Lately, there has been so much talk about what Gov. Sanwo-Olu has done in Lagos in the past 7 months. Erroneously, people have reduced all he has been able to do to only fixing of roads. Yes, he has done a lot in that area, to overcome the road infrastructural challenges he met with a view to easing human and vehicular movements across the state. But, we found out that he has done a lot more than that.
A few weeks back, City People Magazine went round the state to see, first hand, all the areas he has touched and we found out that he has done impressively well in the areas of Health, Education, Traffic Management, Environment Security & Governance.
We discovered that he has been able to touch lives as it concerns his 6-point Agenda, THEMES, namely: (1)Traffic Management & Transportation, (2) Health & Environment, (3) Education & Technology, (4) Making Lagos a 2st Century Economy, (5) Entertainment & Tourism, (6) Security & Governance.
City People found out that since May 29, 2019, when he came in as Governor, he has done a lot in the area of Traffic Management & Transportation.
He has been trying to integrate Road, Rail & Water. Transportation to ease commuting by Lagosians. He has begun work to complete existing road projects, while new ones are also getting his attention. We found out that Gov. Sanwo Olu has begun work on the ongoing Blue Line rail project from Okokomaiko to Marina. He has also begun work on the fixing of inner roads.
How about in Health & Environment? We discovered that there is an ongoing provision of affordable, qualitative and accessible Health Care. He has also done much on the improvement of Primary Health care facilities in the 52 LCDAs. He is aggressive on making Lagos cleaner and right now there is an effective delivery service by Lagos State Waste Management Authority.
We couldn’t believe what we saw in the Education and Technology sectors. There is an ongoing massive renovation of schools to make classrooms conducive to learning. Since he became Governor, he has been exposing Teachers constantly to a new set of skills needed to enhance professionalism and effective performance. He has begun work on enhancing the growth of Lagos as a Smart City through technology.
City People also discovered that Gov. Sanwo Olu has made moves to simplify access to government service for the private sector to blossom. He has also begun work on making Lagos become a 24-hour economy.
In the area of Security & Governance, working with the new Lagos Police Commissioner, the Governor has set the right tone to ensure security & safety of lives and property. We found out that in the Entertainment and Tourism, Gov. Sanwo Olu has begun to boost the creative economy with Tourism, Culture & Entertainment.
In Road rehabilitation, 8 multi-national construction firms have been carrying out massive rehabilitation of critical highways across the state.
This is aside, the extensive palliative and maintenance work being executed by the Public Works Corporation.
This reconstruction and upgrading of strategic roads, such as the 6.05. Kilometers Phase 1 Road from Itamagba to Ewu Elepe town, the 7.8 kilometers Owutu-Agric-Ishawo, Road Phase One and Bola Tinubu-Igbogbo-Imota Road in Ikorodu, have also begun.
Similarly, the Victoria Island, Lekki Traffic Circulation project on the Oniru axis is receiving attention. The project, being undertaken by Lagos State Government and Access Bank under a Public-Private Infrastructure Improvement Partnership arrangement, is aimed at reducing heavy vehicular traffic significantly at Victoria Island, Oniru and Lekki axis.
The Pen Cinema Bridge is another massive infrastructural project the government is keen on completing in record time. The long-abandoned Lagos-Badagry Expressway is getting attention. When fully reconstructed, this all-important highway has the potential to draw more people to the Badagry division to form new clusters of industries, commerce and logistics, and become new economic growth points. Lagos has the resources, population and a development plan that accommodates such.
The intermodal-multimodal transport system is also being strengthened. Recently, the Uber Boat service, a partnership between a global ride-hailing company and Lagos State Waterways, Authority, LASWA, commenced operation. The partnership attests to the confidence global investors repose in Lagos as an investment destination of choice.
As we moved round the state, there are clear evidence everywhere of the Sanwo Olu government’s touch, to add value to people’s lives and proffering creative solutions critical to societal needs.
All that we saw made City People Publisher, SEYE KEHINDE visit Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, the Commissioner for Information & Strategy in Lagos State, who further provided a breakdown of all what the governor has done in just 7 months.
Below are excerpts of City People’s interview with the honourable Commissioner for Information. He reveals a lot.
What has your experience been like managing the Information portfolio of Gov. Sanwo-Olu government so far? What kind of a person is he?
Mr. Babajide Sanwo Olu is a journalists delight. If you have this kind of Governor as a boss it would make you very happy. He makes your job very simple. He is very cerebral, very articulate. He has a clear vision of what he wants to do. He has a clear picture of what governance should be. He has a clear vision of what Lagosians want. And he is working Day & Night towards achieving these goals that he has set out in his THEMES Agenda. The Themes are his plans and Agenda. THEMES are his 6 pillars of Development which were formulated for the development of Lagos. He is a kind of boss who apart from the official side of him, has the social side of him like any other human being. He is a good guy, very pleasant. He is a man of ideas. He is always thinking. He is always borrowing ideas from you. He is a good guy, very nice to be with. Many don’t know he is humorous. Many people don’t know that. But when he has to be firm, he will surely be. He does not take matters of work lightly. He is very serious-minded.
What has he been able to achieve in the last 7 months? How did you manage the perception in some quarters that the wheels of government were a bit slow in the early days before commissioners came in?
Our opponents latched on to that. We had to thank many Lagosians for being patient and for their understanding and for being there for the government. The governor didn’t hide anything away from the people. The Governor made it very clear to the people why there was a bit of delay in repairing bad roads. He came in during raining season. It was pouring in Lagos. The rains were pounding Lagos, so they had to wait for a while. The weather was not friendly. It was rain, rain all the way, so much so that nobody could go out there to be repairing and fixing roads. So, he was working on other aspects of governance, ready to begin road fixing once the rain reduces or stops. But it was as if everything the Governor was doing was just being measured by the state of the roads and some people wanted to tag the government slow. But the truth is that he wasn’t shown. He was active. We thank God the perception has changed. You can see how the Government tackled the road repair and maintenance.
