•Massive urbanisation, deportation saga, collapsed buildings, plane crash, others top list
By MONSUR OLOWOOPEJO
In a few hours, residents of Lagos will join the rest of the world to usher in year 2014. This is with hope that the New Year will be better than the outgoing year, 2013, which was full of mixed grills for the Governor Babatunde Fashola-led administration and the over 21 million residents of the state.
Beginning from January 1, 2013 to December 31 (today) and from the North, South, East to the West of the state, the drive to strengthen the Megacity status of Lagos continued aggressively. The state government rolled out policies and handed over projects in all sectors- health, transportation, tourism, agriculture and others, with the impact felt by the residents.
This was made effective with the year’s budget of N499.605 billion that was approved and signed into law on the last day of 2012. A supplementary budget of N7.5 billion to buy back the concessionaire of the Lekki-Epe road from Lekki Concession Company, LCC, increased the Y2013 appropriation to N507.105 billion.
However, year 2013 exposed the dearth of basic infrastructure which include unavailability of potable water, shortage of furniture and dilapidated classrooms in public schools, inadequate road nexus, daily increase in demand for affordable housing units and high cost of market stall among others.
These odds have direct impact on travel time in the state, increased road side trading and slums like the demolished Ijora Badia, cholera outbreak and other communicable disease, fire incidents, and collapse of several buildings that were erected with poor building materials.
Also, this affects the academic performance and the psyche of pupils who pass through this education system, especially in public primary and secondary schools in the state.
Like 2012, cases of collapsed buildings was rampant. Vanguard investigation revealed that nine buildings-completed and under construction, collapsed within the year under review. The investigation further revealed that over 27 people died in cases of collapsed building in 2013, and left over 52 others injured.
Worried by the high cases of collapsed building in the state, Governor Babatunde Fashola on May 20, 2013 inaugurated a ‘Tribunal of Inquiry into Collapsed Buildings’ in the state and strengthened Lagos State Building Control Agency, LASBCA.
Six months after, the tribunal Chairperson, Mrs. Abimbola Ajayi while submitting the report of the tribunal said that 130 cases of collapsed buildings were recorded in the last six years. Since their inauguration, five buildings have collapsed.
The committee chairperson said flagrant violation of the state laws by the public, crass indiscipline and gross corruption was responsible for the high cases of collapsed buildings in the state.
Ajayi lamented that while the law “empowers the government agencies the system does not because of political, cultural, administrative and other interventions.”
She further blamed weak implementation of laws especially the 2010 Planning Regulation and Building Control Law, by relevant government agencies for different cases of collapsed buildings witnessed in the state.
The number of collapsed building in 2013 would have outnumbered previous year but for the intervention of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development through LASBCA, which sealed over 429 distressed buildings and halted construction works in 838 buildings that were under construction. All these, according to the Attorney-General and the Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye was to avert collapsed building.
Tragedy struck on Thursday, October 3, 2013 when a chartered Embraer aircraft operated by Associated Airlines with registration number SCD 361, conveying the corpse of former Governor of Ondo State, Chief Olusegun Agagu from Lagos to Akure for burial, crashed shortly after take-off at Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos killing 13 of the 20 persons on board immediately.
Three others died after, increasing the number of causalities to 16 persons including the Deji Falae, son of the Presidential candidate of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, in the 1999 election, Chief Olu Falae.
The crash came barely four months after the one year remembrance of the victims of Dana plane crash in Iju-Ishaga axis of Lagos State.
The anniversary held simultaneously in Abuja and Lagos, was attended by relatives of the victims and on-ground victims who witnessed the laying of wreath and unveiling of the cenotaph constructed in their honour. Though, the cenotaph in Lagos was marred by omission and misrepresentation of victims.
DEPORTATION OF IGBO TO ONITSHA
‘Deportation’ or ‘re-integration’ of destitute between Lagos State and its brother states has been existing since the commencement of democratic dispensation without notice.
But the issue came to limelight on July 25, 2013 when news of the alleged deportation enveloped the country’s airwaves that the Lagos state government had allegedly ‘deported’ 67 persons of Igbo extraction from the state to upper Iweka bridge, Onitsha in Anambra state, where they were dumped by the government officials..
