In the last couple of days, the Jack Of All Trades, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos State has tried his hands on alternate careers as he campaigns for reelection. Interestingly, he seemed to have excelled in them better than in his current job of being the governor of Lagos State.
Sanwo-Olu is standing for re-election as governor of Lagos State against strong opposition candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party, amongst others. Prior to the wave of the ‘obident’ movement, Sanwo-Olu had notably paid little to no attention to the people of Lagos state; he didn’t show up for debates and neither did he seem to be running any sort of campaign for reelection.
Ahead of the gubernatorial elections slated for Saturday, 18th of March, Sanwo-Olu in the last couple of days has been seen casually strolling in a mall with an ice cream tub in hand, and has amongst other roles, explored life as a mechanic and a church usher. His twitter account has also rediscovered new vigor, and Lagosians on twitter are suddenly being treated to constant news and updates from the governor who, prior to the presidential elections, seemed to have vanished into thin air.
Does this perhaps remind you of that ex who senses you are moving on and is trying all he/she can to come back into your life and wreck it finally?
Where did Sanwo-Olu go wrong and why is he trying so hard to win back the heart of Lagosians?
Sanwo-Olu kicked off his administration as the governor of Lagos State with different new policies, one of which was banning commercial motorcycles. His justification was that motorcycles weren’t part of the blueprint of Lagos State and the alternative means of transport had to go. Motorcycles were a resort for many Lagosians to beat the traffic that comes with living and working in Lagos. Many people were forced to trek to destinations that were not recognised as bus stops, or even be stuck in traffic on the bus.
Motorcycles as a means of transport wasn’t only lost and people rendered jobless, it also affected ride-hailing companies like Gokada, Opay, and Max. A lot of employees were laid off and many of them joined the millions of unemployed Nigerians. The Lagos state governor didn’t provide an alternative for the people who became jobless as a result of the policy.
Sanwo-Olu didn’t stop there. The governor of Lagos State was clearly on a mission and he was determined to complete it. He arbitrarily closed down the Eko bridge in the early hours of the day and exacerbated the traffic situation. Moving around in Lagos became harder.
In 2021, when the Eko bridge was later reopened, armed robbers overtook the bridge, and the issue was reported to the governor. His now infamous response to distressed Lagosians was “Roll up your windows and stay safe”. This was shocking because the first action the Chief Security Officer of the state should have done was to draft security men to be on the bridge and protect the lives and properties of the citizens but Governor Sanwo-Olu didn’t do that.
Amid the incessant falling of haulage vehicles on the Ojuelegba bridge, Sanwo-Olu, as his iconic responses go, ’instructed’ the containers to stop falling and hurting the people of Lagos. For some reason, the heavy duty vehicles didn’t obey the governor’s order. Since then, not less than three containers have fallen leading to the loss of lives and properties of the people of Lagos state.
However, in all of these, what broke the camel’s back was the Lekki massacre.
On the 20th of October, 2020, in the heat of the #EndSARS protest, Governor Sanwo-olu, in the middle of the day, announced a curfew that would take effect from 4pm . The governor didn’t take into consideration that it was a weekday and with the traffic on Lagos roads, it was virtually impossible for everyone to be inside before 4pm. Upon the pushback that followed the announcement, the curfew was however moved to 8pm. However, by 7pm, soldiers of the Nigerian Army showed up at the Lekki Toll Gate and opened fire at innocent and unarmed Nigerian citizens, many of whom were waving the Nigerian flag thinking it would prevent the soldiers from shooting them. It didn’t. Tens of people were massacred, and many more were fatally injured in the shootout.
Sanwo-Olu denied ever inviting the soldiers and also denied that people died at the Lekki Toll gate that fateful night. Save for DJ Switch’s live video of the event which many Nigerians watched online, Sanwo-Olu and the government would have gotten anyway with this dastardly act and successfully denied that nothing happened.
Almost two years later, Lagosians and Nigerians are still shocked by the events of October 20, 2020.
As a sitting governor, Sanwo-Olu has a long list of wrongs meted out to Lagosians and instead of building a solid campaign to gain back the trust of Lagosians, and utilize occasions like the governorship debate to ask for forgiveness and promise to do better, he simply paid no attention to the people of Lagos, prior to the results of the Lagos polls during the presidential elections.
Days before the election, and the narrative is different. Sanwo-Olu is now in a desperate race to win the heart of Lagosians and has taken up many tactics including sending out letters to appeal to Lagosians but the people of Lagos, especially the younger demographic seem to be unmoved.
At the polls tomorrow, all will be clear. Lagosians will be making the decision on if Sanwo-Olu would be voted out as incumbent governor and focus on his other potential careers, or be back to govern Lagos for the second time, in which case, whatever they see, they will have to take it like that.