Sanwo-Olu and the March #ForAGreaterLagos – Setting the Records Straight

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By Dare Dairo

Good governance is about much more than who wields power. That is the realms of politics. It is more and most essentially about what the people gets from the deal.  Peace and stability is a basic ingredient for good governance, and both are premised on the sacrosanctity of the rule of law.  The common assumption that Lagos is a “no man’s land” is a testimony to the fact that in Lagos, everyone has equal chances to make it.  That is largely a function of rule of law.

But rule of law alone does not guarantee good governance.  In the DNA of a progressive government, there is a trinity that determines the pace and quality of development that the people gets. The tripod of a progressive government lies on the shoulders of Civil Servants, The Politicians, and then the Civil Society; meaning that there must be a harmonious balance of Politics, Governance and the right Economic Policies.

Governance is essentially in the hands of the civil servants.  Politicians do what they know best, while the Civil Society Organizations serve as watchdogs to the rule of law that provides peace and stability upon which every other thing depends – including and essentially the economy.

Lagos State has been lucky.  Whereas government at the center became an all-comers affair at the end of military rule in 1999, lacking depth and direction, a crop of young, visionary key Civil Society actors who were actively involved in ousting the military from power maintained their vigil over government and governance in Lagos State. Forming the nucleus of the June 12 movement, they stood firm in defiance to tyranny and brutality of the military junta. Not given to armchair criticism, they got involved as they went into partisan politics in the State.

Some of them paid the ultimate price, paving the way for return to democracy. Their strategic and dogged issue-based opposition birthed what remains the freest and fairest election that Nigeria ever had, in “Hope ‘93”.  These men and women were the forbearers of the new brand of politics and governance in Lagos State, characterized by the values and vibrancy of human rights activism from which they were moulded.

Their foray into governance was characterized by massive infrastructural rejuvenation and an innovative solution-oriented policy climate that fosters a Public-Private Sector synergy leading to rapid economic growth and social development in Lagos State. Modernizing the visionary development blueprints handed down by the political class of Legendary Lateef Jakande, himself a product of activism, they formulated a new development master-plan for Lagos State which of necessity set a new paradigm of leadership excellence as a vital prerequisite for driving the quest #ForAGreaterLagos.

This new crop of politicians brought their sterling pedigree to bear in politics and governance in Lagos State.  Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu remains the class act of this new standard.  A vibrant Senator in the botched third republic, he became Governor of Lagos State in 1999.  Before his foray into politics, he traversed the crème of the corporate world where he left indelible prints.  Mobil Oil Company left his office vacant for several years to entreat him back to the company if perchance he chose to return from politics.

Under the stewardship of BAT, Lagos State challenged the oppressive meddle of the Unitary System of the Federal Government regime of Olusegun Obasanjo by challenging several draconian policies that were stifling growth and development potentials of Lagos State.  These bold and innovative moves were not without consequence as OBJ retaliated by illegally withholding the monthly allocation for Lagos Sate from the federation account for more than four years.  He was actively supported by his then vice-president now PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

A consummate political strategist; visionary, practical and humane leader, Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu surrounded himself with a crop of men of proven mettle and integrity.  Among them was the current vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, serving then as the Attorney General of Lagos State in Tinubu’s first term, Babatunde Raji Fashola, serving as Chief of Staff in Tinubu’s second term and Akinwunmi Ambode who was Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Accountant General for Lagos State under Fashola.  All these men, and many more too numerous to mention for the purpose of this article have later gone on to shape the history and political landscape of this nation.

Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu began his journey into public service during this critical formative days of the master plan #ForAGrreaterLagos as  Special Adviser on Corporate Matters to the then Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Femi Pedro, and later Special Adviser on Corporate Matters to Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Prior to his appointments in public service, he had made his marks in the financial sector as Treasurer at former Lead Merchant Bank from 1994 to 1997, before moving to the United Bank for Africa (UBA) as the Head of Foreign Money Market. He subsequently moved to First Atlantic Bank, Plc. (now part of First City Monument Bank), from where he retired as a Deputy General Manager and Divisional Head.  He left indelible prints in the Oil & Gas industry as a Seismic Surveyor with Geophysical Limited, prospecting Crude Oil for Shell Petroleum Development Company and later for Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC between 1989 and 1991.

Beyond the tenure of BAT, BOS has stayed the course of #ForAGreaterLagos as a 3-term Commissioner for a period spanning the eight years of BRF and, and Managing Director of the Lagos State Property and Development Corporation LAPDC under the administration of current Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.  He had also served in various boards and agencies in the Lagos State government.

In all his years in service, BOS has demonstrated the characteristic traits of the DNA for the new paradigm of leadership excellence required #ForAGreaterLagos. He displayed the typical spirit of activism in solidarity with workers in Lagos State when he paid the workers in the transport ministry the ₦18,000 minimum wage long before the federal government and even other ministries in Lagos state.  He also established first pension commission to ensure a blissful retirement for workers, long before the federal government did so.

Drawing on his experience and contacts in the financial sector, He also displayed the typical financial ingenuity for public sector funding by establishing the Lagos State Security Trust Fund and procuring vital security and policing equipment to beef up security in Lagos state without recourse to government funds.  He also established the LAGBUS, also without government funding.

In all, it is pertinent to set the records straight that the man Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has always been an integral part of the #ForAGreaterLagos vision.  Stepping into the mantle of leadership as the next governor of Lagos State is only a fait accompli for the good people of Lagos State, members of the Civil Society Organizations, the Civil Servants and the Organized Private Sector who have all and always stood vigil over the course of governance in Lagos State.


Dare Dairo is the Co-Convener of 70 Civil Society Organizations for Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu #70CSOs4BOS

Personal Contact Details:

E-mail: dairodare@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dare-dairo-30a5233b

Twitter: @DareDairo

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