The emergence of Babajide Olushola Sanwo-Olu in the mainstream political circle of Lagos State came to many as a huge surprise, because it came at a time many political watchers were confident that the state governor on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, was doing so well that there wasn’t any likelihood of his not returning for a second term.
It therefore came as a huge shock to many when the news started filtering in that the APC was not likely to adopt Ambode for a second term, and that rather Sanwo-Olu was taking over.
It was not until the primary of the party that the reality dawned on almost everyone that indeed, Ambode was gone for good.
The mode of emergence therefore many have said has put a huge burden on Sanwo-Olu as the people await May 29 for his inauguration as the next governor of the state to hit the ground running.
Though it will not really be right to say that Ambode as a governor failed the people of Lagos State in key performance in index, be it security, job creation, building of infrastructure among others, the reality however is that he is not having a second term, therefore Sanwo-Olu has a responsibility to prove to Lagosians that the leaders of the people who picked him above Ambode did not make a mistake.
However, many have said that his background and experience in governance of Lagos State will stand him out in his new assignment, coupled with what many say is in keeping with the Lagos Master Plan, which the leaders said Ambode deviated from which made his second term impossible, noting that since he has been part of the system over a period of time, he must be well in tune with the document, that he possibly was part of the authors to be able to follow it to the letter.
Born on June 25, 1965, Sanwo-Olu graduated from the University of Lagos, having a BSc in Surveying and an MBA from the same institution. He is an alumnus of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, the London Business School and the Lagos Business School.
He is an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM) and Fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Training and Development (NITAD).
Prior to his gubernatorial ambition, he was the Managing Director/CEO of Lagos State Property Development Commission (LSPDC).
Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu was the treasurer at former Lead Merchant Bank from 1994 to 1997 after which he moved to the United Bank for Africa as the head of foreign money market.
He then proceeded to First Inland Bank Plc (now First City Monument Bank) as a deputy general manager and divisional head.
He was the chairman of Baywatch Group Limited and First Class Group Limited. He is a board member of the Department for International Development (DFID/DEEPEN) Fund and Audit Committee of Caverton Offshore Services Group Plc.
Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu began his political career in 2003, when he was appointed a Special Adviser on Corporate Matters to the then deputy governor of Lagos State, Femi Pedro. He was later made the acting Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget until 2007, when he became the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry by then Governor, Bola Tinubu.
After the General Election of 2007, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu was appointed Commissioner for Establishments, Training and Pensions by Governor Babatunde Fashola.
Though it is obvious that the pedigree of Sanwo-Olu in the governance of Lagos State shows a man well rounded for the task ahead, it must be said that the challenges he may face in office may well overweigh his preparations.
For this reason, many have cautioned that he slows down on promises that he has started making lately about what he intends to do in his first few weeks and months in office and rather allow his action in office speak for him.
In a country where very many people are inclined to giving solidarity and relief to victors, some are willing to bet that by now Sawo-Olu’s inbox will be full of congratulatory messages.
Rather let us point out that if Mr. Governor-elect can govern half the way he campaigned, then he will certainly be an achieving governor. This is because during his campaign, the candidate Sawo-Olu, through his team, reached every part of Lagos: Every geographical part and socio-economic sector knew Babajide Sanwo-Olu was keen on and planning to be governor of Lagos State.
For someone who whilst trying to reach office can show such knowledge of Lagos, its people and the challenges they face during elections, it will be more than disappointing if he does not perform well as a governor.
As governor therefore, one of the major challenges and perhaps the most important test Sanwo-Olu will have to face is his ability to match up: He will be compared to past governors and his deeds in office will be compared to his promises during the campaign.
Another major challenge the new governor will have to face is his ability to deal with stakeholders on whose shoulders and with whose help he got into office.
The stage however has been set for the incoming governor to succeed, but what he does with the opportunity in the next four years is what will define him as a success or otherwise.