By Michael Effiong and Eric Elezuo
The long awaited December 1, 2018 finally dawns, and the drums of governorship contests are rolled out in most states of the Federation. As has been the case, the mega parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress remain the cynosure of all eyes in most of the states where governorship elections will be held.
In Lagos, Centre Of Excellence, two gladiators among many other men, from the two mega parties are set for battle.
They are: Mr. Jimi Agbaje of the PDP, who is making a third attempt at the Lagos governorship seat, and Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, an insider and technocrat, who has within a short spell of time garnered more accolades, goodwill and acknowledgement that any politician in our recent history.
It is said that God plays a role in the affairs of men, and it is certainly true in the case of Sanwo-Olu.
This is because in early September 2018 when he expressed interest to contest the governorship seat, many dismissed him as a joker, his intimidating credentials notwithstanding.
Their cynicism was just because he chose to run against a sitting governor on the same party platform. Who does that?
His strength soon came to fore as party leaders and faithfuls from all the powerful blocs queued behind him, referring to him as one of theirs.
That was when people around the state began to take notice and realised that this was a formidable candidate with strong enough backing to record a major political upset, the kind never seen in Lagos before.
It was no surprise therefore that he easily coasted to victory, gathering over 95 per cent of the votes in a direct primary.
It was apparent that this was a man that is destined to Govern Lagos because all the elements: spiritual, financial and political seem to all work in his favour. It was the God-factor directing his affairs no doubt.
That victory soon brought up the pertinent question: Who exactly is this APC ” boy wonder” Jide Sanwo-Olu.
A careful look at the trajectory of his life will indicate that he is not a light weight at all.
He, indeed, is very qualified for the job with vast experience and expertise in the public and private sectors of the economy.
He knows Lagos like the back of his hand and was part of the egg heads that crafted, drafted and implemented the New Lagos template.He certainly has pedigree.
A testament to the fact that Sanwo-Olu is no novice can be found in his activities ahead of today’s official kick off date for campaigns.
While others were on their marks getting ready, he was already way ahead and working, spending each day consulting and interacting with stakeholders.
No group was considered inconsequential for Sanwo-Olu to meet – students, traders, socio- political groups, professionals, social media big wigs, artistes, actors, traditional rulers even cartoonist!
That was not all, he even met at different times with Billionaires including Femi Otedola and Aliko Dangote. Knowing full well that 90 per cent of Nigerian billionaires live in Lagos, surely, it can be seen that Sanwo-Olu knows his onions.He understands that in an election, every sector like every vote counts.It is a game of numbers.
At a couple of interactive sessions attended by us, he spoke candidly about growing up, his different experiences, his stint in a place like Warri, Delta State and Northern Nigeria.
He also showed his human side by discussing the failure of his business, a start-up he promoted with some partners and other low moments.
He explained with candour what he considered the challenges of modern Lagos: Traffic, Sanitation, roads, youth engagement and job creation
He also shared some innovative ideas regarding solving some of the challenges confronting Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.
He noted that he intends to use technology and creative thinking to solve every day problems.
Another interesting point made was that he was in support of the creation of state police and the allocation of more resources to the state by the Federal Government.
As he was speaking many were awe-struck because he apart from.speaking extempore, he was reeling out statistics, data, facts and figures effortlessly.
Some who came with pre-conceived doubts were really impressed with his delivery and his hands-on, easy-going nature.
One told us ” This man surely knows Lagos and I like the part where he said he is willing to listen to the people.I never gave him a chance but I an really impressed and would like to see him debate Jimi Agbaje”
Mr. Babajide Sanwoolu, is endowed with not only the dexterity and agility of a young man but the respect and courtesy to carry both the old and young along in the quest to make a culturally diversed Lagos another success story.
Already, he has shown that he is a man of the people, who cares about the masses, and small businesses through the provision of wifi at strategic locations of the state, making access to internet easy as it is the case in most modern cities globally.
Sanwo-Olu is widely regarded as a public sector expert in human resources and policy formation, a power sector consultant per excellence, an astute banker, a compelling public speaker and an inspirational leader.
He carries within him a robust public sector service experience which spanned over eight years .
His meteoric rise within the system of the Lagos State government is particularly exemplary; testament to his unique leadership abilities and exceptional contributions to good governance within the State.
Sanwo-Olu’s appointment, in 2003, as Special Adviser on Corporate Matters to then Deputy Governor, Mr Femi Pedro took the government circles by storm.
In recognition of his abilities coupled with his outstanding performance, within one year, he earned the same job title and description but this time working with the then Executive Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Working directly with the Governor, he was responsible for creating an environment that fosters private sector participation and was instrumental to the present situation where members of the private sector see themselves as stakeholders in the governance of the State.
