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General News of Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Source: The Trent

Sanwo-Olu asks NASS to budget funds to rebuild Lagos, others states

Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos State, has asked the National Assembly to make provision for funds in the 2021 budget, to support Lagos and other states where violence was recorded recently.

He made the appeal on Monday, November 16, 2020, at the Consultative Forum on Rebuilding Lagos held in Alausa, Ikeja.

“I would like to appeal to the National Assembly to take steps to set aside funds for this task of Rebuilding and Restoring Lagos in the 2021 Appropriation Bill being deliberated upon currently by the Assembly.

“This Fund does not necessarily have to be for Lagos alone, it can and should also take into consideration other states also impacted by the recent spate of violence,” Governor Sanwo-Olu pleaded.

He explained that following the violence recorded in the state, the government constituted, by executive order, the Lagos State Rebuild Trust Fund.

The governor noted that as a follow-up, a bill will be sent to the State House of Assembly, to enshrine the Fund in the laws of the land, and give it the necessary backing to accomplish its mandate.

According to him, the state government organised the event to operationalise the fund, by mobilising resources from far and wide for the singular purpose of rebuilding and restoring the state.

“We seek to restore the infrastructure that was destroyed, to revive the energy and confidence of everyone who has been affected by these losses, to help restore the confidence of the people of Lagos in the infinite potentials of Lagos.

“But the state government cannot do this alone. We need all the help that we can get, which is why we have invited you all here, and are grateful that you have honoured our invitation,” Governor Sanwo-Olu told the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and lawmakers present at the event.

He added, “We require the assistance of the Federal Government, from both the Executive and Legislative branches.”

Read the full text of the governor’s speech at the event below:

SPEECH BY THE GOVERNOR OF LAGOS, MR. BABAJIDE SANWO-OLU, AT THE CONSULTATIVE FORUM ON REBUILDING LAGOS, HELD AT THE ADEYEMI BERO AUDITORIUM, ALAUSA, IKEJA ON MONDAY NOVEMBER 16, 2020.

Protocol.

It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this Consultative Forum on Rebuilding Lagos.

Thank you for honouring my invitation, thank you for your willingness to contribute to the restoration of the glory of Lagos State, thank you for your dedication to the ideals and values of the Centre of Excellence; thank you for being socially responsible, we appreciate your contributions to the socio-economic growth of Lagos State, your exemplary attitude towards the sustainability and viability of Lagos State makes the task of governance easier.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the violence we saw at the end of October 2020 is the most widespread carnage the State has seen in decades; not since the SAP riots of 1989 have, we experienced such levels of destruction.

Every aspect of life and livelihood in Lagos was affected – government buildings offices, public monuments, and historical archives, public infrastructure like our BRT buses, and, very sadly too, private property and investments – malls, shops, small businesses, residences, and many more.

Beyond the physical and economic impact, there has also been the psychological damage: the fear, the terror, the helplessness that all of the victims have felt, the questions about how or where do we start from?

The violence has no doubt set our economy back by tens of billions of Naira and impacted our confidence.

We, have, however, found hope and great strength in the offers of assistance from far and wide, which culminated in the constitution of the Lagos Rebuild Committee to coordinate our efforts to rebuild and upgrade our state.

Let me assure you all that we will bounce back. We do not have a choice, really. Because this is who we are, this is what Lagos is, a resilient people, an irrepressible city. This is our history, and our DNA.

Here is a City that emerged from the most unpromising beginnings, out of the gloom of a sprawling lagoon and malarial swamps. By dint of hard work, entrepreneurial energy, and creative excellence, everything we see and hold dear today was built, over the centuries.

In that time there have been setbacks and challenges of various kinds. The most prominent ones include the Royal Navy bombardment of 1851, The Influenza epidemic of 1918, the Bubonic Plague of the 1920s, even the loss of Federal capital status that many assumed would severely downgrade the State.

Most recently we also faced and defeated Ebola in 2014, and the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 – in both cases Lagos was the Nigerian epicentre.

In the face of all these, Lagos has always survived. And not just survived, it has thrived. We are a continental center of creativity and innovation, and will continue to be.

Every one of these threats and challenges I listed above ended up opening up, in its aftermath, an opportunity for a new kind of progress, one step backwards in the short-term that paved the way for four steps forward in the longer term.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, following the violent aftermath of the ENDSARS protests – we constituted, by Executive Order, a Lagos State Rebuild Trust Fund, to be run by an 8-member Committee.

As a follow-up, a Bill will be sent to the State House of Assembly, to enshrine the Fund in the laws of the land, and give it the necessary backing to accomplish its mandate.

