More than anything else, the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is known for his humanitarian posture.
He reaffirmed this posture recently to the admiration of so many Lagosians when the Plateau killings reared its ugly by swiftly evacuating students of the University of Jos, who are indigenes and residents of Lagos State.
Obviously not amused by yet another sad tale of sorrow, tears and blood in the nation’s history, the Babajide Sanwo-Olu led administration as a proactive government could not abandon its citizens to gunmen and the masterminds of the orgy of death who were seen dragging people out of moving tricycles and maiming them in broad daylight.
A survivor who captured the horrible incident remarked that, “It is horrible. I have never seen such brutality in my life. In Jos, I saw cold-blooded killings; a lot of people were killed overnight and some were burnt beyond recognition. I saw the corpse of a five-year-old girl; I saw the body of a slaughtered pregnant woman in a truck, which was filled with corpses. The sight was gory; it is not something human beings should behold. I have never been the same ever since. We couldn’t sleep; hearing gunshots behind our windows was terrifying.”
As the killings and insecurity in the state worsened, the stranded students, especially the non-indigenes, were anxious for their safety. The situation from witnesses’ accounts was so tense that sporadic gun shots sound became the order of the day.
It was at this point that the governor’s team, championed by his special adviser Mr. Tokunbo Wahab, activated their emergency response plan and gave a swift directive for the evacuation of students of the University of Jos.
Observers affirmed the order for the students’ evacuation could not have been delayed further given to the brutal killings in Plateau state. More so Jos, the capital of the state had been in turmoil following a series of reprisal attacks ensuing from an initial killing of over 22 persons in a bus. A situation that led to the imposition of a curfew by the governor.
Amid the pandemonium caused by wanton killings in Plateau, Governor Sanwo-Olu in his upbeat manner mobilised a team led by officials of the Office of the special adviser to the Governor on Education to Jos, accompanied by security personnel.
Their mission was to ensure the safe evacuation of students who are indigenes and residents of Lagos state from the troubled Jos.
Teeming Lagosians shed a tear of joy when the first set of evacuees, comprising 64 UNIJOS students and the three-week-old-baby, named Daniella, who was reported to have been delivered shortly before the crisis in the state by the mother, Manya Banfe, a 200-Level student, arrived the state.
The students, who were super excited to be evacuated from crisis-hit Jos and other parts of Plateau state experiencing violence and killings in the last few weeks, sang praises and showered praises on Governor Sanwo-Olu and top officials of the Lagos state government for rescuing them from what they described as the ‘war zone.’
While receiving the students, Governor Sanwo-Olu said the evacuation shows that Lagos state government had the capacity to respond to any emergency when it concerns the people of the State, especially the youth.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the state commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said welfare packages had been arranged for the students to return to their families safe and sound.
The commissioner described the intervention as a practical demonstration of the Governor Sanwo-Oulu commitment to protection of lives and property of residents, irrespective of their locations, which is part of the six pillars of the state developmental Agenda THEMEs.
The governor, who thanked God that no student from Lagos lost their lives in the incident and during the rescue operation, urged them to observe COVID-19 safety protocols and not to lose touch with their studies, as they returned to Lagos.
Omotoso added that it showed that the Lagos state government had the ability and capacity to respond to any emergency especially when it concerns the people of the state, particularly, the youths adding that the major lesson was that they should always be good ambassadors of their families and government at all times.
Also speaking, the permanent secretary of Office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Kasali Adeniran, said the evacuation of students and indigenes of Lagos state was another landmark event by the Sanwo-Olu administration.
Adeniran also restated the incumbent administration’s commitment to the safety and security of Lagos citizens, noting that the Babajide Sanwo-Olu government has demonstrated good governance in providing an enabling environment as well as being on point when it comes to safety and security of lives with the evacuation of the UniJOS students.
Speaking on behalf of the UniJOS students, a 200-level student of the Department of Religion and Philosophy of the institution, Clinton Shotikare, thanked Governor Sanwo-Olu for coming to their rescue.
“On behalf of other students, I am saying a big thank you to the Lagos state government, especially the Governor of Lagos state, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu. We appreciate the Governor and the state government for evacuating us from Plateau state. We feel happy, honoured, grateful, and safe. We feel the impact of the government,” he said.
Shotikare, who said they had been experiencing tense situations and sleepless nights since the beginning of the Plateau state crisis, urged Lagos State government not to relent on its efforts to rescue other Lagosians, especially students who were still stranded in the University of Jos and other parts of Plateau state.
A student in the Department of Pharmacy, UNIJOS, Edward Christiana, also appreciated Governor Sanwo-Olu for evacuating the students from Jos.
“I am really grateful for what the Lagos state government has done for us. We are so thankful. Some of us had even lost hope when a 24 hour curfew was declared in Plateau state. But Lagos state Governor came to our rescue and evacuated us from Jos.
For Master Jinadu, another student, the prompt evacuation and rescue by the governor saved them from the nightmare because they had been experiencing tense situations and sleepless nights since the incident.
He urged the state government not to relent on its efforts to rescue over 80 other students who were still stranded in University of Jos.
“We could have been killed. We could have been maimed. The expectations of our parents over us could have come to naught. I am personally grateful to our amiable Mr. Governor for being a wonderful father and leader. He has, indeed, demonstrated that human lives are so precious to him. We cannot thank him enough. We were well-taken care of throughout the duration of the journey
“We are still highly traumatized by the massacre we witnessed in Jos. Our students are still stranded, they have been calling them asking for when the rescue team is coming back for their evacuation. Please send more rescue teams to evacuate them on time,” he said.
The students specially thanked Governor Sanwo-Olu, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Mr Tokunbo Wahab, the Senior Special Assistant, SSA, Tertiary Education, Youth and Student Relations, Mr. Tayo Sanyaolu for their efforts in ensuring their safe arrival in the state.