The Lagos State government is committed to making a huge difference in the lives of the people, writes Adekunle Akinmosa
Lagos is on my mind. Unarguably, the most important Nigerian state, Lagos is home to over 20 million Nigerians. And for this same reason, Lagos also hosts all sorts of challenges which daily, tasks those in charge of making the city state thrive, chief of them being Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the state governor.
· While Sanwo-Olu has been functioning optimally as the state’s CEO since he assumed office on May 29, 2019, with the recent formation of his cabinet, the tempo of work is expected to assume a more frenetic pace.
· Unlike the ministerial list that President Muhammadu Buhari foisted on Nigeria which some persons have queried, Lagos State under Sanwo-Olu seemed to have fared better on merit, setting round pegs in round holes with the announcement of its commissioners and special advisers. Also, given the ‘Nigeria’ attachment and interpretation to ‘state of origin’, the composition of the Lagos State Executive Officers (exco) goes across the grain as it boasts of people from ‘other’ states other than Lagos. In many Nigerian states, such appointments would have been heavily frowned upon. But in Lagos, this is just a continuation of the welcoming spirit which saw Ben Akabueze reign over the state Economic Planning and Budget ministry for two terms before assuming a federal appointment.
· And after he was sworn in, Joe Igbokwe, an Igbo man and the former Lagos State spokesman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who is now Sanwo-Olu’s Special Adviser on Drainage and Water Resources, said: “I’m proudly Nigerian; I don’t know about east, west, north or south. I have been in Lagos since 1985.”
· For Lagos, this focus on professionalism is what keeps the state excelling. However, while its top officers are core professionals, they need to be reminded that work must continue in earnest. Already, it is good to note that work of governing Lagos did not cease till these appointments.
· On Friday, August 2, 2019, Sanwo-Olu flagged off a free healthcare initiative for children between ages 0 and 12 with life-threatening ailments at the LTV Blue Roof, Agidingbi, Lagos. Tagged ‘Healthy Bee Project’, the free four-week medical mission which was organised in collaboration with Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat (BOSKOH) Healthcare Mission International, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) was scheduled to hold in seven Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs). The Lagos State First Lady, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, explained that the mission was because of the state’s desire to reduce the rate of childhood diseases.
· “As a mother and medical doctor, I understand the momentous mileage we stand to gain from this strategic intervention championed by the State Government in partnership with BOSKOH Lagos Healthcare Mission International, and I must say I fully align myself with this all-important medical mission,” said Dr. Sanwo-Olu.
· And in July, the Sanwo-Olu administration kicked off with identifying and repairing 100 roads across the state. And as fallout from this, Ikorodu residents have lauded the government for palliative works on the 7km Agric-Ishawo-Konu-Asolo Road. In Ikeja, work is ongoing to repair bad spots on Oba Akran Avenue. And around Agege, Iju Road is getting the much needed repairs and facelift. Also, the Pen Cinema flyover which was started by the Ambode administration in January 2018 but abandoned by November 2018 has been kicked back to life. The hope and prayer is that the tempo of the work be intensified so as to ensure the bridge is completed as this will ameliorate the sufferings of people moving through that area.
· Also, Lagos has started repair works on the Lagos Badagry expressway. And on Saturday, Engr. Olujimi Hotonu, the permanent secretary of the Lagos State ministry of works and infrastructure said that the contractors handling the project, China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) had been mobilised and mandated to complete the construction work at Alakija/Navy Town junction in 10 days, effective from August 26, 2019. To this effect, Hotonu urged Lagosians on that axis to bear with the government and use alternative routes during the time.
· On that axis, the state government must intensify effort to bring to life its light rails which is to run from Okokomaiko to CMS. In conjunction with the repair of roads and use of BRT buses, the light rails will further ease transportation in Lagos.
· Other pressing issues that must be addressed by Sanwo-Olu and his team include ensuring security, wealth creation and reducing unemployment, youth empowerment and addressing leisure and tourism. And in the area of education, focus must not only be on urban centres. The educational institutions situated in rural Lagos must also be accorded the opportunity of modern education to be able to favourably compete with their peers. Also, the issue of waste disposal which was bungled by the last administration must also be fully revisited to ensure Lagos becomes cleaner.
· While the challenges may seem daunting, I have confidence that Team Sanwo-Olu is ready to get its hands dirty on the work of making Lagos continue on the path of excellence which has become its trademark.
· And over the weekend, former editor of The Nation newspaper, Gbenga Omotoso, who is now the Lagos State commissioner of Information and Strategy, said the cabinet is ready to deliver. He said this after a four-day retreat of the state’s exco and permanent secretaries.
· “We are fully armed and fully energised and we are going to go into action and Lagosians will see a good, better and greater Lagos, the Lagos that we all have been dreaming of, that will be the pride of everybody,” Omotoso said.
· A report on the event which held at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria island, Lagos said that the attendees rubbed minds with personalities like former Lagos governors Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola, Ben Akabueze, Director-General, Federal Budget Office; Wale Edun, Atedo Peterside, Mo Abdu and Dele Lake as facilitators.
· The state’s Head of Service (HoS), Muri-Okunola said: “It was necessary to have a forum that will create a synergy between the permanent secretaries and the new cabinet members, it is also aimed at bonding the relationship between the two principal officers of government.”
· Now with Governor Sanwo-Olu and his key officers on the same page, it is hoped that the actual work of turning Lagos into the desired megacity goes on full throttle.
Akinmosa wrote from Iju Ishaga, Lagos