A former American president and elder statesman, Abraham Lincoln once said, “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”. This means leadership comes with privileges and also bears responsibilities in equal measure.
In the last 10 months, the burden of leadership has manifested in different ways in Lagos State in such a way that put to the test, the ability and resilience of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Unfortunately, the situation might not change in the next three years hence the need for him to prepare more for turbulent days ahead.
Before the cataclysmic disaster of Sunday, March 15 in Abule Ado area of the state, there had been two major explosions in Ijegun and Abule Egba. However, the Abule Ado disaster was very huge in terms of impact, as it destroyed buildings many kilometres away from the epicentre of the incident. That it happened at a period the state was fighting hard to keep away the coronavirus pandemic must have stretched the governor to the limit. But in all, Governor Sanwo-Olu has shown courage in time of emergency. He has exhibited uncommon calmness, stability and comportment necessary to carry the people through the turbulence.
In the spate of 72 hours, he traversed Abuja three times to troubleshoot for his state and secure all the necessary support from the Federal Government. The governor met with President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday to brief him on the situation in Lagos. And you can trust social media to explode with pictures of that presidential visit. But whatever reactions the pictures might have generated on social media, all Sanwo-Olu wanted was to get all the necessary help for Lagos State.
Only on Monday, the governor launched a N2 billion Relief Fund for the Abule Ado victims with N250 million seed fund and a call on Lagosians and corporate organisations to contribute to the fund. Already, Zenith Bank and Dangote Cement have responded to the call with Zenith Bank swelling up the fund with N100 million.
Without doubt, a well-channelled N2 billion relief fund will bring succour to the victims and help them get back on their feet. Those who lost houses and means of livelihood in the explosion have been assured of support. This is what governance is all about, to be an harbinger of happiness for the citizens.
Anyone seeking to be governor of Lagos State must have a mindset of the President of Ghana if he hopes to succeed. With about the same population as Ghana, Lagos GDP is bigger than that of Ghana and 20 other African countries combined. Over 70 per cent of trade and commerce in Nigeria and also West Africa take place in Lagos. And this brings along with it a myriad of problems – security, sanitation, blighted communities, chaotic public transportation, unemployment and inadequate social services among others. And when a disaster like that of Abule Ado is thrown into the mix, leading Lagos is not a tea party. But so far, Governor Sanwo-Olu has exhibited leadership capacity in crisis management and a steady hand in time of trouble.
Funsho Arogundade, a public affairs analyst writes from Lagos