THE 2020 #EndSARS protest which led to the wanton destruction of properties in Lagos State, creating a huge loss for the Lagos State government led by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, might have thrown a clog in the wheel of progress of the nation’s economic seat. The destruction, including of public buildings, transit buses, family houses and media houses was monumental, palaces, businesses, police stations and residential quarters, was the most comprehensive and the most deadly that the state has ever witnessed. The state was literally enveloped in thick smoke as hoodlums took advantage of the genuine protests of Nigerians, particularly the youth, against police brutality and unleashed mayhem on the state, orchestrating destruction of property to such an extent that a whopping N1 trillion was projected to be the amount needed for comprehensive repairs. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, was apparently very disturbed by this while responding to questions from State House Correspondents after an assessment visitation of some of the properties that were destroyed during the protest. To take just a few examples, 27 of the burnt Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) vehicles in the Oyingbo and Ojodu Berger areas of the state cost $200,000 each, while 57 of them cost $100,000 each, making a total of N3.9 billion. As Vice President Yemi Osinbajo noted at the time, “It is now the time to rebuild. It is time for the painful and costly task of reconstruction and rehabilitation.”
However, there is positive news on the horizon. Gradually, the haze left all over Lagos following the protests is begin to fade away in the face of rebuilding efforts. The Sanwo-Olu-led administration has shown its commitment and a strong resolve to reposition the state for more industrial cum economic growth and unprecedented development. A master behind the wheel, Sanwo-Olu, like a Picasso holding a brush and pastel, is decisively set to re-write the developmental narrative of Lagos State. While many had, given the gravity of destruction, forecast that it would take the state decades to recover from the loss it suffered during the ENDSARS protests, the narrative has changed. To the surprise and amazement of Nigerians all over the world, Lagos State has all but cast the tragedy that befell it aside, continuing to grow in leaps and bounds ever since the unfortunate incident. This has not been merely fortuitous: it’s all been due to the resilience, passion, strategic planning and vision of the Sanwo-Olu administration. Life is back to normal with law and order restored, and Lagosians can now channel their creative energies into building the mega city of their dream, one that ranks favourably among its counterparts the world over.
With exceptional brilliance coupled and unique leadership skills, he has continued to harness the resources of the state, pushing it forward on a progressive lane. While the state has continued to lead other states in the Federation in terms of its internally generated revenue, it has also continued to witness the birth of a series of new projects which are adorning its landscape. The most recent was the delivery and commissioning of the ultramodern Yaba Bus Terminal to boost public transportation services in the state. The revitilisation and remodelling of this ancient iconic landmark is one which deserves public commendation from all quarters.
The terminal, which was commissioned by the governor, is an ancillary infrastructure that will compliment the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Red Line which is currently being constructed. According to the governor during the commissioning of the project, “Yaba corridor is prominent feature in the Lagos State Transportation Masterplan, because of its peculiar nature as a melting pot of commercial, technological and academic activities. The city’s evolution over the years places enormous responsibility on the government to ensure that its dynamism and growth are sustained through balanced development. The facility being commissioned today is a world-class terminal from which buses will originate and terminate. In the next 18 months, this bus terminal will be integrated with the Yaba station of the Red Metro Line that is being constructed close to the terminal. The Yaba Bus Terminal reflects our vision for regulated bus services, which the State Government currently champions through Traffic Management and Transportation pillar of our T.H.E.M.E.S agenda.”
This is an unquestionable evidence of a man blessed with a good vision for the state, one who represents the new class of elite who do not live for themselves alone but for the bright future and the public good of the larger society. Lagos is not just the pride of Yorubaland but the pride of Nigeria as a whole. While not without its own fair share of challenges, it is still perhaps the most realistic environment for the young and old to actualise their economic dreams. That being the case, the saying “Eko o ni baje,” is in reality the expression of hope for a truly prosperous Nigeria. Whatever affects Lagos ultimately affects Nigeria as a whole, and no genuine citizen would be uninterested in the affairs of Lagos. That being the case, it is heartwarming to observe that in spite of the prevailing and pervasive economic hardship in the country, good things are beginning to happen in Lagos State and this has been made possible through the tireless efforts, great vision and commitment of Governor Sanwo-Olu. Apparently, there is still a lot that needs to be done. But going by what is being done currently, there is no doubt that the vision will be accomplished.
- Adebisi writes in from Lagos.
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