The Governor promised that after the rains, he was going to fix the roads. And since the rain stopped, he has been fixing the roads and he has not stopped. As I speak with you now, over 200 roads have been fixed and more are coming. The government is going to fix more roads. It is going to be a continuous exercise.
Those in areas where roads have not been fixed should please take it easy. The government is coming. Just like I said earlier, the achievements of the government are being measured by the rate at which roads are being fixed. What the government has done is much more than roads.
He has done a lot. Like the Governor has said, in Infrastructure, the government has done a lot. The Blue Rail line is ongoing.
For some time now, that project was not funded. Not much was happening on it. Right now the project has got to a stage, where we can begin to say it’s going to become a reality. The government’s plan is that by this time next year, the Blue Line should start test running and Lagosians would in no time from then, begin to use it.
The Blue Line runs from Marina to Mile 2 to Okokomaiko area. And the Red Line people are coming up to say they are capable of building it and some of the contractors have been selected. They are going into the stage they call the Data route stage. For them to be able to convince the authorities that they could build the Red Line along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway that will connect that of the Blue Line. As soon as all those are done, the Transportation problem that we are having in Lagos would be solved.
And very soon, 6 boats are going to be commissioned. This is to encourage Lagosians to use the waterways and take the pressure off the roads. When this is done, Lagosians will feel the impact of the government on water transportation that would open up the rural areas, which would make Lagosians travel with less stress. Now, routes will be opened.
Let’s talk about Education. What has the government been able to do in the area of Education?
The Governor has done a lot. Talking about Education, as we speak, about 5,000 teachers are being trained. The training will end in a few days with a ceremony at The Blue Roof at LTV. The Teachers have never seen this kind of training for a long time. They will become digital teachers as they now call themselves because they have all been given tablets that they will all be using to do their jobs. They are going to be having lesson notes on these tablets that they will be holding. They are hand-held devices.
All the teachers will be having the same lessons all over in all primary schools. Unlike what obtains before. This will allow their supervisors to monitor their performance. The idea is that if we get it right at the primary level, at the tertiary level, it will be easier for us.
Apart from that, the teachers themselves as the Governor said when he visited them at the training, they are going to have their reward here on earth and not in heaven because they will be rewarded like other players in other sectors are being rewarded.
Some of them are going to be rewarded with fantastic prizes like cars and everything that will make them know that teaching is a calling that is noble, and everybody should respect. All of us know the role of teachers in our lives.
How about the Health sector?
A lot is happening there right now. A lot will still happen there. Let me tell you what is going on there now. The focus of the Babajide Sanwo Olu administration is the Primary health care centres which are being given life. The focus is on this sector. We are refurbishing as many of the Primary Health Care Centres as possible. They are present in all the local government areas, but what we have found out is that most people don’t even know that the Primary Health Care Centres can take care of them when they are ill. Can you imagine, people have a stomach ache, headache and they run to Secondary Health Care Centres like LASUTH. The idea is that this should stop. So, the Tertiary Health Centres can take care of things like malaria, and other diseases and illnesses that are not so serious. We are equipping them. The centres are going to be well-equipped.
They are going to have better facilities. They are going to have some of their challenges resolved. They will have more doctors. They will have more nurses and more health care personnel. We are refurbishing all those health centres so that people could have confidence in them, that actually when they are ill, they could actually be taken care of by these Primary Health Centres.
What is happening in Housing?
A lot is happening in Housing. Some of the housing projects that have been there for some time are being completed in Ikorodu, in Sangotedo. Already, we have opened the one in Igando. Its called The Jakande Gardens. They are projects that can take care of thousands of Lagosians housing needs.
More & more houses are still going to be built. There are some that are going to be completed soon, in Surulere, and so many places. The one at Sangotedo has been completed now.
How about Transportation?
A lot is happening in Transportation. There are so many activities there. If you look at the THEMES agenda of the Babatunde Sanwo Olu’s administration, the 1st pillar of Development is Transportation and Traffic Management.
In Traffic management, a lot is going on, for Lagosians to be able to drive through the City without stress.
I have noticed the ongoing construction at Alade Market roundabout in Ikeja. What is it all about?
Like you have noticed, the ongoing work there is part of the transportation idea of easing the traffic problems in the city. There is a lot of roundabout refurbishments or re-modeling going on now across the city. It is part of efforts to reducing traffic gridlock in the City. There are about 60 traffic gridlock points in the city. The idea came after a study that if we remove some of the roundabouts, traffic would flow better, like the one in Ajah (at the 2nd roundabout), the one in Maryland, the one in Egbeda and the one at Allen Avenue/Alade Market are being removed or reworked. That of Allen Avenue roundabout will be remolded. The Aromire Road is going to be expanded. So that it can take in more traffic.
There is a controversy over the public artworks being removed from the roundabouts. Why are they being removed?
Let me take this opportunity to talk about the artworks that are being removed from the roundabouts. Removal is quite different from Relocation. Some people are even saying they are being destroyed. That is not true. They are not being destroyed at all. The Babatunde Sanwo-Olu’s administration is a lover of Arts. He is a friend of so many people in the Arts Community. And he has assured them before the commencement of the project that their works won’t be destroyed or smashed.
The families of people whose representations are on these artworks have been consulted.
The Fela Anikulapo family, the Awolowo family that nobody is going to smash the artworks. They are just being relocated. There are some of the artworks that can still stay where they are now, but for safety, while the remodeling is done, they have to be relocated. So, the relocation of the roundabout is part of the idea of easing traffic gridlock in the state. (Part 2 next week.