From Segun Amure, (The New Diplomat’s Abuja Bureau)
The Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Thursday met with President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss plans on how to rebuild, restore and reposition Lagos after the #EndSARS protest of October, 2020.
Recall that the EndSars protest, a social movement against police brutality in Nigeria was held in October shortly after the country celebrated her 60th years Independence. The movement seeks the immediate disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a notorious unit of the Nigerian Police with a long record of abuses.
The government in its response to the yearnings of the protesting youths disbanded SARS but the Lagos State government has been counting its loss as hoodlums hijacked the protest and burnt off government properties which includes- BRT buses, Police stations, houses, business facilities among others.
Sanwo-Olu in his address to the State House correspondent said his administration had commenced plans on how to reposition Lagos.
“We had begun the rebuilding process of Lagos by providing support to small and medium scale businesses caught up in violence during the period,” he said.
“It’s also some of the things I discussed with Mr. President. It’s work in progress. To take something down it takes one day, to rebuild it takes 10 years. It’s a journey, not a destination. And so it’s going to take a while. We are carefully taking a proper study to know what we need to do, taking our time to get it right, but we’ve started something,'” Sanwo-Olu added.
On business revitalization, he said, “Businesses that were affected, somebody having their shops looted or burnt or something. We’ve been able to directly begin to support such businesses, especially on a micro, small level, using the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund.”
He said: “They have started intervening and supporting some of these small businesses, giving them grants, giving them soft loans and making sure that they can come back together very quickly.”
On infrastructure, Sanwo-Olu noted that his administration will achieve full restoration of infrastructural deficit within the period of three months. The Governor added: “The bigger, larger items around infrastructure, around transportation, they will take a fairly longer time. We’re talking about a period that is still under three months. So, it’s still a working document that we are doing right now and we also have to be very creative in how we raise the finance.”
The Governor said the state has been having tough time generating the resources needed to rebuild the affected infrastructures and aid investments. Sanwo-olu said: “We didn’t have money anywhere, you know it was towards the end of a financial year and we’re just starting another year. So, it’s to be able to make budgetary provisions for these things and be able to raise required funding, both support from the private sector and also from the public sector, before we can begin to reconstruct some of those huge infrastructure.”
Speaking on his administration’s efforts to tackle the Covid-19 disease, Sanwo-Olu said more attention is being given to providing more oxygen to meet the need of victims of the disease who are in the critical category.