1,800 Days In Office
May 2, 2012 - I welcome you all very warmly to this meeting, convened on the day that marks 1,800 days since I began to enjoy the privilege to serve you as the Governor of this historic agglomeration of islands and city-state, the centre of excellence, the state of aquatic splendor, the commercial nerve centre of West Africa and the fashion capital of Africa.
This meeting, convened as usual to give an account of our stewardship in the last 100 days, is the 18th (eighteenth) that we have held unfailingly since the first 100 days when I promised to give a regular account to you, our employers.
We have chosen to dedicate today's occasion to professionals and by this I mean all strata of professionals; from the informal sector of professionals such as artisans, mechanics, farmers, plumbers to the formalized professional cadre such as accountants, engineers, lawyers, doctors and other medical professionals, architects, bankers and town planners to mention but a few.
This decision to target this particular audience was deliberate and I will tell you why in the course of the rendering of my account.
Between the last time we met on 23rd January 2012 when we rendered the 17th account, and now, a lot has happened in our State.
In that period, we have completed and commissioned a number of projects starting from the Lagos State Records and Archives Bureau, the headquarters of the Office of the Public Defender, the Security and Command Centre, a number of roads at Adelabu, Ogunlana and Akerele in Surulere, the Iponri Mini Waterworks and the Maternal and Child Care Centre at Gbaja.
Whilst we are making progress with 14 (Fourteen) out of the 15 (Fifteen) inner roads we promised to rehabilitate in Agege, the 16 (Sixteen) local roads in Badiya, the 2 (Two) schools in Bariga and the 1 (One) in Gbagada, we have completed 8 (Eight) out of 11 (Eleven) drainage channels in Lekki, while the ones we committed to repairing in Agege, Shomolu and other parts of Lagos after last year's heavy rainfall, are being worked on and considerable progress is being made.
Those of you who ply the Ijora and Costain axis of Lagos would have noticed the regeneration that is going on in that area as well as in Obalende, the area that straddles Lagos and Ikoyi Islands. All of these speak to only one thing – that you have elected a Government that keeps the promises it makes to you.
During the last 100 days, we commemorated the 10th anniversary of the 2002 bomb blasts that wreaked havoc on several parts of Lagos on the 27th of January 2012, at which occasion we awarded the contract for the construction of the Ajao-Ejigbo link bridge. I am happy to inform you that progress is being made there.
For the people of Ijegun, Isheri Oshun and Isolo Jakande, let me confess that we have had problems with your bridge and connecting roads. The project is enormous. It is a 5.5 kilometre road with a bridge of 500 metres that will require 1,018 piles driven to a depth of 19.5 metres. This project will cost the government not less than N10billion which we are working assiduously to provide so that work can continue.
We have re-evaluated the project in a bid to get the contractors back on site and I promise and assure you that as long as we have the funds we will complete the project.
100 days ago, I promised that we were on the verge of awarding the Mile 12 to Ikorodu road project; a road with a total length of 13.19 km that includes several bridges. This project will cost an estimated N30billion. I told you then that the design of the road was ready and that we were waiting to conclude financing. I am happy to report that the financing has now been concluded.
Tenders have been called for, which have been reviewed by the Lagos State Tenders Board and very shortly, the final award will be made. I implore you to continue to bear with us as I am not unmindful of the difficulties that commuters in that area face. I assure you that those difficulties will soon be a distant memory.
I also promised that we would award contracts to rehabilitate some inner roads. I am happy to announce that the State Tenders Board has met and contracts for the rehabilitation of a total of 177 (One Hundred and Seventy Seven) inner roads have been awarded.
This is in addition to contracts for the construction of 17 (Seventeen) new schools, renovation of 282 (Two Hundred and Eighty Two) classes in 7 (Seven) schools, renovation and furnishing of 44 (Forty Four) science laboratories, provision of 15,000 (Fifteen Thousand) students' furniture and 1,986 teachers' furniture including construction of 1,980 (One Thousand, Nine Hundred and Eighty) housing units.