This is the very reason why we are gathered here today: To operationalise this Fund, by mobilizing resources from far and wide, for the singular purpose of rebuilding and restoring our dear City and State.

We seek to restore the infrastructure that was destroyed, to revive the energy and confidence of everyone who has been affected by these losses, to help restore the confidence of the people of Lagos in the infinite potentials of Lagos.

But the State Government cannot do this alone. We need all the help that we can get, which is why we have invited you all here, and are grateful that you have honoured our invitation.

We require the assistance of the Federal Government, from both the Executive and Legislative branches. I am delighted that the Vice President, Senate President, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives are here with us today.

I would like to appeal to the National Assembly to take steps to set aside funds for this task of Rebuilding and Restoring Lagos in the 2021 Appropriation Bill being deliberated upon currently by the Assembly.

This Fund does not necessarily have to be for Lagos alone, it can and should also take into consideration other states also impacted by the recent spate of violence.

Why are we seeking this privilege? Let me take us back to the text of nationwide broadcast delivered by the then Head of State, General Murtala Muhammed, on the 3rd of February, 1976, here in Lagos.

It was the Speech in which he announced that the Supreme Military Council had accepted a recommendation to relocate the Federal Capital from Lagos to a new site in a more central area in the country.

The late Head of State said, and I quote:

“Lagos will, in the foreseeable future, remain the nation’s commercial capital and one of its nerve centres. But in terms of servicing the present infrastructure alone the committed amount of money and effort required will be such that Lagos State will not be ready to cope. It will even be unfair to expect the State to bear this heavy burden on its own.”

“It is, therefore, necessary for the Federal Government to continue to sustain the substantial investment in the area. The port facilities and other economic activities in the Lagos area have to be expanded.

There is need in the circumstances for the Federal Government to maintain a special defence and security arrangement in Lagos which will henceforth be designated a special area. These arrangements will be carefully worked out and written into the new constitution.”

Even as far back as half a century ago it was clear that Lagos required a special status, considering its importance to the economy and the reputation of Nigeria.

Today, with a population that is several times also, with approval from the State House of Assembly, be making available a huge amount of money in the 2021 Budget to immediately begin the rebuilding efforts.

This, for us, represents that credible and very important step in the rehabilitation and restoration process; and shows that we are willing, as a Government, to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak.

But let me reiterate this, that our contribution though very substantial, is still quite very far away from what we require to make a dent on the burden that confronts us. Which is why we have invited you here to join hands and support us. With the public sector taking the rightful lead in demonstrating commitment, we have no doubt that the private sector will strive to match that enthusiasm.

I strongly believe that the cohesive efforts and contributions of the private and public sectors will make it easier for us to rebuild Lagos State. These may be challenging times but with responsive and responsible leadership, we will overcome. We can make a greater impact through our collaborative efforts in the shortest possible time.

An African proverb says, “if you want to go fast, go alone if you want to go far, go together”.

Ladies and gentlemen, today’s consultative forum is meant to set the stage for all the necessary Public-Private partnerships and collaborations required for this task of rebuilding and restoration.

Let us work in the commonality of purpose to restore the glory of our state. You are important stakeholders, and I know I can count on you as the Lagos Rebuild Committee reaches out to you for your support in rebuilding Lagos.

Whatever investments we make towards this task will be for the good of all of us. These investments will go into rebuilding and re-tooling security infrastructure, strengthening public transportation systems, restoring judicial and local government operations, rebuilding damaged public monuments.

All of these will positively impact security, tourism, employment generation, and ultimately the social contract between government and the governed. For every Naira of investment mobilised and expended under this Rebuilding Project, there will be a significant multiplier effect, that will benefit the public and private sector alike. These funds will go into the local economy, into the hands of artisans, traders, suppliers, start-ups, and so on.

Let me at this juncture emphasize that transparency and accountability will be foundational elements in the implementation of the mandate of this Committee. For this reason, the fund-raising and disbursement will have oversight from FBN Trustees Limited. Along with the Board, they will ensure that there is maximum accountability and value recorded for every Naira raised.

In this rebuilding process, we will be asking ourselves some necessary questions. For example, we will seriously be exploring the use of technology to improve urban security and better safeguard all that we hold dear and to digitally preserve historical archives that until now have existed only in physical forms. We have a duty, in rebuilding, to ensure that the new which will be replacing the old is fitting for the 21st century.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, the time is now, to start pledging and collaborating. I look forward to our deliberations this morning, and even more important to the action that will follow the talk and make all the needed difference.

Let me once again thank you for honouring our invitation to this Forum. God bless Lagos State, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu

Governor of Lagos State.

November 16, 2020.

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