Of Sanwo-Olu’s Silverbird Man-Of-The-Year Award – By Ayo Oyoze Baje
“Leaders instill in their people a hope for success and a belief in themselves. Positive leaders empower people to accomplish their goals.”
Palpable excitement is in the air ahead of the March 6, 2022 presentation the prestigious Silverbird Man of the Year Award to none other than the goal-getting Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the Centre of Excellence. The annual event which holds this year at the Convention Centre, Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos comes on the heels of the governor garnering the highest number of votes sent in by members of the public ahead of other nominated personalities.
Being the brainchild of the Chairman of the Silverbird Group, Senator Ben Murray Bruce the Award has been on since 2005. The criteria are hinged on those, who in the public opinion have impacted positively on the quality of lives of Nigerians, specifically so in their chosen careers and public office. To ensure credibility of the award members of the Editorial Board of the Silverbird group make nominations. But it is left for members of the public to come up with the nominee with the highest number of votes. The winner is declared on the 1st of January every year through the Silverbird Television news channel.
It is worthy of note that some categories have been introduced over the years. These include the Silverbird Extraordinary Personality Award, Extraordinary Achievement Award, Lifetime Achievement Award, Financial Sector Award and Posthumous Award. Some of the past winners include Professor Dora Akinyuli (of blessed memory), Aliko Dangote, Dr. Mike Adenuga, Peter Obi and Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. Others include Babatunde Raji Fashola, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and governors Ifeanyi Okowa and Nyesom Wike of Delta and Rivers states respectively.
For the year 2021, Governor Sanwo-Olu won it for “transforming Lagos into a huge construction site through infrastructural renewal”. Without doubt, this has brought forth the usual questions of if he truly deserves it and if perhaps there are other achievements of his that have stood him head and shoulders above his peers?
To provide the answers, permit me to get personal here, as a concerned resident of Lagos state who saw in him the qualities of a potentially great leader and has consistently published articles on the activities of his administration at the average of one per month in that regard. It was all out of my own volition. For instance, the first one titled: ‘Lagos 2019: Sanwo-Olu’s Winning Edge’ was published on Thursday 7th March, 2019. That was two days before the election which he eventually won.
One is gladdened therefore, by the fact that ever since, he has not disappointed me, or millions of the good people of Lagos state. That is precisely so by his sterling performance in several sectors. These include: ‘The tasks before Sanwo-Olu’ (June 16, 2019 ) soon after he took over the reins of office . He literally hit the ground running by ’signing the executive order on the querulous issues of waste management and the seemingly intractable transport system with its nerve-grating gridlock’. His visit to Alausa Secretariat to mingle with and motivate the workers was most inspiring as he had been one of them and would need their cooperation to succeed. Soon after the Official Governor Sanwo-Olu Mobile App was made public to deepen the visibility of the administration and make it more inclusive.
Back then yours truly highlighted the enormous challenges that his administration would have to grapple with such as ensuring inter-ethnic harmony, security, job creation, infrastructural development, sound and solid education and qualitative yet affordable healthcare delivery. My special request then was that he should fulfil his THEME Agenda hinged on the Five Pillars of ,Transportation, Health, Environment, Education and Technology to drive his vision of ‘’making Lagos a 21st Century economy”.
Subsequently, one has touched on other sectors through my opinion essays, as they unfolded and as mentioned here below:
For instance, my article titled: ‘Advancing Sanwo-Olu’s vision on education’ published on August 4, 2019 had the thematic focus on the importance of the then proposed increase in budgetary allocation on education. That was from a paltry 12.07 % to 18%. Others include the proposed introduction of 300 fully equipped and functional labs in secondary schools to complement the then 12 existing ones. There was the promised creation of ICT hubs across all the LCDAs as well as the training and re-training of teachers.
Another essay titled ‘As Gov. Sanwo-Olu promotes academic excellence’ was published on 17th January, 2021, praising his efforts to making Lagos a technologically-powered 21st century economic hub on the African continent. Offering scholarships to students with the best results as conducted by WAEC for the GCE/OL was mentioned with praise.
On agriculture I wrote the article titled: ‘’As Lagos Empowers Youth through Agriculture’ (November 10,2019 ). The said article applauded the state government’s partnership with BATN Foundation to organize the annual Farm Fair. Other partnerships with Bank of Agriculture, Stanbic IBTC, Standard Chartered Bank and NYSC were similarly brought to the fore.
Subsequently,I wrote the essay: ‘Appraising the Lagos State Agricultural and Food Systems Roadmap(2021—2025) published on April 25, 2021. Its Vision: ‘To be a major contributor to sustainable economic growth and social wellbeing in Lagos State’ is seen as fundamental to achieving the set objectives. Furthermore, the Road Map is to focus on the development of the agricultural value chain where the state has competitive and comparative advantage. That is to ensure that the state’s self-sufficiency in food production moves from 18% to 40% of the food needs within the next five years.
BATTLE AGAINST COVID-19 and HEALTH MATTERS
On 20th May, 2020 yours truly came up with the opinion essay titled: ‘Lagos State’s Engaging Battle against Corona-Virus’ that was published by several newspapers and online portals including YES International Magazine. Emphasis was placed on the government’s timely response soon after the Italian national was identified as the first incident victim. Sustained exchange of information between Lagos and Ogun states as well as the visit to containment facility at Infectious Disease Hospital(IDH), Yaba is worthy of note. In addition, the government promptly ‘deployed the instruments of mass public enlightenment on the causes, symptoms and preventive measures to the good people of Lagos state’.
He acted with desired dispatch by making himself the Chief Incident Commander for the counter measures against CVOVID-19. Collaborative efforts between state health workers, federal counterpart infectious disease professionals from the international agencies on health matters to ensure that results were achieved.
On the ever escalating insecurity incubus in the country, yours truly wrote the article titled: ‘Tackling Security Challenge in Lagos State’ published on May 3, 2021. Of note, one stated the importance of ‘securing the good people of Lagos state from the furious fangs of the anarchists will definitely take grits, guts and a firm grip on the socio-economic and political spectrum of the state’.
Also emphasized were the banning of the ubiquitous okadas from the major highways, introduction of the First and Last Mile (FLAM) buses, that of Cowry Travel Cards, deployment of CCTV cameras, curbing the menace of street urchins, collaboration with Nigerian Navy and NIMASA to secure the waterways.
All said, these opinion essays as well as others not mentioned here come in tandem with the votes of those who chose Governor Sanwo-Olu as the Silverbird Man of the Year. The voice of the people is that of God. The Award is well deserved and one would urge him to keep moving forward with focus and determination, against all odds.