It is a matter of regret however, that one of the communities in Agbowa has decided to take the State Government to court over the land which Government had acquired many years ago. The implication of this is that the 660 housing units meant for people in that community cannot start until the case is resolved.
This is the problem of Government by consensus and freedoms. But I am sure that we will overcome it.
But as the contractors move to site on other projects that are not challenged, I can only remind and caution you that the construction will cause some discomfort. We will try our best to minimize this discomfort but I am certain that it will be worth our while at the end of the day.
While all this is going on, the Public Works Corporation continues to rehabilitate and resurface our main and feeder roads to ease transportation, improve the cost of doing business and reduce the stress of commuting.
In the last 100 (One Hundred) days they have worked on 297 (Two Hundred and Ninety Seven) roads across the Local Governments in the State. Work is on-going on another 103 (One Hundred and Three) roads across the State.
You would have also observed the increased number of street lights, lane marking and the provision of other road infrastructure that is going on as our total solution to the improvement of traffic in Lagos.
But as we make this progress, we remain challenged by the conduct of official and unofficial transporters; from motorcyclists to truck and trailer drivers and the like, who violate our laws by turning our highways into parking lots.
Let me send out a clear message, that we will not permit them to do their business at the expense of the comfort and safety of law-abiding citizens.
Our commitment to enforcing law and order is at an all time high. Every security agency as well as all members of our government; including our lawmakers and judicial officers, will be enlisted to join this crusade to maintain law and order in Lagos State.
This may entail making new laws and vigorously enforcing them. I have given directives to the Ministry of Justice through the Honourable Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice to champion this crusade by bringing non-compliant people to justice.
Whilst we deal with these challenges there are bright spots of progress that I must also report so that the gloom does not overcome the good.
We are extremely proud of the fact that our flagship medical facility at LASUTH successfully performed a coronary artery bypass graft to save the life of a Lagos State citizen, Cynthia Onwurah, who would either have been taken abroad at great expense or may have lost her life.
I salute the Honourable Commissioner for Health, and his team of doctors, for whom the sanctity of life and the injunctions in the Hippocratic Oath to which they swore, still hold true.
Let me also share with you our success in issuing bond certificates to our retired public servants, whose years of sacrifice we hold very dear. The reform that is going on in our State Pensions Administration- from prompt payment of pensioners' entitlements where we issued certificates worth N1,720,596,964.28 (One Billion, Seven Hundred and Twenty Million, Five Hundred and Ninety Six Thousand, Nine Hundred and Sixty Four Naira, Twenty Eight Kobo) to 350 (Three Hundred and Fifty) pensioners; to the movement of verification exercises of pensioners to their local governments, instead of asking them to come and queue up in the sun and the rain.
This simple policy change meant so much to them and their appreciation is captured in a text message I received from one of them and I quote:
"D governor, thank you so much for bringing the pensioners verification exercise to the pensioners in the local governments. You will not suffer at your old age."
This is clear evidence that your government cares.
Last January, I drew your attention to the successes we had recorded in the area of security. I also drew your attention to the challenges we were facing. I promised you that we would apprehend those who were sabotaging our efforts to light up Lagos by digging up and stealing street light cables.
I am happy to report that we have made some progress in this regard. We have arrested one Hafeez Ayoola and he has been tried and sentenced to six months imprisonment. Michael Arinze, Oluwatosin Ojolu, Monday Michael, Opeyemi Dada, Friday Peter and Friday Nwajieke are all facing charges for vandalizing and stealing cables around Eko Bridge and Ijora.
I must salute our new Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Manko who only assumed duty on the 12th of March this year, for hitting the ground running.
But there is a lot that you all can do to help arrest this menace. If we all benefit from the street lights and they are, as you know paid for with taxpayers' hard-earned money, we must pay greater attention to them. Please make it a point to be on the look-out, take pictures on your telephones and forward them to us, and report any suspicious activity immediately you notice it.
Oftentimes, these saboteurs (because that is what they are) work in broad daylight, disguising themselves as officials of one agency or the other.
