By Teju Ajayi
At the risk of sounding a tad over-confident, it is safe to say that there is no better, more qualified, and more experienced pair in the Lagos State governorship election holding Saturday, 11 March, than Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat. The facts are plain for all to see.
Aside the fact that none of the other contestants can come close to even lacing the shoes of Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat in terms of educational and professional accomplishments, private and public service experience, and leadership and administrative skills, their antecedents recorded in the last three and a half years has been a the yard stick through which other Nigerian states evaluate the performance of their leaders.
For perspective, Governor Sanwo-Olu has a Bachelor’s degree from the prestigious University of Lagos in Surveying & Geo-Informatics and later, a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) in Management from the same university. He is also an alumnus of the prestigious Harvard Kennedy School of Government, London Business School, and the Lagos Business School. In addition, he is a member of the Nigerian Institute of Directors (IOD), Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM), and a Fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Training and Development (NITAD).
After a laudable stint in the private sector, he kick-started his career as a public officer with an impressive record of accomplishments.
Similarly, Dr. Hamzat, who graduated from Nigeria’s premier university, the unrivalled University of Ibadan with a degree in Agricultural Engineering in 1986 and a Master’s in Agricultural Engineering in 1988. He later bagged his Ph.D. in System Process Engineering at Cranfield University, England in 1992.
Following his stopover in the private sector, Hamzat was appointed Commissioner for Science and Technology in 2005 during the tenure of former Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and has since maintained his status as a dedicated public servant till he joined Sanwo-Olu’s ticket as his running mate in 2019.
Outside of the duo’s educational and public service accomplishments, the last three and a half years have seen them bring a magical kind of synergy to governance in Lagos. The term, Greater Lagos Rising upon which their campaign is built is a testament to the continuous rise of Lagos despite the vicissitudes of life that have threatened the peace of the state in the last few years.
The Sanwo-Olu/Hamzat administration traversed with enviable skill the difficult terrains and major disruption occasioned by the Coronavirus global pandemic. With no precedent to draw from, Lagos government masterfully navigated the treacherous season that threatened to overwhelm cities and recovered with little socio-economic causality unlike many other economies around the world.
Its THEMES agenda became the beacon of achievement that other states were drawn to, which many others tried to replicate, and in three short years, this administration managed to activate the reality of functional transportation infrastructure with the delivery of two intracity Rail Mass Transit projects that have been commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari. This is while also scaling up infrastructure in public transportation services by improving BRT services, injecting new taxi scheme and energising traffic management agency for efficiency.
Of course, many can attest to the construction and commission of Lekki Deep Seaport and massive road construction projects in Eti Osa, Epe, Ikorodu, Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Alimoso, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Somolu and other areas.
Purposeful governance has also seen the administration deliver on its health sector promises with new hospitals in Badagry, Epe, and Eti-Osa, with those in Ikorodu, Ojo and Lagos Island on the way.
On environment, the Sanwo-Olu administration has so far constructed 210 new drainage channels to address issue of flooding in vulnerable communities, while also raising level of infrastructure in emergency response agencies. This includes the completion and equipment of four fire stations and recruitment of new fire fighters.
Interestingly, the administration’s commitment to quality education is just as commendable. Over 1,000 new classrooms have been added to public schools, with another 1,097 diverse projects completed in Lagos schools.
Teachers in the state have also received a knowledge boost with trainings in modern teaching techniques through Eko EXCEL and the provision of modern tools like tablets. This has been particularly impactful as the overall performance of Lagos students in WAEC has seen a record improvement from 42 per cent to over 83 per cent.
His investment in the entertainment sector in the state cannot also be overemphasised, which is why entertainers who operate across the state have clamoured for a return of the Sanwo-Olu administration since the campaign season started.
Across the socio-economic strata of the metropolis, there remains no doubt that everyone can feel the impact of the government.
The reality is that Lagosians, and even neighbouring states have not seen the best of the Sanwo-Olu, Hamzat administration as an eventful four years was not enough to deliver on their fantastic vision for the city of dreams. Lagos is a dream that is steadily rising to reality, and politicking should not stunt that rising. Instead, voters must ignore the din of the market that only seeks to distract and focus on returning the duo with the magical synergy to continue steering the ship of Lagos State.
Teju Ajayi is Principal Partner at The Architects Place Ltd.