A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something special – Nelson Mandela.
The above expression from one of the greatest ethical and political leaders of all-time aptly describes the man Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, the 15th Governor of Lagos State who is today celebrating his natal day.
Truth be told, Governor Sanwo-Olu is an embodiment of a good head, a good heart and of course a literate tongue having been privileged to have experienced the best in terms of education locally and internationally. And the result so far so good has been delivery of democratic dividends and meeting expectations of the teeming population of the State.
Now, some people may argue that it is too early in the day to shower accolades on the Governor but the popular expression that the signs of a beautiful Friday will be noticed from the preceding Thursday clearly exemplifies the actions taken so far by Governor Sanwo-Olu and his amiable and cerebral deputy, Dr Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat since they effectively took charge of the affairs of Centre of Excellence and State of Aquatic Splendor on May 29, 2019.
Like a greyhound after a rabbit, Governor Sanwo-Olu came out of the take off point with some decisive pronouncements and moves that disabused the minds of some doubting Thomases that he is actually prepared and ready for the tasks of administering the most populous State in Nigeria and in fact, a State that has been correctly adjudged as the fifth largest economy in Africa.
I have had the unique privilege of working with Governor Sanwo-Olu at very close range even before he took over the most tasking and challenging job in the State and one thing that is constant is that his passion, zeal and energy for a greater Lagos remain undebatable. I mean people could recall how the Governor vigorously campaigned across the State during the electioneering and the zestfulness on display when he met with the relevant groups and organisations across all the social strata of the State.
The good thing, however, is that Governor Sanwo-Olu has not stopped. In fact, he made it abundantly clear in his inaugural speech, and so far so good, he is walking the talk.
Another critical point which I must not fail to mention is that many who thought that the Governor would be vindictive have been pleasantly surprised as he has shown that nobody in the service of the State would be harassed on the basis of certain interests. Staff can only be reprimanded if they have failed to carry out their duties as professionally expected of them.
The Governor is forward looking and he has carried on with commendable equanimity, focusing on the job at hand rather than looking for who did what during the electioneering.
I have heard him on several occasions, warning that nobody should be hounded or maltreated on the account of working in the immediate past administration.
His Excellency, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu is a personification of humanity, a selfless leader and an uncommon Nigerian, who thinks more about the other person’s feelings than of his own. I have witnessed the display of his kind heartedness many times that I can comfortably say that he is a very good man.
For many who rightly belong to the school of thought that talk is cheap and who were not ecstatic about Governor Sanwo-Olu’s brilliant inauguration speech, which by the way he eloquently delivered, the steady implementation since his assumption can be said to be a worthy consolation.
The speech virtually captured all the key areas that needed to be addressed and the direction that the new government is headed.
By the following day, Governor Sanwo-Olu made some moves which clearly showed that he was ready to walk the talk. The first point of call was a meeting with civil servants where he emphatically told them that the government cannot afford to fail Lagosians at this critical point in time.
One striking thing was the fact that the governor was very much aware of the challenges faced by the civil servants and conversely he knew the areas where workers have to improve in terms of positive disposition to work and so on. So, on 30th of May, 2019, he promised to look into their welfare first with the provision of new buses to convey them to work and within three days, that promise was fulfilled. 35 new buses were immediately handed over to the workers to aid their movement from home to work and back home.
Also as I write this piece, all civil servants have received their salary for the month of June. That is the spirit with which Governor Sanwo-Olu is bringing into governance in Lagos.
Governor Sanwo-Olu also signed an executive order to address issues around traffic management, security and the environment after which he proceeded to Apapa for on-the-spot-assessment of the situation there.
The issue of Apapa gridlock and the state of the environment has for long been a national embarrassment and so it was a brilliant move for the Governor to immediately visit the area where he expressed commitment to his promise to truly put the deplorable and harrowing situation in the area in the dustbin of history, working in concert with the Federal Government and other relevant stakeholders.
It must be added that just two days ago, Governor Sanwo-Olu was back in Apapa with Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and other senior government officials both from the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government, to further assess the progress of work in the effort to restore complete sanity and order in the area.
