By Eddy Odivwri
During the week, some social media messages on the governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, went viral. The messages were rather a mockery of what was perceived as the inaction of the governor. One of the messages simply came like public service announcement proclaiming: “Missing Person:
One Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the elected governor of Lagos State has been declared missing”, with a plea that the public should help look for him.
The other message was even more of a lampoon, spiced with the oodles of sex. It says: “New Sex Position: ‘Sanwo-olu’… You get on top and do nothing”.
The posts did not make much meaning to me until I had cause to drive through some major routes in Lagos last Tuesday, especially on the mainland.
I had seen video records and read of the tales of woes of many Lagosians in the last few days, especially those on the so-called island. Arising from the after-effect of the huge down pour that had threatened to submerge Lagos in the last few days.
I had tried to connect Ladipo market from Costain area. For over six months, I hadn’t gone on that route, and so was eloquently ignorant of the state of the road. Gosh, it was heckish! If there are road networks in hell (considering its vast size), they couldn’t be worse. Every inch of the road was a challenge. On three spots, the Agege motor road had literally cut into two,, separated by deep and wide gullies all filled with dirty muddy water; forcing motorists to navigate through adjoining filling stations, with higher ground levels. Needless to mention the huge man hours lost in the ensuing traffic snarl. It was simply a pepperish nightmare driving on Lagos roads.
Perhaps, the agony would have been less bitter if motorists were contending with just the bad state of the roads. But no. Motorists, in the midst of all the contention, also have to contend with the ever-increasing volume of motor-bikes (also called Okada), the ubiquitous auto-cockroaches called Tricycles (aka Keke Marwa), not to talk of the notorious Danfo drivers, without forgetting the menace caused by tanker and trailer drivers. This is why the average Lagos driver is under tremendous stress and pressure. Some had died on the steering.
The challenge of effective management of the traffic troubles in the city has appeared enigmatic. No administration in Lagos seems to have a solution, even as the problem gets more and more complex every succeeding year. Not even the introduction of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), by the Bola Tinubu administration, has really solved the problem.
Indeed, Lagos now collocates with the tag of traffic snarl.
Gov Sanwo-Olu had promised to deal with the traffic issue within sixty days of assuming office. But midway, he recanted and claimed that he was misquoted by the press, settling rather for the offer to review the situation. It’s well over 100 days now! What has the governor reviewed? What are his strategies in tackling the agony Lagosians go through everyday on the roads?
It is bad enough contending with the huge traffic on the roads everyday, but it is doubly punitive having to contend with the terrible state of the roads, replete with gullies and craters all the way, both on the inner and outer roads in the city.
It is the seeming inaction by the state government that is thus prompting the announcement that is declaring the governor missing. You really cannot but ask if there is a sitting government in the face of the decrepit road networks across the city.
I am aware of the recent statement from the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, saying that the state governor understands and sympathises with Lagosians on what they are going through, promising that immediate repair works have been ordered by the state governor.
I am sure that Mr Governor understands that governance in an elite community like Lagos demands far more than “showing understanding”. Lagosians would rather have a governor who shows understanding and takes urgent and practical actions that addresses whatever the issues are. I thought the governor, had a governance template before assuming office. He almost had a near parallel government with committees on almost all areas of governance, during and after the campaigns. Lagosians need to see and experience the outcome of those templates. We hope he will not be overwhelmed by the flood of godfather interference in the running of Lagos.
He should be building on the gains of previous administrations. He seems to be in a quandary, not knowing which way to go. The talk about what to do with the Okada riders seems to be neither here nor there. The laws banning them from certain roads in the state, by the Fashola administration is still in force, but it appears to have been consigned to operational archive. Nobody talks about it anymore. Lagosians are groaning. And the governor is quiet, or so it seems. Some believe he is missing. But is he? If he is not, let him show up on all the issues that beset us as a people.