4th October, 2010
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State has challenged Nigerians to focus on the yearsÂ ahead rather than brood over what the country has passed through in the last 50 years.
Fashola who spoke at the Tafawa Balewa Square, during the celebration of the independenceÂ anniversary in the state, declared: â€œSo many years lie ahead of us to make the futureÂ what we want, starting from today. If we set forth at dawn, we can make this journeyÂ before dusk. Â â€¦..Truly believe that in spite of the clamour about the good old days,Â Nigeriaâ€™s best days still lies aheadâ€.
The governor, who said he remained proud to be a Nigerian and believes in perseverance,Â also maintained that the past should remind everyone that Lagos was the battleground forÂ the pursuit of liberty by the nationâ€™s heroes and that the Race Course was the site whereÂ the British flag â€”the Union Jackâ€” flew for the last time.
According to Fashola, â€œThis is a national monument belonging to this state and we hold itÂ as a symbol of pride for free people of this country as a memorial of where we came fromÂ and how we got here.
â€œNothing is impossible. What is possible in Lagos is possible in all parts of Nigeria.Â What is needed is to make the choice and find a will to make it work.â€
He explained that it will require patience from the leaders and restraint from thoseÂ being led, adding that everybody must exercise their rights but with the understandingÂ that it comes with corresponding duties.
â€œI am certain that we can do it. Against all the pessimism that we will never be free, weÂ made it and we survived a bitter civil war and resolved that we will build without victorÂ or vanquished.
â€œWe have proved every pessimist wrong by successfully transiting first from military toÂ civilian and later from civilian to civilian governments,â€ he said.
While admitted that though the expectations are high, he called for deep reflection onÂ how many times we have got up as a people when we stumbled.
He said Lagos State had achieved some feat. â€œWe have excluded and actualized seemingÂ impossibilities. Lagos is now safer than before in spite of epileptic public powerÂ supply. Our streets are being lit up at night by a committed people and government toÂ create jobs through a 24-hour economy.
He said the city, which some cynics have called concrete jungle, has become a land ofÂ green parks and gardens with what used to be one of the dirtiest cities becoming theÂ cleanestÂ as well the challenges of flooding which has been put behind in several parts ofÂ the state.
â€œAgainst all odds, Oshodi is now safe for pedestrians and motorable for commuters andÂ Oluwole area has yielded its unpleasant notoriety to an urban shopping complex inÂ commerce, economic prosperity and the creation of jobs,â€ he said.
He informed that the State Executive Council recently approved a State Ignite EnterpriseÂ and Employability project which focuses on addressing the job creation and employabilityÂ challenges of the people who fall within the age group of 20-35 who constitute 70 perÂ cent of the nationâ€™s population.
A pilot scheme of the programme will involve 30 schools from all divisions of the state.Â Â The project will be very practical and result-oriented as I look forward to us buildingÂ the economy of our great state together.â€