From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Following the destruction of property during last year’s #EndSARS protests, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has said that the rebuilding of affected properties has started.
According to him, already resuscitating small scale businesses through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund has begun.
Addressing State House Correspondents soon after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday, the Lagos governor, said: ‘It’s work in progress. To take something down it takes one day, to rebuild it take 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.
‘Some businesses that were affected, 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.’
Governor Sanwo-Olu further said, to be able to complete the rebuilding process, the State government would need more support from both the public and private sectors.
‘So, to be able to make budgetary provisions for these things will require 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 will be tackling them. But the low hanging ones, like I said, are the small businesses that we’ve started supporting so that people can get back to life very quickly,’ he said.
Commenting on the second wave of COVID-19, Governor Sanwo-Olu encouraged Nigerians to take personal responsibility because of the threat of the pandemic, adding that the Lagos State Government is already building oxygen tents and plants to help reduce the number of casualties.
‘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 epicentre, 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 tents, 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,’ he said.
The governor said Lagos State understands COVID-19 now more than where it was ten months ago, hence it knows better how the treatment should be.