By Temitope Ajayi
Let me state upfront that citizens have a right to demand performance from those they elected. And it is equally not out of place to set expectations from government.
What I think is missing, so far, in the tirades against the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration, that became louder, in the last couple of days, is how we set expectations for government and how quick we think a government should turn things around. I am not sure there will ever be a consensus on that.
What can not be denied is the frustrating hours Lagosians spend daily to commute within the state occasioned by very bad roads. That the roads are very bad is to put it mildly. It is actually horrible.
I think most commentators are, honestly, not fair in their assessment of the administration. We need to be realistic in our assessment metrics of any administration. This has always been the problem in Nigeria where we often use our present situation as benchmarks to measure the performance of government.
If history should serve as our guide, in 1999 when then Governor Tinubu took over, he was harangued. He became subject of various newspaper graffiti in his first 6 months. He was written off as an emblem of poor performance in editorials and news reports. The man and his team were working and planning how to execute their programmes. When he rolled out and his government gained momentum, the song of lamentations turned to that of praises. Governor Tinubu set the state on a new development path that was sustainable because his administration was meticulous, deliberate in planning and rigorous in execution.
The first 100 days or more of the Babatunde Fashola’s government was also very testy for him. He was given many uncomplimentary monikers because, over time, the media and public commentators had successfully pigeonholed governance to be about bricks and mortar alone. Once buldozers are not seen, it means a government is not working. Fashola moved from being a slow-starter to becoming the darling of Lagosians till date. He brought new vision, zest and capability to the leadership of the state. He ended his tenure with the sobriqutte of ‘governor of example.’
It took former Governor Ambode more than a year to break out of the Fashola shadow. Fashola became the barometer with which he was assessed. Ambode’s first 6 months was very stormy. He brought his own style to governance and shaped the character of his own administration too.
I am not surprised that social media reactions to the Sanwo-Olu led government has been very unflattering in the last one month. Lagosians want action. They want to see all the bad roads disappear. They demand performance and it has to happen now.
While the demand for quick turn around can never be vitiated, it must be said also that assessment and criticism should be fair. This is a 4-month old government. The roads have been terribly bad before Sanwo-Olu took over. There is no respite yet to the heavy downpours. There is not much that can be done on roads beyond the palliatives being done by the Public Works Agency.
One thing I am very convinced of is the fact that this Governor and his team will deliver. Every new government will face initial teething problems. I told few friends that it will take any new administration, even the one that is very fast, at least 6 months to settle down. To get all the levers of government to run at full blast with new appointees taking charge of MDAs will be sometime during the first year. While it is true that a serious administration will exhibit course of direction that will begin to manifest even from day one, impact in terms of service delivery can’t take less than 12-18 months. It is my considered view that 2 years is a good time for fair assessment of a government.
With benefits of what I know and some of the plans that will be executed in quick succession in the coming days, this Sanwo-Olu administration will deliver and Lagosians will be happy with their government. The governor and his deputy are prepared for the task ahead of them.
• Ajayi, a Lagos based public affairs commentator, wrote this on his social media page Facebook.