Today I am pleased to report that our extraordinary journey of trust and partnership for development has reached the 2,700 day milestone.
As I present the report of our activities over the last 100 days, indicating progress, challenges, and triumphs, I do so with pride and gratitude.
A pride about our team, our workforce, and all of you our people and our party (the APC).
Gratitude to all of you for your staying power. A staying power that makes us gather every 100 days to give meaning to accountability in Governance.
Today I begin by reporting the progress we have made in implementing the 2014 budget.
Our 3rd Quarter Report of the budget performance is 84%. When this is added to the 1st and 2nd Quarter performance of 67% and 106%, the January to September report will show a total performance of 86%.
This performance is evidenced by the service that our Government has continued to render across sectors.
From flood management during the just-ending rainy season, to Education services, Health service, transport services, Housing and many more.
On July 17, 2014 the Lagos State Government introduced 10-day paternity leave for male civil servants and extended maternity leave for female workers to six months. This new policy has been well received as it will allow nursing mothers to breastfeed exclusively, and give fathers time off to bond with their family and be involved in childcare activities.
July 18, 2014 marked the 6th consecutive year that we have commemorated the Tree Planting Day in Lagos. Between 2008-2013, 28,094 (Twenty Eight Thousand and Ninety Four) jobs were created from the annual tree planting, while between January and June 2014, we created 3,180 (Three Thousand, One Hundred and Eighty) jobs.
The State Water Corporation began working to install pipelines for water supply connection to 600 schools in the state to ensure that all public schools get direct water supply. Over 215 schools have already been connected.
On August 15, 2014, Phase I of the re-constructed Tejuosho Market was commissioned. The new Tejuosho Market, which now has over 4,000 shop spaces with lock up and K-Clamp shops, will contribute to the economy of the state by supporting small businesses.
On August 19, 2014, we handed over a total of 31 classrooms in two government schools, Sonmori Senior Comprehensive High School, College Road, Ifako-Ijaiye and First African Primary School, Iju-Ishaga.
On September 30, 2014, we opened the Motor Vehicle and Driver’s License Administration Central in Oshodi, for business and service to the public.
Additionally, in the last 100 days, a lot of progress has been recorded in the reconstruction of roads such as Isiba Oluwo Road and Meiran Road in Alimosho, Akintola Road, Adenuga Kajero, Bakare Salami, Adaranijo, and Onitano streets in Somolu, rapid progress is being made on the Mile 12-Ikorodu Road, Wemco Road in Ogba, and about 7 Seven Roads in Apapa to mention a few.
One thing which I have learnt from our engineers which I have shared with you before, and which it is important to repeat, is the nature of road assets.
Unlike other assets such as buildings, roads are depreciating assets.
This means that from the day that they are built, and we start to use them, they start to depreciate by wear and tear and it is important to have a maintenance strategy to restore and repair.
This is what we have done with a reformed Public Works Corporation and its expanding assets such as a new asphalt plant in Imota, and one more in Badagry that is nearing completion.
Within the last 100 days, the Public Works Corporation has completed rehabilitation work on 81 roads in spite of the inclement weather, and work is going on on 284 roads and their completion will lead to improved travelling experiences and improved journey times.
As the weather gets better, most of the roads damaged by the rains, which is usual in all coastal communities like Lagos, will be restored to motorability.
During the last 100 days, I undertook an inspection of the Adiyan Phase II waterworks which will add another 70 Million gallons of water per day to our state.
Work is going on as planned and even though it will be completed in 2016, we are doing everything that we can to make its final delivery a mere formality for the next Government.
At least 250,000 homes in Lagos and some parts of Ogun State, where the facility is situated, will be connected. Some of the Lagos areas to be served include Ikotun, Agege, Iju, Ifako, Ogba and many parts of Alimosho.
I have searched across many jurisdictions and I have not yet come across any where a Government delivers 200 new homes every month.
In addition to road construction and rehabilitation, we are maintaining the bridges, whose expansion joints have not been changed for about 30 years, which the Federal Government built and left behind in Lagos, when the capital moved to Abuja.
Expansion joints are those metal sheets that connect segments of our bridges. When they are maintained, driving on bridges is a pleasant experience.
When maintenance is neglected, which requires periodic replacement, driving on bridges becomes a very jarring and unpleasant experience.
