By News Editor, Manny Ita
The economic nerve center of Nigeria is Lagos, aptly referred to as the Center of Excellence. Since the new democratic dispensation was ushered in the country in 1999, Nigeria’s center of excellence has witnessed a paradigm shift in terms of development policies which has seen the state develop in leaps and bounds in ways that sustain such developments, creating multiple streams of revenue for the state and of course employment.
In the past ten to fifteen years, It stands to be disproved that Lagos State has developed more than the country itself, making it a model for other states of the federation to emulate.
These commendable strides of the state were captured in the inaugural speech of Governor Sanwo-Olu, as he was sworn into office by the Chief Judge of the state, with his family beside him, May 29, 2019.
“In Lagos State, our story has been of successes and achievements. Since 1999, our tradition of progressive governance has set Lagos apart and strengthened people’s belief in our ideology.”
“And that is the very reason I stand before you on this historic day as your Governor. While we celebrate the victory of progressive governance and democracy, tomorrow we must be ready to stand on guard and be fully vigilant.”
“Democracy and progressive governance hold only to the extent that we protect and nurture them. While Lagos glimmers as a beacon of progressive and quality governance, our nation now undergoes a historic battle to establish progressive and just governance.”
In the build up to the primaries and eventual election, scores of intrigues and political maneoverings ensued and resulted in the upturning of the tables for the outgone governor, Akinwunmi Ambode who was in office for just a term.
In the last days of his tenure, Ambode spoke about the achievements of his tenure, grateful to the almighty for the opportunity to serve, and assured that the incoming governor would continue with the developmental culture of the state, especially keeping up with his policy on tourism and sports as a major revenue generator for the state.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu is not a political or administrative minion. Prior to his victory at the primaries, his was not really a name a good potion of Lagosians were familiar with, but it is interesting to note that this is a man who has been working behind the klieglights with virtually every administration in Lagos State since the inception of the current democracy, to which he attests;
“I have been a part of this progressive journey since its very inception. I know first-hand the concerted efforts that went into planning so many of the innovations we now see and enjoy.”
“It will be my job to continue that process by refining and perfecting the foundation laid by the preceding administrations.”
With his manifesto or political campaign hinged on ‘A Greater Lagos’, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat will seek to fulfil this promise, drawn on the framework, ‘T.H.E.M.E.S’; a 6-pillar development agenda which he spelt in detail below.
T – Traffic Management and Transportation
“Here, we must act with urgency to execute a transport masterplan that will fully integrate road, rail and water transportation into a multi-modal transport system that makes commuting easy for Lagosians.”
“We must also ensure compliance with all traffic rules and regulations on our roads.”
H – Health and Environment
“Because we know the significance of a clean environment in preventive healthcare, we have a moral duty to provide basic health care for our people, especially those who cannot afford it. Under our comprehensive health program, we will place special emphasis on maternal healthcare, malaria and water borne diseases.”
“We will also focus on sanitation and waste management, by ensuring that our drainage systems are functional and kept clean.”
E – Education and Technology
“We will invest in the education of our children and young adults. By increasing the budgetary allocation to education, this government will empower teachers in every local government and strengthen their capacity to deliver quality education to our children.”
“New educational infrastructure will cultivate a learning environment that prepares our children for a new world that demands creativity, intuition and critical thinking.”
“We will ensure technology is integrated into our school curriculum and empower our youths with the much-needed skills for the jobs of tomorrow.”
M – Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy
“By investing in critical infrastructure, we will accelerate the growth of our economy and empower the private sector who are the real engines of growth.”
“We must break the deadlock that shackles our power distribution, provide sustainable urban settlements that addresses the current deficit; while at the same time building a smart city that achieves urban harmony and sets a new bar in our nation.”
E – Entertainment and Tourism
“We will nurture and showcase our cultural heritage and unique hospitality, support our entertainment, visual arts and sports sectors, and inspire the kind of creativity from our most talented individuals that will enhance our reputation at home – and abroad.”
S – Security and Governance
“The last of these pillars of development is Security and Governance.”
Apparently a man on a rescue mission, from a career spanning more than two decades, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has been well honed and prepared for the novel challenge of governing the people he has over the years been working behind the scenes for.
His political career began in 2003, when he was appointed a Special Adviser on Corporate Matters to the then deputy governor of Lagos State, Femi Pedro.
Having satisfactorily performed, he was moved to the office of the acting Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget until 2007, when he became the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry Governor, Bola Tinubu. After the General Elections of 2007, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu was appointed Commissioner for Establishments, Training and Pensions by Governor Babatunde Fashola. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu was made Managing Director/CEO of the Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC) by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in 2016.
Some of his notable public sector achievements include the supervision of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) privatization projects. He set up and was the Pioneer Board Chairman of Lagos Security Trust Fund. The LAGBUS System and the Control & Command Centre in Alausa were subsequently established under his directives.
