Sanwo-Olu: A compassionate leader   By TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE 

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Compassion is one of the virtues of a good leader. The two most acceptable Holy books, the Bible and the Quran teach us to be kind and compassionate to one another. 
 
Today, there are thousands of public office holders at the federal, state, and local government levels, but Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has distinguished himself in compassion, love and kindness to the people he administers, as the Governor of Lagos State. 
 
In the last one year of the second term of his administration, Governor Sanwo-Olu has taken several steps to show that he is a compassionate leader. He has initiated many people-oriented policies to cushion the effects of economic hardship on Lagos residents. He, through these policies has brought succour to the people and put smiles on their faces.
 
Worried by the hardship being faced by Lagos residents as a result of the fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government, Governor Sanwo-Olu, on Monday, July 31, 2023, after a State’s Security Council meeting held at the Lagos House, Ikeja rolled out several relief measures to bring succour to Lagos residents.
 
He announced a 50 percent fare reduction across state-owned public transportation services starting Wednesday, August 2, 2023. The fare reduction was enjoyed for several months by commuters using the BRT buses operated by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) and waterway transport operated by the Lagos Ferry Services (LAGFERRY).
 
Based on the support from the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration, operators in the informal transport sector (commercial drivers) also reduced their fares by 25 percent in line with the Lagos State Government’s quest to reduce the cost of transportation. Governor Sanwo-Olu also deployed new high-capacity buses to raise the fleet of vehicles conveying civil servants from their homes to offices and back. 
In the health sector, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration introduced free antenatal care and child delivery services; normal and cesarean section, to expectant mothers, who are residents in all Lagos State health facilities. This is part of the relief measures announced by the State Government to cushion the hardship being faced by residents. 
The decision of the Lagos State Government-owned primary and secondary health facilities to offer free medical services was made in order to ensure that the health of families is taken care of while easing the burdens of financial constraints and increasing access to quality health care delivery in Lagos State.
A beneficiary of the free child delivery service,  Mrs Eniola Samuel, who delivered a baby boy at the General Hospital, Isolo, expressed satisfaction with the quality of healthcare service she received free of charge. While appreciating the Governor of Lagos State for introducing the initiative, Samuel noted that the intervention helped to save her life from the complications she encountered during childbirth. 
On September 3, 2023, Governor Sanwo-Olu flagged off the distribution of food palliatives to the vulnerable people in the State through effective distribution channels of stakeholders, which included civil society organisations, Local Government authorities, Community Development Associations (CDAs), Community Development Councils (CDCs), churches, mosques, and traditional organisations, to cushion the impact of the sharp increases in transportation costs and the prices of essential food items across the state and stabilise the conditions of ordinary citizens. 
The food palliatives for the vulnerable households through the Lagos Food Bank programme touched 500,000 vulnerable households in the State with staple food items using two methodologies – bulk and individual. Bulk food items include (50kg of rice, 50kg of garri and 100kg of beans) for groups, and food boxes (10kg of rice, 5kg garri, and 5 kg of beans) for individual vulnerable households.
Apart from the 500,000 households that directly benefited from the initiatives, over 2,500 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises were involved in bag manufacturing, food aggregation, packaging, and logistics, while over 25,000 employees of the MSMEs were also impacted indirectly.  
In fulfillment of his promise and demonstration of love to market men and women on Valentine’s Day, Governor Sanwo-Olu on Wednesday, February 14, flagged off the distribution of N750 million in a financial intervention scheme tagged “Lagos Market Trader Money” for 15,000 beneficiaries.
The 15,000 beneficiaries, who received N50,000 each, were drawn from across all six geo-political zones of Nigeria – South-West, South-East, South-South, North-Central, North-West and North East, but are all residents of Lagos. The beneficiaries comprised 250 traders from each of 20 local governments and 37 Local Development Council Areas (LCDAs), as well as 750 beneficiaries identified from markets within the barracks and military formations across the State. 
Speaking during the launch of the Lagos Market Trader Money held at De Blue Roof, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Governor Sanwo-Olu said the gesture will go a long way toward actualising his goal of transforming the food systems in Lagos State and stimulating economic activities in various food markets in line with his administration’s THEMES+ developmental agenda.
Commenting on the initiative, the Iyaloja-General of Nigeria, Chief (Mrs.) Folasade Tinubu-Ojo appreciated Governor Sanwo-Olu for the good gestures to market men and women in Lagos State and enjoined traders, who are beneficiaries of the Lagos Market Trader Money, to make good use of the N50,000 given to them to augment their businesses.
Food is an essential part of human needs, and knowing the importance of providing affordable food to people, Governor Sanwo-Olu in March 2024, launched ‘Ounje Eko’ an initiative and palliative measure that provided an opportunity for people to buy food stuffs at 25 percent reduction.
The programme was on for almost two months, giving millions of Lagos residents in the nooks and crannies of the State the opportunity to come out to buy various items at the Sunday Markets, where they enjoyed an unprecedented 25 percent discount on all food items. Basic foods such as rice, beans, garri, eggs, bread, pepper, and tomatoes, among others, were sold at the markets by designated vendors.
In his determination to do more for the people as a compassionate leader who cares about those he governs, Governor Sanwo-Olu on April 24 flagged off the “Eko Cares” Initiative, a social intervention programme aimed at lessening the burden on residents amid economic hardship. A total of 500,000 households, which cut across 20 Local Government Areas and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) of the state, benefited from the programme.
Some of the foodstuffs distributed to the vulnerable people include 10kg of rice, 5kg of garri, 5kg of beans and tomatoes, among others. The initiative was driven by a non-partisan Special Dispensation Advisory Council of eminent Nigerians, including rights activists, religious leaders, a youth representative, and opposition party chieftains, which was chaired by Governor Sanwo-Olu with his deputy, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, as alternate chairman. 
For several months, Governor Sanwo-Olu has been paying a N35,000 wage award to civil servants in Lagos State in addition to their salaries and other statutory allowances.
As a leader who cares about his people, Governor Sanwo-Olu has also delivered dividends of democracy and infrastructure to Lagosians in different parts of the State to make life easy for the people.
The feedback received from various initiatives and palliative programmes by the Lagos State Government has been inspiring. Excited residents have showered praise and encomium on the Babajide Sanwo-Olu government for its empathy and thoughtfulness.
Without any iota of doubt, Governor Sanwo-Olu has shown that he is a compassionate leader who cares a lot about Lagos residents. He has distinguished himself as a leader whose word is his bond. This has been demonstrated in a number ways such as fulfilling all the promises made to Lagosians. The Governor Sanwo-Olu-led government has done a lot to lighten the burden on residents, especially the most vulnerable in the State; the poorest of the poor and those who do not know where the next meal will come from.
Ogunbanke, a seasoned journalist writes from Ikeja, Lagos. 

 

 

 

 

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