Those who use the Eko Bridge can share their daily experience and the wear and tear on their vehicles.
I promise you that all these will soon be a thing of the past.
We have awarded the contract to replace 33 joints from the Alaka end to the Apongbon end of the Eko Bridge.
The contract cost over N400 Million.
We have successfully replaced all the joints on the Alhaji Masha Bridge and commuters will tell you that their experience is better.
We are also surveying the Apapa Bridge to determine the cost and strategy to implement it with minimal discomfort to commuters.
In the last 100 days, apart from advertising vacancies for employment into the state Civil Service to recruit young people to replace retired ones, we have expanded our economic empowerment initiatives for residents who have struggled to put food on the table because most businesses they can undertake require electricity which is not yet available.
We have been inventive and therefore able to teach them new skills which require little, if any, electricity.
In the first phase, which kicked off in 10 Local Governments between 1st – 30th September, 11,862 people participated in training on soap making, tie & dye, bead and ear-ring making, pomade making and many others.
They have graduated and while we are arranging to supply them with basic tools for their trade, so that they can get on with their lives, we have commenced the second batch of training for 14,000 people.
But something happened during the training of the first batch which pleases me and which I like to share.
We suddenly needed to supply all the schools in our control, about 2,000, with soap and water.
I am happy to report that all the soap supplied to our schools before they re-opened, which was worth about N25 Million, was produced in Lagos by these trainees, largely women.
They started earning money even during training.
And this takes me to the health challenge that we faced during the last 100 days – the threat of Ebola.
It was a very challenging period. A virus with no known cure, with very devastating consequences.
In the 40 years since it was discovered, it has never affected an urban centre. All known cases were in rural places where there were not many people.
Ebola in Lagos, with a population of 21 million people, was a time bomb of epic proportion if it developed into an epidemic.
There was no previous precedent. Lagos had to learn by itself and she did.
You all stood up; Obas, chiefs, religious leaders, community leaders, men and women, boys and girls, transporters and all state workers, but most especially our health workers, working with their colleagues in the Federal Health Institutions and developmental partners, WHO, UNICEF, Doctors without Borders and the Centre for Disease Control.
I cannot forget the interventions of the Diplomatic Community who are part of our teeming residents.
You refused to surrender. You contained the disease and our country is in the world news for all the right reasons.
I thank you all very much for standing up to be counted.
And still on this matter, I appeal to the Federal Government to maintain the highest vigilance at our Land, Air and Sea Borders.
Close scrutiny of persons from countries and regions where Ebola remains a challenge must be our first line of defence.
Importantly, we must send help to these countries if we truly want to keep the gains we have recorded.
As I said, our work on Ebola continues because we must do everything to avoid a re-infection.
We have put many policies in place which the Honourable Commissioner for Health will be communicating to you.
Some of the lessons learnt are the need for a Government Scientific Adviser to be our co-ordinator not only for providing scientific information about infectious diseases but also co-ordinating other areas of science based research, food sufficiency, water sufficiency, air pollution and all other things that are likely to affect our well-being.
Today therefore, I am announcing the appointment of Dr. ADEKEMI OLUWAYEMISI SEKONI as my chief Scientific Adviser.
She will be presented shortly at a formal induction.
The last few days of the past 100 days have also been instructive in the pursuit of our policies and the Lagos of our dreams.
In October, specifically on the 15th, we set out on a journey of well-being by declaring a Horn-free day as the first step to reduce noise pollution.
Your support for this initiative has been encouraging; and in the weeks and months that lie ahead I am sure we will again be in a position to say that we have done something worthwhile for ourselves.
The consciousness, the debate and the reactions that were generated on the day were, for me, the biggest measures of our success.
I followed them on many media platforms, and I was particularly pleased by the decision of a group called Extreme Ideas, a non-governmental organisation, who have taken ownership of the campaign.
That is the Spirit of Lagos. Let us all own the campaign to reduce noise.
In the same month of October, which is now the Lagos Energy Conservation month, I flagged off the programme for this year by commissioning the Lagos Energy Academy where young people are already being trained in Energy and Electricity technologies.
They will learn about energy generation in the traditional and renewable way. They will learn about transmission and generation as well as meter repairs and fault diagnosis.
