- “It is not going to change unless we roll up our sleeves, pull up our boots and go and make the change”, he says
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Tuesday officially opened the new Corporate Headquarters of BusinessDay Media Limited christened “The Brook”, in Apapa with a call on Private Sector Operators join the Public Sector in order to provide leadership to regenerate the country.
Governor Fashola, who expressed regrets that all the knowledge needed to invigorate the public sector has been deployed to the private sector, said unless such a transfer of knowledge was made from the Private sector; the much needed changes in the public sector would never be realized.
He told the gathering of Media Executives, captains of industry and top government functionaries, “People have said that there is a leadership problem in Nigeria. Perhaps, I am willing to make concession towards that argument but I am not willing to concede that there is lack of leaders in our country. Unfortunately, we have deployed one of our most important assets, our human capital, in a place where we need them least”.
“They have all gone to the private sector. It is human capital and knowledge that initiated the idea of The Brook. But this is not where that knowledge is needed more now. It is needed more in the Public Sector because it has proven its mettle in the Private Sector. From the Daily Times and New Nigerian and some state-owned newspapers, that capital has gone to the Media and transformed the information management, Print and Electronics”, he said.
According to the Governor, “We now have alternative to NTA. And it has also gone into Banking and from the time when it took three days to get a bank draft, you don’t even need to go to the bank any more. Otherwise they would still be telling us we needed tally number. That is how far we have gone and it is because some people rebelled against the status quo”.
Noting that the Public Sector needs dynamic leadership, the Governor declared, “If the Public Sector is hurting so much, I think some of us must leave the comfort zone of our offices and go and turn it around. The capacity to do it is there and it is not going to change unless we roll up our sleeves pull up our boots and go and make a change that I know that we have the capacity to do”.
Pointing out that the investment by BusinessDay would not have been possible if there was no Apapa Model City Plan, the Governor said government took the initiative to regenerate the area knowing that urban development is a dynamic event adding, “Perhaps within one generation after each generation it becomes compelling to review Land Use policies having regards to economic needs”.
He recalled that Apapa was Nigeria’s first industrial estate where the economy of the country started to take shape but expressed dismay that the area has been subjected to neglect by the Federal Government in spite of the revenue it continues to reap from it “not only in billions but in hundreds of billions and sometimes trillions”.
“And the question simply to ask is that what kind of managers make that kind of business there and do not put it back there. If this is really one of the geese that lay the golden egg it should not be starved of sustenance. But that is the tragedy of our economy”, the Governor said.
Governor Fashola said the complaints of residents of the area concerning their inability to get to their homes as a result of illegal parking of trucks and businesses on the highways spurred his administration to take the initiative to intervene adding that the Government had already started the regeneration of Apapa in accordance with its Model City Plan for the area.
However, according to him, “No sooner had we started than we noticed that tankers were extending into people’s homes to park and investigations revealed that concessionaires had said they could not park at the Ports again”.
Describing the situation in Apapa when Government intervened, Governor Fashola said, “Human beings were living on the major highway in Nigeria’s first industrial estate and dealing in all the natural issues that human beings deal with right there on the highway in a 20th Century Nigeria”.
“But because I lead a team that does not give up, we started the clean up. And it is important to say it here that as soon as we started, the Federal Government came within 48 hours and they said they were ready to help us and we held meetings in my office. But after that, in spite of two letters to follow up, they have not come back. I was later told they were angry that we were taking the media credit for doing the work; that was why they didn’t come”, the Governor said.
He regretted that the situation has been compounded by the need for fuel which could only be got at the depots and the tank farms which, according to him, “are themselves a danger” noting that as a result, it has become difficult to uproot the tanker drivers and free traffic in the area.
“So we are damned if we do and we are damned if we don’t do. If the tankers go, citizens can’t get fuel; if they come, citizens can’t move. So it is no longer a battle with NUPENG. We are served a menu of difficult options. But we must dine. We won’t live without fuel that is the reality”, the Governor said adding, however, that it is possible through technology for everybody to get fuel without seeing tankers.
Congratulating the BusinessDay Group for the achievement, Governor Fashola thanked the company for investing in the Apapa Business District saying locating the Corporate Office in the area was an expression of confidence in the economy of the State.
“It confirms to me and my team that if we do the right things, the issues that made life a little more difficult for ordinary people can be solved by the convergence of efforts. If government gets it right, leads appropriately, entrepreneurs will invest and if entrepreneurs invest, they will employ people and young people will find work”, he said.
Earlier in his welcome address, Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of the BusinessDay Group, Mr. Frank Aigbogun, thanked Governor Fashola and the State Government for providing the enabling environment in the Apapa area for the company to make the investment there adding that such would have been impossible without access roads and free flow of traffic.
He recalled that when the construction of the Brook was on some guessed that it could be an oil company while others thought it could be some other blue chip foreign investor but, according to him, “The Brook is a spring, a place of replenishment where we hope to grow BusinessDay from just a newspaper to a full-fledged knowledge company”.
Also present at the occasion were Publisher and Chairman, Vanguard Newspapers, Mr. Sam Amuka, Chairman Phillips Consulting, Mr. Foluso Phillips, Chairman Debi Oil, Mr. Imo Itsueli, Media Executives and Captains of Industry as well as top government functionaries including the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Aderemi Ibirogba
SPECIAL ADVISER ON MEDIA TO H.E
APRIL 1, 2014