April 8, 2022 Uncategorized 0

By virtue of the explicit provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), Nigeria is a democracy, having long ago departed from totalitarian rule in the garb of military regimes which administered by proclamation and decrees, akin to a dictatorship in medieval times.

It is a historical fact that Lagos State is part and parcel of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and it is also true that despite its small size, the yearly revenue that it generates consistently in the last five years, as published by the Debt Management Office (DMO) equals that of thirty other States in the Federation.

By providence, the State is a coastal state with marine access to Cotonou, Lome and Accra, making it a preferred location for commerce and thereby deriving enormous revenue (which if not coveted) ought to have been utilised to develop and provide vital infrastructures for locals, nationalities of other nation in the nature of what Dubai is to the United Arab Emirates. There are several other sources of revenue and the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is the highest in the country.

The incumbent Governor is His Excellency, ‘Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who succeeded His Excellency Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode before whom was Hon. Minister of Works and Housing, Babatude Raji Fashola, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). Each of this trio have governed the State and while the testimonials of the first two are engraved in the minds of the people and history, the last (Babajide Sanwo-Olu) is writing his own testimonial.

What legacies will His Excellency, Babajide Sanwo-Olu leave in Lagos State. So far, we remember the #EndSARS and the 21 Storey Collapsed Building in Ikoyi, that were badly managed that led to loss of many lives of budding youths who constituted the future of our nation. By providence, the issue of the resumption of tolling of the Osborne Ikoyi / Lekki Link Bridge has to be resolved to the satisfaction of the people of the Ibeju-Lekki axis of the State down to Epe and indeed the entire nation, because it appears to be a conflagration that may snowball into a conflict of the people against their (elected) government. And why is this so?

It is a fact that the Sanwo-Olu government has not been transparent, truthful or sincere with the citizens, as it were in terms of sources and total amount of revenue per annum of the State.

During a Live Show hosted by veteran broadcaster, Jimi Disu on 99.3FM radio station, the guest, Chief Kunle Uthman asked the following pertinent questions:

  1. What was the cost of construction of the Osborne Ikoyi / Lekki Bridge in local and foreign currencies?
  2. To date, how much has been paid to lenders and what is the balance due and payable?.
  3. Availability to the public of a copy of the Contract Agreement signed between the Lagos State Government and the Lekki Concession Company (LCC) and the Debt Buy-Back Agreement, whereby the Lagos State Government acquired (fully) the LCC.
  4. What amount did the LASG LCC collect as tolling for years prior to the #EndSARS protest that necessitated the stoppage of tolling?
  5. The economic realities, pains and trauma effected on Nigerian citizens at this time of global recession will not justify any form of additional road taxation on a bridge within a city.

99.FM studio placed a call to the Hon. Commissioner for Information and Strategy and he made the following commitments:

a) To avail the public, especially the guest a copy of the two agreements hereinbefore referenced.

b) To convey a Stakeholders meeting of all interested citizens that would be affected by the tolling of that bridge.

c) That the Stakeholders meeting will deliberate and make recommendations on the desirability or otherwise of tolling.

The Stakeholders meeting was held and the Lagos State team was constituted of: Hon. Commissioner for Transport, Hon. Commissioner for information and Strategy, Hon. Commissioner of Home Affairs and General Manager of LCC.

The President of the Lekki Residents and Stakeholders Association, Mrs. Ajibike Opere, Banky W, Mr. Macaroni, Falz, Chief Kunle Uthman, Barrister Segun Sulaiman and a representative of the Ibeju-Lekki community spoke on behalf of the residents.

The Lagos team stated that the residents of Ikoyi Bourdillon were complaining about the traffic gridlock, confirmed that LASG and LCC are one and the same, a workforce of 500 persons must be reemployed, thereby making tolling a necessity.

All the persons who were on the side of residents Stakeholders, hereinabove named categorically stated that the re-tolling of that bridge will lead to a conflict between the people and their government and therefore undesirable at this time. Furthermore, the traffic gridlock in the Ibeju-Lekki to Epe (Bourdillon, Ikoyi, Osborne) axis will be further complicated and convoluted, because the average commuting time presently is three hours, after close of work.

