful. You have been consistent in terms of service delivery to the people of Lagos and indeed this country. You are focused. One good term you’re doing deserves another term,” he said.

On the heels of that was another profound testimony by the Lagos State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN.

Speaking at the 2022 CAN inter-denominational prayer service held at the Apostolic Church of God headquarters, its Chairman, Stephen Adegbite, said the governor performed well in improving the lives of people of the state.

Lives

He said: ”We thank God we have a child of God as our governor.

His pedigree as a Christian brought-up has continually shown in his devotion to service to mankind in different strata of the society even in difficult times.

“For us to thank him for his good work in this first tenure is to rally around him and re-elect him for a second tenure in order for him to complete many of his people-oriented projects in varying stages of completion.

“As the voice of the Christian fold in the state CAN cannot associate itself with that which cannot be of benefit to the common good.

“CAN, therefore, has resolved to embark on voter registration and sensitisation drive across the state to bring the project Sanwo-Olu 2023 to fruition.”

Coming from a body not known for partisan remarks, speaks to what observers described as the governor’s popularity across different divides.

In the same vein, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader of Yoruba soco-political organization, Afenifere, declared his support for the governor.

The nonagenarian said Sanwo-Olu deserves commendation for what he described as the governor’s prudent management of resources as well as “the visible transformation of the state in a little over two years.”

He had told this paper that Lagos under the leadership of Sanwo-Olu has continued to witness steady growth and development, especially in the areas of economy and infrastructural development.

Another boost for the prospects of re-election was the Governance Advisory Council, GAC, dismissal of claims that it had concluded plans to deny Sanwo-Olu second term ticket.

GAC

A statement by its Chairman, Chief Tajudeen Olusi, said: ”The attention of the Governance Advisory Council has been drawn to a vexatious post circulating on WhatsApp purporting that the GAC, party leaders and stakeholders have settled for a replacement for Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

“Ordinarily, we would not have dignified such an anonymous post with any response. However, because of the possibility that some unwary persons may believe the words contained therein and interpret them as factual, the GAC would like to state as follows:

“That the GAC has not settled for any person to replace Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu as governor. Therefore, it is absolutely false and preposterous for anyone to suggest so.

“That the process of picking a Governor is clearly stated in the constitution. And contrary to the false impression the merchant of hate, confusion, discord and disharmony wanted to create with the post, there is no discussion of a second term ticket by the GAC.

“Governor Sanwo-Olu was elected for a 4-year tenure which is still ongoing. The matter of replacement of the governor does not arise and is patently sub judice. Governor Sanwo-Olu is doing a wonderful job delivering infrastructure projects for Lagos and working daily on making the state better for all its residents.”

Second term

Though Sanwo-Olu hasn’t declared for a second term, he is confident of re-election.

Sunday Vanguard recalls that Governor Sanwo-Olu had said Lagosians would know what they will be missing if his administration is not given a second term ticket.

“I will ask. I will consult. Citizens, how do you see it? These are some of the things; that’s how you get it down. Try and finish very strong. You know when it is time for us to do all the politicking we will do it. I think we are doing a very good job if I dare say so. I think the citizens know what it is they will be missing if they don’t let us continue to wrap up all the things we are doing,” he said on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

What could be driving the endorsement even when the supposed beneficiary hasn’t indicated interest? The reasons:

Having inherited a state with decayed road infrastructure, housing deficit, increasing traffic gridlock, especially on the Apapa corridor and other social problems, Sanwo-Olu was definitely on a rough road from day one.

The coronavirus pandemic emerged, posing a much bigger problem. One by one, he prioritized them, restoring confidence in government.

On COVID-19, without any existing model for responding to such a challenge, he braved the odds, fighting fears, anxieties, prejudices, and creating response mechanisms.

The state’s capacity for response and management of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 was expanded through various policy actions.

THEMES Agenda

As other parts of the country panicked, Sanwo-Olu assumed a very visible role, evolving strategies, and providing key information to a frightened populace.

Under his THEMES Agenda, policies aimed at meeting the expanding needs of the city are being formulated and implemented in several sectors.

For instance, the state has expended the sum of N20 billion out of the N25 billion initial budget for the construction of the much-awaited 32 metric tonnes per hour Imota Rice Mill.

The facility is expected to be the largest rice production in sub-Saharan Africa. Apart from the creation of 250,000 jobs, the mill would enhance economic resilience.

On infrastructure, which is one of the key areas requiring all-around attention in the state, many projects have been completed while some are ongoing.

Sunday Vanguard learned that more than 51 major projects such as the Pen Cinema rehabilitation, Lagos-Ogun Boundary roads Phase II, Lekki Oniru Traffic Circulation Projects, network of roads in Ojokoro , Somolu and Ikoyi among others. His administration also constructed and rehabilitated 301 inner roads in the 20 Local Government Areas and 37 Local Council Development Areas,LCDAs.

It also commissioned the Oshodi-Abule Egba BRT lane. The Eleko Junction/ Epe concrete pavement road construction is another ongoing star project aimed at facilitating easy movement.

By the end of 2023, Sanwo-Olu would have delivered 35 housing schemes to bridge the huge gap in the sector, Commissioner for Housing Mr. Moruf Akinderu-Fatai, said last year.

Housing

Of the schemes, 14 were delivered in the first two years of the Sanwo-Olu administration. Over 7,000 affordable housing units were added to the sector.

Some of the projects executed for low and high-net-worth individuals are locatedlocated in Igando, Igbokusu, Lekki, Badagry, Igbogbo, Odo-Onosa/Ayandelu, Agbowa, Sangotedo, Epe, Ilubirin, Epe and Egan-Igando.

In the transport sector, there are continuous efforts at ensuring easy movement of goods and services in Lagos.

Speaking in that regard recently, the governor said: “ 2022 will witness a milestone achievement in the rail transportation system in our State, as we expect the 37km Red and 27.5km Blue Line Rail projects to commence commercial operations between the last quarter of this year and first quarter of 2023.

“Equally, construction work on the 38km 4th Mainland Bridge — which will be the longest in Africa — and the Opebi-Mende link bridge will commence this year.

“2022 will also witness, by the special grace of God, the completion of the ongoing reconstruction work on the 18.75km Eleko to T-Junction in Epe, the 10km Lekki Regional Road, and the section of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway that the Lagos State government is constructing with the permission of the Federal Government.

“These are just a handful of the projects that will be completed or advanced this year. Indeed, 2022 will witness remarkable development on various fronts: Infrastructure, Technology, Health and Education, Security, and many more; all of which will translate to a significant improvement in the quality of life of all Lagosians.”

In readiness for the takeoff of the rail transport, the governor acquired two sets of new 10 cars Talgo 330 kilometre Per-hour, kmph, trains for the Lagos Red Line rail project.

Sanwo-Olu completed the acquisition deal of the trains at a public event inside the Milwaukee facilities of Spanish train manufacturer, Talgo Incorporated, in the United States.

The trains would soon arrive in Lagos in line with his administration’s commitment to traffic management encapsulated in the THEMES Agenda.

The red line, which would have 11 stations when completed, would be the first operational metro system in West Africa. It is designed to convey at least 500,000 passengers daily in the first phase of operation.

Culled from Vanguard Newspaper

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