By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday met behind closed doors with Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State at the State House, Abuja.
Addressing State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting, the governor said that he updated the president on the progress so far made in the ongoing reconstruction of the state.
The reconstruction was as a result of the destruction and damages caused by the #EndSARS protests in the state in October, 2020.
According to him, the state government is already resuscitating small scale businesses through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund.
“It is a work in progress. We are carefully taking a proper study to know what we need to do, taking our time to get it right but we have started something.
“Some businesses that were affected, some people having their shops looted or burnt or something. We have 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 are talking about a period that is still under three months. So, its still a working document that we are doing right now and we also have to be very creative on how we raise the finance.
“We didn’t have money anywhere, you know it was toward the end of a financial year and we are just starting another year.”
According to the governor, to be able to complete the rebuilding process, the state government will need more support from both the public and private sectors.
“So, to be able to make budgetary provisions for these things and be able to raise required 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 have started supporting so that people can get back to life very quickly,” he said.
On the second wave of COVID-19, the governor stressed the need for Nigerians to take full personal responsibility because of the threat of the pandemic.
He added that the Lagos State government had already commenced the building of oxygen tents and plants to help reduce the number of casualties.
“We have seen, unfortunately, the fatality rate around the country, even in Lagos.
“One of the things we have 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 have commissioned about four or five of them.
“We are also building proper oxygen plants, additional to oxygen plants in the state so that we can meet the respiratory requirements,” he said.