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by Deji Abidoun
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, on Sunday alleged that President Goodluck Jonathan had spent five days in the state, holding meetings with different people and doling out monies in hard currencies wooing for votes.
Consequently, the governor described the president’s alleged outreach to different groups including traditional rulers, cooperative societies and market women among others as an act of desperation.
Fashola, who spoke after inspecting some ongoing projects in Ibeju-Lekki and on Lagos Island yesterday, expressed disappointment at some statements credited to the president at meetings with the interest groups at the State House, Marina.
He said: “I want to assume that he did not make a statement that he would deliver Lagos residents from bondage. The question to ask Mr. President is whether he had come to free them from bondage.
“He was here for five days meeting with different people and groups, distributing money in dollars. It is an un-presidential statement made in an act of desperation. That means he lived in bondage in five days if he had come into the state to free people.
“If he can live here for five days moving with patrol vehicles that we paid for, let him go and spend five days in Chibok and he will know what bondage is,” the governor said while reacting to statements credited to the president.
While inspecting a new cemetery in Ibeju-Lekki, the governor openly disclosed that he bought his own vault where his remains would be buried when he joined his ancestors more than four years ago.
He observed that death “is a necessary end that will come when it will come”, quoting Shakespeare, saying there is need for people to prepare for it. “We are here to inspect a cemetery. We often do not like to talk about, but there is a need for it because the population continue to expand and the Lekki sub- region is growing very fast.
“If you look at Ikoyi Cemetery, Abari Cemetery and all of that are more than 100 years old, they were built by colonialists and left behind for us. When you look at the way they have also managed them, many families cannot even visit the vaults where their loved ones are resting.
“We have this strategic partnership now with private sector. The investors are going to deliver a cemetery like no other. They will manage it and make the cost also competitive. There will be high, medium and low density vaults for people who really want to make a statement at their exit.
“It is the truism of life that everyone who comes must go so as we are building hospitals, roads, schools imbibing survival strategy we must also plan for the end. This sounds as something people do not want to discuss. I have bought my vault. It surprises people. I paid for it four years ago. As I always tell people if you come here for life you must plan to go. Those who do not want to go should not come.”
At the inspection of Lagos Court of Arbitration, the governor noted that plans had been concluded by his administration to unveil the first international arbitration court in West Africa sub- region, saying the compelling need to resolve trade disputes locally rather than travelling to London and Paris informed the setting up of the centre in the state.
According to him, “this is the place for dispute resolution. It is the Lagos Arbitration centre. We could save a lot of money and create employment through this court. We have lost a lot of funds to other countries in terms of arbitration in the past. When dispute arise in Nigeria, the preferred place is either Paris, France or London, United Kingdom.”
He, therefore, observed that the centre “is nothing special there. All we need is to create a centre that will have the necessary reputation. We have the personnel because some of the best arbitrators in the continent are Nigerians. We also have the economy for the arbitration because a lot of construction, development and Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects are ongoing. Dispute from there could be resolved here.”
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