Expresses conviction that if voted into power, APC Guber-candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode, would complete all on-going projects”.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, Tuesday described the takeover of all advertising boards and poles on major highways in the State by agents of the Federal Government as unconstitutional.
Fielding questions from newsmen and members of the public as part of the 2,800 Days account of Stewardship rendering event at the Blue Roof, LTV Complex, Ikeja,Governor Fashola explained that the Nigerian 1999 Constitution vests the authority to manage all forms of advertisement on all roads on the Local Governments irrespective of whether such roads are constructed by the Federal or State governments.
According to the Governor, the Constitution also mandates the State Houses of Assembly to make laws to regulate the operation and control of advertising on the roads by the Local Government in order to ensure coordination and harmonization adding, “It is, therefore, illegal for any ministry or agency to demand that anybody should come and collect permit from them before pasting outdoor adverts”.
He pointed out that in its case, the Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency was established to coordinate the adverts for the Local Governments in the State adding that it has been responsible for ensuring that no form of dispute arises in terms of managing the proceeds from the adverts as they affect the different Councils.
Governor Fashola said before “the naked show of force by agents of the Federal Government last week”, two major communication outfits had a subsisting contract with LASAA to hoist their posters on selected points on the Third Mainland Bridge adding regrettably that because President Jonathan was coming to Lagos to campaign, all the boards of the two communication companies were removed and replaced with President Jonathan’s pictures.
“This flagrant display of lawlessness made the two organizations to cancel the multi million naira contract they had with LASAA on the outdoor boards leading to substantial loss of revenue by the Local Governments in Lagos State”, the Governor said.
While responding to a question on the state of Ejigbo to Ikotun road, the Governor explained that the work going on there is being hampered by a major drainage issue in the area which needs to be sorted out adding that if the road was built without sorting out the drainage it was going to fail within a short period.
He explained further, “You must understand also that the damage to that road is caused by tankers because the Federal Government has no sustainable and modern plan to distribute petroleum products across Nigeria. Most petroleum producing countries do so by pumping through pipelines but in Nigeria they can’t even secure the pipelines. But please bear with us the problem would soon be solved”.
Governor Fashola dispelled any fear that some multi-billion Naira projects like the Lagos- Badagry Expressway Expansion and the Light Rail projects would be abandoned when he leaves office describing such fears as misplaced and expressing confidence that whatever project that is currently ongoing would be completed by the Akinwunmi Ambode administration.
“Our gubernatorial candidate, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, was the Accountant General of the State who midwifed the process of raising funds for starting the Blue Line Light Rail project so he is no stranger to it”, the Governor said adding that Ambode was part of the planning for raising the funds for the projects.
According to him, “The APC Gubernatorial candidate was part of the planning process from the inception. He will complete the project. Your part of the deal is to ensure that you first go and vote to ensure that he is elected”.
Governor Fashola, who noted that in countries like India and United Arab Emirates, municipal rail projects are funded by the central government, added that it is only in Nigeria that two states are independently building rail projects without the financial inputs of the government at the centre.
“We have completed four out of the 11 train stops and eight kilometres out of the total 25 kilometres total stretch.
We are buying electric trains not diesel, so part of the problem is how to power the grid because we want clean fuel, we don’t want trains that will pollute the environment and we have found the answer”, the Governor said adding “The only problem is time and if you vote for continuity I am convinced Ambode will finish the project”.
Recalling that the Federal Government was publishing that the State Government owed huge debts when it borrowed the money for the project, Governor Fashola declared, “This is where the money went. The World Bank committed to lend us 600 million Dollars when they saw that we had started”, adding that he had earlier gone to Washington for the same purpose but was turned down as the Bank declined to fund rails in West Africa.
“I told them that with or without their support, we would build the rail. When we started and they saw that we were serious they called us back. Once we are united for one purpose we would deliver”, the Governor said adding that no state government worth its salt would decide to limit itself to initiating only projects that it could conclude within four years.
Citing examples globally to back this point, he said while the late Nelson Mandela was President when the idea to host the World Cup was conceived by the South African Government, his successor, Mr. Thabo Mbeki was the President when the preparation for its hosting commenced and he started building the Guateng Rail adding that by the time South Africa hosted the World Cup, it was Mr. Jacob Zuma who commissioned the project for the World Cup.
Committing to stand by the administration of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode if elected into office just as his past predecessors stood by him when he was in office, Governor Fashola expressed confidence that an experienced public servant who had been part of the progress of the State, the Gubernatorial Candidate would take Lagos to the next level if voted into power.
On his views concerning the peace accord signed in Abuja between President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari, the Governor said while it was nice to sign such agreements, what was more important was the honour with which the agreement was made.
“It is one thing to say something but what is most important is what action has been undertaken afterwards”, he said adding that it was after the signing of the peace accord that some kinsmen of the President were reported as threatening that the heavens would fall if the President lost his re-election.
What he expects the President to do, the Governor said, was to disclaim such statements publicly adding that even the publicized attack on the convoy of the President in Bauchi that was allegedly carried out by APC members had been attributed to members of the PDP by the Bauchi State Governor, Mallam Issa Yuguda who is a member of the PDP.
Restating the commitment of APC to peaceful elections in the country come February, the Governor declared: “This explains why in a state like Lagos, I feel confident every time to stand before the populace every 100 days to give an account of my stewardship”.
While answering a question on what level of support to expect for the Police from the incoming Ambode administration, the Governor, who posited that law and order is the fulcrum for doing anything successfully in any society, pointed out that any government that was worth its salt must invest in security adding that an APC Government would do more in terms of securing Lagos while an APC Government at the centre would also lighten the yoke by doing something to assist the state security wise.
Speaking earlier, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba stated that the gathering had continued to serve as an avenue through which feedbacks on the impact of the administration’s policies and programmes were assembled for further processing in the effort to meet the yearnings and expectations of the people.
According to the Commissioner, the forum has also continually served as a major influence in the planning and execution of the various projects and programmes of the present administration.
Prominent among those who attended the event were the first civilian Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande and his wife, Alhaja Abimbola Jakande, the Deputy Governor, Hon (Mrs.) Adejoke Orelope- Adefulire, the APC Gubernatorial candidate in the State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, his running mate, Dr (Mrs.) Oluranti Adebule, members of the State Executive Council, the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu 1, Pro- democracy activists like General Alani Akinrinade (rtd) and Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye and several other guests.