BEING THE SECOND-TERM INAUGURAL ADDRESS GIVEN BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MR. BABAJIDE OLUSOLA SANWO-OLU, GOVERNOR OF LAGOS STATE, ON MONDAY, MAY 29, 2023 AT THE TAFAWA BALEWA SQUARE, LAGOS AT 9:00AM
Four years ago on this day, I stood before you for the first time as Governor, to ask you to join me on the journey to a Greater Lagos.
Four very eventful years have since passed, and here I am again, privileged beyond measure, to take a second and final oath of office as your Governor.
Immense gratitude goes to the Almighty God, in whom we live and move and have our being. He alone deserves all the thanksgiving for sparing our lives to see this day, and for making it a joyful day, and a day to celebrate the gains of the last four years.
Four years ago, we promised a better future for ourselves and our children. We did not think it would be easy, or effortless. In fact, we knew it would require a lot of hard work, and sacrifice, and innovative thinking.
There were also many things we did not expect or anticipate. Nobody could have foreseen that just ahead of us lay the most disruptive and devastating global health challenge of our lifetime.
Nobody anticipated how the ENDSARS protests, which started peacefully, would descend into the most destructive wave of violence Lagos has seen in almost 30 years. We lost tens of billions of Naira worth of public and private property 7. There were other disasters that our dear State and its residents had to confront, in these last four years. A spate of building collapses that claimed lives, and a massive gas explosion in Abule-Ado, among others.
And yet, in all of these, we saw the triumphant spirit of Lagos shine through. We saw a people who know that we cannot be defined by the tragedies that confront us.
We saw a city that proudly wore its resilience, in the face of a raging virus, and in the face of mobs of arsonists. We saw a Megacity that had mastered the art of bouncing back, regardless of what it faced.
That is our Lagos, our home, our city, our pride.
As we gather here at Tafawa Balewa Square, a place laden with historical significance and resonating with echoes of our past, we cannot help but reflect on our journey so far.
Lagos, our home, has grown from a humble port city into a bustling metropolis, a beacon of promise that attracts individuals from far and wide who seek opportunities to fulfill their dreams.
Our city, teeming with energy and innovation, is an embodiment of our collective spirit, our shared dreams, and our relentless drive. Our potential is immense, our will indomitable.
In my first term, we set the stage for transformative change. We confronted significant challenges, from improving our infrastructure to ensuring adequate social services, from grappling with economic downturns to navigating a global pandemic. Yet, we never faltered. Our challenges became stepping-stones; and our trials, the foundation of our resilience.
We fought Covid-19, and despite being the national epicenter, we ultimately triumphed. May the souls of all those who lost their lives to the virus rest in peace.
Arsonists and criminals set fire to public and private buildings and property, but they did not achieve their goal of permanently demoralizing us.
All of these have helped bolster our confidence that we can surmount whatever challenges that come our way.
And yet, very importantly, I must add, that the last four years have not exclusively been about surmounting unforeseen challenges.
There is so much more to our story, than simply reacting to the circumstances that have lined our path.
We have also been busy taking action; instead of merely reacting. We have been writing a compelling story of deliberate progress, of action and ambition, fruitful policies, of committed governance, and of a resolute journey towards the unshakeable ideal of a truly Greater Lagos.
Four years ago, I remember assuring you, the good people of Lagos, that, “It is possible!”
Indeed, it is possible. It is always possible.
There is so much more to us than the challenges we face and surmount. There is more to us than the single story of pulling through disaster.
There is the world-conquering private and public infrastructure rising across the land, like the largest singletrain Petroleum Refinery in the world, or the largest United States Consulate Complex in the world, or the largest Children’s Hospital in West Africa, or the largest Rice Mill in sub-Saharan Africa.
There is the constant outpouring of great artistic talent from amongst us, in music, visual arts, theatre, film, comedy, food, and many more.
There is also the energy and the potential that has made us the Startup Capital of Africa, and has attracted global corporations like Microsoft, Google, Kimberly Clark, Hyundai, Geely and many more, who have collectively invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Hubs and Factories in our State.
