16th July, 2011
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Friday reiterated the commitment of the administration to continue to aggressively conclude many of the developmental projects that are currently going on.
The Governor who spoke at the Lagos House, Ikeja when he received the management team of Julius Berger Nigeria plc led by the Chairman, Air Vice Marshal Nura Imam expressed the view that the Lagos-Badagry Expressway is probably the biggest civil works project going on in Nigeria today and would clearly redefine not only the landscape of Lagos but that of the economic relationship between Nigeria and its neighbours in the sub region of West Africa.
He added that it would facilitate trade, facilitate movement of people in a way that will help achieve the dreams of the founding fathers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), saying: â€œin this part, we have not done enough regional trade and we look more to Europe when really the opportunities are so close to us and I think infrastructure has played a limiting role because whereas you can drive to many parts of Europe and cross borders by car, it is not that easy in this sub regionâ€.
The Governor also sought the collaboration of the Julius Berger Construction Plc to develop more sports facilities in Lagos like playgrounds, sports grounds and youth parks because they are critical facilities for nation building, stressing that sports constitute a critical facility for nation building because it does so much more than just building bodies of people.
â€œIt also builds minds of young people for leadership. It teaches them how to compete and therefore takes them away from live of dependence. It teaches them how to win if they compete and teaches them that energy, exertion, application and discipline are productive ways to engage life.
â€œIt teaches them how to manage disappointment because when they lose, they learn how to accept defeat and to prepare for the future. Until very recently, people were not used to accepting defeats at elections because they were not cultured as sportsmen. You know that for you to win, somebody has to lose,â€ Governor Fashola added.
The Governor noted that the efforts made by Lagos State in developing places like Campos Square which attracts young children for sporting activities deserves support to replicate, stressing that there are so many individuals who want to sponsor sporting events but cannot find venues.
â€œSometimes the stadia are just too big for them. So the provision of sports centres and community centres will do a lot in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility. I was agonizing when I saw the Channels Television Primary School Football Competition where they had to play like six matches in a day. So, it was because there was no other facility to go to and the one being used was the best in the areaâ€, he added.
He said in the fullness of time, Lagos should be able to boast of one acceptable facility in every local Government, stating that the output of such initiative overtime can only be imagined.
He commended Julius Berger Plc for staying focused despite the global financial crisis and for being worthy partners who have continued to sustain the illustrious legacies of the founding fathers of Lagos, saying that an investment in Julius Berger is an investment in the people of Lagos.
â€œThis partnership has helped delivered economic prosperity to the people of Lagos State and the Nigerian economy in general and we are proud to be partners and drivers to such economic growth development because this is the role of government and we belief that in doing this we have kept our promise to Nigerians that every policy will be geared towards eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable economic growth through short to medium term infrastructure development.
â€œAll of these have been achieved through clearly visible number of public infrastructure that have been upgraded, renewed and still going on and people have been employed who otherwise would not have been employed without this partnership and companies have stayed in business who otherwise would have shed jobs.
â€œIt is still a win-win and we think that a continuation of this focused policy between our government and private sector really are key drivers to sustaining the various growth profile and potentials and also taking her to her very enormous economic and social prospectsâ€, Governor Fashola explained.
Governor Fashola who also spoke on Corporate Social Responsibilities, said the investments have brought back some returns in terms of remittance of employees taxes, but clearly the Federal Government is taking the major share through its collection of corporate taxes.
While advocating that the CSR should not start and end with payment of taxes, the Governor said he expected Julius Berger to be able to do more because the beneficiaries of the corporate governance are potentially either employees in future or owners in future.
Earlier, the Chairman of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Air Vice Marshal Nura Imam had congratulated the Governor on his success at the April 2011 Governorship elections, saying it is a testimony of his dedication, hard work and unreserved desire to make the State an example in the country, adding that he is already achieving that.
He said the management team of Julius Berger was at the Lagos House to brief the Governor on various on-going projects because Lagos state has seen the highest development level in construction and infrastructure in the country partly because of the level of partnership between the State and the company.
He said the close nexus between Lagos state and Julius Berger should be viewed from the angle of the first military Governor of the State and former Chairman of Julius Berger Plc, Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson who was instrumental to bringing the company into Lagos State.
Air Vice Marshal Nura Imam said Lagos is his home in every respect because he spent a substantial part of his military career in the city and considers himself as an indigene of Lagos who only needs a confirmation of the Oba of Lagos and the Governor, adding that having demonstrated uncommon transformational leadership in the State, it was the dream of many that he would eventually be tasked with the responsibility for the whole country.
Also speaking, the Managing Director of Julius Berger Plc, Mr Wolfang Goetsch who gave an insight into some of the construction works between the company and Lagos State said within the next five years Lagos will become an exemplary State in Nigeria in terms of construction.
He said the future looks very prosperous for Julius Berger which has not only doubled its turnover but has between the year 2007 and 2011 doubled its activities with over 15,000 workers on its payroll.
Also in attendance at the meeting were some members of the State Executive Council including the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr Obafemi Hamzat and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Engineer Ganiyu Johnson.