What you don’t know about Babajide Sanwo-Olu, a 21st century governor of a modern state

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is the fourteenth governor of Lagos State, and the 6th executive governor of the state of excellence. The state has been assigned competent military administrators and elected intelligent civilian governors since 1966.

This is due to the fact that Lagos state is the foremost city in black Africa with the largest population and biggest economy. It takes only capable hands gifted with profound memory to coordinate the Lagos economy. 

The six civilian governors who have ruled Lagos state are no doubt fine men with unique traits and distinguished personalities.

For instance, the late Lateef Jakande was known for keeping to his promises and a man of action.

Former governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu is known as a shrewd governor who manages the state resources judiciously, and relates well with people at the different levels of the society. Former governor Raji Fashola is known as a man of action and workaholic who go straight to the point while the immediate past Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is known as a man who has his own mind. The incumbent governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has barely spent twenty two months in office and many are trying to know him.

Interestingly, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu possess many finer qualities the general public are yet to notice. Spiritually, academically, socially, intellectually and economically the incumbent governor Sanwo-Olu has all the criteria required in all these areas plus, he is a man with a large heart. He is well read and worked at managerial levels in the banking sector before towing the political line. He worked in governors’ offices during three different state governors’ tenure and is well acquainted with the terrain. When he emerged governor of Lagos state several months ago, he was new to the general public but well known by those who are familiar with the Lagos State government house.

Unlike many governors before him, Babajide Sanwo-Olu is distinct in many ways, notably his approach to things and how he relates with people in public events. Though, by the virtue of being the number one citizen in the state, he has the privilege of choosing what and how he receive guests in public events.

But Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has always chose to acknowledge everyone he meets during public visits. He takes his time to greet party members, elders, youths, traditional rulers and even unidentified groups every time.

Those who attend the governor’s official visitations will have seen how he takes time to greet everyone during arrival and duly acknowledges guests at public functions.

He always scan the crowed to identify faces, and he will ensure to mention names not included in his protocol lists.

During the commissioning of the Lagos Homes at Igbogbo Phase 2B in March 24, 2021, for example, governor Sanwo-Olu saw many faces amidst the crowd and remarked that the official speech prepared for him was inadequate as many names were missing on the list.

Similarly when he inaugurated the reconstruction of the Itamaga-Ewu-Elepe road in early, 2020, the governor recognised all the guests and the traditional rulers and even noticed that publisher of Oriwu Sun who sat in the midst of the monarchs was not yet a king.   

Governor Babajide’s eye for thoroughness and for precision can be seen whenever he is in public events. He watches the crowd and takes note of whatever happens around him. No matter how long speeches were made, he pays attention and can recap everything said with 90 percent accuracy. For instance, during the swearing in ceremony of the Lagos Chief Judge Kazeem Alogba at the governor’s office, Sanwo-Olu patiently sat throughout the formal speech presentation of the new Chief Judge. Taking note of all the points raised by the chief judge, when the governor gave his closing remark the crowd were surprised as he responded to every points raised by the new Chief Judge, Kazeem Alogba and even teased the judge by his own jokes saying, ‘since our chief judge is cushioned on both sides by competent deputies and other necessary provisions, he expects results from the CJ.’ 

On every public appearance he makes Babajide Sanwo-Olu ensures that all protocols are properly observed. There are some little things other governors would ignore or waive aside, he wouldn’t. In recent time when he commissioned the Igbogbo-Bayeku newly built secretariat in Ikorodu, the governor cut the ribbon, unveiled the plaque on the wall and inspected the offices from ground floor to the top floor. When he was leaving the building security men were clearing way ahead and behind him. Suddenly the governor stoped and looked back, he fiddled into his blazer’s pocket and pulled some naira bills. He called on the little flower girl who was choked in the crowed and thanked the little girl, gave her the cash and continued with his entourage. No one would ever think the governor would remember the little girl in the crowd and spotted her in a tight corner, but Babajide Sanwo-Olu did.

It is believed in Nigeria that you can’t tell who is a loyal friend till they attain fame and power, yet Babajide Sanwo-Olu has passed this test and he passed honourably. Before he came into limelight, the governor was very close to Dr. Obafemi Hamzat. When he got nominated as gubernatorial candidate in the state and Dr. Hamzat named his running mate, they maintained their filial bond. Words was making round that he will jettison his friend and deputy as soon as he resume office as governor.

The governor have proved speculators wrong, twenty two months in office and he was attending every public event in company of his friend and deputy governor Dr. Obafemi Hamzat. Their bond seemed to be waxing stronger by the day. They dress like twins to public functions, agreed on issues and always standing next to each other.

That is nothing but undiluted allegiance and trustworthiness.

During one of his recent public appearances, governor Sanwo-Olu told the crowd that he and his ‘twin brother’ (Dr. Hamzat) often wear similar outfits from their homes only to see when they met that they have made similar choice from their wardrobes.

His exemplary bond with his deputy only reveals that Babajide Sanwo-Olu is a loyal individual who values human relationship over the vanities of life.

For those who have followed the governor around during official outing would testify to how focused, hardworking, observant and ebullient Sanwo-Olu is. He may spend ten stressful hours at different locations in a day, yet he would never show sign of fatigue. Governor Sanwo-Olu is always in the mood to work and attend to projects regardless of the hours and places he had been in the day.

Sometimes, the faces of some his security men and entourage would appear tired, the governor has never shown any sign of such weakness in public events.

His voice pitch and projection never diminishes, he never slouch, and remain attentive to people till he leaves a venue.

While making formal speeches, though he may read from prepared speech, his style of presentation is largely extemporaneous. Like American presidents, governor Sanwo-Olu always speaks to his note and makes emphases on key points. Making necessary gesticulation and eye-contacts with his audience.

Unlike many governors who wear similar outfits to every functions, he is always dressed for every occasion appropriately, choosing formal attires and decent casual attires to suite the event.

Most importantly, Sanwo-Olu has good sense of humour. He teases people on the pulpits and makes his audience feel relax whenever he is giving formal speech. His audience always smile, laughs and node their heads while he speaks. Previous governors were known for being stiff and too formal whenever they deliver speeches, but Sanwo-Olu is far different.

His style of governance is a new model in Nigeria as many governors across the country are yet to understand how a contemporary governor should relate with their people. With his vast experience in academic qualification and social exposure, Babajide Sanwo-Olu knows how to listen to people’s grievances. Some of his moves during moments of public demonstrations and crises have shown that he is truly a modern-day chief executive. 

During the 2020 national youth demonstration in Nigeria calling for the disband of the infamous SARS police unit, governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was the first governor to join the youths on the street and empathized with them. He listened to their complaints, received a formal note from them and boarded a flight to the meet the president over the issue.

Again, when the corona virus pandemic struck and lockdown was imposed, governor Sanwo-Olu was the only governor in the country who addressed his citizens on a daily basis, giving updates of the situation in front of cameras, reminding the people to stay safe and meeting with stakeholders on how to provide essential services to the people.

In spite all the insults and criticism he receives, the governor has never appear to use foul language nor attempt saying evil of any group or individual. He remained focus on his official duties, always. 

Another surprising side of Sanwo-Olu is that he follow up on public projects. The governor in the last twenty two months have been visiting every corner of Lagos to inspect projects, examine situations firsthand and commission completed ones. He has a deep memory for almost all the infrastructural projects across the state with ample statistics he would recite by heart.

He knows the coordinates of the projects, officials involved and background information about them.

One simple way to describe Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is, the man is a twenty first century chief executive of a modern state.

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