The new governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in this interview with State House reporters, outlines his plans for the South-west state in the coming months especially in the areas of security and traffic gridlocks. Mr Sanwo-Olu recently took over from Akinwunmi Ambode, who lost his bid for a second term.
Q: One of the issues discussed today was on security, how does it relate to Lagos, and what is your strategy?
Sanwo-Olu: Security is everybody’s business. But as a governor, we also have a major responsibility to ensure that as number one security officer of the state, the security of lives and properties is also paramount.
But beyond the fact that everybody has some responsibilities or the other, just as a father has kids, a wife has children, as managing director has staff, so the state governor also has the entire state. So it’s a work in progress for us as a state. And for me in particular, it’s something that I take very seriously.
We are not just to be mouthing it, but we make sure that we put resources in place and strategies. We’ve been talking about domesticating and pushing part of the initiatives around the security trust fund, that we’ve done. We will continue to engage, and continue to identify what are the sources, what are the underlining issues that are bringing about it? Are they economic? Is it more than that?
So that we will also attack the root cause, it is something that for us as a government that is looking for investors, we certainly must continue to be in a position where we can give confidence to all our investors that it’s a haven to come and invest. So for me, it’s important, it’s paramount, and I thank Mr President for calling us to have this conversation.
Q: Kidnapping and banditry have become paramount in the South-west, and we understand that the South-west governors are looking at regional cooperation, what is the role of Lagos State in all this?
Sanwo-Olu: It’s still a work in progress. We have a South-west leader whom I am sure has also addressed the press on the matter. I don’t want to be at the risk of preempting what that body will do. Let us wait for them to come up with a proper action plan at the regional level and let’s see what solution it will come with.
Q: What is the level of progress in the Apapa gridlock?
Sanwo-Olu: It’s a work in progress. If you go to Lagos now, you will see that they have started clearing it. So for us, it’s not just to do it but to ensure that we sustain it. So sustainability is critical. It’s to build a model where it’s sustainable, and we will also involve the big players; we are discussing with them – the Shipper’s Council, the shipping lines, NPA, NIMASA and all of them that are stakeholders in the conversations around port utility, we are settling it. We will continue to engage ourselves and come up with a sustained resolution, not just a one-off (solution).
Q: Could you describe what it feels like as a brand new governor of Lagos?
Sanwo-Olu: Well, the experience is real; it goes to show that the challenges are real; they are there; it’s not a tea party. You don’t sleep and wake up, and the traffic has gone down, you don’t sleep and wake up, and there is no rain, and that you’ve resolved Apapa gridlock, it’s real.
So it’s something that has psychologically prepared one. So the best thing to do is to ensure that you are not about looking for what the other person did, but it’s for Lagosians to see you do what you said you are going to do for them. You don’t do it from the office; you have to do it from the road. You have to do it so that people will see and truly know that you mean business.
I dare say that I have lost weight and probably I will lose a little bit more, but I think it’s what the job entails and is also to ensure that you have the right team of people that would also support you. So when as a leader, you show that leadership support, then the message itself will trickle down and trickle down very well.