On 16th September 2018, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu formally declared his intention to run for the office of the governor of Lagos State under the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Party, making him a major contender to the incumbent governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
His declaration attracted endorsements from major stakeholders in Lagos State politics; including the Governor’s Advisory Council of the Lagos chapter of the All Progressives Congress and members of the Lagos State House of Assembly and on October 2, 2018, he won the Lagos gubernatorial primaries of the All Progress Congress on.
Initially the controversial manner and nature of his emergence seemed to cast aspersion on his acceptability by the majority of Lagosians, especially those not on the APC side of the political divide.
However, the man went on building bridges, meeting with different stakeholders of the state and warming himself into the hearts of the people.
Attempting to defang his critics who had sold a narrative which borders on the inquisitorial: Where is this Sanwo-Olu coming from? The man put it clearly;
“Let me first address the issue of where I am coming from because some people have been asking as if I just dropped from nowhere”.
“I studied seismic survey and upon graduation and Youth Service, I started working with Shell. In those days, we used to travel to Bayelsa and Rivers to prospect and, in those years, I was able to travel to Bomadi, Ekeremo, Torukere among others “.
“One of the things I learnt at that time was the need for effective engagement with people. Then, we would go to a community and, without asking them what their needs were, we will just do a borehole to provide water. But the people may not actually need your water, so they just look at you. So, when the tap becomes faulty, a repair that would not cost more than N500 would never be effected by the people because their buy-in was not sought before the service was provided and, therefore, they just allowed the water to waste away.”
“It is that same lesson that is guiding what we are bringing to the table for the governance of Lagos State. We are not saying that those there today don’t know what they are doing. But as I’m talking to you, we already have people out there going round and polling, asking people, seeking their views and feeling their pulse on what they think is best for them so that by the time we come in, by God’s grace, we hit the ground running.”
Indeed he is expected to, all things working in his direction, hit the ground running having been involved in every government of the state since the era of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu came into the government of Lagos State from First Atlantic Bank. Before this move, he was Treasurer at Lead Merchant Bank between 1994 and 1997; later, Head, Foreign Money Market at United Bank for Africa and Treasurer at First Atlantic Bank. From being Special Adviser on Corporate Matters in 2004, he was soon appointed as acting Commissioner for Economic Planning & Budget less than a year after he joined the administration of then Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
When ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) started reporting to him as budget commissioner, it also became part of his brief to track and provide intelligent analysis of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) by the various government agencies and parastatals, including the Board of Internal Revenue (BIR), for executive consideration and policymaking; as well as preparation and publication of the Lagos State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (LASEEDS). In 2006, he was appointed the Commissioner for Commerce & Industry. By 2007, he’d become the Commissioner for Establishment, Training & Pensions.
He was involved in the establishment of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund, the New Projects Initiation & Promotions Committee, the Lekki Free Trade Zone and chaired the Consultants Board. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode appointed Sanwo-Olu as CEO of the Lagos State Development & Property Corporation (LSDPC). According to his profile, “several housing projects commenced in the Victoria Island-Lekki axis within few months of his resumption, while similar projects – Courtland Villa, Igbokusu Lekki and Bayview Estate, Elegushi Lekki to mention a few were executed in quick succession, under the Joint Venture and Private Public Partnership (PPP) model operational in the State.
One of the flagship interventions of the LSDPC under Sanwo-Olu’s watch was recommencement of work on the abandoned 122-unit Lekki Apartments, which is currently near-completion”. Indeed, after a very long time, Sanwo-Olu said it was during his tenure as CEO of LSDPC that some form of dividends were beginning to accrue to Lagos State government.
Sanwo-Olu has won several awards, which include the symbol of excellence award from the Civic Enlightenment Association of Nigeria, a gold mentor award from the National Association of Nigeria Nurses & Midwives (NANNM), a platinum award from the Lagos State Public Service Club and the 2009 best in human capital development award from the Industrial Training Fund (ITF).
He is happily married to Dr Mrs Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu and they are blessed with children.
His running mate, Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat is also a well rounded man who has done well in his career path. A man whose know-how in information technology served three of the world’s largest banks – Citibank, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley Inc., as System Design Lead, Design, Implementation and Alignment of I.T Strategy with Business Direction, and as Consultant on System and Infrastructural Upgrade – Hamzat comes across as an individual well-grounded in his trade.
According to an extract from his official profile, Hamzat’s aptitude for conception and implementation of defining initiatives and projects could not be ignored. His perspicacity was put to more use by deploying him to the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure between 2011 and 2015, during Fashola’s second term.
They share a bond apparently and together it is expected that they would really hit the ground running.
OONI LAUDS AREGBESOLA @ 63, CALLS HIM AN EPITOME OF LOYALTY
Arole Oduduwa & Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II has described the Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as a great icon of public service and epitome of loyalty that must always found worthy of celebrations.
Ooni Ogunwusi who doubles as the permanent chairman of Osun state council of Obas and Co-chairman of National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria(NCTRN) spoke in a press statement released by his Director of Media & Public Affairs, Comrade Moses Olafare congratulating Ogbeni Aregbesola on his 63rd birthday.
