By Dapo Akinrefon
President, Campaign for Dignity in Governance, Comrade Razaq Olokoba, has taken a critical look at the performance of Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State in a short time and declared that the governor is on course.
The youth leader and activist also spoke on issues of national interests on which he gave President Mohammadu Buhari a pass mark. Excerpts:
What is your take on the current state of the nation?
As we can see that the government has been following to the letter all the promises made in terms of the manifesto of their party like poverty reduction, fight against corruption, security and the economy.
The situation the nation finds itself now, we should be thankful for the almighty that the party in power today has put all public officers who are prudently running the affairs of Nigeria in place. If it were to be another party that has been extravagant public office holders, we would have been in a bigger mess.
The finances of the country are so down that it needs people who are sophisticated to handle it. If we had gotten these type of people in power when the economy of this country was booming properly, I am sure we would have gone very far by now. But, be that as it may, what the government is doing now is commendable.
For the country to get out of the economic challenges, we have to get a workable plan. And we have examined the economic plan of the current administration, and you would agree with me that, it would surely take us out of the crisis we have found ourselves in terms of our finances as soon as possible.
What we only need from people is support. All over the world, governments have challenges. But we should not forget that the government cannot do it alone. There would be the need to embark on the drive for payment of tax. Willingly, Nigerians should be ready to pay tax now because we have had value for money. There are a lot of corporate organizations, individual citizens from all walks of life that don’t pay tax in this country.
There may be policies that may not be friendly coming up. But the consolation we should be giving ourselves is the policies would bring succour and happiness to us.
How would you score the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu in his 100 days in office?
The last time I spoke with the media, we tagged this administration and the cabinet coming on board as the government of redemption. If you look at all the areas of governance, including areas that have been lacking attention for the past four years, all of them are being given Midas touches.
Let us start from the crucial aspect of our society which is Road Network. The road network is so significant that there is virtually nothing you want to do that you would not need road directly or indirectly. So, if the road is in shamble, a lot of things would be in shamble. The economy would be in shamble. The security challenge would be there. A lot of things are tied to the road network and environmental development.
Thankfully enough, all the vital roads in Lagos have been given facelift while repairs on others are undergoing a facelift. The continental road we have which is Lagos-Badagry road, the contractors are back on site. Then the neighbouring roads that link major streets and major cities are also being given attention.
And looking back five, six months back, to travel around Lagos was a serious problem. But now there is a reward for voting Sanwo-Olu in the last election. Today, our roads are getting better. Lagos had no business with potholes about six, seven years ago. But after that, the pothole reared its ugly head. And that is being rectified Sanwo-Olu’s administration.
Can you same the same thing on security?
Yes of course. The security situation in the state is from the direct effect of the security situation in the country about three years ago. But today, officers and men of the Police’s morale is high. What Sanwo-Olu told them, I may not know, but what is crystal clear is that their morale has been boosted to do their job diligently! The new high spirit they are exhibiting in their duties has a lot to do with the style of Sanwo-Olu. So, the security situation in Lagos is getting better and improving tremendously compared to what we used to have about six months ago.
Are you comfortable with the economy of the state under him?
I am very comfortable with the economy of the state. We know that every resident in Lagos has at least, three dependants outside the state. So, if the population of Lagos is 20million, it means we have between 40 million and 60 million people depending on the Lagos economy. In the last four years, when the economy of Lagos suffered a setback, it was part of the reasons the economy of the country was also slumped a bit. So, if we improve the economy of Lagos, we have improved the economy of 62 to 70 million people in Nigeria.
What I am saying, in essence, is that the effects of economic policies of Lagos State have started germinating. We are beginning to witness it. If you talk to people on the street who do daily transactions on the road like selling recharge cards, roasted plantain, Okada riders, Danfo drivers, tri cyclists and other small scale businesses, are beginning to feel the impact of the new economic policies of the government.
In fact, we have seen that Sanwo-Olu has done so much in a very little time. And I can imagine what Lagos would look like in the next four years! And what Lagos would be is what Sanwo-Olu has promised to make it look like. That is, taking the state to the next level, the level of prosperity. So, Sanwo-Olu in the office is a road to proper Eldorado.
What can you then say are the Civil servants’ factor in Sanwo-Olu’s achievements as you have enumerated earlier?
Civil service is a very critical factor in governance. Civil servants play important and significant roles in the life of any government, particularly the way government is run in Nigeria. It is run via the public officeholders. If you train your civil servants and take care of them, you are not doing them any favour, rather, you are doing your government and by extension the good people of your state a lot of favour.
When Sanwo-Olu came on board, you would see that the sophistication and complexity of Lagos State, he knows it like the marks on his palm. He appreciates the need to do something about the transport system in the state. And he begins to redefine the new look of Lago State Transport Management Agency (LASTMA), marrying it with other aspects of the civil service. He has talked to them; he has made sure that the Staff Busses are in order by replacing the old ones with new. He even gave them more busses and redefined the routes for them properly.
With all those factors, even though we don’t have the knowledge, we feel the impacts. So, it is our duty, as Nigerians, as Lagosians and members of the civil societies to engage all these sectors. We used a barometer to assess this government and the response we got is that the life of an average Lagosian is getting better than before.
So, by and large, I know that civil servants would prosper more under Sanwo-Olu. We are going to have improved service delivery and we are going to have a well-connected civil service to the people of Lagos State.
What are you expecting from the people to further ginger the governor to do more?
Usually, our advice to the people is to remain committed to what the government is doing. Long before now, probably from the psychology of the military, we felt that, as civil servants, the government need to do more before you had confidence in them. But today, as far as the government does a lot of things to improve their life, they also need to go a long way to understand the government. In addition, you must understand the areas of strength of your government as well as its areas of weakness. This is what would inform you of what programme should design for your government.
Do you think his cabinet be an added advantage to his administration?
It is an added advantage to his government. If you look at the array of the members, you would see some hands that have been tested among them. And if you look at the new hands that had not been in government before, check their pedigree, their profiles and security checks on them, you would see that the cabinet is a marriage of sophisticated old hands and capable new hands. And that is how it works. It is the strength of the youth and the wisdom of the elders. It is the combination of a new breed, fresh ideas and old hands that had learnt the rope. That is how it works in any nations and in any organisations.
That is what I think Governor Sanwo-Olu has borrowed from and I can guarantee you that this administration is going to succeed.