POLITICAL ECONOMY

LSHA Counsels Lagosians On Effective Management Of Post COVID-19 Opportunities

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Encourages Them To Explore E-commerce, Adapt To New ICT Potentials, Others

By Clifford Agugoesi, Editor-in-Chief

Lagosians have been charged not to allow the paralysis on their lives and livelihoods, occasioned by the recent #ENDSARS protests and the wantom destruction of lives, livelihoods and infrastructure that followed them and the tripodal shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic namely dwindling oil and tax revenue, contraction in global trade and economic recession, sink in, but rather look into the effective management of the various post-pandemic opportunities such as business creation by exploring e-commerce, adapting to the new information and communication technology(ICT) potentials, acquiring relevant skills or education, while government must also invest more in

e-governance to facilitate a more efficient and robust governance.

This is the unified key message that the honourable members of the Lagos State House of Assembly(LSHA) are taking around to their constituents in a combined effort by leaders at all levels of society to flatten the COVID-19 curve and keep massive loss to lives, livelihoods and property, southwards. Cyber Era can authoritatively report that a uniform brochure was adopted by the law-makers while each of them was mandated to stick to the message without prejudicing the peculiarities of their specific constituencies. Each of them was to deliver the key note address, as well.

At the Constituency Stakeholders’ Meeting with the theme: Post-COVID-19 Pandemic: The Challenges and Prospects, held at Christ Church Cathedral Primary School, Broad Street, Lagos, south west, Nigeria, on Thursday, October 29, 2020, the honourable member representing Lagos Island II, Olanrewaju S. Afinni, did not deviate from the template approved by the LSHA as he also complied with protocols established by both the Presidential Committee on COVID-19 and the local COVID-19 committee.

Hon. Afinni said: “It would be recalled that on the 27th of February 2020, the first case of Corona Virus was detected in Lagos State and subsequently, the House on the 2nd of March of 2020 passed a resolution commending the Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu and his team for their prompt response in addressing the outbreak of the disease in the state.

“In its collaborative efforts to stem the tide of the pandemic and bring a new lease of life to Lagosians, the House being the embodiment of the representatives of the people invited the Commissioner for Health, alongside the Chairmen and other officials of the Local Governments/Local Council Development Areas to brief the Assembly on the efforts made so far to combat the pandemic in the state.

“The House further approved the sum of N20billion COVID-19 Intervention Fund aimed at containing and managing the spread of the virus in the state as well as mitigate its effect on Lagosians. This legislative support coupled with individual palliative efforts of Honourable Members in their various constituencies has had a great impact on the successes recorded so far in the fight to effectively contain the ravaging disease.

“The economic headwind generated by the COVID-19 pandemic also necessitated the approval of the House for the reordering of the Y2020 Budget to provide necessary support for business owners, the vulnerable members of the society and improvement in healthcare facilities.

“To ascertain the level of preparedness of academic institutions in the State before the government officially reopen schools in line with guidelines on COVID-19 protocols, the House mandated its relevant committees to embark on fact-finding assignment to different schools. While the government is taking steps to bring life back to normal we urge every citizen to obey all regulations guiding the containment of COVID-19 in the state in order to free our society of the pandemic which is limiting opportunities in in many areas.”

The LSHA in their brochure also brings Lagosians up to speed regarding the disaster that struck the state over the past two weeks and their intervention efforts. Hon. Afinni read: “On the 8th of October, 2020 at the early stage of the protest, the End-SARS protesters were addressed by the Deputy Speaker of the House and when they insisted on meeting with the Speaker, the Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa at about 12 midnight same day addressed the protesters and immediately convened an emergency session to consider their demands. The session was held the following day on Friday 9th October, 2020, where the House resolved to:

i) Call on His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari , GCFR, President, Federal Republic of Nigeria to direct the Inspector-General of Police to :

(a) Proscribe the Special Anti-Robbery Squad(SARS) and establish a new outfit which will be more efficient with code of conduct and rules of engagement clearly spelt out; and

(b) Ensure that culpable officers of SARS at State and Federal levels are punished in accordance with the extant law;

(ii) Call on the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command to:

(a) Protect the protesters and ensure that they are not molested; and

(b) Stop unwarranted molestation of our youth by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad.

“The resolutions were conveyed to the Governor and the President and it is pertinent to note that the Federal Government promptly adopted virtually all the resolutions of the Assembly.

