Jan. 25, 2022


Babajide Sanwo-Olu

Nigeria

Babajide Sanwo-Olu

Executive Governor, Lagos State

Seeking to significantly improve the lives of everyone in Lagos State, young and old, the Governor is working on a multi-pronged agenda to enact change.

BIO

Babajide Sanwo-Olu became the 15th Governor of Lagos State following his victory at the 2019 gubernatorial elections. The governor's political career started in 2003, when he was appointed special adviser on corporate matters to then-deputy governor of Lagos State, Femi Pedro, and later as special adviser on corporate matters to then-governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Sanwo-Olu was later appointed commissioner for economic planning and budget. In 2007, he became the commissioner for commerce and industry under Tinubu. After the general elections in 2007, Sanwo-Olu was appointed commissioner for establishments, training, and pensions. In 2016, he was appointed managing director/CEO of the Lagos State Development Property Corporation (LSDPC), and he was later fielded as the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate for the 2019 elections. He is an alumnus of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, London Business School, and the Lagos Business School. He earned a bachelor's degree in surveying and geo-informatics and an MBA from the University of Lagos.


What were your administration's main achievements during its first two years in office?

What has guided our executions and driven our achievements is our development agenda, which we have called the THEMES agenda, an acronym for: traffic management and transportation; health and environment; education and technology; making Lagos a 21st-century economy; entertainment and tourism; and security and governance. On the traffic management and transportation side, we have built a robust public transportation system and introduced high-capacity buses into the system, and we are about to introduce additional 100 high-capacity buses. We are also launching 500 first- and last-mile (FLM) buses, with the goal of reaching 5,000 buses in a year or so. This will be complemented by an additional 1,000 taxis in our LagosRide Scheme. We are also building four bus terminal stations and plan to introduce green buses in the future. For waterways, we are working with the private sector to build 15 jetties, six or seven of which to be commissioned by the end of 2021. With regard to rail infrastructure, we have invested more in the last two years than previous administrations did in the last six. We are hoping to complete the blue and red line by the end of 2022. We just started Phase I of the blue line, which is 27km. We have built six stations, and two remain. On health and environment, Lagos remains the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria. We have received support from the private sector, built up the capacity of our health workers, built isolation centers, and developed our health facilities. We are building a mental wellness and rehabilitation facility with a capacity for 500 patients as well as a radiology and orthopedic center. We also plan to build the first Institute for Infectious Diseases and Research Center in Africa. We are pushing the health insurance scheme so that health can be accessible and affordable. In the last two years, a world-class center for cancer treatment and an infectious diseases specialist hospital were built in Lagos in collaboration with the private sector. As for education and technology, in the past two years, we have built over 500 new classrooms, recruited 3,000 new teachers, and made sure our children have better learning outcomes. Our philosophy is “leave no child behind." We distributed about 80,000 handheld devices and are deploying 3,600km of fiber optic in Lagos that will connect fiber to our schools, hospitals, and public buildings. We want Lagos to be the technology hub of Africa. Making Lagos a 21st century economy to us means making housing as affordable as possible, as well as expanding our energy supply. In energy, we are doing direct intervention with the federal government because it is still a nationally controlled industry, though we are trying to get off-grid generation. We are doing 1,200 streetlights with high LED, so our streets are brighter. Meanwhile, in entertainment and tourism, we have created a tourism fund and started the Lagos Creative Academy to train scriptwriters, actresses, actors, newscasters, and producers. The academy is conducting thousands of online training programs with trainers from all over the world, all of which are funded by our government, though we are using the private sector to run it. We established a committee to assess the needs of movie producers and directors so they can produce many more movies. Many people have great stories to tell, but do not have sponsors. We are also working with the Lagos Employment Trust Fund to support entrepreneurs with different skills, providing grants to people developing software.

What is the state government doing in the areas of agriculture and security?

We have set up a five-year master plan for agriculture and want to enable the sector. We are building the biggest rice mill in the country, and we want to have interventions in the red meat value chain, which is a massive industry. We want to add value to the sector. We also want to support the fishing industry and explore urban farming. We cannot do all these without a secure and safe environment, so we have continued to support the Nigerian police and the entire security architecture in the state. We want to demonstrate transparency and accountability and show that we are a responsible government.

What is your message to the international investor community?

No one will help develop the nation if one does not start; investors need to feel it is a safe place to be. We have attracted more investments in the last two years compared to the previous five. The Dangote refinery is the single-biggest construction site project in the world right now, and it is a USD16-billion investment in the eastern part of Lagos. We are building the largest port in West Africa, Lekki Port, a deep seaport that can handle four times the size of vessels compared to the current size allowed at Apapa Ports. We are also ensuring there is a secure and safe environment, with increased commitment to the ease of doing business. Not having clear regulatory frameworks can slow down investments. We have an active court of arbitration, and we are digitalizing our records so that people can have access to titles and contract approvals easily. We are making sure people can travel from one part of the state to another freely, easily, and safely. Lagos airport receives 60-65% of international travels in the country. We are also building the JK Randle Museum in partnership with the British Museum.

Which sectors present the largest opportunities for investors?

We expect growth in technology, which is why we are building the metropolitan fiber optic network. We see great potential in the financial industry as well, and we expect the sector to grow further. Real estate in Lagos is always a sector where one can participate in. Because of the population, goods that are consumer driven will always do well in an environment such as ours. People need food, clothes, and need to move around. It is also an educated market; the level of literacy is far higher than other parts of West Africa.

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