Creation of new wards to correct imbalance in Delta – Okowa

Creation of new wards to correct imbalance in Delta – Okowa

Delta Governor, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, on Friday, said the ongoing process for the creation of new wards in the state was to correct the imbalance in ward delineation in some local government areas.

The governor made this known in Asaba, at a Town Hall meeting with representatives of #ENDSARS protesters, civil society groups, students, social groups, community youth leaders and other stakeholders in Delta North Senatorial District.

He explained that by existing law, every local government area in the state should have a maximum of 20 wards, adding that the ongoing process by Delta State Independent Electoral Commission (DESIEC) was to correct some wrongs.

Okowa expressed optimism that the Electoral Bill would be signed by President Muhammadu Buhari this time, and said that the refusal to sign it before the 2019 general elections was political.

For any election, he appealed to leaders to build consensus or conduct free and fair primary elections for aspirants to avoid imposition of candidates and to ensure that youths didn’t spend much to contest in the processes.

“I agree that there is need to re-work our electoral processes but we need to re-engineer our minds because we have lost it and it’s time we began to talk to ourselves.

“The electoral amendment law wasn’t signed because of politics but I am sure it will be signed this time and so as youths, you must get yourselves engaged so that we can get them closer into politics,” he stated.

Okowa told the youths that politics was about learning along the line and picking the good things seen in good politicians and throwing away the bad.

“You must truly begin to organise yourselves in truth with a common goal and focus and whoever you select must stand for the common good of others.

“We are building a new Nigeria with the youths and we must shun acts capable of reducing us when we leave office.

“We will continue to allow youths, including females, to be part of the governance process because in learning you are building yourself for the future.

“If you are a youth and you want to be active in politics you must respect your leaders and you must learn to pray a lot.

“I am encouraged to see many more youths go into politics and I hope it is for the right reasons. I know we have some youths representing their people but are they showing examples to others?

“The act of leading requires deep thought, sincerity and leadership quality because there is a difference between an orator and the person who is able to lead,” he said.

On agitation by the youths that Delta’s contribution to the daily oil production quantum of the country should be declared, the governor said that the state government had made representation to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) for the information.

According to him, the state government has written to DPR but we are yet to receive a response from them.

He deplored the delay by DPR in providing the information, saying that such delay was part of the demands by #ENDSARS protesters in the state, because it is known that new discoveries of oil wells were made in the state recently.

“We have written to DPR to correct the abnormality; we have not heard from them, but we will intensify efforts towards ensuring that they review it because it is not right to continue to rely on the same oil production quantum.

“We have had lots of new discoveries and oil production in large quantities in several communities and these have not been factored in the state’s production quantum,” the governor said.

Earlier, Commissioner for Youths Development, Comrade Ifeanyi Egwunyenga, had in his welcome remarks, said “the more we increase the active participation and partnership with young people, the better they are served”.

He added that the town hall meeting was designed to establish a sense of communication between the government and the youths in realisation of the critical role they played in nation-building.

Participants at the meeting agreed that the ENDSARS protests were as a result of impunity of security operatives, particularly the extortion and brutality by the disbanded SARS and corruption at all tiers of government, resulting in hardship in the country.

They called on the government to sponsor regular programmes on fundamental human rights and for the introduction of fundamental human rights in school curriculum.

The youths also called for the revamping of all farm settlements in the state to engage more youths in agriculture.

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Fellow Lagosians,

1. On Saturday, March 9, 2019, you demonstrated great confidence in me and in our great party, the All Progressive Congress, APC, by overwhelmingly electing me as the 15th Governor of our dear State.

2. For me, it remains a humbling privilege to be the leader of a government that you freely and massively elected into office. I remain truly grateful for your trust and confidence.

3. You will recall that in my acceptance speech, I told you, dear Lagosians, that while the victory may bear my name, because it must bear a name, it actually belongs to you.

4. One year on, that view has not changed. This government is and will continue to be for you and about you; about your welfare, and our collective future.

