As the commercial capital of Nigeria with arguably the biggest concentration of Nigerians from all tribe and cultures, Lagos State represents the peak of Nigeria’s socio-economic existence. That explains why the Lagos State election is the most closely watched, aside the Federal elections. This high concentration of human resources in Lagos has helped the state to shape its history and throw up some of the most outstanding political leaders in Nigeria, especially since 1999. Starting from Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu to Babatunde Raji Fashola and the incumbent Akinwunmi Ambode, these governors have all distinguished themselves by their transformational leadership especially in the area of economic growth.
It is this tradition of excellence in leadership that Sanwo-Olu has promised not just to continue, but to sufficiently improve upon when he becomes Governor. One of the pillars of his recently unveiled 5 –point programme is to drive economic growth in Lagos through the creation of a conducive business environment to attract investments and industries. Interestingly, Lagos already has an economic template that works. And this can be traced back to the visionary leadership of the Asiwaju himself. Between Fashola and Ambode there have been some innovation and adjustment in line with their individual vision and the evolving trends in governance globally. And Sanwo-Olu who boasts a huge resume in both private and public sector is well suited to ride on this wave to deliver a much bigger change .
According to the banker turned politician, the emphasis would be on support for the growth of the local economy, and empowerment of workforce using local talent to drive job and wealth creation. Sanwo-Olu has said he would encourage youth development and provide support for key economic sectors like agriculture, housing and security, noting that through all these, Lagos would become truly a 21st century economy.
Speaking in specific terms, Sanwo-Olu stressed that in the first two years of his administration, he would be setting up a volunteer corps where 100, 000 youth will be employed to work as volunteers in traffic management, health, education and other sectors.
He also pledged to look at the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund established by the current administration, which he described as a brilliant scheme, with a view to making it capture more youth and MSMEs.
Apparently, these measures though laudable are not adequate to address unemployment challenges in the state. Sanwo-Olu knows this that is why he has committed to give more operational latitude to the private sector to create more business opportunities and employment growth. This he said will be done by creating an enabling environment for business to thrive.
Sanw-Olu said: “We understand that the engine of growth for any government is the private sector. We know that the critical people that we need to enable, empower and give them as much reference as they require is the private sector. The private sector control over 80 per cent of the GDP of the State. So we said to ourselves that what are the things the private sector want from us? What are the things they want us to be doing differently.
Sanwo-Olu showed the stuff he was made on as a pro-business leader during his interaction with investors at the recently held World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It was a gathering of the heavy weights in the global business community and Sanwo-Olu seized the opportunity to brilliantly pitch his ideas to would be investors, pointing to theprogressive leadership and stability in the governance of Lagos State since 1999 as a plus for investment. Interestingly, At the event held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the business interaction triggered commitments of $5bn investment in infrastructure and capital projects in the state.
Such private sector driven intentions cannot be overemphasized because of the crucial role that Lagos play as the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria and key driver of economic growth in Nigeria. Lagos economy in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) put at about $150b dollars is bigger than those of 20 African countries namely Ghana, Liberia, Cameroun, Togo, Malawi, Swaziland, Senegal among others. Lagos can compete, in GDP terms, with Kenya the largest economy in East Africa. Indeed, Lagos economy is adjudged to be the 5th largest in Africa and is not yet a 24-hour economy.
This, therefore, underscores the seriousness of the choice the voters in Lagos will make in next year general election. Sanwo-Olu has received praise for his efficiency and single-mindedness of a Corporate Czar that delivers value to governance in Lagos. His over 12 years’ experience in Lagos public service where he served at highest level as a cabinet level Special Adviser and also a Commissioner for 8 years in the Ministry of Establishment with responsibility for the entire state civil service in terms of Human Capital development and increased productivity means his skills in public administration is practical and well-honed. Sanwo-Olu is veritably endowed with the technocratic competence to lead a very cosmopolitan, socio-culturally and economically diversified mega city, which Lagos is.