By Sunday Ani
As early as 9am on Saturday, May 29, 2003, Tafawa Balewa Square, venue of the inauguration of the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s second term in office was already filled to the brim with expectant and jubilant Lagosians.
Not even the heavy downpour in the early hours of the day could discourage the people as they trooped out in their numbers to witness the beginning of Sanwo-Olu’s journey to his second term in office.
At exactly 11.50am, the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Kazeem Alogba, officially administered the oath of office on him, setting the stage for him to officially address Lagosians and renew his earlier pledge to them.
Going down memory lane to recount his stewardship in the last four years, the governor noted that the people’s expectations had been met and that it was time to consolidate on what has been achieved so far.
Renewing his pledge, he reassured Lagosians of more progress in the form of democracy dividends and good governance as the state steadily journeys into the unfolding dispensation.
He enumerated some of the transformations recorded by the state since 2019 under his leadership to include the delivery of an intra-city rail network from its balance sheet to aid mass mobility in the mega city – the first sub-national institution to achieve that in Nigeria; the completion of Lekki Deep Seaport, which has enhanced socio-economic growth and turned the state to a new logistics hub of West Africa; and the delivery of the largest rice mill in Imota, a game changer that would make Lagos a key player in food production chain on the continent, among others.
The governor noted that Lagos had remained on the track of sustenance and prosperity, even as he maintained that his government’s financial engineering had led to the upgrade of the State to AAA status in financial sustainability and resilience by Fitch International; a feat unprecedented in the annals of the state.
Cataloguing his achievements, he also listed other notable progress made by the state to include expanding infrastructure to enhance the intermodal transport system, healthcare services, education, aesthetic environment, social interventions and other areas across his administration’s development agenda.
He said: “In my first term, we set the stage for transformative change. We confronted significant challenges from improving our infrastructure to ensuring adequate social services, grappling with economic downturns and navigating a global pandemic. Yet, we never faltered. Our challenges became stepping-stones and our trials, the foundation of our resilience.
However, promising to do more and never to relent in his final term, he described his swearing-in the second time as an opportunity to acknowledge the expectations of the electorate, and to rededicate his administration towards meeting and surpassing those expectations.
Stressing that his vision was beyond the provision of physical infrastructure and working to attain good economic indicators for the state, the governor said he would govern to make Lagos a beacon of cultural vibrancy, intellectual prowess, and humanistic values.
In his inaugural address, he expanded the scope of his T.H.E.M.E.S agenda in the next four years in three thematic areas – social inclusion, gender equality and youth development. “That tradition of progressive governance as well as enlightened leadership, has consistently yielded fruit for us, and set Lagos up as a model state. We have lived up to our designation as the ‘Centre of Excellence,’ and a day like this is an opportunity to celebrate. Our people still expect a lot more from us in several areas. Today is another opportunity to acknowledge our citizens’ expectations and to rededicate ourselves to meeting and surpassing those expectations. I pledge, as your governor, to unleash greater energy in the service of Lagos. I will work tirelessly for the well-being of every Lagosian as well as strive for a Lagos that we can all be proud of.
“It is in line with our resolve, and I am pleased to announce that we are taking our governing agenda to the next level in this our second term. Henceforth, it will be known as ‘T.H.E.M.E.S Plus,’ representing the incorporation of an intensified focus on social inclusion, gender equality and youth development. We are strengthening and reinforcing our governance agenda in order not to leave anyone behind on account of their social status, gender or age. We will design all our policies and programmes to ensure that everyone is carried along and catered for. This is our solemn promise to you,” he pledged.
He promised Lagosians that his second term would be more rewarding as the state would witness consolidation of his reforms and governance at higher levels. These, he noted, would unfold in the coming weeks, as he would be delivering another intra-city rail network, the Red Line Rail, which is at the completion stage. He also promised that Lagos would witness the development of a new airport in Ibeju-Lekki, Deep Seaport in Badagry and Fourth Mainland Bridge, plus other capital projects that are in the pipeline.
Recognising the enormity of the task ahead, he called for a collective responsibility of the government and people, stressing that he would always seek partnership with the citizens in line with his administration’s mantra. He assured that his administration would continue to foster a culture of transparency, accountability and participatory governance.
“The greatness and strength of Lagos lie in the collective spirit of our people; whether those paying taxes, those treating public property with care and respect, those speaking about something when they see something going wrong or someone breaking the law. For us as a government, we would be the first to acknowledge our own side of this social contract. We will not let you down,” the governor promised.
He eulogised President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for laying the foundation for the development of Lagos, which has made it easy for the succeeding administrations to strengthen transformational governance and keep the state on the path of progress.
The governor also thanked the immediate past president, Muhammadu Buhari, for dedication, kindness and support to Lagos, which enabled his administration to record many successes in the last four years.
Reiterating his preparedness and willingness alongside his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, to continue to offer transformational leadership to the state, he promised that Lagos would remain a city united by its diversity, even as he pledged to work to create a better future for the citizens till his last day in office.
“At this moment of our history, it has fallen upon me to steer the ship and to move us closer than ever before to the greater Lagos of our dreams. As I promised four years ago, the glitz of office will not change my personality and I will not become something I am not. I have strived to serve excellently, with humility, compassion and with a listening ear, bending where necessary to demonstrate that the people’s welfare is at the centre of our actions.
“I am sending a reminder to Lagosians that this land belongs to all of us, and all of us who call it home must partake in its goodness. Regardless of what language we speak, or where we trace our ancestry to, or where in Lagos we live, or what religion we profess; regardless of age, gender or political party, and how long we have called this land home, we are all united by something deep and immutable, which is our aspirations to make tomorrow better than today for us and our children,” he stressed.
The highpoint of the event was the sight of thousands of Lagosians and friends donning various colourful attires, who defied the early morning rains to grace the historic event. The inauguration also attracted the crème-de-la-crème from the corporate sector and diplomatic community.