By Babajide Sanwo-Olu
WE have chosen to serve God, and it is a wise choice. We know who we serve and we are committed to serving Him. According to the Bible in Matthew 6: 24, no man can serve two masters.Thus, you cannot serve God and serve mammon.
My contribution to the subject of service is quite simple. We all need to serve God. There is no doubt about that. But then, why do we really need to serve God? When we serve the people well, it is also a way of serving God. Hence, service to humanity is also service to God. There is no greater service than that.
So, as Christians who have chosen to serve, there is no greater service than the service that you offer to your fellow human beings.
Now, let me move to the role and responsibilities of Christians serving God in the political field. Interestingly, I fall into this category. But the question is: How well are we serving? How well are we improving the lot of the people?
Well, the THEMES Agenda of my administration was carefully crafted to meet the needs of our people. As the captain of the ship, I am always guided by the fact that God has put us here for the good of mankind. I know that our tenure is time-bound and I am always conscious of that. That, indeed, is why we have made the people the bedrock of our administration. The truth is that without the people, there can be no government.
Lagos is the nation’s economic and commercial nerve-centre; improving the residents’ journey time within the metropolis is necessary. That, in my view, is service to humanity. Ironically, some of the gridlocks that our people might be facing across the metropolis are by-products of our resolve to redevelop some of our roads.
We are working on many roads at the same time. We are constructing roads in Kosofe, Molebi, Demurin and Church Street. We are also building roads in Ogudu GRA, Mile 2, Festac, Ikorodu, Agege, Badagry, Alimosho, Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Bariga, Lekki, Agbado, Ebute-Metta and Iju, among others.
We are trying to make commuting easier for our people. That is a core service to mankind because transportation is key for human existence.This explains why we are working round the clock to make our dream of having rail transportation within the metropolis a reality. By the grace of God, this year, our dream concerning rail transportation will see the light of the day.
With this, our people will be able to commute easily from Agbado in Iju to Ebute-Metta within 15 to 20 minutes. That is what we consider an essential service to mankind. Mind you, we are quite mindful of the fact that working on many roads at the same time could be tough both on us as well as the people, but that is the price we all have to pay to have a better tomorrow. As they say, there is gain in pain.
We are not just building roads; we are also constructing brand new schools for our children so they could compete with other children from other parts of the world.Considering the relevance of education, we encourage our children, especially those out of school, to go back to school. There is no need for any child to be out of school.Let us get our children back to school because there is enough space for them in our secondary and primary schools.
We have improved the teaching environment. We are also training the teachers on how to use technology to improve teaching. Fortunately, the results are already matching our investment in the sector. Last year, the pass percentage in our public secondary schools moved from 39.78% to 79.64%.
Yet, we are not resting on our oars because we know that our people deserve nothing but the best.
On February 8, 2022, the National Universities Commission, NUC, stamped its seal of authority on the establishment of two specialised universities in Lagos State.This implies that we now have two new state universities for our children to attend. We will keep working for the good of our people until we fulfill every of our electoral promises. This, in our conviction, is the essence of real service. We want our people to judge us by what we do.
In the last two and a half years, over 58,000 households have been rescued from poverty through our various social intervention programmes under which women got cash transfers and acquired skills. Also, 2,704 Lagos residents whose means of livelihood were disrupted by COVID-19 were supported with cash grants. Equally, 500 women were assisted with N20,000 each in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs’ Rural Women Grants; 250 women were empowered through an empowerment workshop on intercrop of maize and cassava with demonstration plots for practical knowledge.
Additionally, 1,050 rural women were given intensive training aimed at boosting their outputs in agricultural production while also giving the beneficiaries equal access to markets.
Over 25,000 Lagosians were trained in diverse skills such as textile design, hairdressing, barbing, cosmetology, photography, shoe and leatherworks, fashion design, tiling, interior decoration, and Ankara craft, among others, in our skill acquisition centres.
Eighteen outstanding students from the centres were also supported with N100, 000 each to boost their morale. In the heat of COVID-19, students at the centres produced 500,000 face masks for public use. Since June 2019, the centres have graduated over 6000 trainees.
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Similarly, over 27,000 Lagosians have benefited from the CodeLagos scheme aimed at making coding education and technology accessible to Lagosians. It had a total of 611 facilitators, who also eked a livelihood out of the Programme.
Likewise, over 18,000 residents have been empowered through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, LSETF, with a quick and affordable loan for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, to start up, build, expand and create wealth and employment for the residents.
We have equally successfully supported 1,835 businesses with N939.97 million and saved 10,005 direct jobs and 40,020 indirect jobs through the MSME Recovery Fund. Also, a N1 billion fund, targeted at businesses in the tourism, hospitality, entertainment, arts and culture sector, was set up to be accessed as both loans and grants.
In the last two years, we have invested in the upgrade of public health facilities to enhance access to quality healthcare. We have commissioned four Mother and Child Centres, MCCs, at Eti-Osa, Igando, Badagry and Epe.
We have renovated and remodelled the Mainland Hospital in Yaba, with future plans of making it an Institute of Research for Infectious Diseases. We have also completed the remodelling and upgrading of Apapa General Hospital, just as the Harvey Road Health Centre, Ebute Metta Health Centre, Isolo General Hospital and the General Hospital, Odan are all undergoing renovation.
All of these are part of service to make health accessible to Lagosians.
Similarly, we have begun the construction of the New Massey Children’s Hospital in Adeniji-Adele, Lagos. When completed, the seven-storey, 150-bed hospital is expected to be the largestpaediatricscentre in West Africa.Approval has been given for a 1,500-bed Psychiatric Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre at Majidun in Ketu Ejinrin.
Also, in partnership with the private sector, we have handed over oxygen plants at the Mainland and Gbagada General Hospitals. The Triage and Oxygen Centres in 10 locations across Lagos have also been delivered.
We have also stepped up our efforts toward spreading the ‘Ilera-Eko’ health scheme across the State. We now have more ‘Ilera-Eko’ offices at the grassroots. This is to further make it possible for vulnerable residents to have access to effective, quality and affordable health care services.
We are also creating more opportunities for our youths to be productively engaged. We are building cyber infrastructure to help them with digital skills needed to be active in the global digital economy.
Before the middle of this year, we will be commissioning the biggest rice mill in Africa. This mill will produce 2.5 million 50kg bags in one year. We are working. We are serving.
Given the necessity of effective security in a metropolis like Lagos, we keep creating creative means to ensure a safe and secure Lagos for all.
No doubt, we have challenges here and there. That is normal in a state with such a huge population as Lagos. However, as long as God gives us strength, we will continue to serve our people.We will continue to work for them. We will continue to ensure we make life better for our people. That is what we signed for. That is what we will keep doing. That is what service is all about.
Being excerpts from Lagos State GovernorSanwo-Olu’s response at the Interdenominational Divine Service organised by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) at the Apostolic Church, LAWNA Territorial Headquarters, Ketu, Lagos on February 19, 2022.