By Kazeem Ugbodaga
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday formally launched the Rebuilding of Lagos Trust Fund to rebuild Lagos in the aftermath of #EndSARS carnage in the State.
The eight-man Lagos Trust Fund committee is chaired by Yemi Cardoso, Chairman, Citibank Nigeria.
Properties worth hundred billions of naira were destroyed in Lagos by hoodlums during the #EndSARS violence.
Speaking at the event held at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium. Alausa, Ikeja in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, Osinbajo said never in the history of this nation has Lagos experienced mindless act of violence.
“The destruction of lives and property is a national tragedy and setback for the nation,” he said, saying that Lagos has been a non-oil revenue generating state.
He lamented that Lagos Port which generates most revenues for the nation was attacked, among several others, saying that in this darkest hour, there is cloud of silver lining.
“We have seen how EndSARS can be subverted and led to the exact opposite, we saw what can happen when anarchy occur. It is important we thoroughly investigate the deep construct that led to the carnage,” he added.
According to Osinbajo, “it is now time to rebuild Lagos, it is now time for private sector and others to rebuild. My President has said he would await report from Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to act, we are working with the National Assembly to jointly rebuild Lagos.”
Osinbajo said the assistance to be rendered by the Federal Government is for the part of the country affected by the violence, but noted that Lagos has to take the bulk because of the massive devastation that occurred in the State.
The Vice President said the reconstruction of Lagos and others goes beyond bricks and mortal, but to rebuild trust between the government and the people.
According to Osinbajo, the nation is in need of healing, which was why President Buhari approved judicial panel of inquiry, adding that the Lagos panel has the mandate to investigate Lekki shooting.
Speaking, Lawan, who was represented by Senator Olamilekan Solomon said the rebuilding of Lagos is germane, saying that if there is anything that could be done in the short term to salvage the situation, it is now.
Lawan said in the long run, Lagos State deserved a special status, and that it was time for everybody to join hands together rebuild Lagos.
Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor, Godwin Emefiele condoled with Lagos on the EndSARS carnage, while sympathising with those who lost their lives and properties.
He commended Governor Sanwo-Olu in his quest to rebuild Lagos after the devastation, saying all hands must be on deck to provide support for Lagos.
Emefiele noted that the takeaway from the recent unrest in the country is that stakeholders in the public and private sector must address youths unemployment.
Also, he hinted that key stakeholders in the Nigerian private sector under the auspices of CACOVID have brainstormed on the ways to prevent the effect of the recent unrest from eroding confidence in the country’s economy.
He added that to support the government in enhancing the security of the country, CACOVID alliance has committed to the rehabilitation and rebuilding of all the 44 police stations that were damaged as a result of the unrest.
In his words: “If youths unemployment is left unchallenged, it can provide a breathing ground for our youths to engage in nefarious activities that could be harmful to the progress of our nation. Our youths have immense potential, energetic and if well handled can catapult our nation to the forefront of leading nation’s in the world.
“We must therefore seek to promote increasing policies that will equip our youths in the right skills that will support innovation, employment and wealth creation.
“It is in this light that key stakeholders in the Nigerian private sector came together under the auspices of CACOVID to brainstorm of the ways to prevent the effect of the recent unrest from eroding confidence in our economy.
“I am pleased to note that CACOVID alliance will over the next week be unveiling a blue print that will details all of its support that will positively affect household and businesses. This is in addition to mention that will support the creation of jobs for our youths over the next five years.
“Though many parts of the country were affected but we all know that Lagos was most devastated. In addition, the CACOVID alliance is fully aware of the vital relationship between security and a prosperous economy. Greater economic growth will be difficult to attain in an environment with poor security. The damage done to police stations in different part of the country undermine the provision of adequate security which is vital to households and businesses.”
Earlier, Governor Sanwo-Olu said the violence witnessed at the end of October 2020 #EndSARS violence was the most widespread carnage the State had seen in decades; saying “not since the SAP riots of 1989 have we experienced such levels of destruction.”
