Babajide Sanwoolu: The above headline was the way I felt, after the recent visitation of the Presidential Task Force on CORVID-19 to Governor Babajide Sanwoolu and coronavirus prevention facilities in Lagos.
The leader of the Task Force, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, is not known to be a frivolous person given to mere platitudes. And when the ‘gentle giant’ surveyed the state facilities and psyched Governor Sanwoolu, he could not resist admonishing the other states in the Nigerian nation to come and learn from the Lagos State template on how to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
People like me, who wagered on our bottom naira that Sanwoolu was a “dark horse” waiting to prove himself as an undiscovered expert during his bid for the Lagos governorship, are slowly but steadily being proved right – with unsolicited appraisals of B.O.S performance in the governorship saddle.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the man who fetched Sanwoolu out from the pack as the right man for the job over a year ago, was the first to assure Lagosians at the outbreak of the “corona nervous” as a lady humorously joked on social media, that the governor was well equipped mentally, physically and in organizational ability to deal effectively with the corona challenge.
Some skeptics must have pooh-poohed Tinubu’s confidence in his man, but the last one month has seen Sanwoolu driving himself real hard with his team, confronting the menace, leaving no one, including those wearing blinkers of prejudice, in any doubt that he is able and capable, more than his contemporaries across the country. He, like Jakande, Tinubu and BRF before him, smashed down the negative jibe of “Eko for show” to “Eko for superlative performance.”
Thanks, Boss Mustapha, for your unarguable attestation. It makes me recall what I said of Sanwoolu in a piece titled ‘Stake your money on Sanwo-Olu, Jimi Agbaje lives in decadent past!’ in The Nation newspaper on December 28, 2018 before he won election as governor:
My good friend, colleague and labour enthusiast, Comrade Abdul Oroh, reacted to my post on Facebook of the pictorial coverage of the private meeting the APC governorship candidate in Lagos State, Mr Jide Sanwoolu had with the first civilian governor of the state, Alhaji Lateef Jakande in the latter’s Ilupeju Estate’s home in Lagos, and dubbed it “TRANSMISSION of wisdom”.
Nothing can be more apt. I was a witness to the meeting, and observing much of the proceedings, it was crystal clear that it was indeed something akin to transmission of wisdom from a sage to another proficient performer waiting to explode with quality ideas.
Forty years ago in 1978, I was a young member of the Jakande electioneering squad that was primed to do the unimaginable, about which we eventually succeeded; the reason why LKJ remains a reference for imaginative and progressive governance. Today, it is uncommon grace I enjoy that I’m an integral part of the Sanwo-Olu team that is set to take Lagos to a greater height than Jakande and Bola Tinubu took it.
If you are not seeing experience being on display, then you are not Bola Tinubu, neither are you Jide Sanwo-Olu who at every turn is showing appreciation where he deems it necessary. He didn’t hide the same compliment to me when he sat in LKJ’s modest sitting room that Monday, making history.
This Sanwoolu man, he’s bound for exploits! His criss-crossing the state, building bridges of understanding among diverse groups and interests, inspiring hope in the hopeless, that tomorrow is going to be good; and betraying swashbuckling enthusiasm and confidence that normalcy is returning to party and governance, are, to me, more inspiring than the recourse to playing the ethnic card and promoting divisionism of which his PDP opponent, Mr Jimi Agbaje, is adept.
There can be no quibbling about it, Jide Sanwoolu is a banker bet to ascend the governorship throne of Lagos State come 2019 and if you ask me why, in case you need further convincing, the man packs the attributes of a Jakande with those of Tinubu; and these, to any discerning political observer, are winning formulae, that cannot be defeated in any fair and square political contest.
And not long after he mounted the governorship chair, I saw his governorship style and I knew straightaway that he is truly not a flash-in-the-pan performer.
And I wrote on him again in my weekly column in The Nation on September 11, 2019 in a piece titled ‘The beginning of the beginning for Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’ thus:
Exactly one year ago, on September 11, 2018, the journey began for Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwoolu when he picked the form indicating interest in contesting the governorship of the most vibrant state in Nigeria – Lagos.
He picked the form at the national secretariat of his All Progressives Congress (APC) party in Abuja from the party’s national legal adviser, Hon Babatunde Ogala. He was accompanied on that fortuitous trip from Lagos by the director-general of his Independent Campaign Group, Mr Tayo Akinmade Aýinde and his deputy, Cardinal James Omolaja Odunmbaku, undoubtedly the best political campaign mobiliser the state is blessed with.
From that moment on, there was no looking back for the nimble and straight-talking politician who can best be described as the “giant-killer”, for walloping a sitting governor in the governorship primaries.
“In a few months of gruelling electioneering campaign in which all interest groups were touched and all crannies of the state covered, Babajide Sanwoolu went into the election proper, trouncing his PDP serial contender, Mr Jimi Agbaje in a most convincing manner, to emerge the 15th Governor of the state of excellence.
Sanwoolu talks straight, hard and sensibly; and since he mounted the saddle on May 29, he has relentlessly been walking his talk. One hundred days on, he has given clear indication that he’s prepared ready, to make Lagos State greater, as can be attested to by the work force of the state, the civil servants; and the generality of citizens of the state.
That first step within 100 days signaled the beginning of a four-year journey that offers hope and progress. Truly, a journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step!.
That was my opinion of him last year September.
When cynics and those driven by “bad belle” were griping and seeking faults in his administration, those of us who saw light where others were imagining darkness and retrogression saw clear hope that the labours of his predecessors will not be squandered to ineptitude by this performing “Mr Governor”. Thank God the world assessing B.O.S is seeing bright lights where the fog in the pessimists’ eyes is making the microscopic minority see dim light, if not darkness.
Thank you, one more time, Boss Mustapha, the SGF of Nigeria!
(Òsiyemi is the Special Adviser to Governor Sanwo-Olu on Chieftaincy Affairs).