GOVERNORS of the South-West states and ministers from the zone on Sunday toured public assets and private properties destroyed in Lagos last week and said the coordinated attacks had exposed the region to economic annihilation.
Led by its chairman and Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, the governors said the regression into savagery exposed the vulnerability of the South-West to manipulation by divisive elements bent on annihilating the region’s economic prosperity and destroying its common heritage.
They were in Lagos to commiserate with Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu over the large-scale destruction of public and private facilities by hoodlums who had hijacked the #EndSARS protests organised by youths. The delegation of governors and ministers was received by Sanwo-Olu at the State House in Marina, where they saw the pictorial evidence of the violence before visiting some of the torched assets, including the Lagos High Court, the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) building and the Forensic Lab.
At a joint press conference held after the tour, Akeredolu likened Lagos to a war zone, given the extent of the destruction. He said the violence that resulted from the #EndSARS protest left much to be desired, stressing that there was an agenda beyond the youth demonstration against police brutality.
He said: “We are deeply concerned with the ease with which public buildings, utilities, police stations and investment of our people have been burnt, despite the proximity of security agencies in those areas. The development leaves us with no other option but to believe that there may be other reasons for continued protests, well-coordinated and funded.
“We are particularly worried that 48 hours after the unfortunate incident at the Lekki toll gate by persons adorning military outfit, there has been no definitive statement from the military authorities on the incident. Our anxiety becomes heightened by the categorical denial of the governor of Lagos State concerning the military deployment. No governor has powers to authorise deployment of military personnel in Nigeria.”
The governors also condemned the “sacrilegious” attack on the palace of the Oba of Lagos and decried what they called “vile attack” on the national leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, and businesses in which he has interest.
They lauded Sanwo-Olu for his patience and the manner with which he handled the situation and, therefore, demanded an investigation into the circumstances that led to the destruction of public assets and private businesses in Lagos.
“We commend Governor Sanwo-Olu for his administrative acumen. We note his patience and understanding in the face of unwarranted provocation by agents of darkness. We stand resolutely with him at this trying period. We urged our youths to rise up and defend our land against diabolical incursion ravaging our space. We cannot continue to fold our hands and watch our heritage destroyed,” Akeredolu said.
The governors unanimously disowned the warmongering rhetoric of one Adeyinka Grandson, in a video circulating in the social media. They urged the Yoruba and non-Yoruba residents in the South-West to disregard the threat of violence issued in the video, saying the “secessionist” had no authority to speak for the Yoruba. Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, said the visit was at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that words were not enough to describe the extent of the destruction wreaked by the arsonists.
Fashola praised Sanwo-Olu for his “untiring effort” at restoring peace in the state while cautioning those posting inflammatory comments in the social media to desist from the act. He urged all Lagos residents to unite and collectively address the cause of the violence, stressing that the state government needed the support of all in unravelling the truth.
Other governors in the delegation were Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti). Also in the delegation were Minister of Sport and Youth Development, Mr Sunday Dare; Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Industry, Trade and Development, Mr Niyi Adebayo; Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunimbe Mamora; Minister of State for Niger Delta, Senator Omotayo Alasoadura and the Minister for Mines and Steel Development, Ola-milekan Adegbite.