May 29, 2011 – On Tuesday 26th April 2011, a day that will certainly stand out in our political history as a super Tuesday, you humbled me, our Party, the Action Congress of Nigeria and our State House of Assembly candidates by returning all the 40 (forty) candidates presented on the platform of our Party to the House of Assembly and electing me with 1,509,113 votes which now stands as the highest number of votes ever delivered for any candidate in any State in our political history.
On behalf of our Party and my elected colleagues, I thank you all sincerely for your support and the very overwhelming mandate you have handed to us; and we accept it with all the responsibilities that it brings.
I understand the import of that mandate. It is a mandate in support of the continuation of the transformation we have collectively achieved in the last 4 (four) years.
It is a mandate for good governance. It is a mandate for the continuation of the people oriented policies that takes us daily towards the brighter and rewarding future.
Let me assure you all that as leader of the team, I cherish the mandate, I am fully conscious of the import for your hopes and aspirations and I remain as committed today as I was in 2007 to do my very best to remain worthy of this mandate.
We achieved this progress by building a Government whose commitment to law and order was unmistakable and unequivocal. We will require an even greater commitment to law and order not only to sustain what we have achieved but also to progress upon it.
It therefore becomes inevitable for me to renew my commitment to law and order as the most important pre-condition for the achievement of all our aims and aspirations.
We will invest in security and safety to further reduce crime; and we will be fair, firm and uncompromising in enforcing the laws.
If we must equal and exceed the standards of those societies by whose performance we assess ourselves, and I am certain that we can, then we must all reach a consensus from today to play by the rules, such as paying our taxes, driving in the proper way and on the proper lanes, trading in the proper and designated places, building only in proper and designated places and doing everything in accordance with the rules.
As a Government, our task in meeting your expectations will certainly be made more easy if we all submit ourselves equally to the rules and regulations of our daily interactions and businesses, because not only will voluntary compliance reduce our cost of enforcement and citizens’ contact with law enforcement agents, it will leave your Government with more time and resources to focus on developmental issues that improves our lives collectively; a lawful and orderly society will certainly benefit more people.
The truth is that where there is disorder only a few who operate outside the law benefit and where there is order, not only is there hope and lawful expectation of benefit, the lesson of history is that many more people find an opportunity for benefit and the realization of their expectation.
It is perhaps also important for me to state that while we will do our best to run an inclusive Government, we must remain mindful of, and balance the enormous costs associated with running a large Government, with the aspiration of an all inclusive Government.
Our policies and programmes have never sought and will not seek to discriminate against any person.
We understand our limitations as human beings and our inability sometimes to fully forsee and accurately predict the encompassing ramifications of the implementation of some of our policies and programmes.
Whenever these policies occasion discomfort, I appeal to you to see them as sincere efforts to make things better and urge you to bring forward your complaints for any redress that may be possible without seeking to take the laws into your own hands or interpreting those policies as being specifically targeted at any group. That is not our way.
Our decision making process has always and will remain driven by the consideration of what gives the greatest good to the greatest possible number of our people.
I have taken some time to deal with the need for law and order because I am convinced about the enormous opportunities that lie ahead if we work together to sustain it.
I am also mindful of the challenges of youth unemployment as a result of the problems that have beset our national economy.
While we will continue to be innovative and evolve and expand policies like the Agriculture Youth Empowerment Scheme, the Lagos Ignite Programme, Technical and Vocational education, and our skill acquisition and microfinance schemes, our Government sees the unemployment of young people as a challenge to be addressed and not as a license for young people to take to crime or to act outside the law.
Our State as small as it is in land area, is home to the 5th largest economy in Africa, ranking after 4 (four) African countries including our country, Nigeria, and certainly second to no sub-national Government on this continent.
Clearly therefore, if we are patient and manage our assets and resources properly there will be enough for everybody.
The increasing positive local and international reviews that our State has been receiving and the contacts and enquiries that I have been receiving from within and outside Nigeria point to an increasing excitement and interest about and in the possibilities of Lagos and Nigeria.
It is therefore in our collective hands to reap the benefits that lie ahead by working together peacefully and using our enormous diversity as the strongest assets for achieving our prosperity.
Let me also say that I am very conscious and mindful of the weight of your expectations about our ability to deliver. I certainly understand this.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, when this journey started sometime in August 2006, only the Architect of the journey, the Controller of all voyages, our Almighty Creator, could have foreseen where we are today.
At the inception of this journey, we committed to only one mission. Eko o ni baje!