Another pleasant move by this government is the two-prong approach to traffic management which is enforcement of traffic laws and fixing of potholes. With regards to potholes, the government has already said that two lines would be released to the public through which residents can just take pictures of bad state of any road within the state and then the rehabilitation gangs would be deployed accordingly.
The Governor has boosted the morale of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) officials by increasing their monthly allowance by 100 percent with a promise to revamp all their moribund infrastructure as well as procurement of new equipment for better efficiency.
In the area of security, Governor Sanwo-Olu has also been proactive. As a matter of fact, he has met with all the top security chiefs in the State, with a pledge that the security architecture of the State would be overhauled to address contemporary security challenges including cultism, kidnapping, armed robbery, pipeline vandalism and indiscriminate driving against traffic, among others.
Just under 30 days, there are many positives to draw from the purposeful and inspiring leadership of Governor Sanwo-Olu and one can only imagine the goodies in the offing for residents and investors as there is already a clear roadmap as captured in the six pillars of his developmental agenda for the State otherwise known as T.H.EM.E.S, which stand for Traffic Management and Transportation; Health and Environment; Education and Technology; Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy; Entertainment and Tourism as well as Security and Governance.
Here is wishing my amiable and dynamic boss happy birthday. I wish you sound health and wisdom to deliver on the mission #ForAGreaterLagos.
*Akosile is the Deputy Chief Press Secretary to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.*
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The implications of proposed U.S. visa restrictions on Nigeria
Should the United States slam a visa restriction on Nigeria as being currently speculated, its attendant consequences will undoubtedly be enormous. Already, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen are facing U.S. travel ban, an action U.S President Donald Trump explained, in 2017, as safeguarding America and its citizens from terrorism.
Aside Nigeria, the coming ban will have Eritrea, Tanzania, Belarus, Sudan, Myanmar, and Kyrgyzstan. According to foreign media reports, the travel ban will only apply to specific targets including government officials and to certain visa types.
In spite of this, such policy against Africa’s most populous country and, ironically, a strategic trading US partner clearly indicts the current administration. Before now, the US had expressed its displeasure with the administration’s poor human rights records and penchant to trample the Rule of Law. Definitely, this informed Nigeria’s designation by the US, recently, as a country promoting religious discrimination. It is noteworthy that the US statement announcing the depiction had cited the killing of members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria’s (Shi’a) and continued incarceration of its leader, Ibraheem El Zakzaky, despite court bail.
Beside being bad optics for Nigeria internationally, the travel ban will equally have telling effects on the country’s precarious economy and flow of Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, from the US. The aftermath of the proposed travel ban, certainly, will impose quite rigorous and exorbitant expenses on visa processing, such that it becomes frustrating to foreign and local investors. Since international trade largely requires that personal contacts be established at some point between trading partners or investors, hardship in securing non-immigrant visa will adversely affect trade negotiations and investment. Combined with the reality of Nigeria being a monolithic economy and consumption-driven, investment and accompanying job creation will take a reverse.
As statistics have shown , U.S and Nigeria are strategic trading partners. In 2018, US goods and services trade with Nigeria was estimated to be $11.3 billion, comprising export goods ($2.7 billion) and import goods ($5.6 billion).
Trade in services for 2018 totaled $3.0 billion, comprising services exports ($2.4 billion) and services imports ($531million).
On humanitarian aid, the US, like other development partners, has been involved in various developmental projects in Nigeria. These include the fight against HIV/AIDS, education, peace and security, health, and military assistance. In the same vein, the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, has splurged $308.9 million in assistance to Nigeria in the recent years, while US Military Security Assistance gulped $133million; Population, Refugees, and Migration, $39.72 million; Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance, $31million; Education, $25million; Law Enforcement, $6.5million; Centre for Disease Control (immunization and Health Protection) $18.6million, e.t.c
Based on this analysis, US travel ban is clearly bad for Nigeria.
It is therefore imperative for the Nigerian government to take proactive measures by launching serious diplomatic interventions, while exploring ways of improving on its counter-terrorism efforts in line with demands of its developing partners.