By Sunday Dare
God in the moment makes things happen beyond ourselves. Progress is a road that forever extends itself the more we travel it. It never ends but continues to urge us forward .Genuine progress weds the finer aspects of our past to the possibilities of our greater future. As we approach the Governorship election, I believe Lagos is ready to keep faith with its strong tradition of progress. This is a tradition of excellence that has served us well during the past 20 years. Our state has been on a journey of improvement of our infrastructure, our public transportation and roads, physical security and law enforcement, the judiciary and administration of justice, health care, and our educational system. The state has become a welcoming home to business innovation and investment. Lagos drives the national economy more than any other state. It sets the standard by which all others are measured.
As excellent a city as Lagos is, and as profound as its journey has been thus far, Lagos is ready to become its greater self.
For us to reach these heights demands the best possible leadership. During the past 20 years, the state has benefited from such leadership. This leadership has guided us on our collective journey to progress and toward a greater Lagos. Under the progressive leadership of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a team of able and innovative minds joined together to articulate a blueprint for development. Afterwards, they began the implementation of blueprint for the revival, modernization and improvement of this state, its governing institutions and its economy. The improvements we see today are the seeds planted and germinated by that team.
After Tinubu, Babatunde Fashola (SAN) followed and held close to the strategic plan. Lagos continued to flourish under him. Governor Akinwumi Ambode came on board and doing to the extent he could understand the collective and overarching vision.
The people who served Lagos during the Tinubu /Fashola period have distinguished themselves in sustained service to the state and nation.
One such exemplary person is Babajide Sanwo-Olu, a leader but also a team player with the rare talent of making things greater than how he met them. He is my friend and brother. During the many years we have known each other, he has always amazed me with his wealth of knowledge and deep understanding of the working of government.
He is a man equipped with strategic vision as well as an eye for detail and a able hand to implement even the most complex task. During this time, I come to know Jide as someone who does,excellently,whatever he commits his mind to. And he has always committed himself to the wellbeing of the people of Lagos. He was always ready for a task or any assignment. Also ready to pitch in or to give advice. Always ready to team up to get things done. Always on the look out for others. He is someone who quickly comes to the aid of a needy friend or extends a helping hand to a stranger in distress. That is the Babajide Sanwo-Olu I know.
His grasp of issues was uncommon. His networking ability unprecedented.
Exactly three years ago, I made a remark that first startled him but has now proved to be prescient. Jide as I love to call him had developed the habit of checking up on me at work. Working with Asiwaju Tinubu, one had no need for a clock because work never ends. You just keep at it. Weekday, weekend, holidays — they are all the same. They are workdays. He was always there to encourage and support me. We discussed many issues. Our hopes. Our dreams and desire for a better country. He never stopped to remind me of two things. One, that he was older than me by several months and calling him “egbon” was it -albeit jocularly.
And two, that it was always better to level with people you deal with and seek to build relationships. On this point he was serious. Even though I loved his finesse and the sure footedness with which he walks, I did not like the fact that he never let me win an argument. Once, when I thought I had won and got home to pour myself my usual DP drink ,my phone suddenly rang. Lo and behold it was Babajide. Having excavated more information about what we discussed he called to let me know that he was right and I was wrong. I thanked him and promptly returned to savour my drink anyway. He is studious with an attention for details.
But back to that conversation by the pool where I told him. “Jide, you know you will make a good governor some day,” I blurted. He waved it off in a philosophical manner saying he would leave everything to God. Well three years later, fate has thrusted him forward. Promotion cometh not from the West or the East but From God. In Babajide’s case the fact that God is never late readily comes to mind. Many will say the moment found the man. I will say because God was in the moment, the man was found to lead Lagos forward. Sanwo-Olu is a gift to Lagos. Remember that. Therefore On March 9, 2019, Lagosians will have the chance to decide between moving their state to the next logical phase of its development or to go backwards. The opportunity to sustain the trajectory of growth and development in Lagos state presents itself this Saturday. The All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu holds the key to great possibilities. Babajide Sanwo-Olu possesses the right qualifications for the job and is moved by a passion to see the state excel.
Where other contenders for the governorship speak in nebulous generalities and abstractions that have no real life application, Jide is a man of concrete proposals and of ideas with eminent and practical application. It is of note that he initiated many projects at a time when he served in the Tinubu and Fashola administrations. Showing such initiative and drive while serving two governors, just imagine what he can deliver when provided the mandate as the Chief Executive of the state.
He was Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Lagos State Development and Property Corporation, Special Adviser on Corporate Matters, Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Commissioner for Establishments and Training are just a few of the important positions Sanwo-Olu held and excelled in. Few have had his kind of well-rounded experience. Even fewer have the versatility and talent he has. By far, his track record distinguishes him from the rest of the field of candidates. There is no question as to who is most able. The only question is whether we want Lagos to progress further by voting for Jide or do we vote for another candidate who will make Lagos stagnant.
The most vivid assurance of his deep understanding of what is required to generate more progress is the Master Plan unveiled as the core of his campaign. The pillars of development encapsulated under T.H.E.M.E confirms he knows how to get the job done.
This perhaps explains the spontaneous connection that Lagosians shared with him from the moment he announced his candidacy. In a departure from the usual, whereby people have cause to fear that a candidate will isolate himself once elected, Sanwo-Olu has sufficiently demonstrated that he can be counted upon to remain accessible to the electorate.
His door-to-door campaigning and engaging Social Media handles tell of a man that will explore all available avenues to ensure feedback and input from citizens of Lagos state. One only needs to interact with those that have worked closely with him to appreciate his passion for getting direct feedback from stakeholders.
This Saturday, Lagosians must make a choice. A choice between continuing on a journey of progress with a clear road map or to be satisfied with a PDP candidate that will run an inferior government that will take Lagos to an inferior future. We must decide between a journey toward our greater selves or a step toward failure and setback. Lagos has always had the wisdom and courage to select the right way. Let us remain true to our progressive tradition by electing Jide Sanwo-Olu as our next governor. With Jide at the helm, a greater Lagos not only will come into clear view, it will be within our collective reach. Let us be bold enough to reach for it.
-Sunday Dare is former Chief of Staff to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and currently Federal Executive Commissioner, at the Nigerian Communications Commission. Abuja.