It’ll Cost N1tr to Fix Lagos after Arson, Destruction – Sanwo-Olu

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Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila visits Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo_Olu, Sunday October 25, 2020, at the State House Marina. The Speaker sympathizes with the residents of Lagos State over the unrest, arson and looting that followed the alleged shooting of unarmed peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on Tuesday, October 20, 2020.
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Following the unrest, looting and destruction of private and public properties that peaked the #EndSARS protest in Lagos State, Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu says it will need not less than N1 trillion to rebuild Lagos State.

This was revealed by the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiaila, when he visited Governor Sanwo-Olu in Marina on Sunday to sympathise with the state, which quickly became the epicenter of last week’s pandemonium that brought down shops, court, business and transport assets, and the palace of the Lagos Monarch, Oba Ridwan Akiolu.

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Gbajabiamila, who visited along with members of the House of Representatives from Lagos, 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.”

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila visits Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo_Olu, Sunday October 25, 2020, at the State House Marina. The Speaker sympathizes with the residents of Lagos State over the unrest, arson and looting that followed the alleged shooting of unarmed peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on Tuesday, October 20, 2020.

During the pandemonium, arsonists had burnt down public assets that include 89 new buses of the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) that were parked in Oyingbo and Berger. The Commissioner for Information and Strategy Gbenga Omotoso, had put the cost of each of buses at about $200,000.

Other public assets destroyed are the multi-million naira forensic and DNA centre, the Igbosere High Court, local government secretariat buildings, and hundreds of other vehicles. These also include some other public buildings scattered across the state and street lights.

According to the Speaker of House, the destruction of properties is sad and should not occur again: “I came in from Abuja today, 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 to watch the documentary here put together, that evidences of 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,” he said.

Furthermore, Gbajabiamila stated that 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 the mantra that we have in the House of Representatives because if you talk about nation-building, we say it is a joint task.

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“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.

“On Tuesday, we talked in the House about compensation. I want to reiterate that the House will do all it can to make sure that everybody that has suffered from police violence – whether you’re from the North, from the East, from the West, because everybody in Nigeria has suffered from police violence, not just those of us from the Southwest. That will be applicable to all, including policemen that lost their lives in these unfortunate incidents.

“So, Your Excellency, we bring you good tidings and good wishes from Abuja. We stand with you. Whatever the House can do to help in rebuilding, not just Lagos State, but other states that have been affected as well from whatever part in Nigeria, the House will definitely join hands. Because we’re now in the situation of reconstruction.

“I want to encourage our young men and women out there that you fought a good fight, and I’m sure deep down, you’re not happy with what you’ve seen. The government listened, the president listened, the House listened, the Senate listened, the governors listened, it is now time to take stock and make sure this never happens again”.

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“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.

“A judicial panel has been set up, and I hope those who say this is what happened will have the courage to go before the judicial panel and say this is what happened and give credible evidence. And if that was indeed what happened, then, the law must take its course. But, if that was not what happened, the law must also take its course. Either way, the law must take its course”, the Speaker said.