Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, weekend, hosted a section of the media including Business, News and Political Editors at an interactive session focusing on recent developments in the state. Among the issues the governor brought to the discussion were the new traffic law in Lagos, the argument for and against State Police, and the effect of the new Atlantic City project on flooding in the state among others.
Fashola also used the opportunity to address the allegation that he is an elitist governor empowering the rich at the expense of the poor. He pooh-poohed allegations that millions of people were displaced from the government’s recent actions in Makoko. The governor, who is exceptional among his colleagues by not using siren gave his reason just as he disclosed that the new traffic law was only a step towards changing the attitude of Lagosians. Excerpts:
ON government’s activities in his second term
What I have come to understand on this job is that it is a job that never finishes. It is true that there are places where we have nothing doing and we are elsewhere for longer than we should be. But as I have argued before, if all the work could be finished, maybe Alhaji Jakande or Governor Tinubu would have finished it before I came. So, it is an on-going process.
But where we have sought to act methodically is where the problem is most intense. Given the limited nature of our resources, where can we make the biggest impact with those limited resources? For example, in my first term, we focused on the high traffic roads, Funsho Williams, Murtala Muhammed Way, Okota Link Bridge, Lekki Expressway and so on and so forth.
We freed up those roads because those were the roads that carried the biggest traffic. I venture to think what could have happened today if we had gone to do the inner roads first. I am sure that the complaint would have been that we cannot get to work ,our children cannot get to school.
We shared with you that if we were elected for a second term that we would focus on the inner roads and that is what we are addressing now. From Ogudu to Badagry, Itire to Aguda, to Ajegunle. Those are some places where some
of you have never been, but I have been there. So every time they make this elitist argument, I trust that the people in those areas would say we are being served It is true; it may not be your route, so you may not know what we are doing there. Sometimes a decision to do something somewhere is made more difficult by community issues. You may just find a particular group there, either a particular ethnic extraction or by some accident, a religious colouration and it becomes a potential keg of gunpowder that needs to be properly handled so that you don’t lose your objective.
We are trying for example to do a refuse recycling and sorting facility inside a waste dump and somebody has gone to build on the refuse dump and in addition to that, he has taken us to court! How do we handle that? We negotiated until we had to pay a settlement because when I looked at the time, four years to get out of court, but those are not things we will come and celebrate here.
We were trying to do a stadium in Ifako Ijiaye, a community centre, because we see the traffic of people trying to come to Campos Square from there. The day we moved there, it was a court action and we had to settle!
And we know that some people are benefiting from this resettlement hype. They get grants in aid in the name of those people which never get to the affected people. I have some allegations that we have displaced some millions of people from Makoko, I said give me the number, I will resettle those millions if you can produce them.
Atlantic City and sea surge