Let me assure you that our workers are not sent out to dig up cables but rather to install them and if you have even the merest suspicion that something does not seem right, please alert us so that we can at least check it out. If they know that eyes are on them, we can begin to curb their activities.
The stealing of cables is profitable because there is a thriving market for second-hand cables. We implore the buyers, sellers and users – building contractors, architects, builders, engineers not to continue to fuel this market. Please desist before the long arm of the law catches up with you. Street lights are like our noses, which we shouldn't cut off to spite our faces as we are ultimately harming ourselves.
While we urge you to continue to use our phone numbers and email addresses which we published so that you can reach us and share information; as well as the 767 and 112 emergency lines to call for help when you need it, let me appeal to you to resist the temptation to use our law enforcement agencies to settle personal scores.
I say this because I received a text message at about 3am on the 13th of January2012, alleging a case of ritual killing going on somewhere in Ikosi Ketu. I immediately called up our security agents and asked them to visit the scene at No. 10 Olatunji Ige Street. I was called back about half an hour later to say, and I quote:
"I made a visit to the house and nothing unusual was noticed to suggest that the information is genuine."
This again bears testimony to the capacity of your Government to respond when you need her to do so. We must not abuse this capacity; we must protect it.
In terms of employment and welfare, let me quickly point out that in the last 100 days we have employed 647 (six hundred and forty-seven) sanitation managers to keep our schools clean and we have increased the monthly wages of our street sweepers.
In the area of service delivery reforms, I am pleased to inform you that we have concluded the pilot phase of the Lagos State Residents Registration exercise that we promised to undertake.
We are now reviewing the data to correct any errors, preparatory to the full roll-out for all residents of Lagos State. The results collated so far are very impressive. For instance, I can tell you with exactitude how many people live in the State House, the number of cooks, drivers, cleaners, medical and security personnel etc. When we have replicated this knowledge across the State, you can only imagine how much better we will be able to plan.
Because we understand very clearly the importance of proper land documentation to our collective prosperity and economic growth, we are also finalizing the plans for the issuance a new Certificate of Occupancy, different from the yellow certificate that you are accustomed to.
The new certificate will be a much more secure, tamper and forge-proof document that is bar-coded and electronically readable, and in the next few months we will be announcing details of its implementation in a way that will ensure a seamless transition from the old to the new.
Our Geographic Information System (GIS) is now fully accessible online and those of you who have visited the site will see the very clear images of all properties in Lagos State that enable us to navigate and conduct property searches.
From this site you can view properties and get information about their ownership.
What remains to be done is to match all the properties and their owners with their title documents online, and to conclude the electronic payment regime that will allow you to download certified true copies and maps and pay for them online.
At the moment this is only possible by opening an account in your name through the Office of the Surveyor-General of Lagos State, but hopefully we should conclude the expansion of the payment regime in a short while.
Our Office of Transformation has concluded Service Charters for each Ministry, Department and Agency in Lagos State and very soon this will be made public, in fulfillment of a promise from your government to you, to serve you in a particular way, within a particular time frame, that you can hold us to.
I am also happy to report that the various projects in our State University, LASU, are making progress. We have also enunciated many far-reaching policies in the primary, and junior and senior secondary schools in order to improve the quality of education in the State.
One of the policies is aimed at ensuring that parents participate more robustly in the education of their children. It will therefore now be a part of the assessment of each pupil and student, and a condition for progress to the next class, to require that a parent or guardian must have a 50% minimum attendance rate at PTA meetings, while it will also now be required for each child, from primary to secondary school, to score an average minimum of 50% in all subjects as well as a score of not less than 50% in both Mathematics and English in order to pass to the next class.
These are the minimum standards expected from them in external exams such as WASC and NECO. Therefore we are convinced that apart from building new schools and classrooms, we must raise the standards of performance and teaching to adequately prepare our students for these examinations.
We believe that a faithful implementation of these policies will gradually increase the performance of all our students in their terminal exams.
