By Ayo Oluwole Peters
Were he not well recognised as a lawyer of repute and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) to boot, one would have been forgiven for ascribing a personally signed press statement this week by Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa to the theatrical antics of an ignorant and deliberately mischievous mind.
In his statement, Adegboruwa accused Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State of abandoning governance in the state ever since the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate and former Governor of the state, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, declared his presidential aspiration. This is patently false and unbecoming of an officer in the Temple of Justice.
Tinubu first declared his ambition during an interaction with journalists at the Presidential Villa, Abuja last January after intimating President Muhammadu Buhari of his move. Since then, the Sanwo-Olu has been prominently seen across the state, inaugurating projects, monitoring ongoing ones and diligently discharging his duties, as has always been the case since his assumption of office in May 2019.
Adegboruwa alleges that Sanwo-Olu is the unofficial campaign manager for Tinubu and that he has not been on ground to monitor the ban which he placed on motorcycles in six local government areas of the state. This is preposterous. If he is an absentee governor as claimed by the SAN, how come that Sanwo-Olu effectively read the security situation in the state in the first place and imposed the ban? Does this human rights lawyer expect the Governor to drive around Lagos probably with whip in hand enforcing compliance with the ban? Why do we have the various security agencies in place all of which have been doing an excellent job in enforcing compliance in challenging circumstances?
The critic seems to have a Stone Age, anachronistic and outdated notion of governance. He forgets that this is the digital and technology savvy age where the leader in public office can still achieve hands on governance wherever he is within or outside the country.
Adegboruwa contends that the Governor is not on seat to address issues related to flooding and heavy traffic, among others during the rainy season. He forgets that Sanwo-Olu has a Deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, who is no complementary spare tyre, as most in his position tend to be. Hamzat has a doctorate in computer engineering and has garnered invaluable experience over three decades both in top flight management positions in the United States and Nigeria, including more than a decade of experience as a Commissioner in various ministries in Lagos State before his present assignment. There has been a harmonious and excellent working relationship between the two men. Furthermore, there are competent and capable hands manning the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the state. An example is Mr Tunji Bello, journalist, lawyer and experienced administrator in the Ministry of the Environment, ably assisted by Mr Joe Igbokwe, an engineer as Special Adviser. There is absolutely no vacuum in governance as the self-opinionated lawyer would want the public to believe.
The 2023 presidential election will be one of the most significant in the political history of Nigeria, and particularly a critical one for Lagos State, which continues to be shortchanged in the political economy of Nigeria. Governor Sanwo-Olu has every reason to be actively involved in the campaign of a candidate who is a former Governor of the state, understands the challenges confronting the mega city and is best placed to help facilitate equity and justice for the component states of Nigeria in the best interest of the country’s accelerated national transformation.
In a direct insult on public officers in the state, Adegboruwa insinuates that they are likely to abandon their responsibilities in the Governor’s absence to pursue their political or business interests. If a lawyer with the rank of a SAN can make this kind of blanket generalisation without a single proof, then those who contend that the title has been grossly devalued in recent years cannot be faulted.
Even when the Governor is physically in the state, can he personally supervise and keep track of the activities of a public service that has a workforce of over 100,000 personnel.
Adegboruwa must wake up and realise that modern management in both the public and private sectors, not excluding his chambers, is about effective and scientific delegation. There must be a limit to baseless hysteria and Ill-tempered emotionalism.