“However, it is painful that rather than allow the successes achieved by the Assembly’s intervention to be fully implemented, some miscreants hijacked the protest and decided to take laws into their own hands, unleashing mayhem on the state by destroying the means of livelihood of citizens along with significant number of private and government property. These miscreants, with virtual impunity looted shops and malls including government warehouses where COVID-19 relief packages were kept, killing innocent citizens and our gallant policemen as they razed down Police Stations, private homes, public utilities and infrastructure. They further attacked and desecrated traditional institution and our common heritage.”

Already, the Lagos State Government has said it will take an estimated N1trillion to rebuild Lagos, from the point of view of the Executive Branch. What is the perspective of the LSHA? Hon. Afinni comes handy: “There is no doubt that all of these colossal damages and loses which would run into hundreds of billions of Naira would impact negatively on our economy and consequently on the citizens. While we sympathise with those who have lost persons and property, we appeal to everyone to remain calm and embrace peace and dialogue. On this note, I wish to inform you that the House after visiting the scenes of destructions across the state has urged the Government to consider compensating the victims of the tragedy, while setting up an Ad-Hoc Committee to investigate the matter with a view to preventing a recurrence of the mayhem.”

In his personal capacity, other than giving out palliatives to constituents, Hon. Afinni announced the establishment of an Endowment Fund to help assuage the plight of victims. Explaining the modality for the take-off of the fund, Afinni said he estimated each victim would receive about N150,000.00. This proposition is going to guzzle a lot in monetary terms so how is the fund going to be raised? Hon. Afinni told Cyber Era in an inclusive chat with journalists that he was reaching out to friends and associates and that the response he was getting was encouraging.

The Lagos Island Constituency II Town Hall Meeting, in all its intents and purposes, truly fit the bill for a dialogue as the following bullet-points distilled from the input of attendees, validate this objective claim:

  • There is inadequate security in Lagos Island East Local Council Development Area and the help of governments at the state and federal levels are needed.
  • Thuggery in Lagos Island East Local Government is worrisome.
  • The education system in the country nay Lagos Island East Local Government is in comatose.
  • Empowerment of youths will help depopulate hoodlums and miscreants in Lagos State.
  • There is the dire need to reduce the incidence of drug abuse at all levels of society.
  • There is the need to demotivate kids from seining agberos as role models and mentors.
  • Thugs do not vote at elections and are a bad optics in our electoral experience.
  • There is need to reintroduce Islamic Religious Knowledge(IRK) and Christian Religious Knowledge(CRK) at all levels of our educational system.
  • Looters are killing themselves and the Nigerian Police Force is showing minimal or no interest in checking these.
  • Youth-targetted measures are not reaching this critical demographics.
  • Good roads and constant electricity supply from the national grid will help security-boosting efforts.
  • Good parenting is good but the society should take every child as their own and abolish ‘omo buruku’ mentality.

Again intervening, Hon. Afinni announced that he has concluded plans to produce and show short documentaries on the adverse effects of drug abuse as a way of keeping the incidences of youth-drug abuse cases southwards.

Earlier in his opening address at the Town Hall Meeting, the Chairman of Lagos Island East Local Council Development Area, Comrade Kamal Salau-Bashua, stated that Lagos Island 1 and 2 were most hit by the wantom loss of lives, livelihoods and damage to infrastructure. Comrade Salau-Bashua said these moments were not the best for the two local governments and reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to protecting lives and safeguarding property.

“We know the perpetrators of these mayhem. We will go after them. We know the extent they can go. If they are not caught they will do more.” The Lagos Island East LCDA boss stated he was in support of the Federal Government in scrapping the Special Anti-Riot Squad(SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force, but without necessarily dabbling into the politics of the dissolution, made a special case for a ‘superlative force’ to combat these boys in Lagos Island .”

On the awry side, not many of those who attended the event wore their facemasks, giving the impression the COVID-19 pandemic was over when it definitely is not. Also, DJ Midy’s judgment that playing ‘Nigeria jaga jaga’ momentarily did not gel with the organizers and attendees alike, who kicked and ensured the music was silenced with ‘with immediate effect’.

All in all, there was a seeming concensus that there is a big disconnect between the government and the governed at all levels of government. Those who spoke at the Town Hall Meeting, that drew participation largely from leaders of the governing All Progressives Congress(APC), did so passionately that the enduring message from the interaction would be: let everybody try and perform their civic responsibilities without fear or favour. But, is everyone listening?

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