Sanwo-Olu Mourns Late Deputy Chief-Of-Staff

Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu (right) condoling with the deceased’s children and wife, Mrs. Yetunde Soyannwo during a night of tribute for the late Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr. Gboyega Soyannwo, at the Lagos House, Ikeja, on Tuesday, 21 May 2024.

Testimonies poured out in torrents for the late Deputy Chief of Staff (DCoS) to Lagos State Governor, Mr. Gboyega Olumade Soyannwo, as colleagues, friends and relatives gathered, on Tuesday, at a Night of Tributes to share memories of their moments and encounters with him.

The accolades, profound accounts of the deceased’s professional conducts and virtue of his generosity shared by those who had encounters with the deceased literally became the consoling legacy left for the bereaved family, just as the good testimonies dispersed the pall of grief that had enveloped Alausa — the seat of the Lagos State Government — since the passing of the State’s Executive Council member.

Soyannwo, 55, breathed his last on May 15, after a brief illness. He is survived by wife and two children.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, his Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, led members of the State Executive Council, members of the State’s legislature and the judiciary to the Night of Tribute held at Alausa Sports Ground, as part of the funeral programmes organised for the deceased.

Sanwo-Olu, in an emotive tone, described the late Sayannwo as the “rallying point” in the Governor’s Office, extolling the deceased’s commitment and his dedication to any cause to which he had conviction.

The Governor, who said Soyannwo’s death was a personal loss to him, revealed that he and the deceased had been together for 20 years, as they both had their stints in the banking sector, before moving to Government together.

Sanwo-Olu recalled that the late Soyannwo was the first staff in his team immediately he declared his intention to run for governor, noting that the deceased showed up in his house 24 hours after with a well thought-out strategy to go about party primaries.

The Governor said: “From the moment I was sworn in till today, Gboyega had made me a better manager than I was. He helped me to be a better Governor. He managed my daily itinerary and understood what the job entails. For once in the last five years when I appointed him as my Deputy Chief of Staff, I never had the cause to raise my voice at him because he fully understood the dynamics and tedious tasks of his office. He was the rallying point of my office.

“Gboyega made indelible impacts in the lives of each and every one of us. In the classes of the past and current cabinet, we have just lost our strongest confidant and a true bridge builder. Gboyega would call me 33 times in 25 minutes and each call would be quick to get my final approval for tasks listed in my itinerary. I’ve lost a great friend, brother and cherished colleague. Lagos has lost one of its finest public servants. I will forever be thankful to God for making our paths cross.”

Sanwo-Olu said the late Soyannwo was “fiercely loyal” and never coloured his official duties with friendship throughout his career.

The Governor said smooth organisation was not only the late Soyannwo’s main skill which stood him out as a professional banker.

“Give him a very difficult spreadsheet to analyse or transactions that anyone has no idea to unravel, Gboyega would resolve it in a simplified way. That’s how he started in banking industry,” Sanwo-Olu said.

He continued: “I certainly will not be here to mourn Gboyega’s death, but to celebrate his life and legacy left behind in service of our great country. He has done more than anyone can expect of a 55-year-old. He showed us there is reward for hard work. Gboyega taught all of us how to live well and make lasting impact on humanity.”

Dr. Hamzat recalled his first meeting with the late Soyannwo in 2018 ahead of the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial primaries, pointing out that the deceased was a man who was careful with promises.

The Deputy Governor said the late DCoS never used any word carelessly, noting that his words were his bond.

“Any agreement reached with DCoS is cast in stone, he would never shift ground on agreed terms,” Dr. Hamzat noted.

Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mrs Bimbola Salu-Hundeyin, broke down in tears, as she made a moving tribute on behalf of the Executive Council members, describing the late Soyannwo’s death as “painful loss”.

She said the late Deputy Chief of Staff was the revolving door of the Sanwo-Olu administration that interfaced with all ranks and streamlined the governance process for smooth flow of Government’s programmes.

“DCoS was a team player for the good of our principal. His ability to inspire and galvanise others for result-oriented actions was unparalleled. He left an indelible mark on our administration and the State. The Executive Council will miss his intellectual contribution, his camaraderie and sense of humour. As we bid farewell to our departed brother, we take solace in the memories we shared together as one family,” Salu-Hundeyin said.

Chief of Staff, Mr. Tayo Ayinde, eulogised his deputy, noting the late Soyannwo left at the time he had so much to offer to humanity.

“He was a dedicated, meticulous and committed public servant who was always passionate to serve the people. His loyalty was total and he never chickened out of agreed decisions,” Ayinde said.

Head of Service, Mr. Olabode Agoro, who attended the same primary school with the deceased, recalled the late Soyannwo’s astuteness and problem-solving ability since their days as schoolchildren.

“The late Gboyega would not look out for himself alone; he would look out for others and take their wellbeing personally. He was a gifted and extraordinary problem solver. If you share any problem with DCoS, he would properly analyse it for you as if he initiated the problem and he would proffer two solutions, not one.”

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