We reached out to you in all the 57 (Fifty Seven) Local Governments, with the leaders of our Party from ward to ward, and within the shortest possible time we had become the issue and the party to beat.
We made informed promises based on our superior understanding of how Government worked and the resources that were available.
Our promises were practical, honest and sincere. We did not promise to solve all the problems but undertook that we would certainly not be found wanting in effort and that a brighter and rewarding future lay ahead after the 2007 elections.
Today, I stand before you, extremely humbled by your support, your sacrifice and you unwavering commitment for 4 (four) years, but equally very proud to assert that we have delivered on our promises to you and exceeded them in many instances.
Our Party’s control of Government has grown from one State in Lagos, to 6 (six) States today, that includes, Edo, Ekiti, Osun, Ogun and Oyo State.
In 2007, very few of us were known to you. But today, we have become like goldfish. We have no hiding place. We understand that you will not settle for less and we are committed to give you nothing but the best.
However, let me advise that in all these expectations, we will be limited only by resources especially those of a financial nature that are available to us, and certainly not by our own complacency, passion or desire to work hard to serve you.
The cost of running Government has escalated as a result of many upward reviews of wages of staff across sectors and also as a result of the new minimum wage prescription.
While I am pleased that we made those investments in our public service and expect that they will reward you the tax payers with improved productivity and even better service delivery; our revenues have unfortunately not grown in such proportions and it therefore suggests that we will have less to spend on capital projects until we find other sources of revenue of generations.
It is important in managing this expectation therefore for all of us to constantly remind ourselves that while your Government will not relent in its efforts, we cannot solve all the problems at once.
What should matter therefore is not whether problems exist, but whether Government is responding to these problems and whether those responses are yielding results where they are implemented and not whether everybody has benefitted.
In other words, we appeal to you to be patient with us, and to judge our performance not only by the fact that we may not yet have reached you, but by whether we are responding in some areas and positive change is happening as a result of those responses.
In this regard, we acknowledge that while many roads have been built, there are areas we have not reached and there are inner roads that require attention and I commit before you today that as many as we can fund will be restored to motorability for as long as we have the opportunity to serve you.
The same commitment applies to our school programmes, our healthcare programmes, street lighting, water supply, property registration, market development, drainage construction and canal clearing to mention but a few.
As the new Government settles down, more detailed pronouncements on policies in these areas I have mentioned and those I may have omitted will be announced and implemented, but I assure you that like in the first term, I will do my best, with your support and co-operation to keep my electoral promises to you with regards to consolidating on the gains of the last few years, accelerating and hopefully expanding and completing existing projects like the Eti-Osa-Lekki-Epe Expressway, the Lekki Free Trade Zone, the Lagos Badagry Expressway, the Lagos Light Rail Project, and many other roads projects, while we expect to increase the reach of the BRT and the ferry services as our major jetties reach completion stage.
The accessible and affordable housing and market schemes driven by reasonable mortgage tenures, the expansion of access to potable water supply, and waste water and sewage treatment will be at the forefront of our developmental and budgeting initiatives.
Distinguished Lagosian, eminent Nigerians, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, as I give gratitude to God for this day, and remain truly grateful to all of you, I must crave your indulgence to express personal appreciation to a few people and groups who have been the instruments through whom God made all this possible.
I thank my darling wife, Dame Abimbola Fashola, all my children, especially Ademola and Olayinka, my parents and siblings, many friends and relations certainly too numerous to be acknowledged individually here.
I thank my Party, the Action Congress of Nigeria, for the continued repositioncorper of trust in me to pilot the affairs of the Centre of Excellence.
My personal gratitude in this regard goes to our indefatigable national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, our National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande and members of the National Caucus, the State Chairman, Otunba Henry Oladele Ajomale, and members of the State Executive, our Local Government Chairmen, Councilors, Party Chairmen at the Local Government, members of my campaign Committee, many generous and selfless donors, individuals and corporate, whose donations immensely helped the funding of our campaign, and of course the media who carried our message of a brighter and rewarding future to all corners of the State.
I could not conclude without expressing appreciation to my colleagues in the Executive, Legislative and Judicial arms of Government who have been our partners in progress and transformation.
My final words of appreciation will go to the Civil Servants who have worked relentlessly to bring us this far, and to their Royal Majesties and all our spiritual leaders of all faiths, whose wise counsel and prayerful intercessions have been our armour and shield during difficult periods of our journey.
To you all I say again, Eko o ni baje! Let us do it again.
God bless Lagos State
God bless Nigeria.
Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN
Governor of Lagos State