It must be said that none of these happenings is a fluke; nothing has happened by accident. Everything has been the product of long planning, painstaking implementation and the right economic terrain from 1999 when we kickstarted this current democratic journey.
As I noted on this day four years ago, “Since 1999, our tradition of progressive governance has set Lagos apart and strengthened people’s belief in our ideology.”
That tradition of progressive governance, of enlightened leadership, has consistently yielded fruit for us, and set us up as a model for other States across Nigeria.
It has delivered the dividends of democracy to you our people and given us the opportunity to export our public sector innovation to the rest of the country.
Even in the days when we were a State in opposition to the Federal Government, hounded on every side by those who sought to embarrass and undermine us, we never strayed from the progressive path.
We did not seek to be like our opponents in order to make them take it easy on us. We held fast, and firm, and history has vindicated us again and again.
We have lived up to our designation as “Nigeria’s Center of Excellence”, and a day like this is an opportunity to celebrate that fact.
But one thing we must never do is commit the error of complacency. While we have made so much progress, there is also still a long way ahead of us.
You, the good people of Lagos State, still expect a lot more from us, in several areas. And today is another opportunity to acknowledge your expectations, and to rededicate ourselves to meeting and surpassing those expectations.
We will work relentlessly to make Lagos a state where economic opportunities abound, where our infrastructure is robust and resilient, and where the rule of law prevails.
But our vision for Lagos goes beyond our physical infrastructure and economic indicators. Our vision is for a Lagos that is a beacon of cultural vibrancy, intellectual prowess, and humanistic values. A Lagos that not only drives the economic engine of Nigeria but also enriches the soul of our nation.
As we embark on this journey, we remember the timeless words of Mahatma Gandhi, that “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” I pledge, as your Governor, to lose myself in the service of Lagos State, to work tirelessly for well-being of every Lagosian, and to strive for a Lagos that we can all be proud of.
It is in line with this resolve that I am pleased to announce that we are taking our THEMES governing agenda to the next level, in this our Second Term.
T.H.E.M.E.S, as you already know, stands for Transportation and Traffic Management; Health and Environment; Education and Technology; Making Lagos State a 21st Century Megacity, Entertainment & Tourism; and Security & Governance.
Henceforth, it will be known as “T.H.E.M.E.S+”, the “plus” representing the incorporation of an intensified focus, in these next four years, on Social Inclusion, Gender Equality and Youth.
In other words, we are strengthening and reinforcing THEMES with a ‘No One Left Behind’ philosophy.
No one will be left behind on account of their social status, gender or young age; we will design all our policies and programs to ensure that everyone is carried along and catered to. This is our solemn promise to you.
At this juncture, I would like to acknowledge and thank His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from May 29, 2015 until today, May 29, 2023. His unalloyed love, kindness and support for Lagos State have contributed greatly to the many successes we have recorded. When the story of this transformational period in the history of Lagos State is told, President Buhari will occupy a very important part of it.
Fellow Lagosians, today is also a day to remember all who came before us and laid a solid foundation that we are able and proud to build on today.
First and foremost is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed TinubuGCFR, who began this Fourth Republic journey, who dreamed big-time and long-term.
The man who envisioned several groundbreaking visionary projects, including the Eko Atlantic City, which is reputed to be Africa’s flagship real estate hub, and another major project which today is home to the Dangote Refinery and the Lekki Deep-Sea Port, amongst several others.
I must note that some 700 kilometers from here, around this same time, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, our Father, National Leader of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), is also taking his oath of office, as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I salute you. Lagos salutes you.
A big part of the track record that has propelled him to the highest office in the land was assembled here in Lagos. We are extremely proud of him, of what he has achieved here, and what he is set to achieve in the Federal Government, using a developmental template that was finetuned here.
Gratitude also to Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, who took the baton from Asiwaju and ran brilliantly with it.
Mr. Fashola who has just retired as a two-term Minister of Works and Housing has represented us well, setting new standards of excellence and making us all proud.
And then Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, from whom I took over, and who made important strides that have made our work today easier in many respects. We thank you and God bless you.
