Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State Governor-elect, in this interactions with select journalists in Lagos speaks on his plans for Lagosians and what he intends to achieve in his first 100 days in office. TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI brings the excerpts:
By May 29, it will be 20 years of democracy in Nigeria. Looking at Lagos in the last 20 years under the progressives, do you think we have fared well?
I honestly want to agree that it’s been worth it for us as progressives. More importantly, it’s been worth it for Lagosians. If we want to be fair, this is not the Lagos we had 20 years ago. Lagos was not the 5th largest economy in Africa 20 years ago. Lagos didn’t have a lot of things that we have now 20 years ago in infrastructure, health, education. Of course, we can also say that Lagos didn’t have this many traffic and refuse 20 years ago. So, what we see is that Lagos has grown to be one of the biggest mega-cities in the world in that space and it has come with its huge opportunities and of course with a lot of challenges. I am happy that the progressives have done very well in the last 20 years. They have created wealth for Lagosians, they have also built bridges and infrastructures all around the city. New schools have been built as well as new hospitals. They have also done a lot in terms of human developments. The revenue of the state has astronomically been enhanced through quality and effective representation. When they started in 1999, history shows that it was only a little over N600m that was internally generated but today, tens of billions have been generated now.
The question we need to ask is, is that also enough for today’s challenges? It’s definitely not but in terms of population, we have seen leaps and bounds of growth. People have come different parts of this country to live in Lagos as their choice and we are glad that Lagos too has been good to all of them. The first government that came in 1999 under the able leadership of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu brought in first-class technocrats and we have seen what has come out from those technocrats in terms of excellence service delivery. From all of that team which I will humbly say to you that I was also fortunate to be part of at the later years has thrown up people at the highest level of governance in this country. I won’t mention names but some have grown to be governors, one is a vice-president and so on. It means that if we can look back and see all of these things that have come out from this small Lagos that is less than half percentage in terms of size, then we know that the progressives have done a great job and they deserve kudos. Can we do better? That is why I am sitting here. We certainly can do a whole lot better, quicker and faster.
What do you intend to achieve in office in your first 100 days?
We will be running a marathon as if we are running sprint because of the various things that we have to do. We are hoping that in our first 100 days, we will have a working government. This means that all of our cabinet and the major appointments that we need to have, we will have them running very quickly. We should begin to see huge solutions in our traffic management scheme. In infrastructures, we are already in the rainy season; so even if we want to do some extensions and some laybys, there is a limit to what can you do because once it’s raining, you can’t pour concrete. Even when you pour concrete, sun has to come for it to dry to open up that lay-by.
Some of those issues will come up but in terms of identifying those corridors that we need traffic improvement, we have already done all of that. In terms of places that we need to improve and increase waste management solutions, we would have done all that. In the first three months, we would have roll out loads of waste management banks, where like I mentioned during my campaigns, sorting has to start from your kitchen which is where we are going to be looking for those colours of bags and then we bring them out we have a work in progress relationship with the PSP.
I imagine we would have made some capital expense in terms of procurement of new compactor trucks and other equipment but that will take a while before it comes in but we would have made those commitments within those period as well. Like I also said on the solution to Apapa gridlock, I believe that we would have solved it but the sustenance of it will be an issue if we are not careful. They will keep coming then and now but on a sustainable basis, it’s going to cost us money to put people there. Those are things that we need to do. We will also begin to work around the civil service within that period because we understand that all of these things we are talking about, we need professionals in the civil service to work with. So, in terms of capacity development and skill gaps, we need to quickly identify where they are in the public service so that we can put right people in the right places. In the areas of health and education, we would have rolled out a more detailed plan on what we need to do to ensure that growth in our education system is improved. For early education, a strategy would have been crafted out to show us what we need to do as soon as the kids are coming back to school in September 2019. On the health side, the collaboration that we need to have with the private sector to ensure that health is accessible will be given priority.
Affordability of it might still be a challenge in terms of identifying the vulnerable people but accessibility is something that we need to quickly deal with. On the issue of infrastructure, we would have developed plans on what new roads we need to build. At that time, you also need to be planning for next year’s budget. All these things we need to begin to implement very quickly. On the power sector, I imagine that in our 100 days in office, we would have a clear-cut policy with all the Discos and all the Gencos on how we must ensure that Lagos gets powered up very, very quickly.
Have you been briefed by the outgoing government on the lists of uncompleted projects in the state and will you give these projects priority when you assume office?
There have been several interactions that we have had. We have a transition committee. We have seen some documents in terms outstanding, though not in the way and manner I would have wanted them given the manner in which it was presented. We wanted a lot more detailed information as to how much were they? How much have been paid? How much is outstanding and so on? We didn’t get those detailed information but I cannot continue to explain now. From next week, I can actually request for some of these things. But in terms of completion of projects, they will form priority. What doesn’t get completed doesn’t get done. So, we will ensure that we do that and do them very well. There shouldn’t be any problem on uncompleted projects by the outgoing administration.