The action of the Lagos State Government to dump the Igbo at about 2:30 am in Onitsha, immediately received condemnation from all quarters including the Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi, who petitioned the Presidency, demanding its intervention on the issue and the Onitsha branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA and the former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu who both threatened to drag the Lagos state government to court if she fails to apologise to the ‘deported’ Igbos in seven days.
Also, Pan-Igbo pressure group, the Enugu State Roots Initiative (ESRI) demanded from the state government provision of a befitting housing accommodation and payment of the sum of N500 billion as compensation to these ill-treated Nigerians, whom the Lagos state government said were Anambra indigenes.
However, the state governor, Babatunde Fashola debunked the claim saying “the state government didn’t deport but reintegrated 14 destitute to their native town.”
He said that the issue was a routine exercise that has been exaggerated to score cheap political gain.
Yielding to the demands of the various groups, Fashola tendered his apologies, even as he said that the action of the government was misunderstood.
Despite the apology, the 76 destitute who were allegedly deported, on October 16, 2013, dragged the Lagos state government to a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
They asked the court to declare that they, as Nigerian citizens were entitled to the enjoyment of their fundamental rights as provided for in sections 34, 35, 36, 37, 40, 41 and 42 of the 1999 constitution, as amended.
The hearing in the suit was fixed for January 29, 2014 and has also been assigned to justice Ofili Ajumogobia.
SACK OF CIVILSERVANTS AND LASTMA OFFICERS
Efforts to sanitize LASTMA and reed it off corrupt officials continued. The year witnessed the sack of 215 officials, who were found guilty of various offences including certificate forgery.
The government’s hammer went down at the early part of the year on 10 Central Business District, CBD, enforcement officers, who were relieved of their duty due to gross misconduct.
Sometime in April, the state government rolled out the names and pictures of 157 officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, who were caught in different unholy conducts that totally negate their work ethics.
Also, 48 workers were sacked for using forged certificates to gain employment into the civil service and other offences. At least, 35 of those sacked were based on certificate forgery, while others were sacked for misappropriating government funds, diversion of public fund to personal purpose and defrauding the public, loss of government’s vehicle and absence from duty without official permission.
LAGOS RESIDENTS’ REGISTRATION EXERCISE COMMENCE
In a bid to end the controversy over the actual number of residents in Lagos state, Governor Fashola on September 19, launched the Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASRRA) and its registration exercise.
Fashola said that the aim of the exercise was to create a central data base to capture the number of residents in the state. He lamented that “Data is the most demanding currency in the world today. It is the bases of information. But in Nigeria, a lot of data is gathered over the years but there are still many gaps in it.”
Vanguard gathered that over a million residents have been captured in the ongoing exercise, with over 200 stationary centers and several mobile outlets. At the last check, sources said that over 178, 636 residents have been registered.
TRAFFIC LAW RENDER 75 PERCENT OF OKADA RIDERS JOBLESS
Just a year after the promulgation of the road traffic law, the state government continued the enforcement of the law; impounding more commercial motorcycle operators. Also, tricycle operators were banned from operating on major highways in the state especially from Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja.
The war against the activities of Okada on the major highways have begun to yield result. Commissioner for health, Dr. Jide Idris said “3, 718 Okada related accidents were recorded between January 2012 and July 2012, that is, before the law was promulgated. While 2, 413 Okada related accidents were recorded between August 2012 and March 2013, with the peak in August when the law was yet to be fully enforced.”
But this enforcement has increased the rate of unemployment in the state. National President of MOTOAN, Mr. Ibrahim Ekunola said “I cannot say the actual number of Okada riders who are out of business now and roaming the streets. The number is reducing daily. But at least 75 percent of our members are out of job, due to the new road traffic law which banned our activities from 475 roads in the state.”
Ekunola added that spare parts dealers have also been forced out of business. And those who still have their Okada with them were having problem replacing worn out parts.
The national president lamented that the reduction was further intensified by the activities of officers of the Nigeria Police, who extend their enforcement beyond the restricted roads, explaining “they also arrest our members on unrestricted roads and this frustrated many who couldn’t withstand the pressure mounted by the enforcement officers.”