I also remember with great fondness and respect, our democratic precursors, from earlier republics, the late Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande (LKJ), and late Sir Michael Otedola, as well as all the Administrators and Governors who ruled this State in military uniform, such as the late Brigadier-General Mobolaji Johnson and RearAdmiral Ndubuisi Kanu. Their contributions to the development of Lagos State will never be forgotten.
At this moment in the history of our State, it has fallen upon me to steer the ship, and to move us closer than ever to the Greater Lagos of our dreams.
I made a very important promise four years ago, that I am compelled to remind you of. I said, and I quote: “The Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu you see today shall not change and try to become something I am not.”
Every day I have served as your Governor, over the last four years, I have counted my time in days, hours and minutes, and consistently and habitually done my very best to live up to this personal vow – that “I will not try to become something that I am not”.
I have strived to serve excellently, without being addressed as “His Excellency”, I have served with humility, with compassion, with a listening ear, bending over backwards where necessary to demonstrate to 7the people of Lagos, that leadership is first and foremost servanthood.
I have done my best at every juncture to remind Lagosians that this land belongs to all of us, and all of us who call it home must partake of its goodness.
Regardless of what language we speak, or where we trace our ancestry to, or where in Lagos we live, or what religion we profess, regardless of age or gender or political party, regardless of how long we have called this land home; we are all united by something deep and immutable, which is this:
Lagos is the land we know as and call ‘Home’. It is the land to which our deepest dreams and aspirations are tied, the place where we seek to make tomorrow better than today, where we envisage an easier life for our children than the one that we leave today.
Lagos is the place where our ancestors opened their hearts and homes and warmly welcomed non-indigenes, thus fostering a culture of acceptance and diversity that has stood the test of time.
Today, our beloved city thrives on this rich heritage of unity in diversity, creating an environment where dreams are nurtured, ambitions are realized, and individuals from all walks of life can find a home.
As we continue to write the story of Lagos, let us embrace this spirit of inclusiveness and harmonious coexistence, for it is this spirit that makes us truly ‘Eko’.[
Dear Lagosians, I can boldly say that we have had four fulfilling years. We have learnt a lot, we have made some mistakes, and we have also implemented many transformational policies and programs.
We assure you that the progress we have made will not be reversed. We will remain steadfast in our mission to make Lagos State a model of good governance, a beacon of hope and opportunity for all. Our path is clear, and our resolve is unshakeable.
As we venture into this second term, I want to assure you that the spirit of our endeavours remains unfaltering. We will continue to tackle our challenges head-on and celebrate our successes. We will harness the potential of our greatest resource – our people.
We stand on the threshold of a new era. An era that calls for us to evolve, to reimagine, and to forge ahead. Our vision for Lagos is one that sees no bounds. It is a vision of a city where dreams take flight, where every citizen is a part of our growth story, and where the global community looks towards us with respect and admiration.
We will continue to build a Lagos that is not only a commercial nerve centre but also a hub for innovation, culture, and sustainable development.
A Lagos that is not defined merely by its physical boundaries, but by the indefatigable spirit of its people. A Lagos that stands tall among the communities of the world, respected for its commitment to progress, prosperity, and the well-being of its people.
I will echo the words of my revered predecessor, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, who, in his Inauguration Speech on October 1, 1979, declared: “We shall be scrupulously fair and just to every citizen, be he high or low; we shall seek at all times 21and on all occasions the greatest good of the greatest number. We shall be guided by the timeless principle that the will of the people is the supreme law.”
In a similar vein, we shall continue to welcomeconstructive criticism, for, as I pointed out four years ago, therein lies the seeds of improvement. Democracy thrives on differences of opinion and belief. We will strive to respect the opinions of others even as we expect the same from them.
We will strive to communicate effectively and carry you along every step of the way, and to explain the whys and the hows behind the decisions we take on behalf of the people of Lagos State. 74. We are confident, as we have always been, that even if you do not believe what we say, you will not disbelieve what we do, because it will be as clear as day.
Let me also say that the work ahead is not for Government alone. It is not the exclusive responsibility of public servants, or the civil service. We all share the responsibility of our state’s future.
