Lagos State governor, Babajde Sanwo-Olu has come under intense criticism for running bike-hailing companies like Gokada, Oride and Max out of the state. This followed a tweet by the governor congratulating Flutterwave for raising $170 million in series C funding.
The governor had tweeted:
“Huge congratulations to Gbenga and the entire team of Flutterwave for this landmark achievement. Stories of how they are enabling SMEs are everywhere around us and as a government, we are committed to supporting deeper interaction.”Gov Babajide Sanwo-olu
But the last section of his tweet in which he claimed his government is ‘committed to supporting deeper interaction‘ hasn’t gone down well with a large section of his subjects and they are letting their thoughts fly on the matter.
“Mr Governor, humbly requesting you don’t support Flutterwave because we are still suffering from the support you gave Gokada,” a Lagosian, Bankole said.
Funmilola noted that the government’s idea of support usually hinges on taxation and expressed fears that it might be cooking up something like that for Flutterwave and maybe the entire Fintech space.
Try not to dream up some tax or other policies to erode the great strides Flutterwave has made (ditto Gokada). Between your government and the Nigerian Government, we are still deciding who is more anti SMEsFunmilola
Recall that in February 2020, the Lagos state government proscribed the activities of bike-hailing companies in a sweeping attempt at eradicating bikes, popularly called okada, from the city of Lagos. That move, which brought untold hardship to many Lagosians, came after the governor expressed his support and endorsement of Gokada and MaxNG.
The government followed that with a move to regulate the taxi-hailing space in the state. The regulation mandated e-hailing companies like Bolt and Uber to pay N25 million licence fees as well as N10 million for yearly renewal. The state government also demanded a 10% service charge on all revenue paid to the companies among several other requirements.
President of the National Union of Professional App-based Workers (NUPA-BW) Comrade Ibrahim Ayoade described the regulation as extortion and a mere revenue drive.
More recently, the state government has launched its own ride-hailing platform called Lagos Ride and several Uber and Bolt drivers who spoke to Technext expressed fears that their jobs might be on the line.
With all these antecedents, coupled with the unfortunate shooting down of protesters at the Lekki Tollgate, it’s not hard to see why Governor Sanwo-olu is not a very popular governor in his state.
“Sanwo-Olu just succeeded in making this about the government,” Will said on Twitter. “The same destructive government that grounded Gokada and currently making plans to ground the operations of Bolt and Uber in Lagos. Committed indeed.”
Some folks went on to draw comparisons with Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo state who recently acquired 1,000 e-bikes for use within the state secretariat premises. Governor Makinde has also given a new home to the bike-hailing companies rejected by Lagos with the likes of Safeboda and Gokada running freely on its roads.
With a series of howlers in his wake, Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu is not his people’s favourite as it were. This explains why a well-intentioned tweet like this didn’t go down well with the young people in his state. The governor would need a lot of image rebuilding and it starts with genuinely supporting innovation that makes life easier for the common man.
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