The Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said the task of rebuilding the infrastructure destroyed in the state at the wake of the #EndSARS protest in October would take some time to achieve.
Mr Sanwo-Olu spoke to State House Correspondents on Thursday, after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in his office at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The governor, who revealed that the state government had already commenced the rebuilding process with tasks he described as ‘low hanging’, like providing support to small and medium sized businesses caught up in violence during the period, however, said restoring major infrastructure rebuilding would take a longer time to achieve.
According to him, pooling resources from all possible angles and sources to tackle the task would have to be creative, coupled with the fact that the crisis that led to the destruction is still very fresh.
He, however, assured that the administration had its priorities about achieving restoration in the state all set out, adding that it would not fail to deliver to the people on the promise to restore the state, which is the nation’s economic nerve centre, back to its previous bustling state.
“It’s also some of the things I discussed with Mr. President. It’s work in progress. To take something down it takes one day, to rebuild it takes 10 years. It’s a journey, not a destination. And so it’s going to take a while. We are carefully taking a proper study to know what we need to do, taking our time to get it right but we’ve started something.
“Somebody having their shops looted or burnt or something. We’ve been able to directly begin to support such businesses, especially on a micro, small level, using the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund.
“They have started intervening and supporting some of these small businesses, giving them grants, giving them soft loans and making sure that they can come back together very quickly.
“The bigger, larger items around infrastructure, around transportation, they will take a fairly long time. We’re talking about a period that is still under three months. So, it’s still a working document that we are doing right now and we also have to be very creative in how we raise the finance.
“We didn’t have money anywhere, you know it was towards the end of a financial year and we’re just starting another year. So, it’s to be able to make budgetary provisions for these things and be able to raise required funding, both support from the private sector and also from the public sector, before we can begin to reconstruct some of those huge infrastructures.
“But we have them all focused and we’ll be tackling them. But the low hanging, as I said, are the small businesses that we’ve started supporting so that people can get back to life very quickly”, he said.
Speaking on the state government’s administrative plan to manage the second wave of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Mr. Sanwo-Olu said more attention is being given to providing more oxygen to meet the need of victims of the disease who are in the critical category.
The governor, who expressed alarm at the vicious nature of the new wave, pointing out that it had increased the infection and death rates, said his administration had also increased the risk communication level and further strengthened the reach of grassroots campaign and enlightenment.
He, however, tasked all Nigerians to begin to take responsibility for their conduct, charging all to pay serious attention to all the protocols and guidelines already issued as, According to him, signs out there leave no room for doubts about the existence of COVID-19.
“On COVID-19, it’s actually a very serious case. We’ve all said it, we are in the second wave and incidentally, the second wave seems to be a bit more infectious than the first one, I mean the rate of infection and the number of people that we have seen. We still remain the epicenter, so what we’ve done is we never stopped building capacity.
“So two things that we are doing now is communication and we are taking it to the grassroots to let people know that they need to take full responsibility and know that even for their loved ones they need to be real with themselves and know that COVID-19 is real, is with us and is not just something playing in their heads.
“We’ve seen, unfortunately, the fatality rate around the country, even in Lagos. One of the things we’ve realised is that a lot more people require oxygen attention, they need additional breathing aid, so we have started building what we call oxygen tent, oxygen facilities, we are building about ten of such facilities, we’ve commissioned about four or five of them and we are also building proper oxygen plants, additional to oxygen plants in the state so that we can meet the respiratory requirements.
“We understand more than where we were ten to eight months ago, so we know what the treatment should be so we are better positioned for that. We are also doing a lot more testing in Lagos than we were doing five to six months ago: we are doing almost 3,000/2,500 tests every day, so we are watching the rate of positivity that we have, which is also high, it has moved from the usual ten to twelve percent and we are now seeing positivity rate of about 25 and sometimes 30%. That is actually very disturbing.
“So we are positioning ourselves to be able to continue to make it efficient for our citizens. Yes, they’ll get it, but once they come in, sometimes it could be home care; you will get well at the end of the day. But the ones that are severe, because we have categorised the cases as mild, moderate and severe, some serious mild and severe cases that will need additional care, have to come to our facilities. These are some of the things that we’ve had the facilities ready for.
“I think the major thing is for our citizens to take responsibility and to know and appreciate that COVID-19 is real and they need to obey all the protocols that have been set out for them to obey,” he said.
Speaking about his meeting with President Buhari, he said “the President took very detailed notes, I was actually very happy. He gave me assurances that some of the points I have raised that I’ll be seeing some call-up or follow up either through the Chief of Staff or through some of the agencies of the federal government. It was a very useful meeting.”
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