The LASG team promised to report back to government and will convey another meeting, during which period the equities and status quo will be maintained.

The meeting and its outcome was sensored and many of the correspondents in the print and electronic media who were at that meeting made reports favourable only to the LASG.

In breach of the gentlemen understanding, the LASG LCC mobilised several fiercely looking, combat ready armed policemen to the two ends of the bridge and on Live TV a Channels TV correspondent was assaulted and his glasses siezed on the authority of the CEO of LASG LCC. How did we get to this state of anomie where a government will tyranise its people with military force and executive coercion?

It is sadly strange and appalling that in a “Democracy” the people have no rights to express their views in the most civilised way?

It is a fact that no man can make himself Emperor or King; a people sets a man over it to the end that he may rule justly, giving to every man his own, aiding good men and coercing bad that he may give justice to all. The Social Contract theory of Rousseau (1712

  • 78) supplied the theory of popular sovereignty. He demonstrated once and for all that will, not force, is the basis of the State and that government depends on the consent of the governed – that civil society runs not on the consent of the ruler but of the ruled, which is an obligatory factor in modern democracies. Therefore, the Lagos State Government by its gestapo act of April 1, failed the test of “Democracy” and adorn the garb of an oligarchy and character of intolerance associated with military regimes.

What is a Democracy? A democracy may appropriately be described as a system of government under which the people exercise their governing power either directly or through representatives periodically elected by franchise. A “State” in context: may be described as a Democracy if it provides institutions for the expression and, in the last analysis, the supremacy of the popular will on the basic question of social direction and policy. In simple political parlance, Democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Is His Excellency, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos State a democrat and Lagos State by its acts a Democracy? The clinical answer based on the one term tenure (still ongoing) is a capital “NO!!!”.

As it were, the present government of Lagos State is anti-people, non-caring, insensitive, cannot maintain traffic with its corruption agency, LASTMA and a government driven by no other motivation than revenue generation? What truly have they done or are doing to justify the humongous monies as taxation, allocation from the centre and other sources of revenues?

In the circumstances, it was not transparent that His Excellency will choose a few persons, unrepresentative of those who attended the Stakeholders conveyed by his own officials to meet with him (privately) in the Lagos State House, whereby he stated unequivocally, assertively and unremorsefully that his Government will resume Toll Collection.

This is conduct, behaviour is tantamount to “Arrogance Of Power”, anti-democractic, thereby displaying the attitude of a 17 Century Oligarch or a modern day Vladimir Putin

  • “Am Right and they are Wrong”.

It is important that the Lagos State Governor, the Lagos State Government and the LCC, provide us with the information requested and not treat the citizenship with disdain, ignore, threaten, lampoon and cherry pick. Right can never ever be wrong.

  1. What is the amount collected on the Osborne Ikoyi / Lekki Toll plaza per annum average at the cost of: N800 (to and fro) per day single passage × 365 Days of the Year @ an average of 50,000 vehicles per day?
  2. What is the audited debt profile of local and foreign loan and how much has so far paid been paid and what is the balance?

It is important to note that Hon. Commissioner for Information and Strategy who promised to provide this information on Jimi Disu, Live 99.3 FM has failed, refused and neglected to avail us of this information, thereby His Excellency may be willing to provide to all and sundry answers, of which we are all entitled as of right.

This subject matter is not about the individuality of the incumbent Governor, who may triumph in the APC primaries, be reelected or resoundingly voted out of office. It is Democracy, Social Contract and infliction of pains on people who have been further impoverished in an economy where the Naira is vastly deprecated.

The Lagos State Government should once again listen to the cocophonously resonating defeaningly loud cries and voices of the people and find other sources of monies to

contest the forthcoming elections or risk being massively voted out, by an aggrieved populace of educated and enlightened Nigerians.

A Stitch In Time Saves Nine.

‘Kunle Uthman Esq. Barrister and Solicitor. Lekki Resident.

Lekki, Lagos, 7th April, 2022

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