Babajide Sanwo-Olu

Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the present governor of Lagos State, has a sound understanding of the business of banking and financial markets operations. He established impressive records as a professional banker, rising to the height of deputy general manager and divisional head before changing course from banking into politics.

His competence in matters of economics and finance was his entry qualification into Tinubu’s government in 2003. Tinubu then had a lot on his hands on planning and financing his visionary projects and Sanwo-Olu seemed to have come at an appropriate time.

He began his grooming lessons under Tinubu as a special adviser on corporate matters to the then deputy governor of Lagos State, Mr. Femi Pedro. His next posting was acting commissioner for economic planning and budget. Soon, he advanced on the ranks to become commissioner for commerce and industry.

Sanwo-Olu continued in the rank and file of the Lagos State government under Babatunde Fashola’s administration. He was appointed commissioner for establishments, training and pensions by Fashola.  He remained in government service under Akinwunmi Ambode – when he was made managing director/CEO of Lagos State Development and Property Corporation – a post he held before his nomination for the APC governorship primaries for the 2019 general elections.

Other postings and major responsibilities he handled in the course of his grooming include the supervision of Bureau of Public Enterprises’ privatization programmes. He also handled the setting up of Lagos Security Trust Fund and became its pioneer board chairman. He was also in charge of the LAGBUS project and handled the establishment of its control & command centre in Alausa.

Sanwo-Olu sprang up suddenly in the race for the office of the governor of Lagos State in 2018 and became a major contender to the incumbent governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode. The issue between the two candidates rested on who gets the support of their godfather and that of other major stakeholders in Lagos politics.

Sanwo-Olu got the two. He had an overwhelming support by party stalwarts, members of the Lagos State House of Assembly and even cabinet members of the incumbent governor.

The gubernatorial primary election of his party that followed was a walk over for the challenger. He won the governorship election and became the 15th governor of Lagos State. His swift sailing into power reflects a lot of groundwork that the sitting governor appears to have taken for granted. The relative ease with which he collected power from an incumbent governor speaks loudly of how quickly the roots of power can grow or wither in the shifting sands of politics.

Tinubu made public his shift from Ambode to Sanwo-Olu as the governorship candidate of APC. His concern centred on keeping the development master plan of Lagos on course. He is keen to see the realization of the plan gaining speed and coasting progressively to destination.

He seems to have seen in Sanwo-Olu a man after his own heart; somebody he has confidence on to pick up the slacken blueprint of progress and run ahead with it. The new governor has a goal clearly defined for him: press on for better Lagos and make it happen.

Some 20 years ago, Tinubu recalls, a team of strategists set aside personal interests and rivalries and drew up a master plan for economic development of Lagos State. The purpose, he said, is to improve the daily lives of the people.

Faithful implementation of the master plan is a standing demand of every governor that comes on board. And how far a governor advances on the roadmap or strays from it is the test for his stewardship.

By Tinubu’s political litmus test, the journey towards greater Lagos lost momentum in the immediate past regime. The job in the hands of Sanwo-Olu is therefore to give it a new speed, reclaim lost ground and hit new targets. 

It is expected of him to provide leadership centred on the blueprint for development and capable of carrying stakeholders along. It isn’t going to be that a smooth sail for him if the baton isn’t handed over to him with a winning speed.

His credentials however speak loudly for him as a man equal to the challenge. Sanwo-Olu is rated highly in terms of wealth of experience and exposure, vision as well as commitment. Tinubu’s confidence that he will deliver on mandate rests on three major points.

One is his clear understanding of the importance of the blueprint for development for the state. The second is that he esteems it as a reliable and well-conceived vehicle for the future development of the state. Thirdly, he knows the value of reaching out and working with others.

Tinubu’s bet on Sanwo-Olu is that this is the man to energize development and maximize results, offering the people the best leadership possible at this time. “With people like him at the helm, the state will write the proper history for itself.”