BY OLASUNKANMI AKONI
LAGOS—In memory of the victims of 2002 Ikeja Military Cantonment bomb blast, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, yesterday, named the newly constructed Ejigbo-Ajao estate link road, in Oshodi-Isolo Local Government Area as ‘January 27 Link Bridge.’
Families of victims protest
However, some families of the victims, numbering about 20 stormed the venue with placards of different inscriptions, to register their complaints over their exclusion from the lists of beneficiaries of government’s compensation.
Fashola, who made the declaration at the official commissioning of the link road, led other dignitaries to observe a minute silence and prayers in remembrance of more than 1000 victims of the dark Sunday, that occurred 12 years ago, saying, it was avoidable if the Federal authorities in charge had been alive to its responsibilities.
He recalled that “women, men and children perished in the Oke-Afa canal, because a national government led by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, failed to do its duties. There is no other excuse by it. That was their responsibility to manage bombs and explosives and to look after the Nigerian Military, but they dropped the bombs.
“Since then, they have pretended as if nothing was wrong,” the Governor said.
He added that the central government’s silence prompted his government to intervene by rebuilding the schools and hospitals located within the Ikeja Cantonment which were destroyed by the explosions.
Speaking at the inauguration of the link road, Fashola, said it was another fulfillment of promise of the state government in 2002 to open up the area as part of the administration’s drive to renew inner city roads.
“Few months the political arena of choice for Nigeria has become very active and it is important to connect people with the choices they have made, the promise we have made and are delivering and continue to tell them that promises are meant to be kept and not disregarded.
“My predecessor promised you then that day that a bridge will be built to link Ejigbo to Ajao Estate, I have come here today to fulfill that promise”, he stated.
Responding to the call for compensation made by some families of victims of the bomb blast, Fashola said it was impossible for government to compensate survivors of victims every year, however, assured that genuine beneficiaries not yet captured before now would be captured soon.
“No amount of compensation that we pay that can bring back the lives of those that we lost and as much as we are willing to do so, you must assist us to verify who the real beneficiaries of compensation are”, he added.
Earlier, Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, said the essence of the road is to eliminate congestion along the Ejigbo corridor to enable travelers from Ikotun connect to the Airport Road without going through Isolo area.
He said a recent study of the road showed that travel time has reduced by about 75 minutes, just as he revealed that the governor had approved the Ati-Okoye and Kolawole Shonibare roads within the link road for immediate reconstruction.