He also formulated policies and programmes to improve the relationship between government and Organized Private Sector (OPS).
In conjunction with other agencies of government, Sanwo-Olu was able to initiate, identify, promote and structure new projects and programmes in areas like the Environment, Transportation, Commerce, Finance and Infrastructure while also preparing and tracking the Internally Generated Revenue from various agencies including the BIR and analysing same for the Governor.
He was also responsible for the preparation and publication of the Lagos State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (LASEEDS).
While still serving in this capacity, Babajide was appointed acting Honourable Commissioner, Economic Planning and Budget, owing to his hard work and attention to details. He became responsible for the preparation of the annual budget for the State Government and the processing of the annual budget of the different parastatals; a duty he performed judiciously.
It was no surprise therefore, when in 2007, he became the Honourable Commissioner for Commerce and Industry until the end of that administration.
At the start of the next administration, Sanwo-Olu was again appointed Honourable Commissioner, this time, for Establishments, Training and Pensions.
Babajide’s sterling team playing ability was evident in the critical roles he played within the government in partnership with several units and ofces.
For instance, in conjunction with the Head of Service, he was responsible for timely review of salaries, wages and allowances while he also articulated the state government’s Conditions of Service. As a security awareness expert, he helped set up the Lagos State Security Trust Fund and subsequently became a board member for over four years.
He also distinguished himself serving on the Board of the Department for International Development, DFID/DEEPEN Fund.
His last stint in Government was as General Manager, Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC).
In the prrivate sector contributed to a number of thriving organisations, including Baywatch Group Limited – a multi-faceted company with interests in construction, property development and human capital development – where he has served as Chairman/CEO since July 2011.
First Class Group Limited, a cooling, power and maintenance solutions provider recognised widely for providing critical support for all major telecommunications company in the area of specialised cooling.
Powercap Consulting, a leading power consulting boutique with vast experience in power privatisation exercise.
Beryl Shelter, an estate management rm that specialises in research, marketing intelligence and sales of high end properties. Wow! Interiors, an interior design services and luxury furniture retail store for high end corporate and residential clients.
He was also member of the Board Audit Committee of Caverton Offshore Services Group, PLC and as Director, Light Level Nigeria Limited, the foremost digital signage company in Nigeria.
The very dynamic Sanwo-Olu also had a close to ten years of exemplary banking experience during which he contributed immensely to the growth and development of Lead Bank Plc, UBA, and First Atlantic Bank (now First City Monument Bank) in various critical capacities.
As Treasurer at Lead Bank Plc between 1994 and 1997, Babajide managed the liquid asset of the bank and general funding requirements on a daily basis. At United Bank for Africa, UBA, he was Senior Manager (Head, Foreign Money Market) managing the bank’s liquidity position vis a vis protability. He was also responsible for articulating and implementing the bank’s strategy in Investment Banking activities and Issuing House and Portfolio Management.
Subsequently, Sanwo-Olu rose to the position of Deputy General Manager (Divisional Head) at First Inland Bank Plc, where he was Corporate Financial Advisor to several multinational companies. He also supervised the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) privatisation projects including the concession of the National Arts Theatre, and the Lagos Trade International Fair Complex, the acquisition of Ikoyi Hotels Limited as well as the Federal Government Debt Conversion Programme.
Although he holds an MBA and a B.Sc in Surveying from the University of Lagos, his quest for knowledge has taken him to several courses and trainings in several continents of the world, including Europe, USA, Asia and Africa. He is an alumnus of the prestigious Kennedy School of Government, USA; the London Business School as well as the Lagos Business School, LBS.
Sanwo-Olu is also an Associate member of The Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM) and fellow of The Nigeria Institute of Training and Development (NITAD).
A man of admirable social skills, he also creates some time for leisure and social activities amidst his demanding itinerary, as he is a member of the Ikoyi Club, the Island Club, as well as the Clear Essence Health Club.
Babajide’s laudable achievements have not gone unnoticed. He has received several awards in recognition of his tremendous contributions to society.
They include the Symbol of Excellence award from the Civic Enlightenment Association of Nigeria, a Gold mentor award from the National Association of Nigeria Nurses & Midwives (NANNM), a Platinum award from the Lagos State Public Service Club and the 2009 Best in Human Capital Development award from the Industrial Training Fund (ITF). He has also received several merit awards from the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management in Nigeria (CIPMN) amongst others.
He is happily married to Dr. (Mrs.) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, and they are blessed with children.
There is no shadow of doubt that fortune has favoured Sanwo-Olu this far and his supporters are optimistic that he has all it takes to coast to victory come March,2019.