5. Good people of Lagos, in my inauguration address, I promised you a ‘Greater Lagos’. Today, on the first anniversary of that inauguration, it is my pleasure to brief you about the progress we have made in the journey towards a ‘Greater Lagos’, using the THEMES agenda as our vehicle.

6. As you are aware, Traffic Management and Transportation is the first leg of our THEMES Agenda. Considering the pivotal role of transportation as a major driver of socio-economic activities, our goal is to develop a reliable intermodal system of transportation.

7. Consequently, we are investing in waterways and a light rail system as long overdue alternatives to our roads. On February 4th, 2020, we made a giant leap in our resolve to develop an integrated transport system by officially commissioning eight new, state-of-the-art ferries, to kick-start our expansion of the LAGFERRY Service.

8. Since then we have seen a remarkable increase in the number of commuters on our waterways.

9. Similarly, with the successful completion of the elevated sea-crossing track of the Blue Line Mass transit project, at Marina, Lagos, late last year, construction work has begun on the final phase of the scheme. The project is critical to the achievement of our vision for intermodal transport.

10. Dear Lagosians, I am also pleased to inform you that the plan to construct the 4th Mainland Bridge is equally on course. Recently, we shortlisted eight out of the over 30 firms that expressed interest in the project. In the coming weeks and months, you will certainly hear more on this all-important project.

11. We are also working to make our roads better. Several roads have been rehabilitated while others are at various stages of completion. The Oshodi-Abule- Egba BRT Corridor, the Pen Cinema Bridge, the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, the Agric-Ishawo Road and the four junctions’ improvement projects at Allen Avenue, Maryland, Ikotun and Lekki among others would soon all be ready for public use.

12. A major highlight of our intervention in roads was the commissioning of a network of 31 roads at Ojokoro area in December 2019.

13. We are not resting on our oars; more completed projects are slated for commissioning in the coming days. These include: The Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) for our Bus Reform Scheme at Ikeja and Oshodi Bus Terminals; The Oshodi Abule-Egba BRT Corridor; Oyingbo Bus Terminal; Concrete Jetty with Shoreline Protection and Waiting Shelter at Baiyeku, Ikorodu LGA; Fadipe/Salami/Eyiowuawi/Odubanjo Streets in Shomolu LGA; Alhaji Akinwunmi Street in Mushin LGA; and Adagun-Imeke-Iworo-Ajido-Epeme Road in Badagry LGA.

14. I must express my satisfaction with the quality and progress of work on the transport infrastructure projects across the State. I urge the good people of Lagos to remain patient as we work to complete all of them to give you a better motoring and commuting experience.

15. On traffic management, we recruited and inducted 1,017 LASTMA officers to achieve better flow of traffic and reduction in travel time.

16. In order to sustain current momentum in the public transportation sphere, we ask for the cooperation of every resident of the State, especially in obeying Traffic Laws, for our collective good.

17. Fellow Lagosians, without a doubt, in the last 365 days, so much has happened in our State that we must be proud and thankful for.

18. In the area of unhindered access to healthcare – which is the second pillar of our Agenda – we have commissioned two Mother and Child Centers (MCCs) at Eti-Osa and Igando respectively. In the next couple of weeks, the Badagry and Epe MCCs will also be ready for public use.

19. For us, nothing should be spared to give Lagosians quality health care. The compassionate side of our government can best be captured by understanding the life-changing impact of the free medical interventions we have undertaken and continue to undertake to bring succour to ailing residents.

20. In our first 200 days in office, the Lagos State Government, working in collaboration with the BOSKOH Health Mission International and the Benjamin Olowojebutu Foundation, delivered diverse free medical interventions to over 250,000 Lagosians across several locations in the State.

21. Closely linked to Healthcare, for us, is the state of the Environment. This is why we are working hard to ensure a flood-free Lagos. We have carried out extensive dredging and disiliting on many drain channels across the State, and we will continue to do this even as the rainy season intensifies.

