Rebuild Lagos, Sanwo-Olu cries to NASS, Federal Executive, others for help

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…Woos private stakeholders for partnership

…CBN to provide cheap credit for affected businesses to rebuild, restock— Osinbajo

By Moses Adeniyi

As the quest to rebuild the city gathers momentum, following the wanton destruction of public and private properties that greeted the State amidst the #ENDSARS protest, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has solicited the assistance of the Federal Government from the part of both the National Assembly and the Federal Executive, as well as other private stakeholders and well meaning Nigerians for help.

Governor Sanwo-Olu made the call which has been going round in few weeks at the event of the Consultative Forum on Rebuilding Lagos, held at Ikeja, the State Capital on Monday.

He appealed to the National Assembly to take steps to set aside funds for the task of Rebuilding and Restoring Lagos in the 2021 Appropriation Bill being deliberated upon currently by the Assembly.

According to him, the Fund does not necessarily have to be for Lagos alone, it can and should also take into consideration other states also impacted by the recent spate of wanton destruction that trailed the #ENDSARS protests.

Recall that following the violent aftermath of the #ENDSARS protests, the State Government had constituted  an Executive Order, a Lagos State Rebuild Trust Fund, to be run by an 8-member Committee.

The Governor stated that with the public sector taking the rightful lead in demonstrating commitment, there is no doubt that the private sector will strive to match that enthusiasm.

Calling for mutual efforts, he said: “I strongly believe that the cohesive efforts and contributions of the  private and public sectors will make it easier for us to rebuild Lagos State. These may be challenging times but with responsive and  responsible leadership, we will overcome.

“We can make greater impact  through our collaborative efforts in the shortest possible time.  An African proverb says, ‘if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want  to go far, go together’.

“Today’s consultative forum is meant to set the  stage for all the necessary Public-Private partnerships and  collaborations required for this task of rebuilding and restoration.

“Let us work in the commonality of purpose to restore the glory of our  state. You are important stakeholders; and I know I can count on you  as the Lagos Rebuild Committee reaches out to you for your support in  rebuilding Lagos.

“Whatever investments we make towards this task will be for the good  of all of us. These investments will go into rebuilding and re-tooling  security infrastructure, strengthening public transportation systems,  restoring judicial and local government operations, rebuilding damaged public monuments.

“All of these will positively impact security, tourism, employment  generation, and ultimately the social contract between government and  the governed.”

The Governor who lamented the ordeal of the State following the #ENDSARS protest, cried that “The violence we saw at the end of October 2020 is the most widespread carnage the State has seen in decades; not since the SAP riots of 1989 have we experienced such levels of destruction.

“Every aspect of life and livelihood in Lagos was affected – government  buildings offices, public monuments and historical archives, public  infrastructure like our BRT buses, and, very sadly too, private property  and investments – malls, shops, small businesses, residences and many more.

“Beyond the physical and economic impact, there has also been the  psychological damage: the fear, the terror, the helplessness that all of  the victims have felt, the questions about how or where do we start  from.

“The violence has no doubt set our economy back by tens of  billions of Naira, and impacted our confidence.  We, have, however, found hope and great strength in the offers of  assistance from far and wide, which culminated in the constitution of  the Lagos Rebuild Committee to coordinate our efforts to rebuild and  upgrade our state.”

The Governor added that as a  follow-up, a Bill will be sent to the State House of Assembly, to  enshrine the Fund in the laws of the land, and give it the necessary  backing to accomplish its mandate.

“This is the very reason why we are gathered here today: To  operationalize this Fund, by mobilizing resources from far and wide,  for the singular purpose of rebuilding and restoring our dear City and  State.

“We seek to restore the infrastructure that was destroyed, to revive the  energy and confidence of everyone who has been affected by these losses, to help restore the confidence of the people of Lagos in the infinite potentials of Lagos.

“But the State Government cannot do this alone. We need all the help  that we can get, which is why we have invited you all here, and are grateful that you have honoured our invitation,” he said.

Advancing his call for help, he said:

“We require the assistance of the Federal Government, from both the  Executive and Legislative branches.

“I would like to appeal to the National Assembly to take steps to set aside funds for this task of Rebuilding and Restoring Lagos in the 2021  Appropriation Bill being deliberated upon currently by the Assembly.”

