Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN (2nd left), his Deputy, Hon. (Mrs) Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire (middle), Oba Ojan of Ejigbo and Ijan, Oba Morufu Adisa Ojoola (left), member, Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. (Mrs) Omowunmi Olatunji-Edet (3rd right), Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat (2nd right) and the Special Adviser on Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Ganiyu Johnson (right) during the unveiling of plaque to handing over of Ejigbo-Ajao Link Road in Oshodi/Isolo Local Government Area on Monday, January 27, 2014.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Monday handed over the Ejigbo-Ajao Estate Link Bridge with a pledge that his administration would continue to increase the network of inner city roads where the ordinary people live in the State.
Addressing a large gathering of residents of the two communities including local council chairmen and councillors, traditional rulers, religious leaders, market women and members of community development associations as well as top government functionaries, Fashola said the handover was in fulfilment of the promise made by his predecessor to the community 12 years ago after the Ikeja Cantonment bomb disaster.
Noting that the two communities now have two bridges instead of one in addition to four roads, the Governor, who recalled the several hand over of inner roads made across the state in the last few weeks by his administration, declared, “These are very simple transport solutions and they are taking place in communities where the ordinary people, the working class people, the poor people who are struggling very hard to make ends meet, live”.
The Governor recalled the incident that informed the promise to build the bridge, expressing regrets that the loss of hundreds of lives as a result of that bomb incident on January 27 2002 could have been prevented if the Federal Government had done its job of managing bombs and explosives and looking after the Nigerian Military.
“It is instructive to continue to remind ourselves that those people died an avoidable death. It was because a national government led by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) failed to do its duties”, the Governor said adding that since then, the Federal Government had acted as if nothing was amiss.
He paid tribute to tax paying citizens of the state for their active support to the administration pointing out that it was only by such support that the State Government has risen to the occasion to rebuild all that was damaged by the bombs and explosives during the incident.
“So we have gone into the Cantonment in Ikeja and we have rebuilt the school that was damaged so that learning can continue. We have also gone to the Cantonment to rebuild the hospital that was damaged to serve the community there because they are members of our community, because although that was not our responsibility, the people who live there are our responsibility”, the Governor said.
Fashola said, contrary to misconceptions from some quarters, the reason two bridges were built instead of one was because there were houses on the alignments and instead of demolishing them to build one bridge, Government decided to build round the houses in order to provide protection for the properties.
“It costs a little more but it shows the character of our government that unless there is no other way, we will not touch your houses. When we can find another way we will protect your houses, where we cannot find another way, we will ask you to give up part of your land so that we can widen the road in the community and pay you compensation”, the Governor said.
On the issue of compensation to survivors of the victims of the disaster, the Governor appealed to them to assist Government in a way that would enable it verify those qualified for such compensation pointing out that his administration was willing to pay all verifiable beneficiaries but a closure must be achieved on the subject at some point.
He declared, “As willing as we are to pay compensation to survivors of victims, I have said before at the 10th anniversary that there is no amount of compensation that we pay that can bring back the lives that we have lost. But as much as we are willing to do so you must assist us in a way that will help us to verify who the real beneficiaries of the compensation are”.
He appealed to claimants to come up with a very clear basis for verification adding, “I am ready to pay compensation to anybody we may have missed out. We cannot have compensation every anniversary. After 12 years there must be some closure at a point from which we will move on to get on with our lives”.
Also speaking on the issue of Ejigbo Road, Governor Fashola, who noted that Ejigbo Road was damaged by the activities of tankers which lift fuel for the NNPC, an agent of the Federal Government, declared, “We have said very consistently that NNPC must show some corporate social responsibility, the kind of responsibility that smaller organization like Chivita and Mr. Savara are showing trying to sow back in a community from where they benefit.
“Now from an estimated loss of about $49 billion, NNPC now suddenly tells us that it is now $10 billion that they could not reconcile and I wonder how much it will take for NNPC to take some of the money that it has even spent from that $10 billion to have done a road on which tankers move fuel everyday and every year. It shows the kind of respect and concern that the party that manages the Federal Government has for you. And they will come back to you to ask for your votes”, the Governor said.
He said, however, that the State Government’s contractors are already on the road pointing out that the only delay being experienced at the moment was due to a major drainage solution being worked on which if not executed before finishing the road would affect its lifespan.
Appealing to the people to exercise a little more patience, Governor Fashola declared, “You will see that this government has continued to put its signature on projects that bear quality. When we build a road we want it to stay for as long as 30, 40 to 50 years while pledging his administration would finish the road in due course.
“But let me remind you again that in a way that in the way that they abandoned their responsibility to the soldiers in the Cantonment and to you in the society, they have abandoned their responsibility as far as that road is concerned. But we will not abandon that responsibility”, he said.
He appealed to the people to take ownership of the road by not dumping refuse into the canal or trading on the sidewalks saying the canal was supposed to be a solution for flooding in the area while the sidewalks provide walking space for pedestrians.
Earlier in his welcome address, the state Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, also appealed to the people to take ownership of the road and protect it from those who may want to abuse it saying ducts have been provided for cables and other communication materials.
Also present at the occasion were the state Deputy Governor, Hon. Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire; Chief of Staff, Mr. Lanre Babalola; Secretary to the State Government, Dr. (Mrs.) Oluranti Adebule; state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba; and his Justice, Education and Budget counterparts: Mr. Ade Ipaye, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye and Mr. Ben Akabueze respectively; among other members of the state executive council, traditional rulers, religious leaders, local council chairmen and other top government functionaries.