By Oludare Mayowa
The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu appears to be a gentleman by all ramifications and also a well intentioned governor who means well for the people of the state. His speeches and activities since he became the governor of the state, including his body language tend to portray him as a good guy and also showed that he would have turned out to be one of the best performing governors of the state since inception.
However, something tells me that, Sanwo-Olu is a governor without the authority of his office. He is the one in charge of the affairs of the state without being the one running the show in the state. He has often time demonstrated courage in certain area of governance through his speech and action, but in spite of such bravadoes, the outcome has often been far from what his word and action tend to portray.
One of such cases was his position on the payment of bogus pension to former governors of the state, which was initiated during the administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and passed and signed into law before his departure from office in 2007.
Sanwo-Olu had come out smoking about the inappropriateness of the pension and promised to review it to help alleviate the finance of the state.
His word; “Mr. Speaker and Honourable Members of the House, in light of keeping the costs of governance low and to signal selflessness in public service, we will be sending a draft executive bill to the House imminently for the repeal of the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension Law 2007), which provides for payment of pension and other entitlements to former Governors and their Deputies.”
Sanwo-Olu had told Lagosians in November last year that the abolition of pension for former governors and deputies will reduce the cost of governance in the state.
“It is our firm belief that with dwindling revenues and the appurtenant inflationary growth rates, that we need to come up with innovative ways of keeping the costs of governance at a minimum while engendering a spirit of selflessness in public service,” Sanwo-Olu had said.
Alas! The more things change, the more they remain the same. His executive bill to the House of Assembly remained an exercise in futility as the legislators came out with their own version with a cosmetic change on the previous law and till today, past governors in the state are still smiling to the banks at the expense of the state treasury.
Another case was the governor’s attempt to rid the street of Lagos of the menace of motorcycle riders, popularly known as Okada riders. Sanwo-Olu mounted campaign to show the world the menace of the commercial motorcycle rider and why they must be restricted from the street of Lagos.
This was at the height of insecurity and rampant kidnapping and traffic robbery in the state. Many Lagosians believed that with the governor’s rigorous campaign, the end has come to the nonsense value of the okada rider in the state.
But what has become of the noise of the governor overtime? The okada riders are now more daring and have proven to be more powerful than the governor of the state.
His speech on Tuesday, which preceded the release of the white paper on the probe panel set up in the wake of the crisis that engulfed the state last year at the height of the endsars protest was soughing and was received by many as a real voice of a leader who is desirous of peace and intended to bring closure to the event of last year.
Prior to the release of the white paper on Tuesday night, many Nigerians have commended Sanwo-Olu for his non interference with the works of the probe panel and his comportment both during and after the incident at Lekki Toll gate.
He was seen as a bridge builder who could ameliorate the pains of those who lost their loved ones to the unfortunate incidence even though many also blamed him for the action of the security agencies at the toll gate.
His speech on Tuesday elicited some commendations and raise hope that justice was about to be done to those families who lost their loved ones to the unjust action of the security agencies at the Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, 2020.
A former editor of the defunct National Concord, Nsikak Essien said this much about the governor’s speech; “Did you watch the broadcast by Governor Sanwo Olu of Lagos state and those of Ministers Lai Muhammad and Keyamo? All centred on #EndSARS protests.
“The Governor seeks all avenues to achieve peace so that he too can sleep with two eyes closed. He sought enmity of nobody. He shares concern for everyone, law enforcement officers, ordinary people and the vulnerable.”
Perhaps many of us were expecting too much from the governor, who we know that even though he is in power he does not possess the lever of authority of his office. It has been proven without time that there is a power behind the throne and Sanwo-Olu can only bark, he does not have the teeth to bite.
The white paper on the report of the endsars probe was nothing but a clear departure from the expectations of many Nigerians and that has further confirmed that no matter what the governor says or do, those who actually hold the lever of authority on behalf of the governor will always have their ways in Lagos.
The rejection of the conclusion of the panel on the number of death that occurred at the Lekki Toll gate was a mere affirmation of ‘his master’s voice.’
From all indications any other conclusion by the governor white paper would have been seen as an indictment of the federal government and the power behind the throne in Lagos would not dare to confront Abuja with the truth, hence hell is let loose on his 2023 ambition.
It’s inconceivable that soldiers will visit a scene of protest and released bullets into the crowd and only one person would have died from such scenario.
The white paper deliberately ignore the portion of the probe panel report that says security agencies carted away bodies of wounded and dead protesters in their truck after the shooting. Also, the white paper carefully jettisons the testimonies of those who were wounded and came with amputated limbs to the panel to give evidence.
The governor himself on the second day of the incident visited many victims of the Lekki toll gate shooting in the hospital and those were people who were shot by the security agencies.
It’s obvious to all that there was a conspiracy against the dead, those who died during the protest at Lekki toll gate are children of the commoners and they do not matter as long as the political interest of those in power is satisfied.
Despite the conspiracy of silence and all efforts to cover up the misdeed of the security agencies last year, we are sure that one day, the king that does not know Joseph will ascend the throne and the truth like a smoke will eventually come out.