“Congratulations from The Arole Oodua Olofin Adimula, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi to the Minister of Interior, Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Ogbeni Adesoji Rauf Aregbesola on his 63rd Birthday Anniversary.
The statement reads; “Ogbeni Aregbesola as a comrade, you started with student’s right activism over four decades ago. As a proponent of democratic rule, you in the 90s participated in the several pro-June 12 struggles which led to the enthronement of civil rule in 1999.
“You have since 1999 lived for the people through your sterling public service performances, first as Commissioner For Works and Infrastructure in Lagos state from 1999 to 2006, followed by your emergence as Governor of the state Osun from 2010 to 2018 and your current position as Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in charge of Interior through which you oversee very sensitive sections of Nigeria’s internal security like Immigration, Civil Defense, Fire service, Correctional service among other responsibilities.
“RAUF, you are indeed a great descendant of Oduduwa and a Nigerian patriot with incorruptible Pan Africanism for which you are always worthy to be celebrated. You are an Omoluwabi per excellence, a down-to-earth grassroot politician with incredibly huge followership, a great promoter of our cultural values and heritage, an icon of people oriented public service and an epitome of loyalty.”
Ooni, the foremost African monarch and Yoruba’s Natural leader prayed for good heath and longevity for Aregbesola who is the immediate past of the state of Osun.
“My dear Ogbeni, may the Almighty Olodumare keep upholding your entire household as you gloriously clock 63 today.
“We also pray the rest of your journey on this earth shall be characterized by sound health, meaningful long life and immeasurable prosperity.
Igba odun odun kan
Afon a gbo ko to wo
Happy 63rd Birthday!!!” Ooni prayed.
EID-EL FITRI: OONI CONGRATULATES MUSLIMS, SAYS THERE IS ALWAYS A REASON TO CELEBRATE
The Arole Oduduwa & Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II has congratulated Muslims in Nigeria and across the world especially those of Yoruba origin as the holy month of Ramadan comes to an end with the annual Eid-el Fitri celebration.
In a statement by his Director of Media and Public Affairs, Comrade Moses Olafare, the Ooni who is the Co-Chairman, National Council of Traditional Rulers explained that there are reasons to celebrate and thank the Almighty Allah for His goodness and mercies in every situations.
“Celebration here is not the conventional merriment of social gathering as we all know that there is an order against that especially in this situation we are all face with globally. The Ooni says we should celebrate in our various homes with our families by remembering Allah and why we should not give up in our hope of a better tomorrow.
“God in His infinite mercy shall accept our fasting and prayers including those we said against the rampaging coronavirus and other enemies of humanity. We’ve been through a lot together and we can’t but be grateful to God for keeping us.
“Although it is regrettable to realize that we cannot gather like before especially for the annual congregational prayers but we must make the best out of what we have while we hope and pray to be part of the brighter future.” The Ooni said.
In the same vein, the Natural leader of the Oduduwa race worldwide urged Nigerians to keep supporting the government in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic by observing the laid down precautionary measures including maintenance of social distancing, personal hygiene, regular hand washing and others.
African Guarantee Fund Announces Response to Economic Impact of COVID-19
African Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (AGF), has today announced its COVID-19 response aimed at reducing the uncertainties facing financial institutions in Africa as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. AGF’s COVID-19 response is built on the imperative need for commercial solutions over and above the regulatory efforts already provided by the various central banks and governments in the continent.
African Guarantee Fund’s response sets the platform for economic stabilization, followed by an economic revival through AGF’s newly developed COVID-19 Guarantee Facility that will, firstly, provide more comfort to financial institutions to restructure facilities that become non-performing because of COVID-19 and, secondly, provide commercial stimulus to the financial sector with the aim of mitigating the deterioration of SMEs’ perceived risk.
Commenting on the announcement, AGF CEO, Mr. Felix Bikpo said, “The consequences of COVID-19 pandemic will continue to have escalating negative effects on SMEs in Africa both on the supply and demand sides. Consequently, we must assume that there follows a deterioration of these SMEs’ creditworthiness. This is likely to increase the cost of credit for the financial sector which will surely increase their reluctance to finance the SME sector if there is no external stimulus. It is because of this that we must develop a commercial response in addition to the regulatory responses given by the different central banks and governments in the continent. Therefore, in line with our mandate we have launched the COVID-19 Guarantee Facility.”
AGF will also continue to use its technical assistance support to increase the capacity of financial institutions in their risk assessment of SMEs during the crisis period. This will allow analyzing the impact of the pandemic on the financial institutions, so as to forge the best possible responses to adapt effectively.
The African Guarantee Fund recently received a third time AA- Rating by Fitch, which was first assigned in November 2017, a first for a guarantee fund in Africa.
“This exceptional rating is a sign of confidence and trust in AGF’s operational excellence, particularly now that financial institutions are in need of cushioning to continue lending to SMEs, who hold the key to the economic recovery of their respective countries,” concluded AGF CEO, Mr. Felix Bikpo.
Since inception, AGF has boosted SME lending in Africa by issuing guarantees to financial institutions thereby unlocking loans worth USD 2.5 Billion.
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