“Every aspect of life and livelihood in Lagos was affected – government buildings offices, public monuments and historical archives, public infrastructure like our BRT buses, and, very sadly too, private property and investments – malls, shops, small businesses, residences and many more.
“Beyond the physical and economic impact, there has also been the psychological damage: the fear, the terror, the helplessness that all of the victims have felt, the questions about how or where do we start from. The violence has no doubt set our economy back by tens of billions of Naira, and impacted our confidence.
“We, have, however, found hope and great strength in the offers of assistance from far and wide, which culminated in the constitution of the Lagos Rebuild Committee to coordinate our efforts to rebuild and upgrade our state. Let me assure you all that we will bounce back. We do not have a choice, really. Because this is who we are, this is what Lagos is; a resilient people, an irrepressible city. This is our history, and our DNA,” he stated.
Sanwo-Olu said following the violent aftermath of the EndSARS protest, he constituted, by Executive Order, a Lagos
State Rebuild Trust Fund, to be run by an 8-member Committee, saying that as a follow-up, a Bill would be sent to the State House of Assembly, to enshrine the Fund in the laws of the land, and give it the necessary backing to accomplish its mandate.
“This is the very reason why we are gathered here today: To operationalize this Fund, by mobilizing resources from far and wide, for the singular purpose of rebuilding and restoring our dear City and State. We seek to restore the infrastructure that was destroyed, to revive the energy and confidence of everyone who has been affected by these
losses, to help restore the confidence of the people of Lagos in the infinite potentials of Lagos.
“But the State Government cannot do this alone. We need all the help that we can get, which is why we have invited you all here, and are grateful that you have honoured our invitation. We require the assistance of the Federal Government, from both the Executive and Legislative branches,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu appealed to the National Assembly to take steps to set aside funds for this task of rebuilding and restoring Lagos in the 2021 Appropriation Bill being deliberated upon currently by the Assembly.
He said the fund did not necessarily have to be for Lagos alone, “it can and should also take into consideration other states also impacted by the recent spate of violence.
Sanwo-Olu said Lagos needs a special status as was canvassed by the late Murtala Muhammed when the idea of moving the federal capital territory to Abuja came up.
He said if Murtala Muhammed as far back as then said Lagos required special status, how much now when the population had gone up.
“Even as far back as half a century ago it was clear that Lagos required a special status, considering its importance to the economy and the reputation of Nigeria.
He said Lagos would be making available a huge amount of money in the 2021 Budget to immediately
begin the rebuilding efforts.
“This, for us, represents that credible and very important step in the rehabilitation and restoration process; and
shows that we are willing, as a Government, to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak. But let me reiterate this, that our contribution though very substantial, is still quite very far away from what we require to make a dent on the burden that confronts us.
“Which is why we have invited you here to join hands and support us. With the public sector taking the rightful
lead in demonstrating commitment, we have no doubt that the private sector will strive to match that enthusiasm.
I strongly believe that the cohesive efforts and contributions of the private and public sectors will make it easier for us to rebuild Lagos State.
“These may be challenging times but with responsive and responsible leadership, we will overcome. We can make greater impact through our collaborative efforts in the shortest possible time. Today’s consultative forum is meant to set the stage for all the necessary Public-Private Partnerships and collaborations required for this task of rebuilding and restoration,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu said transparency and accountability would be foundational elements in the implementation of the mandate of this Committee, saying for this reason, the fund-raising and disbursement would have oversight from First Bank of Nigeria Trustees Limited.
“Along with the Board they will ensure that there is maximum accountability and value recorded for every Naira raised. In this rebuilding process we will be asking ourselves some necessary questions. For example, we will seriously be exploring the use of technology to improve urban security and better safeguard all that we hold dear, and to digitally preserve historical archives that until now have existed only in physical forms. We have a duty, in rebuilding, to ensure that the new which will be replacing the old is fitting for the 21st century.”
Speaking, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila said all hands must be on deck to rebuild Lagos.
He said the National Assembly would push the Federal Government to commit funds for redevelopment of Lagos and other places devastated by the #EndSARS violence across the country.