Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, Tuesday, 16th September, 2014, met with the organized private sector (OPS) at the Lekki Free Zone in Lekki advocating adherence to the Rule of Law and order as the building block for all successful investments and business interactions worldwide.
In his remarks at the interactive business session which involved such eminent OPS members as the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA), among others, Governor Fashola said it would be unimaginable running any business without regulations.
Describing Law and Order as the platform on which every business enterprise could survive, the Governor declared, “I will just start in that sense to say first that all of what we talk about centre around law and order, no more, no less. Now, let us step out from where we are to the place where we could be. Can we imagine running business in the country without regulations?
According to the Governor, there was need for the business community to agree first that it will only work where there is law and order pointing out that many of the laws were inherited from past administrations while many others came from the country’s colonial experience. “Some of them needing to be updated we have done”, he said.
Noting that the Nigerian society is changing more rapidly than the laws can cope with, Fashola asserted that no sane business person would want to go to the places where business is not regulated adding that a society where people were left to do what they liked in business would soon be wiped out.
“So let us stay where we are. What that gives us is that we have predictability. I can anticipate how you can behave and you can anticipate how I can behave so it takes away arbitrariness; that is what law and order does; that if this happens this should follow”, he said.
The Governor, however, explained that laws are only on paper and need human beings to give life to them. Government, he said, also recognizes that there are people who want to jump queues, adding, “Globally, no society is perfect and there is always problems otherwise there will be no need for government”.
Citing examples with land allocation and the issuance of Certificate of Occupancy, Governor Fashola declared, “If we apply the issue of Law and Order here, what we have seen is that many people have built beyond the land that we gave them. People have extended their fence; they have added a little here and a little there, so if you give C of O to them it probably may not be reflective of the land originally given to them.
“We have just collected more than 9,700 new survey plans showing that what we gave 30 to 40 years ago has been built beyond where the land is. So what is in the C of O, or whatever have been given to the person is not reflective of the reality, and it will create even financial difficulties as we leverage on property going forward”, he said.
Governor Fashola also disclosed that in pursuance of its commitment to the policy focus on Power, Agriculture, Transportation and Housing (PATH), his administration is exploring the possibility of establishing Nuclear Power in the Lekki Free Zone as an alternative energy source to power manufacturing and other businesses in the Zone.
Arguing that without power, the nation is going nowhere, the Governor expressed the hope that the level of government that has primary responsibilities for energy would push to make it possible to move closer to Power actualization adding that as a sub-national government, his administration is working on the fulfillment of the commitment it made at the Ehingbeti Summit 2014 about energizing the State.
“Yesterday (Monday) we spent over two hours at the Monday Executive Council meeting deliberating on Nuclear Energy for the State and how it could be deployed into use in the State. That shows you how we intend to address issues of power in the State. We sat down with one of the foremost practitioners who is a Nigerian and he took us through all the protocols that is needed for establishing it”, he said.
According to the Governor, “In less than three years we can establish it, especially when we need not do distribution, but places like the Lekki Free Zone can have the Nuclear Power between 15 and 24 months. No option is off the table as we move forward in our strive to solve the power challenge for the State”.
On the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), Governor Fashola who noted that without the Infectious Disease Centre which the Lagos State Government had built, the whole containment effort would have been from the scratch, adding, “Without the Public Health Law which was passed in 2012, the State would have been in trouble.
“And this was one of the things our partners ask immediately they arrived. And the law gives the State the opportunity to arrest anyone whose health constitutes danger to others. And when we said yes, they were happy and they said that was where they started their work. Without the law, we could not have achieved what we did”, he said, noting also that the Cremation Law passed a few years ago, also came in handy in treating the issue of disposal of dead victims who were medically more dangerous than the live victims of the disease.
“If Lagos wants to retain its status and achieve more the law is needed. The law cater for foreigners that cremating is part of their life style. We didn’t foresee Ebola but the law now became a veritable tool for us to curtail the spread of the virus because corpses are more dangerous than the carrier of the virus. Other states are now going to the parliament to seek the passage of the law”, he said.
Governor Fashola expressed joy that at the moment, the State does not have anyone infected with Ebola virus in the isolation centre anymore adding, “What we have left are suspected contacts that we are monitoring. And the last person we are monitoring will complete his 21 days cycle on September 18, 2014”.
He said the meeting was instituted because Government is interested in knowing the problems of the private sector operators adding, “If we do not want to hear about where the shoe pinches and where it hurts and what we can do about it, we will not have this kind of open and expansive interaction and meetings”.
He said from time to time Government calls the meeting because it understands that if the sector does well the state will do well and the people will benefit adding that with all of the best of intentions, issues of unemployment, job creation and earning of sustainable revenue cannot depend solely on what Government does.
“It is not because I say so. It is because economics globally shows that when government becomes the largest employer, that economy is going to collapse and we have seen it in a few countries. So that lies at the heart of this meeting. We do not take your contributions lightly. We do it because we genuinely want to improve things. So, all your comments and contributions are well received”, he said.
Speaking earlier, President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Alhaji Remi Bello, commended the Governor and Government of Lagos State for the manner he has confronted the enormous challenges facing the State and especially the Ebola Virus Disease noting that the ever increasing population has put enormous pressure on existing infrastructure.
He noted that with appreciation the impacts made by the Government on areas such as security, the Environment improvement and beautification, huge investment in drainage improvement, infrastructure development, traffic management, industrial parks and enterprise zones, Power sector investment, urban renewal projects, housing projects, investment in human capital and many more.
Also speaking, President of the Dangote Group of Companies, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who was represented, said that work on the Petrochemical plant planned for the Lekki Free Zone has commenced with clearing of the site adding that the company was already moving equipment to the site.
Earlier in her welcome address, the state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Olusola Oworu, reiterated that the meeting was established to articulate the problems of the private sector with a view to offering solutions to them adding that it has been institutionalized as a means of moving the state forward in partnership with the Private sector.
Among those present at the occasion were: Special Adviser to the Governor on Commerce and Industry Mr. Seye Oladejo; Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Wale Raji; Executive Chairman, Lagos State Internal Revenue Service, Mr. Tunde Fowler; Chairman Lekki Free Zone, Mr. Olusegun Jawando; Managing Director Lekki Free Zone, Mr. Ding Yonghua; Head of Chinese Chancery in Lagos, Mr. Liu Kan; captains of industries, stakeholders and other Lagos State government officials.