Of course we recognize that not all students have the aptitude for grammar and reading. Some of them have a stronger aptitude for doing things with their hands.
In order to give such students an equal opportunity for a rounded education that fits their ability, we have strengthened our technical and vocational schools. They have been fully accredited, and provide an alternative but not inferior quality of education for such students to go on to technical institutions as they are able.
We have also recently inaugurated the Apprenticeship Scheme, to empower young people with skills in vocations where our economy is in such dire need. As we make progress in these areas, the tales of hiring artisans from neighbouring countries because they are better trained, will gradually become a thing of the past.
One of the visible manifestations of the success of our vocational institutions was on display at our recent hosting of the 2012 Lagos Carnival. Visitors to the carnival can attest to the quality and creativity of the costumes, all of which were locally made at our Skills Acquisition Centres by over 3000 artisans, using skills like tailoring, tie and die, accessory making, millinery, welding and carpentry, which they learnt at the centres.
At the closing ceremony of the carnival, I mentioned that I had received reports that market women were complaining that the carnival people had bought all the accessories! And I stated that this was a good problem to have, for a government that is eager to create jobs and stimulate commerce.
With regard to the problem of piracy being encountered by our brothers and sisters in the entertainment industry especially Nollywood, I am able to report that in collaboration with our partners in Havard University, we see a way to ultimately protect you from piracy and grow your business.
It is a process that we are still crossing Ts and dotting Is and it is a journey I am ready to walk with you.
I commend your resourcefulness and resilience thus far. I am certain we will triumph.
And this brings me to the heart of the matter.
This 18th edition of our 100 days in office is dedicated to you, the professionals. Our first quarter budget performance recorded a 65% performance rate. This is a high result by Nigerian standards, but we have resolved in Lagos State, not to be measured by these ordinary standards.
Our professionals have a very critical role to play in the growth of our economy by promptly paying their taxes and getting their tax cards to show evidence of such payments. If we can earn more money, we can spend more money and make your lives better.
More importantly, we have also just concluded the hosting of our 6th Lagos Economic Summit; Ehingbeti 2012, the focus of which was Power, Agriculture, Transportation and Housing (PATH). We are convinced that it is through these sectors that our quickest route to prosperity can be achieved.
As I said at the Summit, it is the local investors and the local entrepreneurs that are more important in driving this economy than the foreign investors. This is why you the professionals are the most important stakeholders who will be required to invest, to work, to invent and to initiate change in these critical PATH areas.
As I mentioned earlier, we have awarded the construction of several units of houses, roads and schools and we will need people to build them and deliver them at the highest quality and the most efficient prices.
Our professionals will be required to fabricate parts that will generate power, till our land for agriculture; fabricate tools for harvesting, processing and for storage of produce. We will require our professionals to finance businesses in transportation such as buses, ferries and trains and other ancillary areas.
We have everything to gain if we all sign on and work diligently to pursue this PATH of improved power, abundant food supply through agriculture, efficient transportation systems and affordable housing.
I also said at the Summit and I reiterate, as head of the team, that I commit all members of our government to working tirelessly to fulfill your aspirations by diligently pursuing growth and prosperity through PATH.
I must however emphasise that not only do we need to work hard; we need to submit ourselves to the law. The arrogance and impunity of some citizens and visitors who imagine that they can do what they like in our State, will not be tolerated.
Our hospitality is world-renowned and those who benefit from it must not take it for granted or abuse it. We will enforce our laws diligently, fairly and with respect, but we will not respect anybody who does not respect our laws.
I will close by thanking you all for your attention, for your support for the choice you have made to make Lagos your home and for choosing to live together in peace regardless of our differences and our divergence of tribe, tongue, ethnicity or religion.
I urge you all, diverse as you may be, to continue to live together peacefully, with even greater understanding and respect for one another. You all are the colours; with your different hues and textures, that make up the beautiful canvas that is Lagos.
There is enough for everyone if we all contribute our share and do what is expected of us.
Eko o ni baje o!
Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN
Governor of Lagos State