21st March, 2011
The entire Lagos Island was agog at the weekend as over 500,000 transport operators staged a walk for the re-election of Governor Babatunde Fashola. Very early in the day, all roads in the Lagos metropolis seemed to lead to the Tafawa Balewa Square, TBS, the take-off point for the great walk.
The march, which started at about 11.00 am, took the marchers through Bamgbose, Campbell, Tinubu Square and Nnamdi Azikiwe streets in Central Lagos; Carter Bridge, Iddo, Oyingbo, Apapa Road, Funso Williams Avenue, Agege Motor Road, Old Lagos Secretariat Road, Police College, Ikeja; Awolowo Road and terminated at the Lagos House, Alausa, at around 3.30 p.m.
The transport operators sang pro-Fashola songs and marched for over three hours. It was arduous and tasking, yet exciting. The transporters drummed up support for the re-election of Fashola, saying that he is the right man for the job and called on their colleagues to cast their votes for the governor at next monthâ€™s election.
The over three and a half hours march was the climax of one week of activities by the various transport unions under the auspices of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, Lagos Chapter, to drum up support for a second term for the governor.
At the Lagos House, Ikeja, Fashola received the transporters who said they were for him and urged him to forge ahead as they were sure he would win the forthcoming polls.
The Lagos State Chairman of the NURTW, Alhaji Rafiu Akanni Olohunwa, said the transport unions came to thank the governor for the good work he had done in the transport sector and to assure him of their support in the coming elections.
â€œAll the various transport unions are here today to thank you for what you have done for us and to tell you that you are still the right man for the job. You can see what we have on our vests: The Right Man 4 D Jobs, Lagos Deserves Fashola, Fashola Deserves Lagos and Eyes of Lagos.â€
Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners, Mr. Yinka Quadri, said his association participated in the rally to show support for the governor and the good works he had done. He prayed that God would see him through in his second term, to accomplish more for Lagos State and Nigeria.
Chairman, Lagos State Taxi Driversâ€™ Cooperative Society, Dr. Lateef Oseni said the Society had in the last one week engaged in various activities, including a rally in Yaba on Wednesday where over 250,000 members met to endorse the governor for a second term.
Other unions represented in the march included Motorcycle Owners and Riders Society, MOARS, Ajegboro and Tipper Drivers Association, National Association of Mechanics and Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, RTEAN, among others.
Addressing the thousands of transporters at the open ground of the Government House, Alausa, Fashola said the transformation undertaken by his administration in the transport sector was aimed at, not only creating an enabling environment for transporters, but also to create jobs in the sector.
The governor recalled that at the inception of his administration in 2007, the transporters stood by the government and pledged to work with it, expressing joy that four years later, the administration had recorded tremendous achievements in the sector.
Fashola, who commended the operators for their love for his administration declared: â€œThe event of today is a manifestation of the love which you have for our government and the people of Lagos. We thank God that today, many achievements have been recorded in the transport sector in the state.â€
â€œI promise you that more transformations are on the way. The Taxi Cab Scheme has made it possible for people to call taxies to come and pick them from their homes. It is an indication that government has succeeded.
â€œThe Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, Scheme was heavily criticized at inception, but today, the BRT has not only become a model in Nigeria but in the whole of the African continent. Out of concern for the livelihood and safety of commercial motorcycle riders in the state, my administration did not ban the operation but only restricted them to some roads and issued them with crash helmets and other safety gadgets.
â€œUnlike the PDP-controlled governments in Abuja and Port Harcourt, we did not ban you. Our major concern was your safety and livelihood. That is why we gave you crash helmets. We will give you more.Â I thank you for your understanding and cooperation with my administration,â€ he said.
Fashola said his administration built a total of 147 roads in less than four years with 60 more at various stages of completion while another 44 roads are ongoing, adding that government was equally developing other modes of transportation such as the Light Rail System and water transportation.
He pointed out that all these meant expansion of the transport sector and more jobs for the people. â€œIt is only a government that is thinking, planning and working for the people that can give you a chance for survival.
â€œI am always with you on May 1 every year back to back even though that day is my wedding anniversary. I have told my wife to give me that anniversary day for you so that I can be with you. It is only a government that cares that can do that for the people,â€ the governor said.
Fashola urged the transporters to ensure that their votes go to the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, at all the elective levels during the general elections, adding that â€œyou must vote massively for the ACN as you did in 2007. Your votes for ACN will guarantee the continuation of this transformation and a better, rewarding, future for you.â€
â€œLagos is the place to be. This is the place you run to for security; we have given you free education and quality healthcare delivery. This is the only state that has built accident wards and put in place mobile ambulances because we know that there will be accidents sometimes and the need to save lives,â€ he said.
He commended the transporters for the orderly manner they had comported themselves throughout the march, pointing out that even the Police commended them for the peaceful rally.