Babajide Sanwo-Olu is taking over the mantle of leadership probably at the most trying period in contemporary history of Lagos State. He is assuming office at a time when the state, more than before, is experiencing unusual population explosion on one hand, collapsed infrastructure and weak institution/agencies on another hand.
An unscheduled visit to many Lagos suburbs like Ikotun, Oworosoki, Iba, Ajah, Ajangbadi, Igando, Okokomaiko, Ayobo and many others, one is bound to see thousands of restless human beings at every bus stop on daily basis. Among them are unemployed tertiary institutions’ graduates, tertiary institutions’ drop-outs, secondary school leavers and drops-out as well as un-skilled labour and stark illiterates. Also among them are bandits in the name of commercial motor-cycle operators displaced by the current ban on commercial motor-cycle operators in the northwest part of the country.
The alarming increase in the state’s population is no doubt the root of increasing criminal activities undermining peace, security and stability in the state today. Be it kidnappings, cultism, armed robbery, money rituals, cyber-crime etc, they all have their roots in the un-checked and unregulated population of the state where all manners of people troop to the state on hourly basis with little or no hope for means of livelihood. Credit must be given to former Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola who recognised the danger that unrestricted influx of people pose to the state, even though he applied un-constitutional measure of returning some of them to their states of origin. It is a time bomb Sanwo-Olu cannot afford to ignore.
Societies all over the world, especially mega-cities like Lagos, can only be made functional and efficiently serve the people through efficient institutions, laws and other forms of productive regulations. This was well understood by the visionary and foresighted Bola Tinubu when he created agencies and institutions like the state Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA), the Waste Management Agency (LAWMA), the Citizen Mediation Centres and so many others, which help in no small measure in the delivery of good governance in the state till today. It should just be imagined how Lagos would be if these agencies and institutions were not established by Tinubu.
Today’s Lagos needs new laws, new agencies and institutions to handle new and emerging challenges in the state. For instance rising youth-associated crimes like cultism, gang supremacy fight, kidnappings, ritual killings cyber-crime, rape, increasing school drop-out, drug addiction etc.
The Sanwo-Olu administration should pay serious attention to the inner roads across the state. They are of serious significance to the vast majority of the several thousand that defied the early morning rain and the afternoon sun to cast their votes for him in the last governorship election.
It was because they felt that he could reach them faster than candidate Muhammadu Buhari when they gave him more votes than they gave Buhari. These inner roads have more direct impact on the business, economic social and education life of the vast rural dwellers. These are the roads where you find most of the commercial motor-cycle operators in the state; they are the roads children of the poor take to school.
It should no longer be government (made) by the masses for the elites, but for all.
No doubt the state government may be overwhelmed by the large number of inner roads to rehabilitate. This is why the governor may consider the establishment of an agency to handle direct rehabilitation of some of these roads using the services of experts, technicians and artisans in some of the ministries. Some states have recorded some measures of success story using this model.
The new Lagos helmsman should take steps without delay to revive and strengthen the Department of Public Works in all the local government and local council development areas in the state. They should live up to their name as local council development areas. New tractors and other related equipments should be procured by these councils while the moribund ones should be refurbished. The councils should be made to return to the glorious past when PWD was PWD.
One very disturbing thing that I have observed is the fact that when some of these roads were at the level of minor damage, when they could be fixed with a small amount of money, it is either they were not brought to the notice of government or government failed to act on such notices. This is certainly where the direct labour agency and the PWD should be very useful. They should be mobilised to fix some of these roads before they completely go bad and require huge resources to fix them.
In order to make the above work, the new governor should appoint all senior government workers from grade level 13 and above as honorary ambassadors or representatives in their areas of domicile with a mandate to submit bi-monthly reports of state of government facilities, especially roads in their areas.
This government must strive to rid the state of criminalities and criminal gangs and one of the best approaches is to develop strategies capable of nipping crimes in the bud when they are at the level of conception, not when they are ripe or ready for execution. This is where the institution of the traditional rulers and leaders must be maximally taxed. Criminals, including armed robbers are not spirits, they are human beings who have landlords/landladies; they have co-tenants and neighbours. In this regard, all traditional rulers in the state must be compelled to hold regular village-square meetings with all residents in their domain, where it would be compulsory for every house to be represented by at least a resident if the landlord is not resident there. Apart from this, each Kabiyesi must be compelled to hold a general meeting twice with all house owners in their domain, including those who are not resident there who must be summoned via letters.
It is not enough for traditional rulers to hold meetings with their chiefs because these chief don’t even met with people living around; they don’t even know them. Is it not curious and worrisome for instance to know that notorious kidnap suspect, Evans and his gang-members were using and living among the people in an apartment in Jakande Estate around Isolo for years? This community has a traditional ruler and chiefs co-existing with these notorious suspects. Government may also consider sanctioning any traditional ruler in whose domain gang and cult wars are recurrent. The government may also consider introducing whistle blowing as part of measures to check gang/cult banditry and kidnappings in the state, where the blower would be protected and also handsomely rewarded.
Most criminal activities are often planned around hotels and guest houses. There is the urgent need to carry out more intensive surveillance on these facilities with the use of plain-clothed detectives as using uniform security personnel will immediately give them out.
To complement the work of security personnel, each traditional ruler should be compelled to hold periodic security meetings with owners/operators of hotels/guest houses in his or her domain.
There is urgent need by the new administration to redefine the mission and operational schedule of the recently re-branded Lagos State Security and Neighbourhood Corps with a view to making the personnel more of crime detectives in local areas as against their current job of guarding offices and serving as guards to traditional rulers. Government should consider decentralizing the outfit to have their offices or locations in say a group of four or six CDAs (Community Development Associations) as the case may be.
A special unit of this outfit could be created to serve as community secret detectives that will go out in twos or threes in the evening to neighbourhood beer parlors and joints for the purpose of bursting crimes.
The governor must hear this: In Lagos the law only functions and operates during the day, usually between the hours of seven in the morning and seven in the night. In some areas especially in the suburbs, it goes to sleep as early as 4p.m, once public servants closed for the day. Law enforcement agents that may be found beyond 5p.m, apart from the police, are LASTMA personnel and may not operate beyond 7p.m and such operation is usually around the city centres. Sanwo-Olu must give to Lagosians a Lagos where critical agencies work for 24 hours as done in other mega-cities all over the world. There is urgent need for a Lagos where the law works 24/7. [THE NATION]