Transformation In Lagos Exemplifies Hope For Nation’s Democracy-UI Don
By BENJAMIN OMOIKE
Change is no longer an exception, but a grand rule for the reinvention of a society to expand the frontiers of democracy and development.
This was the central message at a public lecture organised, on Tuesday, by the Lagos State Government as part of the activities lined up for inauguration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat for second term.
The lecturer, Prof. Adigun Agbaje, a former Deputy Vice-Chancellor of University of Ibadan, said the wave of transformational and change recorded in Lagos over the past two decades exemplified how the business of governance should be conducted in wider Nigerian context.
Gboyega Akosile, chief press secretary to Governor Sanwo-Olu in a statement issued said the event with the theme: “The Making of a Beacon – Lagos and the Consolidation of a Democracy that Works for All”, was held at Muson Centre in Onikan, where the Governor and his deputy joined a large audience, comprising members of the State Executive Council, top government functionaries, All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwarts, corporate leaders, traders and students.
A book titled: “Incident Commander: Leadership and Heroism in times of crisis”, was presented at the event, which also featured a drama play presented by the national troupe with the theme: “Echoes of the Drums”.
Sanwo-Olu, who shared the lecturer’s view, said Lagos bore the beacon of hope for the country, given the pace-setting feats recorded in State under successive administrations.
The Governor maintained that the State’s transformation in the realm of politics and economy continued to present great prospect for Nigeria’s developing democracy, stressing that the election of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as president signaled a new era of purposeful leadership and governance for the country.
He said: “The transformation we have witnessed over the past decades shows that Lagos being the beacon for our country is real. The State has evolved into a model economically, commercially and politically. Not only is the State doing well, we are thriving and coming out strong in moments of political crisis. The visionary personality who led the transformation has now been elected the President to offer national leadership in our country.”
Prof. Agbaje, in his presentation, pointed out that Lagos, more than any other sub-national, had tended to elevate progressive ideas in its governance structure, saying the State’s unique approach to governance was evident in the “robust intersection” between its political class, corporate players and leaders of thought.
The don said Nigeria’s democracy was stuck at the crossroads because of the dearth of leaders of thought who would lay down development vision and direction. In the case of Lagos, the lecturer said the State had sustained a vision spanning four administrations, which, he said, made Lagos to occupy major place for advancement of democracy and development in the country.
Agbaje said: “As we seek pathways to catalyse greater democracy, development, peace and equity for the greater number of the people of Lagos and, of course, Nigeria, we often, perhaps homogenise the reality and prospects for democracy in Nigeria. Pace and requirements for democracy at the subnational level differs from one part of each of the 36 states to another, and from state to state. “What we call democracy is focusing not only on periodic elections but more with the imperatives of institution-building, inculcation of democratic values, absence of impunity and the triumph of the rule of law and due process. Those who govern and those who envision governance need to fully understand and appreciate the burden that they bear in the everyday life of their communities and people.
“Leaders need to fully understand the nature of the society in which we now find ourselves, a society driven by ever new technologies and innovation. Change is no longer the exception but the rule that is essential component of a forward-thinking society aiming to expand its freedom and development.” The lecturer rated Sanwo-Olu high in governance, noting that the the government of Governor, like his predecessors, had carefully crafted a knowledge-based and inclusive pathway to renewal and consolidation in the State.
Lagos, Agbaje said, was fortunate to have decades of technocrats and progressive-minded politicians in governance, in addition with an efficient civil service. Mr. Ray Ekpu, a doyen of Nigerian journalism and co-founder of Newswatch magazine, reviewed the book, which highlighted heroic leadership moments of Gov. Sanwo-Olu in the throes of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The 301-page book, edited by Hope Eghagha and Sola Ojewusi, is a collection of 25 articles and essays authored by distinguished journalists and writers. Ekpu, represented by Dr. Kofo Adedeji, described Sanwo-Olu as “a good pilot”, saying the Governor had done well in the management of mega city of Lagos.
He said: “The book sees Gov. Sanwo-Olu as courageous, compassionate and charismatic leader who pass a test of true, selfless leadership when the crisis came calling. The response to COVID-19 was the Governor’s excellent display of competence, commitment and resilience in the fight against a faceless but ferocious enemy.”
Responding, Sanwo-Olu dedicated the book to frontline workers who worked with the State Government to break the transmission of the virus, describing them as the “real heroes of the achievement.