By Tayo Ogunbiyi
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, is viewed in different ways by diverse people. He is seen by some as the rugged Lagos COVID-19 Incident Commander, leading an all-out war against a raging pandemic. Others see him as the ‘Greater Lagos’ crusader who is keen on taking the ‘Centre of Excellence’ to new heights. Yet, some regard him as a lover of youth; who is always willing to give the younger ones a chance to freely express themselves and be in charge of their space. Others perceive him as a dynamic and enthusiastic leader bursting with innovative ideas.
Whichever way you choose to place the man Sanwo-Olu, one thing that is certain is that he is a visionary leader. His sterling leadership qualities clearly stand him out. A focused and hardworking personality, Mr. Governor is inimitable in many perspectives. His mien belies his remarkable strides in life. This is obviously evident in his gait that is copiously devoid of any form of arrogance, despite the dignified office he occupies.
One side of the governor that is yet to be properly scrutinized is his humanitarian trait. Here is a man through whom milk of human kindness flows ceaselessly. Empathy is an integral part of his nature. He cannot just close his eyes to the sufferings of others. His heart is full of compassion. He is a sympathetic listener who shows extreme concern for the plight of the downtrodden. He has had courses on numerous occasions to extend hands of love and fellowship to many in diverse forms of needs. In this case, his empathy for such people does not only lie in what he has to offer, but really in the manner he does it. He genuinely feels and bears the pains of others. That is his person. That is who he is. It is not fake. It is real!
Recently, Sanwo-Olu gave the public a glimpse of his humanitarian side when he compensated families of six police officers killed in the State during the EndSARS violence with N10 million each, thus fulfilling the pledge he made during an earlier meeting with police officers at the State police command.
The Governor presented cheques to the wives and children of the slain officers at the 14th Town Hall meeting on security held at Civic Centre, Victoria Island. Describing the slain officers as “heroes” Sanwo-Olu said the compensation was his government’s modest reward for their gallantry. Aside from the monetary compensation, he also placed all their children on scholarship up to university level, courtesy of the State Government.
In the same vein, Sanwo-Olu recently approved the release of funds from the equity of Lagos State Health Scheme (LSHS) to provide free healthcare for 50,000 orphans, elderly and the vulnerable in the State.
His wife, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, who disclosed this at the celebration of Year 2020 Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) Day organized by the Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA), said the development was in furtherance of the governor’s commitment to the provision of unhindered access to healthcare delivery, especially for the less-privileged. The decision became imperative in view of the fact that the governor recognises that not everyone can afford the premium of the LSHS.
Also, parents of two set of quadruplets, Mrs. Ibeh Maureen Anayo (Nee Anyaegbu) and Mrs. Abosede Akinola, recently experienced the governor’s distinctive generosity when he presented them an undisclosed sums of money to assist in giving adequate care to their newborn babies.
The Governor, who made the presentation through his Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mr. Segun Dawodu, disclosed that the gesture is not a one-off thing, stressing that it is what he does from time to time.
He said: “We just cannot afford to close our eyes to people who have found themselves in a challenging situation such as this. It is our responsibility to look for a way to help them and by so doing, the people will know that the government is there for them always.”
Ibeh Maureen Anayo (nee Anyaegbu), mother of a set of the quadruplets, disclosed that the governor stood by her and offered assistance from the 6th of August, 2020 when the babies were born at the Federal Medical Centre, Ebute- Metta.
In her words: “I have been hearing of the governor assisting people in need. However, l used to take such reports as mere propaganda, not until now that l am a beneficiary. I must confess that this has not only come to me as a pleasant surprise but a confirmation of what l have been hearing. This financial assistance will go a long way in taking care of my babies. May God bless Mr. Governor.”
On her part, Mrs. Abosede Akinola, mother of the second set of quadruplets appreciated the governor’s gesture of reaching out to them.
“It has not been very easy, but with this assistance from the government, we will be able to tackle some of the challenges confronting us financially. God will bless the Governor and Lagos State Government”, she said.
Being a kind-hearted personality, an act of kindness by others does not go unnoticed by the governor. For instance, an act of kindness rendered to a robbery victim by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of the Ogudu Police Station in Lagos, Mrs. Celestina Kalu, was rewarded by Sanwo-Olu, who personally invited the benevolent Police Officer to Lagos House where he handed over to her a cheque containing undisclosed sums of money.
The DPO’s act of kindness caught Governor Sanwo-Olu’s attention after it went viral on social media, prompting him to reach out to the policewoman and the victim. While honouring the DPO, Sanwo-Olu said Mrs. Kalu went beyond the limit of her official duty to save the life of the robbery victim. The Governor equally extended a dose of his kindness to Ajabor, the robbery victim, by taking over the cost of his surgery.
Sanwo-Olu’s kindness is also extended to the State’s civil servants through prompt payment of salaries, allowances and bonuses, even when it is apparently quite difficult to do such. It is instructive to stress that throughout the duration of the COVID-19 lockdown civil servants who worked from home for over five months were paid their salaries in full.
In-spite of the pandemic and its attendant economic tolls on his government’s revenue, the governor recently approved the payment of a 30% tax-free End-of-the Year bonus for the State’s workforce, which has since been paid with the December salaries to every staff.
Alexis de Tocqueville, in his famous work, Democracy in America (1885), maintains that building the people is more important than creating wealth, for the value of the latter is tied to the existence of the earlier. As it is often said, great minds think alike. There is no doubt that Sanwo-Olu was having Tocqueville in mind when he declared recently at a public function that “a society that cannot protect the underprivileged cannot protect the privileged. How apropos
Ogunbiyi is Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.