Fashola Offers Recipe For Accelerated Development Of Lagos
…As Oluwole Urban Market is commissioned
Apr 28, 2010 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Wednesday offered a recipe for the accelerated infrastructural renewal of the various slums in Lagos saying the way to go is for the various land owners in the areas to pool their lands together to attract big investment support.
Governor Fashola, who spoke at the official commissioning of the first phase of the New Oluwole Urban Market in Central Lagos, also disclosed that the State Government is embarking on a total re-planning of the Island along with other parts of the State.
The Governor said the successful development of the former Oluwole slum should serve as an eye-opener to families owning lands in other slums that now constitute eyesore in the Island adding, “I have often said, the Lagos of our dreams is daily getting within our reach”.
Pointing out that the Oluwole Model could be used to rebuild offices, create new flats and apartments for residential purposes in the Lagos Central Business District, Governor Fashola solicited, “We encouraged families to do what we have done here whenever they can agree and pool their small parcels of land together to attract investment support”
“This is the way we can re-build Isale Eko, Offin, Olowogbowo, Oke-Arin, Balogun, Kakawa and so many other parts of our historic and beautiful Island”, the Governor said advising that all involved should use the services of professionals such as Architects, Estate Surveyors, Lawyers, Town planners and others in order to ensure that the proper thing is done.
Reviewing the journey that finally led to the emergence of the New Oluwole Urban Market, Governor Fashola recalled that the decision to acquire the Island of Lagos was made in 1951 by the Colonial Government which, by its Acquisition Notice, acquired over 2, 500 hectares of land “with the intention of renewing it into an urban model of re-development”.
According to Governor Fashola, who said the acquisition extinguished all legal titles to the land leaving the former owners with only the right to seek compensation, “The truth is that compensation was paid to owners and occupiers, but for various reasons, they did not move out”, adding that while the project tasked previous administrations, lack of continuity and stability in the polity made implementation elusive.
“As the years wore on, Oluwole area assumed a notorious reputation not only as a slum but as an enclave of criminals who specialized in forgeries and sophisticated crime such as international passport racketeering, credit card fraud, drug cartel, certificate, currency and visa forgeries among others”, the Governor said adding that the new Model Urban market “fulfils a dream of about six decades for the urban renewal of Lagos.
He recalled that the plan to renew the slum was revisited in 1999 when Asiwaju Bola Tinubu took up the challenge and “reached an out of court agreement with the various parties involved in the litigations on Oluwole” adding that the consultations with a private investor – Messrs ARM Properties Limited to raise funding to rebuild the place into a modern market as well as the design, had been completed before the advent of his administration.
“Our responsibility when we assumed office was to keep that process going”, the Governor said adding, “We finalized the terms with the developer, met with the families, to explain our purpose, renegotiated compensation with them and provided 39 flats for the 39 families to relocate in Shasha Housing Estate”.
Governor Fashola commended all those who took part in the negotiations including the state Commissioner for Planning and Urban Development, Town Planner Francisco Abosede, his Justice counterpart and Attorney General, Mr. Olasupo Sasore (SAN), the General Manager of the LSDPC Mr. Biodun Oki and Mr. Yemisi Coker who, according to him, “acted more as an arbitrator between the Government and the various family interests”.
The Governor also commended the State’s Judiciary which, he said, “acted with the utmost dispatch and in a most investor-friendly manner by refusing to stop the development as it is done in other commercially bustling capitals across the world and instead proceeded to deal with the case on its merit”.
Expressing joy that this is yet another Private Partnership transaction concluded by the State Government for the benefit of the people, the Governor declared, “It demonstrates the capacity of this Government to negotiate complex and challenging transactions, it demonstrates the compassion of the Government to secure a better life for her people”.
Speaking on the occasion with journalists, the Chairman of the Lagos Island Local Government, Mr. Wasiu Sanni commended the commitment of Governor Fashola’s administration to the infrastructural development of the State adding that the feat performed by the administration in the renewal of Oluwole is a testimony to the Governor’s passion and love for Lagos.
“What we are seeing today is what has been long expected. Today, we can sit comfortably in our homes and in this vicinity without being harassed by gun men as was the case during the Oluwole days”, the Chairman said.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Lagos East Local Council Development Area, Hon. Mufutau Kadiku, said the development of the New Oluwole Urban Market “is going to enhance the rapid development of the Island. It will attract investors and make life more comfortable with the residents”.
“We are happy about what Governor Fashola is doing. He is a man of action. We will continue to follow and support him”, the Chairman said adding that the Governor has demonstrated that he is a man to be trusted.
Also speaking with journalists on the New Market, Elder Statesman, Senator Habib Fashinro thanked Governor Fashola for succeeding not only in improving Oluwole but also demonstrating that it is not only for government to take away peoples’ lands but to improve the land and the life of the people.
Pointing out that in the former acquisition in 1951, the government neither consulted the people nor valued the land, Senator Fasinro declared, “But today, particularly in this Oluwole case, I praise the Government for their concern for other peoples’ feelings”.
He continued, “I should say this like a Yoruba man. The Oluwole people may be grumbling today, but they were given compensation worth what the value of money was at that time. But unfortunately they sat down instead of moving out until the money in their hands was no longer enough to do any meaningful thing. In spite of that, this Government came to their aid and still paid them for this. I praise this Government for this”.
He said other slum areas on the Island such as Isale Eko and others have taken the hint and will cooperate with the Government in any future plans to redevelop the areas. “They have given us a hint and we will cooperate so that the development of those areas will be easier than it was before”, he promised.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Town Planner Francisco Abosede, also recalled the various challenges that confronted the Government in the process of re-developing Oluwole particularly the attempts by some residents to stop the construction of the market through a court injunction.
According to the Commissioner, “the intention of the Government is to re-develop Oluwole into a multi-purpose commercial complex that will house offices, hotels, cinema/entertainment centre, service centre, multi-storey parking facilities that can provide first class services in a world class functional Central Business District befitting a Mega-City Status of Lagos”.
Also present at the occasion were the Deputy Governor, Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan, members of the State Executive Council and the House of Assembly, Body of Permanent Secretaries, the Managing Director of the Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC), Mr. Biodun Oki, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Lagos Business District, Mr. Oyinlomo Danmole, a representative of the Oluwole Family, Mr. Yemisi Coker, White Cap Chiefs, other top government functionaries as well as Private Sector Operators.