On this day, twenty-four years ago, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in his first Inauguration Speech as Governor of Lagos State, acknowledged this vital truth, and, I quote, “We cannot do it alone and we do not have all the answers. We seek, therefore, the cooperation and collaboration of all citizens of Lagos State…”
And it was Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, who said, in May 2018, that “For us to move forward, to keep moving and moving forward, we have to do it together – all together.”
The task ahead of us is, indeed, a collective responsibility. This is why we always say, Igbega Eko, Ajumose Ni O.
The greatness and strength of Lagos lies in the collective spirit of its people; whether it is paying taxes, or treating public property with care and respect, or saying something when we see something going wrong or someone breaking the law.
For us as government, I would be the first to acknowledge our own side of this social contract; the responsibility to govern honestly, transparently, humble and with dedication 81. I can assure you that our administration will continue to foster a culture of transparency, accountability and participatory governance.
Lagos —- We will not let you down.
I cannot end this without thanking and acknowledging the hardworking, dedicated, and loyal Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, who has been my friend and partner-in-progress for the last four years
I have no doubt that what we are set to accomplish as a team over the next four years will make these past four years look modest in comparison.
I equally acknowledge his adorable wife, Mrs. Oluremi Hamzat who has been a dependable partner and pillar of strength to him. Your invaluable contribution, grace and dedication are not lost on us 86. To my darling wife, the First Lady of Lagos State, Dr. Claudiana Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, for being a sure source of support, strength, and inspiration. Your commitment to the people of Lagos, especially our women and children, continues to inspire change and progress. Your selfless love and dedication have been my steady compass, guiding and uplifting me throughout this journey.
My gratitude also goes to the Lagos State 9th House of Assembly under the dedicated leadership of Rt. Hon. Mudasiru Obasa. Your unwavering commitment hasbeen instrumental in driving our shared vision for a Greater Lagos. I look forward to continued collaboration as we forge ahead on this journey of transforming Lagos into a city that truly symbolizes the aspirations of its people 88. To the Lagos State Judiciary, led by the Honorable Chief Justice Kazeem Alogba, I say thank you for your invaluable contribution to the progress of our beloved state. As we look towards the future, I am confident that our continued partnership will further reinforce the pillars of justice and fairness that Lagos is built upon, furthering our shared mission of creating a Greater Lagos for all.
To the State Executive Council (2019-2023) that supported me, Permanent Secretaries, Heads of Agencies and Parastatals, the entire Civil Service of Lagos State, and our Security and Law Enforcement Agencies, thank you. Your sacrifices have not been in vain and will never be in vain.
I am also incredibly grateful for the robust support we have consistently received from our revered Traditional Rulers, our esteemed Religious Leaders, and our proactive members of Civil Society Organizations, Community Development Associations and Community Development Committees.
Your invaluable insights, and your unique roles intirelessly bridging the gap between governance and our diverse communities, have significantly influenced our initiatives and policies, ensuring they align with the needs of our people.
The positive impact of your collaborative efforts is evident in the strides we have taken towards sustainable development and prosperity. You are indeed worthy development partners, and for your unwavering dedication to our common goal, I say a heartfelt thank you.
To all of you the proud and resilient people of Lagos State, I will end this Inauguration Address exactly as I ended it exactly four years ago: “Indeed, our best days lie ahead of us!”
Let us take this powerful message and be inspired by it.
From the market squares to the boardrooms of this great Megacity, from the seashore to the skyscrapers, from the courtyards to the classrooms, from tenement to terrace; let it be proclaimed, now and always, that the best lies ahead of us.
Let these words be heard loud and clear, in every nook and cranny of this land; from Ijegun-Egba to Abule-Egba; from Orile to Onipetesi, Olowogbowo to Igbogbo; from Ilashe to Ibeshe; from Okota to Ikota; from Amukoko to Okoko-maiko; from Bariga to Agege; Agbowa Ikosi to Ikosi Ejirin, Alagbado Alakuko; Ajeromi Ifelodun and indeed all other parts of our dear state.
And May the Almighty God grant us the grace to truly believe in, and pursue this best, every waking moment of our lives. Amen.
Thank you, and God bless Lagos State
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria
God bless you all.
Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu
Governor, Lagos State
May 29, 2023