(By Oba-Rotimi Olalekan Arowolo)
“So much has been said lately by those opposed to the relocation of some people from Anambra State and other states to their home states as well as the urban renewal being embarked on at Ijora-Badiya. Many of these people have not been objective in their comments. A lot of sentiments, political and ethnic colourations, have tainted the expected objective analysis of what Lagos State government did and is doing. Unfortunately some NGOs seeking recognition and relevance are not seeing things objectively, too.“
THERE is no doubt that Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State has performed significantly well in the last six years of his tenure. The transformation the state has witnessed under his leadership is unprecedented in the history of the state and this is evident in the transformation of all sectors i.e. education, health, infrastructure, environment, judiciary etc. It is this good governance that has led to the influx of Nigerians from all parts of the country to Lagos as many people want to be part of the good life that is returning to Lagos again after many years of unenviable administration. It is not uncommon to see lorries and trailers loaded with people moving into Lagos even when it is evident that most of those people coming in have nothing worthwhile to contribute to the economy of the state.
It is important to say that the exodus of people from many states outside Lagos into Lagos could pass for a failure of governance in those other states and a sign of underperformance by those responsible for the wellbeing of their people. In recent years, there has been an upsurge of beggars of all categories (blind, lame, deaf and dumb) and lazy people on Lagos streets and looking closely, one will realise that most of these people are not Lagos indigenes nor people from the South-West, but mostly from non-Yoruba speaking states. The question we should ask ourselves as a people who desire to see Lagos take her rightful place among the committee of functioning and beautiful cities is “how did these blind, lame, deaf and dumb people find their ways to Lagos? The obvious is that there seems to be an organised network of people who have turned begging to a business and feels that the unwholesome business thrives best in Lagos without inhibition. This perception has to be reversed by allowing the Lagos State Government take necessary actions within the law to rid Lagos of such social misfits who can easily be manipulated to aid and abet crime.
So much has been said lately by those opposed to the relocation of some people from Anambra State and other states to their home states as well as the urban renewal being embarked on at Ijora-Badiya. Many of these people have not been objective in their comments. A lot of sentiments, political and ethnic colourations, have tainted the expected objective analysis of what Lagos State government did and is doing. Unfortunately some NGOs seeking recognition and relevance are not seeing things objectively, too.
The Lagos State government did no wrong by helping to re-unite helpless Nigerians back to their state of origin. The fact is that there are so many people including Yorubas, Ibos, Hausas, Fulanis and people from other ethnic groups who would have been better off living in their home states and do not have any reason being in Lagos but who are bent on staying in Lagos. At the end of the day they constitute a nuisance to the society by engaging in crime or overstretching the infrastructure put in place by the government. As it obtains in other civilised climes, for us to have a Lagos of our dream, it can no longer be business as usual hence all those who mean well for Lagos should commend the action of the Lagos State government at bringing sanity to the city environment. Local government chairmen in Lagos State must also sit up as it seems that only few of them are working to serve their people well.
I must, however, emphasise here also that there are still unresolved challenges for Fashola. Notable among these challenges is the official and un-official harassment and extortion of Lagos residents by government officials and miscreants in the state. The culpable government officials involved in extortion and harassment are LASTMA officials, VIOs and local government officials. Instead of helping motorists who are in distress as a result of vehicle breakdown or people who do not know their way around Lagos, LASTMA officials are more interested in compounding the problems of motorists and are always out to impound vehicles at the slightest opportunity. In the process they make outrageous financial demand from their victims. People are forced to part with as much as N10,000 after they might have intimidated their victims by telling them that they would pay more if they were taken to their offices.
The truth is that many Lagosians are dissatisfied with the performance of LASTMA officials, VIOs and local government officials because they are so uncivil and evidently from their visage one can conclude that most of these so-called government officials are thugs and area boys in uniform. If their excesses are not checked, the present party in the saddle in Lagos State that has joined others to form the APC might lose out in subsequent elections because Lagos voters are wiser and more sophisticated today than before. Politicians should also note that most Nigerians who will vote are not card-carrying members of any political party hence they must be careful in their conduct. The new trend of using insulting words on people from a different party and especially hurling insults on the President of Nigeria and denigrating that exalted office is unacceptable.
It is necessary also to let Fashola know that something urgent has to be done to ease the flow of traffic from Bariga to University of Lagos. There is no reason why a road that leads to the prestigious University of Lagos should not be dualised. The truth is that Fashola is being looked up to by many Nigerians to play a major role at the national level if not now, definitely in the nearest future and as such he cannot afford to lose focus or get entangled in the bitter politicking going on now.
May I add that the activities of motor-cycle (okada) riders which are being controlled should be sustained to reduce the crime rate in Lagos while adequate attention should be paid to inner city roads by the respective local governments. Nigerians, especially Lagosians, do let us have a Lagos that we will all be proud of.
• Dr Arowolo is a development consultant and lives in Lagos.
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”