Iya Awero and how Sanwo-Olu cares

Iya Awero

Akeem Lasisi

She had shed a lot of false tears in many movies. This is understandable because that is what drama is all about – imitating life, presenting the unreal as if it is real. But, that day, veteran actress Lanre Hassan (aka Iya Awero) openly shed real tears.

It was, however, the type used to exemplify a literary device called oxymoron: sweet tears! She was simply overwhelmed by happiness and gratitude to the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. He had surprised her by gifting her a house, which was like putting a roof – not a ceiling – on her career, causing the wind of fulfilment to blow through her greying world.

Middle: Iya Awero with Gov Sanwo-Olu

No wonder, Iya Awero is among the top Nollywood actors and actresses bearing testimony to Sanwo-Olu’s great work. She, alongside other star thespians such as Jide Kosoko, Adebayo Salami, Femi Adebayo, Yomi Fash-Lanso, Damola Olatunji, Bimbo Akintola, Saidi Balogun, Toyin Adegbola, Taiwo Hassan (Ogogo) and Eniola Badmus, have endorsed the Sanwo-Olu/Obafemi Hamzat candidacy, joining rallies and preaching the ‘Greater Lagos Rising’ gospel at other fora.

In an interview days after the key to the house in Ikorodu was presented to her, Iya Awero had said that she could not control her emotion because it was an appreciation of a lifetime.

She noted: “It came as a surprise to me. I was not expecting it at all. I am so happy about it. I could not even control myself and I did not know when tears started dropping from my eyes.

“I am very thankful to the Lagos State government. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said that it is not after we die that we should be celebrated, and that is very important. If one is appreciated in one’s lifetime, one would know one is doing well and one would even strive to do better. That way, the younger generations would also be encouraged to put in their best because they know they would be celebrated.

“We (entertainers) make people laugh away their sorrows and it does feel good when we are appreciated. Others should also learn a lesson from what the Lagos State government has done.

“It came at the right time because I am still alive. Whenever God blesses one, one should receive it with open hands. There isn’t a lot of money in the industry. However, our work comes with a lot of respect and honour. We are usually celebrated wherever we go”.

Like Iya Awero, several other Lagosians have indeed had a memorable taste of Sanwo-Olu’s meek of kindness. Under his government’s humanitarian initiative called Lagos Cares, for instance, it established a $20m fund to combat the negative impact of the COVID-19 on households, livelihood, food security and businesses. The project targeted 125,058 individuals and 2,512 MSMEs.

There is also the more personal Sanwo-Olu Cares project through which he financially helps vulnerable people. According to him, he would not shy away from making a genuine attempt at listening and engaging the citizens of the state with sincerity of purpose.

During one of the presentations of funds, the governor said, “I am really delighted to be at this event and listened to some of the beneficiaries as they tabled their priorities. This is what government entails. Not only for the security of lives and property. We know you would face health challenges, house challenges, children school fees, etc. and would find a way of giving succour and lift citizens out of the problems”.

Interestingly, one of the beneficiaries of Sanwo-Olu cares was a filmmaker – like Iya Awero. That was Yinka Ogundaisi, who had attended on a wheelchair. Although Ogundaisi is now late, he had narrated how he suddenly had a collapsed spine, which required N500,000 monthly to be attended to after undergoing a surgery.

Also, one Mr Olalekan Lawal from Ipaja-Ayobo came to represent his son Oyinlola who undergone heart surgery that amounted to N12 million.

He said: “As a pensioner, I didn’t know where to get the money for the surgery. Later I got the phone number of Hon Gbenga Oyerinde, S.A. CBD, and he directed me to Civic Engagement”.

While appreciating the financial support form the Governor, he disclosed that his son was in India for the surgery. A vulcanizer, Mr Sulaiman Salami, also had a story of gratitude to tell. His wife had given birth to triplets on the basis of which Sanwo-Olu Cares came into his life.

One of the beneficiaries of the film fund receiving the grant

An Islamic cleric, Tajudeen Salam from Mushin, thanked the Governor for the support on accommodation. He narrated how he had to resort to sleeping inside a mosque while his wife and four children took abode in a vehicle after their house was demolished.

Apart from providing accommodation for him, Governor Sanwo-Olu asked his wife to learn a vocation or trade from the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA) where the government would give some money to start up a business.

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