According to the Governor, with the approval from the State House of Assembly, the State Government will be making  available a huge amount of money in the 2021 Budget to immediately  begin the rebuilding efforts.

“This, for us, represents that credible and  very important step in the rehabilitation and restoration process; and  shows that we are willing, as a Government, to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak.

“But let me reiterate this, that our contribution though very substantial,  is still quite very far away from what we require to make a dent on the  burden that confronts us. Which is why we have invited you here to  join hands and support us,” he mentioned.

He stressed that for every Naira of investment mobilised and expended  under the Rebuilding Project, there will be a significant multiplier 10 effect, that will benefit public and private sector alike.

“These funds will  go into the local economy, into the hands of artisans, traders, suppliers,  start-ups, and so on,” he said.

He however emphasized that transparency and accountability  will be foundational elements in the implementation of the mandate of the Committee.

For this reason, according to him, the fund-raising and disbursement will  have oversight from FBN Trustees Limited, which  along with the Board they will ensure that “there is maximum accountability and value recorded  for every Naira raised.”

“In this rebuilding process we will be asking ourselves some necessary  questions. For example, we will seriously be exploring the use of  technology to improve urban security and better safeguard all that we hold dear, and to digitally preserve historical archives that until now  have existed only in physical forms.

“We have a duty, in rebuilding, to  ensure that the new which will be replacing the old is fitting for the 21st century,” he said.

Assuring that the State would recover and bounce back, he said: “We do not have a  choice, really. Because this is who we are, this is what Lagos is; a  resilient people, an irrepressible city. This is our history, and our DNA.

“In the face of all these, Lagos has always survived. And not just  survived, it has thrived. We are a continental center of creativity and  innovation, and will continue to be.

“Every one of these threats and  challenges I listed above ended up opening up, in its aftermath, an opportunity for a new kind of progress, one step backwards in the short term that paved the way for four steps forward in the longer term.”

CBN to provide cheap credit for affected businesses to rebuild, restock —- Osinbajo

In his remark, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo disclosed that for businesses that were destroyed, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been developing a plan to suspend existing facilities that they may have in banks as well as lines of cheap credit to help them rebuild their damaged facilities and re-stock.

“It is now time to rebuild. It is time for the painful and costly task of reconstruction and rehabilitation. It is now time for the private sector, our international friends and partners, and all who love this city to make their contributions to the rebuilding and reconstruction effort. When Lagos works, it works for all.

“But it is clear that the task of reconstruction goes beyond physical infrastructure or brick and mortar. There is a moral, social and ethical reconstruction to be undertaken as well.

“We must rebuild trust between the government and the governed; the vast majority of who are young persons, rebuild trust between law enforcement agents and the communities that they are meant to serve,” the Vice President said.

On the effort  reform the Nigeria Police Force, he said: “After 70 years of the Police Act, Mr President signed the new reformed Police Act 2020 into law. The new law contains in many parts, components of a charter of the rights of citizens when being questioned.

“The President has also signed into law, the Police Trust Act, essentially to provide a source of extra funding for the police.”

He added that the Police has also initiated its community policing programme aimed at reframing policing as an activity based on trust between law enforcement and the community.

“We recognize that our communities can be made safer when they are primarily policed by members of that same community who enjoy the trust of their neighbours,” he said.

On the need for youth engagement, he said: “We certainly cannot afford to alienate our young people who constitute the majority of our society and bear the burden of enterprise, resourcefulness and innovation required to propel our economy into the future.

“For their sake and ours, we need broad-based and inclusive prosperity that creates opportunities on a scale commensurate with the aspirations of our population.  Beyond restoring what has been lost, the task before us is nothing short of the reformulation of the social contract.”

The Vice President who assured Justice for victims of the Lekki Toll-Gate shootings and other victims of Police brutalities said: “Our State, like our nation, is in need of healing. We recognize that the balm for a wounded society is truth and justice. This is why Judicial Panels of Inquiry have been established all across the country.

“Their mandate is to investigate cases of police brutality against citizens, where necessary compensate victims. Specifically, in Lagos the mandate of the inquiry has been expanded to include a full investigation of the Lekki toll gate incidents.

“This process has begun and all Federal Agencies and the armed services are participating actively.”

He quoted President Muhammadu Buhari as saying “We will also ensure that all those responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts are brought to justice.”