22. In the area of Education, our Third Pillar, our investment in revamping and upgrading infrastructure in the sector continues with the following completed projects ready for commissioning: 18 Classroom Blocks at Muslim Junior College, Egbe, 18 Classroom Blocks at Maya Secondary School, Ikorodu, 18 Classroom Blocks at Eva Adelaja Junior Secondary School, Bariga, Block of 20 Classrooms at Bashua Military School Primary School, Shomolu, 13 Classrooms at Saviour Primary School, Ifako-Ijaiye LGA, Block of 20 Classrooms at Ayanleye Memorial Primary School, Ifako-Ijaiye LGA and Block of 6 Classrooms at Ansar Ur Deen, Ibonwon, Epe.

23. Similarly, we have equally made remarkable inroad in the training of teachers for 21st century competence. Through the EKO EXCEL training initiative, 3000 primary school teachers have been trained on how to competently utilize technology in teaching, for better educational outcomes for our children.

24. The results have been amazing. Enrolment rates into our public primary schools have risen, while attendance rates have also improved remarkably. I have visited some of our public schools to see EKO EXCEL at work, and I am happy to report that we are on a transformative journey in public education in Lagos State.

25. Next is Technology. With the current trend in the globe, we are also keen on making Lagos the fortress of digital enterprise, an urban hub of technology-driven creativity, innovation and commerce, which in turn becomes a magnet for domestic and foreign investment.

26. To this end we have set up the Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC), with start-up funds in excess of $600,000, to drive investment in research and development of tech-focused solutions across the six pillars of our administration’s THEMES agenda.

27. With this structure in place, tech start-ups and young innovators in the State now have the opportunity and available funding to push their entrepreneurial skills to the next level.

28. Dear Lagosians, the Greater Lagos we promise you is a Megacity that is fully and confidently a 21st century economy. This is the thinking that has propelled us to sign a $629 million financing facility aimed at completing the Lekki Deep Seaport project. When that project is completed, Lagos will have one of the most modern and capable Ports not just in Africa but in the world.

29. It will stimulate the local, national and regional economies, and earn a well-deserved place as a container transportation hub in Africa.

30. A 21st century economy is one that is capable of meeting the housing needs of its people. In the area of housing, four major housing projects are now ready for commissioning. They are:

a. LagosHoms, Igbogbo Scheme with 360 home units comprising 120 1-bedroom, 120 2-bedroom and 120 3-bedroom apartments;

b. Lagos State Affordable Public Housing Scheme, Topo, Badagry with 252 2-bedroom apartments;

c. Courtland Villas, Behind Alhaji Femi Okunnu Estate, Igbohushu, Lekki with 120 units of 4-bedroom Maisonettes and BQs; and

d. Lekki Apartments, Ikate-Elegushi, Lekki.

31. On January 30, 2020, we handed over apartment keys to 492 beneficiaries of our administration’s maiden rent-to-own housing scheme at the Lateef Kayode Jakande Housing Estate, Igando. It was, indeed, a joyous moment not only for the beneficiaries, but for me as well.

32. More housing schemes will be delivered in the coming months. We are very excited about our housing schemes because not only do they provide homes to people, they also create jobs for multitudes of people who work as artisans, tradesmen and labourers on these projects. This fully ties in with our commitment to resuscitate excellent craftsmanship by making opportunities available for people to be trained and to demonstrate their training.

33. In the area of agriculture and food security, we have done so much, with initiatives such as the Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project (APPEALS) which is designed to build the capacities of actors in the Rice, Aquaculture and Poultry Value Chains, enabling them to become large scale producers and processors of rice, fish, eggs, and poultry. When the Imota Rice Mill is completed at the end of this year, it will be a game-changing addition to Nigeria’s ongoing rice revolution.

34. Being the smallest State in Nigeria, we may not have the land potential that other States have, but that will not stop us from maximizing the development of what we have as well as the full development of our great potential as a processing hub with ready access to the largest market in West Africa.

35. We are also strengthening the capacity of our farmers through the Lagos Agripreneurship Programme (LAP), the Sea Food Festival and the Eko City Farmers Food Market. The provision of extension services to farmers is also a priority.

