South-West Governors have declared that the coordinated attacks on Lagos State were attempts to weaken the economy and common heritage of the geopolitical zone.
The Lagos State government, according to projection, would need at least N1 trillion for reconstruction following the massive destruction and wanton looting of properties by hoodlums in the wake of #EndSARS protests.
The governors and members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), yesterday, toured the public assets and private properties destroyed in Wednesday’s coordinated arson in Lagos State.
They commiserated with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu over the largescale destruction of public and private facilities by hoodlums who had hijacked the #EndSARS protests. The governors and ministers visited some of the torched assets – the Lagos High Court, the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) building and the Forensic Lab.
At a joint press conference held after the tour, chairman of South-West Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), likened Lagos to a war zone, given the extent of the destruction.
Akeredolu said the violence that resulted from the #EndSARS protest left much to be desired, stressing that there was an agenda beyond the youth’s demonstration against police brutality. His words: “We are deeply concerned with the ease with which public buildings, utilities, police stations and investment of our people have been burnt despite the proximity of security agencies in those areas.
The development leaves us with no other option than to believe that there may be other reasons for continued protests, well-coordinated and funded. “We are particularly worried that 48 hours after the unfortunate incident at the Lekki Toll Gate by persons adorning military outfit, there has been no definitive statement from the military authorities on the incident.
Our anxiety becomes heightened by the categorical denial of the Governor of Lagos State concerning the military deployment. No governor has powers to authorise deployment of military personnel in Nigeria.” The governors also condemned the attack on the palace of the Oba of Lagos and on National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and businesses in which he has interest.
Akeredolu said the regression into savagery exposed South-West’s vulnerability to manipulation by divisive elements bent on annihilating the region’s economic prosperity and destroying its common heritage.
The governors applauded Sanwo-Olu for his patience and the manner with which he handled the situation. The Forum demanded an investigation into the circumstances that led to the destruction of public assets and private businesses in Lagos. “We commend Governor Sanwo-Olu for his administrative acumen. We note his patience and understanding in the face of unwarranted provocation by agents of darkness.
“We stand resolutely with him at this trying period. We urge our youths to rise up and defend our land against diabolical incursion ravaging our space. We cannot continue to fold our hands and watch our heritage destroyed,” Akeredolu said. The governors disowned the war-mongering rhetoric of one Adeyinka Grandson, in a video circulating on the social media.
They urged the Yoruba and non-Yoruba residents in the South-West to disregard the threat of violence issued in the video, saying the “secessionist” had no authority to speak for the Yoruba.
On his part, Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), said the visit was at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that words were not enough to describe the extent of the destruction wreaked by the arsonists.
Fashola urged all Lagos residents to unite and collectively address the cause of the violence, stressing that the state government needed the support of all in unravelling the truth. Other governors in the delegation included Oyo and Ekiti states, Engr. Seyi Makinde, and Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
Other FEC members who visited Sanwo-Olu include Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare; Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora; Minister of Industry, Trade and Development, Niyi Adebayo; Minister of State for Niger Delta, Omotayo Alasoadura, and Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite.
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who paid a solidarity visit on Governor Sanwo-Olu, yesterday, stated that the destruction caused by the protests was a very sad event that should not occur again in the history of Nigeria.
Speaking on the value of the destruction, Gbajabiamila said: “The governor was telling me just now that it was going to cost about a trillion naira to rebuild Lagos.
That makes my heart heavy. And I asked the governor what’s the budget of Lagos State? What are you planning? And he told me that they’re planning a budget of about a trillion naira. “I came in from Abuja not just to stand in solidarity with him, but by extension, the people of Lagos State.
These have been very difficult few days. It has even been more difficult for me in the last hour. Driving in from the airport and sitting with the governor
o watch the documentary here put together, that evidences the carnage we all witnessed. It makes us all very sad. “This, certainly, is not the Lagos of our dream that we all talk about.
And I know deep down, and I believe no matter how brave a face one puts to it, that even the protesters have their regrets that things went this far, because from my understanding and from what I’ve seen, both those who are pro-protest and those who are anti-protest, were all affected. “There’s very little I can say.
But I know that standing with me is a man of courage, a man of destiny. Because it’s very unusual for you to come into office, and within a year a few months, you witnessed two calamitous events: first, you were in the epicentre of COVID-19, which you dealt with to the admiration of all.
“Whilst we were still grappling with that, you now became the epicentre of the protests. I want to encourage you to lift your head high, because you discharged your duties as a governor of a state that was troubled in the last few months, or close to one year.”
The speaker said he did not wish the incident to take an ethnic dimension having heard a lot of conspiracy theories about it.
“Let us shut our ears to those things. Let us focus as one people, whether you’re Igbo, whether you’re from the North, whether you’re from the South. This is our mantra in the House of Representatives, because if you talk about nation-building, we say it is a joint task.
“I want to also use this opportunity, in a way, to be grateful and commend our brothers and sisters from the North. I said this because if the North had been a part of this, I don’t know if we’ll all be standing here today. That’s why I commend our brothers and sisters from the North,” he said.
The Speaker said the true situation of what hap-pened in Lekki must be unravelled. “Your Excellency, the ground zero of what happened here is Lekki. That was what precipitated the violence and the carnage the following day. It is important to me, as I know it is important to you and to everybody, to know what exactly happened.
The speaker and his delegation also paid a visit to the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, whose historical palace was destroyed during the wave of violence that engulfed the state.
The delegation equally met with the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.