Dr Ayo Ogunsan
When Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, together with his deputy, Mr. Obafemi Hamzat, took over on May 29, 2019, many Lagosians, especially his critics, were oblivious of what administrative cum managerial skills he was bringing to the table; not having the slightest inclination about his game plans.
Of course, during the process of electioneering, as is characteristically common among political actors, he had campaigned with the T.H.E.M.E.S. agenda as a template. He had revealed that Project T.H.E.M.E.S. is an acronym for six strategic developmental agenda namely – 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.
Skeptics and pessimists would have, however, thought that would only exist forever on papers, as he had projected a litany of to-dos on the list, with the sickening traffic quagmire as perhaps most paramount among them.
To the amazement of everyone, Governor Sanwo-Olu, in the last two years, have commissioned laudable projects in the different sectors and fields of human endeavour — health, education, housing, agriculture, security, name it.
With Lagos as the fastest growing mega city in the world, currently expanding at about five percent a year, the influx of people into Lagos, on a daily basis, with its attendant challenges, has necessitated the dream of Mr Governor calling for a smarter Lagos, since the inception of his administration.
At a tech event organised by his administration, the amiable governor announced a N250million grant for tech startups to build on their innovative ideas — a project many have described as a move towards a smarter Lagos.
In the first phase of the Smart City Project, about 3,000km of fibre-optic cables are being laid, which will be 6,000km, upon completion, all geared towards achieving a smarter Lagos.
To overhaul the entire health sector, the illustrious son of Lagos created a blueprint for a total upgrade of infrastructure in the state-owned primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities, a project being executed by the Medical Project Implementation Unit (MPIU).
These include the remodeling of the Mainland Hospital in Yaba; Apapa General Hospital, Harvey Road Health Centre, Ebute Metta Health Centre, Isolo General Hospital and the General Hospital, Odan; two multi-level Maternal and Childcare Centre (MCC) in Eti-Osa and Badagry; a four-storey Faculty of Basic Medical and Clinical Sciences Office Block at Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM); Oxygen Centres in 10 locations across the state; construction of a 24-unit Doctors’ and Staff Quarters at Gbagada General Hospital.
To combat COVID-19, the state government had launched a tech-driven platform, EKO TELEMED, to curtail the spread of the pandemic from in-bound international travellers from high-burdened countries.
In road infrastructure, one recalls the Adiyan Waterworks Phase II and a massive rehabilitation of hundreds of inner roads across the state have been rehabilitated by the Lagos State Public Works Corporation (LSPWC), through an executive order. The governor strongly believes that if the sickening gridlock that has bedeviled the state must be tackled headlong, there must be zero tolerance for potholes everywhere.
On the long run, a broader roadmap for road projects has seen the completion and commissioning of roads across the State, such as the Tedi-Muwo Road and Link Bridge at the Lagos-Ogun State boundary that cuts across Alimoso and Agbado-Oke Odo; the 1.4km dual carriage Pen Cinema Bridge; the 13.68 kilometres Oshodi-Abule-Egba BRT corridor; 31 networks of roads in Ojokoro LCDA as well as six junction improvement projects to tackle traffic congestion under the Traffic Management Intervention Plan. In Lekki, the state government is building the Regional Road and the Lekki-Epe Expressway. In Ikorodu, there is the ongoing Agric-Isawo Road; Bola Tinubu-Igbogbo-Imota Road; Ijede Road; Oba Sekumade Road in Ipakodo and Itamaga to Ewu Elepe Town.
In the last two years, the state, under the watch of a performing governor, has completed and commissioned tens of new road projects, across the three senatorial districts, while completing the ones he inherited from the last administration. They include six junctions/roundabouts under our Traffic Management Intervention Plan (TMIP).
It seems plausible to state that perhaps one of the most remarkable good works of Mr Governor is the proactive step taken on the proposed 37km Fourth Mainland Bridge, which had seemingly merely existed only in our wildest dreams. Through a Public-Private Partnership process, both local and international contractors are now coming to bid so work can start in earnest.
In the education sector, teaching environments and teachers’ welfare have been largely prioritised by Mr Governor. Having upped the budgetary allocation for the sector, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has since commissioned over 1,097 school infrastructure projects, covering 970 schools across the 20 Local Governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas. About 322 dilapidated public schools were also renovated, providing 87,000 units dual composite furniture for 775 primary and secondary schools, with an additional 300 classrooms and seven new blocks of students’ hostel students were also completed.
In the area of capacity building for teachers, over 15,000 teachers were trained in the Eko Excel Programme and given tablets preloaded with the curriculum, while 12 cars were presented to outstanding teachers, as a motivation to do better.
While the payment of N679million was made to WAEC for 45,447 for the final exams of SS3 students in all public schools, over 4,500 out-of-school pupils were brought back to the classroom.
To ease commuting and traffic congestion occasioned by the densely populated metropolis, the workaholic governor has activated several options for commuting — water, rail and road. Only recently, he launched 500 units of First and Last Mile (FLM) buses, in addition to unveiling new BRT buses, which will be deployed to communities to aid commuting. This is in addition to completing the 13.68 kilometers Oshodi-Abule Egba BRT park.
Water transport has also been largely boosted, as about 15 jetties are in various stages of completion at the Ijede Waterfront and Offin in Ikorodu; Marina Waterfront, VIP Chalet, Apaa and Isalu Ajido in Badagry; Oke-Ira Nla and Takwa Bay, Eti-Osa; Liverpool Road in Apapa; Ebute-Ero on Lagos Island; Mile 2; Ijegun-Egba and Ilashe in Ojo; Ito-Omu in Epe, as well as Ilado in Amuwo Odofin.
Agriculture is another sector positively affected. The Imota Rice Mill is one unprecedented project that would forever remain on the lips of many Lagosians. Upon completion, it is said to be among the largest in the world and largest in Sub-Saharan Africa, producing 2.5million bags of 50kg rice, annually, while creating more than 250,000 jobs.
In the area of security, the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), since inception, has continued to enjoy the maximum support of Mr Governor in areas too numerous to count. Operational equipment are adequately provided for the police and other security agencies, for an efficient policing system. One ground-breaking move is the recent acquisition of body cameras for security and traffic monitoring to water down criminal activities in the state.
As for the housing sector, over 3,500 housing units have been delivered with thousands more underway. One of them is the Alhaji Lateef Jakande Housing Estate in Igando.
Mr Governor is, however, not lagging behind in the area of social intervention schemes, including skills acquisition and entrepreneurial projects for the teeming job-seeking youths across the states.
In all of these, the judicial arm is not left behind, as it received a big boost, with the deployment of technology and introduction of new reforms.
Chronicling how the present administration has fared in Lagos State, one cannot but agree that this is a pass mark, while looking forward to more extraordinary projects in the second half of this administration, with reference to the insatiable desires of an Oliver Twist who will always ask for me.
Kudos to our industrious governor, and wishing you all the best in the rest of the tasks ahead.
Dr Ayo Ogunsan is the Chairman of Executive Group and Board Member, Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF).