365 days of BOS –
Reading through the anniversary speech of Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, the first thing that struck me was his devotion of 892 out of the 3,163-word speech to the broad theme of transportation, particularly his efforts in the last 12 months to give Lagosians a comprehensive model that they deserve. Yes, the sector, perhaps followed by the environment, has remained one that most Lagosians consider not only sticky but also the most measurable index of governance at any point.
Could it be the governor’s definitive answer to his hordes of critics who had accused his administration of a slow start – a charge understandably fuelled by the frustration with the inexplicable and simply mind-boggling meltdown in the closing last laps of the Akinwunmi Ambode administration?
I do not think the governor spoke too soon given the heightened anxieties that ushered him into office – the daily agonies faced by motorists as a result of the near-total collapse of infrastructure, the return of the mountain of refuse in street corners and neighbourhood fostered by the ill-thought out outsourcing of the waste management system and the resurgence of outlawry on the motorways notably by Okada riders; today, while as it might seem early to award the trophy for sterling performance considering that the administration still has 36 months to go for its first term, the past year, for the hard-tasking Lagosians must have offered them a glimpse into the promises of the coming years. Today, Lagos, that proud city of Excellence is finally returning to its own as a well-ordered, livable megacity.
In this, there can be no denying the governor as indeed the team that he leads, that their different approach – the fresh vision, methodical, or of you like disciplined and focused approach to governance in the last 12 months – has made all the difference. Put in the context of the global Covid-19 pandemic which is currently ravaging the world, the attendant lockdown which has impacted negatively on the state’s ability to drive its Internally Generated Revenue coupled with the global slump in oil prices resulting from the scourge, not even the typically the hard-tasking Lagosians could have taken the steadying arms of the BOS team for granted. Yes, some of the development may have been unpredictable; but then, they also represent the litmus test for which the leadership deserves the credit for standing tall. As for the other general developments just as the governor noted in the speech, nothing of the achievements reeled out are anything outside of the scope of what the administration sought to do from inception as aptly captured in its THEMES agenda; the difference being that these are finally translating to those deliverables that Nigerians love to see.
Now to some specifics. This time last year, Lagosians will recall what the states of the road infrastructure was. Yes, Lagosians are aware that the state is usually in a mess during rainy seasons as many parts are usually submerged in flood, making movements difficult for motorists and residents. What they could not have bargained for was the pathetic absence of mitigating hands of the government. Recall that in July last year, the state House of Assembly gave the Public Works Corporation (LSPWC) a thumb down for its poor record of maintenance of the roads and other ancillary infrastructures in the state. For an agency that had hitherto enjoyed a long tradition of stellar performance – and which once relished announcing to the Lagos taxpayer that their tax money was being put to good use, that censure must have come as one of its lowest moments. Remember, this was barely two months into the inception of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration. Trust Lagosians to be unsparing when it comes to taking their governments to task: for them, it was no time for niceties, after all governance is supposed to be a continuum; the new administration’s plea that bitumen – a major raw material for road construction/rehabilitation – and the deluge then ravaging, do not mix – may well be story for the fantasia -land; no one appeared impressed! None of the excuses, the chorus went, was good enough!
That was then. Ever since, the administration has plodded on, convinced that results, rather than fancy arguments, will in the end assuage the people’s expectations. In the meantime, it did the much it could within the limits that the inclement weather would allow at the time. I recall one particular incident, when the government, under immense pressure moved in to fix some failed portions along the Ikorodu Road particularly the crater-infested Independent Underpass at Maryland. No sooner had the work gang moved in to fill up the craters than the rainwaters stepped to undo the works! The rest, as they say is history. Which is why the testimony of May 29 is important, not just as a reminder of the journey thus far but something of a benchmark to assess the records of the administration.
Thanks to the administration’s interventionist measure, sanity has since returned to the roads. The Pen Cinema Bridge, the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, the Agric-Ishawo Road and the four junctions’ improvement projects at Allen Avenue, Maryland, Ikotun and Lekki among others are currently undergoing Sanwo-Olu’s Midas touch. We see concrete efforts in the 31 networks of roads in the Ojokoro axis – a feat that has now brought succour to residents from the agony brought about by perennial traffic gridlock in the area. Presently, the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) for Bus Reform Scheme at Ikeja and Oshodi Bus Terminals are wearing a new look in preparation for commissioning. So also, is the Oshodi Abule-Egba BRT Corridor; the Oyingbo Bus Terminal as indeed many other projects now ready to b put to use for the benefit of Lagosians. Yet, as important as these initiatives are to ridding Lagos of the traffic gridlock, it seems to me that the administration’s joker might be the administration’s focus on water transportation. One notable step in this regard is the February 4 commissioning eight new state-of-the-art ferries. And of course, LAGFERRY, the holding company, has commenced full-sale commercial operations.
In the health sector, we can talk of two Mother and Child Centres, MCCs at Eti-Osa and Igando already commissioned for use while those of Badagry and Epe are nearing completion. And not least the BOSKOH Health Mission International and the Benjamin Olowojebutu Foundation, under which some 250,000 Lagosians were given free medical interventions across several locations in the state. The same with education where massive investments are being made to expand the infrastructure across the board while taking care to upscale the skills of teachers with a view to fitting them into a future driven by Information Technology.
These are just a few of the areas in which Lagosians readily testify that the Sanwo-Olu administration has acquitted itself rather creditably in the last 365 days.
The administration, no doubt, has a long way to go. Thanks to the yeoman’s job of Tunji Bello and team in the Water Resources and Environment ministry, a lot of waterways and canals are being restored. Much in this respect, depends on whether the citizens play their part by not impeding those natural pathways through which the floodwaters are expected to flow. Hopefully, the results of their efforts will begin to show as the rainy seasons peaks.
Still want to know whether the BOS-KOH team has one well? My answer: proof of the pudding is in the eating.