*Urges traditional rulers to support fight against drug abuse, crime
*Reels out projects, plans at 9th town hall meeting
*Okays repair of 43 major link roads affected by rain
By Adeyemi Robinson-Adefioye, Lagos
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, on Tuesday said the State Government stands solidly behind the position of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on the issues of devolution of powers and the need to entrench true federalism.
Governor Ambode, who spoke at the Fourth Quarter, 2017 Town Hall Meeting, the 9th in the series, held at the SUBEB Proposed Permanent Site in Kosofe Local Government, said the clamour across the country for restructuring was not out of place as the current political structure was seriously hindering Nigeria’s development.
Tinubu, at a forum held in Lagos recently, backed the calls for devolution of powers and the need for the nation to truly adopt the practice of true federalism, submitting that it was the surest way to correct the nation’s power imbalance and quell the agitations for secession.
The Governor, while responding to a question raised by a resident on calls for true federalism said, “I support true federalism; I support all the issues raised by Asiwaju; we are on the same page. That is the page of APC; that is where we are and that is what we are committed to. Like I have always said, we need to deal with issues that relate to devolution of powers. Like somebody said, if I have more resources, all these items that you are coming to raise here, once you raise it, I will just say done. I need more money. So, why should somebody be saying they are the ones in charge of inland waterways when the waterways is transporting my own people and my own services and when there is a law about it”.
Governor Ambode also questioned why despite the existence of Hotel Occupancy and Restaurant Consumption Law enacted by the Lagos State House of Assembly, there were still attempts from the central government to regulate hotels and entertainment centres in the State, a situation he said was an anomaly that should be addressed accordingly.
“We enact a law and somebody says he wants to do another law that regulates hotels inside Lagos. Is it not because of the roads that they put hotel there? That is what devolution of power is saying. If these things are on residual list, let Local Government and States deal with them. That is all that we are asking for. It’s not that we will generate Value Added Tax (VAT) here and somebody will be sharing 50 per cent of the VAT somewhere else.
“So, obviously that is the whole idea behind this agitation for true federalism, devolution of powers and the need to use it to liberate ourselves so that we can get more prosperous; so that our people can be more comfortable and it is all about the welfare of our people. Our people have said that we should do this work and we must be able to speak on your behalf on the things that really matter to all of you,” he said.
Alluding to the fact that the last four months of the year, popularly called the Ember months usually spring up security challenges, the Governor charged Traditional Rulers and community leaders in the State to join hands with the State Government to wage a total war against all forms of crimes as well as drug abuse in their various communities.
He said his administration will not relent in its efforts towards reducing the menace, adding however that concerted efforts from the traditional rulers and community leaders, who are closest to the people, were very pivotal to achieving the desired result.
“We are in October and we are going to December, naturally, when it gets to the ember months, somehow traditionally, crime rate go up but in the last two years, we have been able to reduce crime rate when it is coming to December.
“I want to appeal to all our traditional rulers and other community leaders; there is a need for us to support the Neighborhood Safety Corps. Also our volunteers and the people should now be more vigilant and then cooperate with our security agencies to maintain law and order. I want to reduce the crime rate to the barest minimum and I know that we are going to engage a lot of our youths in end of the year activities to make sure that peace continue to reign in Lagos,” the Governor said.
Besides, Governor Ambode also implored the various Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to increase their awareness campaign on the dangers of drug abuse, saying that there was an urgent need for them to also join the fight against all forms of domestic and sexual violence.
“Like people already know, we are at the forefront of fighting drugs, sexual abuse and violence against women and children, we will not relent in fighting these menace in the society. I believe strongly this is the time to talk to our children; I believe strongly this is the time to talk to our wards and even those who are around us that this time around, the State Government is ready to fight crime in all its ramifications,” he said.
The Governor also commended residents for their continuous support to his administration, saying that it had gone a long way in driving the various infrastructural development programmes implemented by the State Government.
He particularly commended the efforts of some community associations who have taken the initiative to start up projects in their vicinity, assuring that aside recognition from the State Government, his administration would ensure that such projects would be supported to ensure realisation.
Governor Ambode also tasked chairmen of the 20 local government and 37 local council development areas to look into the welfare of persons living with disabilities and the elderly, saying that the all inclusive mantra of his administration must be felt in every part of the State.
The Governor, who reeled out some of the major projects embarked on by his administration in the last quarter which include commencement of the reconstruction of Oshodi International Airport Road, construction of Pen Cinema Flyover, opening of the DNA Centre, appealed to residents on inconveniences being experienced as a result of ongoing projects and assured that they would be completed on schedule.
He said the State Government was deeply concerned about the traffic situation in Apapa area in recent times, saying that efforts would be put in place to address it, just as he said that 43 major link roads affected by rain would be rehabilitated before the end of the year.
Among dignitaries present at the event include Senator Gbenga Ashafa, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, former Deputy Governor, Prince Abiodun Ogunleye, former Speakers of the House of Assembly, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Hon Jokotola Pelumi, APC Chairman in Lagos, Chief Henry Ajomale, Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu I and other major traditional rulers, members of the State Executive Council, among others.