36. The final pillar of our Agenda, is Security and Governance. Our goal is Transformational Security, using Technology. We are revamping our Security Command-and-Control Center, and investing heavily in security cameras and improved data-gathering and processing, to stay permanently ahead of crime and criminality.

37. By this, we are sending a strong message of deterrence to all potential criminals. The Lagos State Security Trust Fund will continue to be the arrowhead of our interventions in security in Lagos State.

38. We are also partnering with neighbouring States, and one important step in this regard is the establishment of the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN), which has been codenamed ‘Operation Amotekun’. You will begin to see the full operationalization of the scheme in the coming months.

39. Dear Lagosians, the future, no doubt, looks bright. We are taking sure and steady steps towards the realization of the ‘Greater Lagos’ of our aspirations.

40. While we are not yet where we want to be, it is clear that we are not where we used to be. We must use the successes we have recorded in the last one year, to inspire us to even greater collective effort to make life better for all of us.

41. And as we make progress in our quest for a ‘Greater Lagos’, certainly more challenges lie ahead. Of what essence is life without obstacles? Which leads me to the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic, already described as the most disruptive occurrence of our lifetime.

42. It has been a very challenging period, for all of us: Government, businesses, offices, schools, places of worship, and citizens. Lagos State remains the epicenter of the pandemic in Nigeria. We are still seeing an increase in infection figures, and this trend is likely to continue for a while longer, before we are able to succeed in flattening the curve.

43. Dear Lagosians, against this backdrop, let me stress this fact: that there is no reason to panic or be alarmed. The current situation does not mean that things are out of control. It rather reveals the effectiveness of the new testing, tracing and tracking approaches and strategies we are adopting.

44. One clear testimony to our doggedness in combatting this pandemic is in the over 555 patients we have discharged since the Index case.

45. Your support has been inspiring. I thank you all very much for standing by us.

46. Of course, the war is not yet over. Even when we start to see a decline in the number of new cases we must not be lured into the illusion that the worst is over.

47. Between now, and the months ahead, we need to be very cautious in the way we act and attempt to resume life and business. We cannot afford, at any time over the next few months, to make a mess of all the hard work we have done.

48. Dear Lagosians, as I give gratitude to God for this day, and remain truly grateful to all of you, kindly permit me to thank my darling wife, Ibijoke, my children and extended family for their unflinching support and love.

49. I would also thank our great Party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the opportunity to be their flagbearer, for the foundation of a people-focused manifesto, and the constant support and encouragement.

50. My personal gratitude goes to the dogged National Leader of our great party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; our National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; all our Distinguished Senators and Representatives at the National Assembly; as well as the State APC Chairman, Alhaji Babatunde Balogun.

51. My heartfelt gratitude also goes to my brother and co-traveler on the Greater Lagos journey, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat and his lovely wife, Mrs. Oluremi Hamzat. My appreciation also extends to all my colleagues in the State Executive Council.

52. To our Judiciary, led by the Honorable Justice Kazeem Alogba, thank you for being strong partners in progress.

53. I am equally grateful to the Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Mudashiru Obasa and all the esteemed members of the House.

54. I thank all our Local Government Chairmen, Councillors, Party Chairmen at the Local Government, and all the members of our party across the State whose unwavering belief in our ability and commitment has helped keep the party’s flag flying strongly in the State, in the last two decades.

55. Let me also express profound gratitude to the Public Servants who work day and night, often behind the scenes, to translate our lofty vision into practical and visible progress; as well as all our Royal Fathers and all our spiritual leaders, whose wise counsel and prayers have been a steady source of strength.

56. Special thanks also go to the ladies and gentlemen of the Press, you have been extremely supportive in conveying our vision and narratives of a Greater Lagos to the public.

57. May we all live to see and partake in the progress and prosperity of a Greater Lagos.

58. Thank you all for your attention.

God bless Lagos State

God bless

Babajide Sanwo-Olu

Governor of Lagos State

June 12, 2020