First civilian governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande at the weekend urgedÂ all stakeholders involved in the issues arising from the expanded Lekki-Epe toll road toÂ embrace dialogue.
The elder statesman who said this at his Ilupeju residence expressed happiness on the recentÂ inauguration of a committee by Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) to look into all the issuesÂ involved in the project.
Alhaji Jakande, who recently marked his 81st birthday, described Governor Fashola as aÂ committed and humble person who has a clear idea of his goal and what he intends to do forÂ the people of Lagos State.
â€œLet me say first and quite frankly that I am impressed by Governor Fashola. In manyÂ respects, he has made himself a name. Many people did not know that he is capable, asÂ gallant as he was, because he was in the civil service.
â€œBut my impression of him is that he has a clear idea of his goal and he pursues the goalÂ with determination. He is dynamic and humble; he is very much committed to development. IÂ feel that he has been a credit to us in Lagos Stateâ€.
While endorsing Governor Fasholaâ€™s second term in office, Alhaji Jakande declared, â€œI lookÂ forward to another term of office to enable him to complete his assignment. I hope he willÂ get itâ€.
On the Lekki-Epe Expressway, Alhaji Jakande called for dialogue and consultations betweenÂ Government and those opposed to the tolling of the expanded road.
He expressed joy that the state government has already made wide consultations and discussedÂ extensively with the stakeholders on the issue but urged more publicity and dialogue toÂ convince the protesters that the project is in their own best interest.
Jakande who constructed the first road on the Lekki corridor, declared, â€œThe important thingÂ is that the total area of Lekki has developed beyond recognition and it is still capable ofÂ being developed. My advice to government is to carry the people along and let themÂ appreciate those circumstances that led to the tolling system. In my experience, LagosiansÂ will cooperateâ€.
On the cancelled metroline project proposed by his administration, the ex-governor said,Â â€œMetroline is one project I regret was stopped by the military. But we had established aÂ corridor where the metroline would pass even before the project was cancelledâ€.
The former governor said Lagos would remain very relevant in the development of NigeriaÂ pointing out that years after the capital territory of Nigeria was moved from Lagos toÂ Abuja, the State has continued to act as melting pot of the whole federation.
â€œLagos is a creation of God. Lagos cannot be wished away or in any way reduced in stature.Â The reason is that if we go back to the history of Nigeria, those years when the struggleÂ for Independence started, all the great Nigerians who fought the battle, Herbert Macaulay,Â Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Akintola and others, all passed through Lagos. Lagos was the pioneerÂ capital of Nigeria,â€ he said.
â€œLagos is still recognised as the economic capital of Nigeria while Abuja is the politicalÂ capital. As the economic and commercial capital of Nigeria, Lagos has come to stay and itÂ has no rival. One can, therefore, say that Lagos and the people of Lagos have no regrets forÂ the change of political capital. On the contrary, the people themselves, with all theÂ connections that have been made, make Lagos a must for any political system that we have.Â Lagos will continue to be among the leading states of the federationâ€.
Meanwhile Governor Babatunde Fashola yesterday cautioned critics of the concessioning ofÂ Lekki/Epe to have a rethink as the state cannot progress without public/private partnershipÂ (PPP) ventures.
Governor Fashola, while speaking at the opening of the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi Gallery andÂ Library, locatedÂ close to Afrika Shrine, Agidingbi, Lagos, decried the state of roads inÂ the country and how the challenges of maintaining them have overburdened the variousÂ governments.
He also said in other countries of the world, roads were concessioned to private firms forÂ management and maintenance.
Explaining why PPP is important, Governor Fashola said: â€œwe ran a communications industry inÂ this country for almost 50 years and we could not talk to ourselves. They could not collectÂ bills and could not send them.
â€œImmediately we allowed the private sector into it, you get your telephone bill now on yourÂ telephone. That is efficiency for me and our lives have changed through that communicationsÂ model in more ways than one.