Open Letter To Sanwoolu

By Mujeeb Awonuga

Without doubt Your Excellency, the primary objective of every government is to provide requisite social services to its citizenry. And although many might argue that a government deals with much more crucial matters than the mere provision of social amenities, it is a known fact that every governmental action -- every sitting, every bill, every law and what not -- are of secondary importance and geared towards bettering the citizenry's living conditions, which of course, is only achievable through the provision of social services. Mr. Governor, the first four years of your administration saw the state evolve into arguably the largest construction site (social-service-wise) in the country. Little wonder there was a spine-tingling ecstacy and ginger amongst Lagosians to ensure the continuity of your government considering its rich history with regard to service delivery. And today, a few months after an eventful electoral process, Lagosians can sit back and relax knowing full well that their beloved state is still under your administrative tutelage --- at least for another four years.

Unfortunately, the first few days of your second term have been beset by the removal of petrol subsidy leading to a hike in pump prices which has consequently resulted in a rather astronomical increase in the cost of living across the state (and elsewhere). One major spinoff of this development is a more-than-hundred-percent increase in transport fares making things all the harder amidst an already existing hyper inflation, nationwide.

Mr. Governor, although we are all affected by this development, it is quite saddening that students, who are arguably the worst hit victims, have been left all alone to bear the prongs of this episode. It is on this note that I write, albeit constrained for it is now of momentous concern to us students and all well-meaning Nigerians, to call your attention to the severity of our situation. Ordinarily, even without transportation constraints, students already have a mountain of expenses they endlessly struggle to bear, so considering the fact that most universities (public)in the state do not have halls of residence on campus while the few that do usually site them far away from campus grounds, the worst can only be imagined under the current circumstances.

The purpose of this letter is no rocket science, Mr. Governor. To be explicit and without equivocation, we only seek your help in cushioning the effects of the hike in PMS prices; some simple interventions will certainly abate our woes. One of such is the simple provision of palliative buses for students of public tertiary institutions in the state. And while we crave your indulgence on this, it is also imperative to inform you that, whereas many suggestions on how to cushion the effects of this period are usually only strong in rhetoric but weak in substance and practicality, this is a very realistic solution as proven by precedents. A similar system currently runs at theUniversity of Lagos where buses donated by the state government transport students to and from the school campus; and only recently did your counterpart, AbdulRahmon AbdulRazaq of Kwara State, approve the deployment of government buses to support movement of students and workers in public tertiary institutions in his state.

The timeliness of your counterpart's (AbdulRazaq)decision to step in and ameliorate the situation in his state cannot but be applauded for a leader must always be seen addressing issues of grave concern in his polity with utmost seriousness and with maximum dispatch. And although we naturally expect Lagos State to pioneer moves like this, it is not too late, dear Governor, to hearken to our cries of agony.

Dear Governor, we cannot afford to dither any longer as finding urgent, realistic and permanent solutions --one of which was aforementioned -- to this "crisis" ought to be the agenda of the government, this trying times. You (we) need to find ways to actualise cheap, sustainable and qualitative living standards for all across the state. And not only will an urgent action in this regard etch your name on the hearts of students, it will also help rekindle the faith of Lagosians (students, especially) on the fact that you still remain the listening governor they elected into office.

Mujeeb Awonuga Writes from Lagos State United (LASU)