GOVERNOR Babajide Sanwoolu has said he should no longer be addressed to as His Excellency as he is only a servant appointed by the people and only God can be described as an excellent being.
Traditionally, Nigerian public servants like governors, ministers and ambassadors have always been described with the prefix Your Excellency. This culture has fuelled vanity, sycophancy and ultimately corruption as it elevates state officials to the status of mini gods, with everyone scrambling to curry favour with them.
In a bid to probably reduce the number of hangers-ons, praise-singers and sycophants looking to curry favour with him, Governor Sanwoolu has declared that only God should bear such titles as His Excellency. He added that he is only servant appointed by the people and as such should just be called Mr Governor.
Governor Sanwoolu said: “In the last five months that I have been privileged to exercise the mandate freely given to me by the great and hardworking people of Lagos State, it has come to my consciousness to review certain features of citizen-government relations which impede the genuine expression of the democratic spirit of our society and the meaningful exercise of the sovereignty of our people. The office of the governor has been celebrated as the paragon of excellence, a temple of perfection and a throne of purity.
“This demi-god mystique spreads over the entire machinery of the executive arm of the government, symbolising an authoritarian disposition on the governed. It has deformed the orientation of elected and appointed persons who are paid from the taxes of the people to see themselves as oppressors who can do no wrong and must be served, rather than serve the people.
“Whatever might have been the reason for this myth, let us be honest, the office is occupied by a mortal who has been called upon to serve the electorate with humility and sincerity. The office of governor is a public trust that calls for sacrifice, modesty and willingness to add value to the lives of the people.
“Fellow Lagosians, I have come to the conclusion that for us to change the narrative of governance, we have to strike down this seeming symbol of executive arrogance that commands popular obeisance and undermines the democratic role of citizens as the masters of those they have elected and appointed to serve. It is a conviction that I believe will send the right signals to all politicians and civil servants that service to the people has brought us here.
“Only God, the Almighty, the creator, the protector is the most excellent and no man can share His eternal qualities. Thenceforth, I wish to be addressed simply as Mr Governor, a title that will constantly remind me that I have been chosen out of so many fellow compatriots to lead a collective salvage of our political economy.
“A salutation that sanitises the paraphernalia of office and reminds us all of our imperfections and mortality. To give official effect to this announcement, I shall issue tomorrow an executive order that will formally ensure full compliance with this new policy.”