The attention of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) has been drawn to a centerspread advert in today’s The Punch, pages 32 and 33, purportedly sponsored by the All Progressives Congress, APC to showcase the achievement of the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, which we found highly deceptive and misleading.
It is no gainsaying that Lagos has been running a government of grandstanding imbued by propaganda and bare-faced deception. The government only does project in the media with little or nothing to show for such advertised projects at the point of inspection. The government tells Lagosians perpetual lies on the import of its governance and executed projects; even when the opposite is starring at us in face and many are groaning under the weight of collapse or absence of such projects.
Most primary and secondary schools in the state are decrepit. Those supposedly decorated school buildings, especially those along major roads, are mere façade just to cover up the stinking rots that are harboured inside. Most basic facilities, equipment as well as materials required for effective teaching and learning, are grossly inadequate or totally lacking, whereas huge sums are always appropriated for the maintenance and supplies for these schools in every of the state’s annual budgets.
Most of the roads are still bumpy or riddled with potholes. Most drainage channels are either too shallow or too narrow to accommodate the volume of flood expected to flow through them, and everywhere in Lagos, without exception is affected. But worse affected are some areas in the outskirts like Ikorodu, Badagry, Epe axis and within the mainland, Alimosho especially Aboru, Ikotun, Ayobo, Ipaja axis. These areas are like jungles within the metropolis.
Granted that the government cannot possibly cover everywhere in terms of providing every need of the people at any point in time, in the face of the multi-faceted demands confronting it, it is expected to, at least, strive to demonstrate its earnest concern for the welfare of generality of its people with utmost sense of responsibility and responsiveness and of course, with a balanced, impartial and unselective posture. Taking a look at the deplorable state of major access roads in areas like Somolu-Bariga-Pedro Road axis, Ipaja-Ayobo-Ayetoro axis which road that has been under construction for years is yet to be completed, thus constituting a nuisance particularly during rainy seasons, year-in, year-out, Meiran-Ajasa-Command, Agbado-Tollgate end, Odongunyan-Spintex road, Badagry-Okokomaiko section, to mention just a few. These few ones are mentioned because of the density of population they enjoy. For example, the Alimosho Local Government Area, which accommodates Ipaja and Ayobo, alone contributes a population of over 5 million to Lagos State. Many of these areas are still begging for drainages and canals to save them from the menace of flooding, during the rainy seasons.
Furthermore, the people of Agboyi-Odo community had had to contend with the use of canoe as the only means of transportation. They have since been crying out to the government to no avail for the construction of a bridge to link them with the rest of the city of Lagos.
It is another version with the people of Ayobo-Igando axis of Ayobo who have to depend solely on the individual initiative of an investor who had constructed a wooden bridge of about 70 meters long, to facilitate connectivity between the two neighbouring communities.
It has also been discovered that even when government manages to execute some developmental projects, it does so at a great cost for the rightful beneficiaries, i.e. the masses. For instance, when a portion of Lekki-Ajah roads was constructed, several tollgates were erected. This means that those who have the misfortune of living in those areas have to pay through their noses when they move from their homes to other parts of their state. The newly constructed N29bn Cable Bridge is not exempted as the beneficiaries are being exploited and forced to pay toll on the bridge that was said to have been constructed from the taxpayers’ money. This is also applicable to markets and housing estates, even tertiary education, which the government takes beyond the reach of the masses.
When Lagos government takes interest in a property, it creates calamity on it, confiscates it, develops it and sells it to its cronies. To be sure, Tejuosho, Oyingbo markets and a few others got burnt mysteriously only to be reconstructed and their rent taken beyond the reach of the original owners. These are ordinary services expected to be rendered at no extra cost, to the people.
Another aspect of concern to us is the pillaging of the state debt with little or nothing to show for it. Investigation has shown that our dear Lagos State owes 33.86 per cent of Nigeria’s total sub-national external debts (debts owed by state governments).
Statistics released by the Debt Management Office in Abuja as at June 30, 2014, as quoted in today’s The Punch, page 2, showed that out of the total external debt of $3.01bn, Lagos State owed $1.02bn, leaving the remaining 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory with $1.99bn.
So far, the achievement of Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola has been overbloated. The government, by its performance, so far, has betrayed the loyalty and trust reposed in it by the people. The present government must therefore submit itself or be forced to the scrutiny of the anti-graft agencies as soon as it tenure ends as it is safe to say that many of the monies Lagosians hear about might have landed in some private coffers.
We want to advise the All Progressives Congress party to isolate their elected officials that rubbish their name; though we must confess that the party still has some of their governors that have performed superlatively well. We also urge them to be careful in the selection of their candidates for the forthcoming elections.
Debo Adeniran is Executive Chairman, CACOL