By the time the first batch graduate in March 2015, they will receive a Siemens certificate that makes them employable in any part of the world where energy and electricity technicians and engineers are required.
My hope is that they will choose to remain and work here to solve our energy problems because we will not give up on power.
I am also pleased to report that the full design of the Solar Power kit that will be deployed to all our schools, to provide them with renewable and reliable energy to facilitate learning has been completed.
In the course of time, we will begin deployment to the first 172 schools who are in Phase I and the Primary Health Care centres.
Still on energy, I am also pleased to report that the Mainland IPP, the 6th IPP by our Government, has been concluded and is going through pre-commission testing, preparatory to full commissioning.
When it is finally commissioned, power will be supplied to LASUTH, Ikeja High Court, Ikeja Magistrate Court, the Lagos Police Command, Ikeja Water Works and the generators powering Agege Motor Road street lights through to Oshodi will be decommissioned.
Recently, specifically on Thursday 16th October 2014, our economic empowerment programme was manifest in the Agricultural sector.
These people can now get up every morning with pride and dignity and say, I am going to work.
This is the Spirit of Lagos – Dignity and Hard work.
Two hundred farmers also got their title deeds which means that their land holdings are now registered and can make them eligible for business loans because they now have collateral.
As I said at the event, we measure our economy by the opportunities we create for these small businesses and the contributions they make to the economy.
We do not measure our economy by the number of billionaires and private planes.
We know they are there, but the only way their businesses will be safe, is if small businesses also develop.
As we wind down to the end of the year and prepare for the next election in the New Year, many things will happen.
Some people who have not done any hard work all year will be looking to reap where they did not sow, by seeking to make quick money through illegal means.
My advice to them is that they will find Lagos a very difficult and painful place to operate.
Our security systems are constantly being reviewed and upgraded to prevent and to stop crime.
The end of the year also brings on the onset of dry weather and the risk of fire.
While I urge you all to be security and safety conscious, I am pleased to inform you that the 32 fire engines we ordered to combat fire, have now arrived and our capacity to protect your property and lives will be enhanced.
It is perhaps instructive to at this time remind you about the rumpus that was raised when we ordered these fire engines. We were accused of borrowing money.
Recently also, our political adversaries have issued statements that we have borrowed N160 Billion. What they have not told you is what we are doing with the money.
In the last 100 days, we have commenced work on providing street lighting on the Muritala Mohammed Way in Yaba. This is 10 Kilometres of Public lighting which will be completed by the end of this month.
On Eko Bridge, Carter Bridge, Ikorodu Road, Lekki-Epe Expressway and every street and highway where there is street lighting in Lagos, it is the Lagos State Government who supplied the poles, the bulbs, the diesel and the maintenance.
The only major highway we are not managing for street lights is the 3rd Mainland Bridge.
Fire engines, to secure lives, Rail Transport from Okokomaiko to Marina, with four stations of 8km completed, and work heading to Marina, with piles appearing near the Eko Bridge every day are the places your Government is spending money.
The expansion of the Lagos Badagry Expressway to a 10-lane highway is another place where your Government is spending money.
What the voodoo economists will not tell you is that N51 Billion of certified works, done on Federal Government Roads by the Lagos State Government, is owed to our Government by the Federal Government and is not yet paid.
If we had N51 Billion, what we would borrow will be reduced by that amount.
If they take up projects, like rehabilitating the expansion joints on the bridges built in Lagos when she was the Federal capital, our burden will reduce.
If they provide electricity to schools and hospitals, the cost of Government will reduce.
Whatever the case, let me assure you that your state can repay every debt that she has contracted; in order to provide services for you.
This year our 2009 bond for N50 Billion fell due for repayment. We paid without any problem.
After payment there is still a balance of N82.3 Billion in the Consolidated Debt Service account, which will continue to grow because of the monthly savings we make into it, in readiness to pay our three outstanding bonds of N57.5 Billion, N80Billion and N87.5Bn which are maturing in 2017, 2019 and 2020 respectively.
Ladies and Gentlemen, your state is safe, its finances are secure. It has a Fitch International credit rating of BB-, stable with a positive outlook, which is the same as that of the Federal Republic.
Just last month, Fitch upgraded the state’s National Long-Term rating from AA to AA+ with a stable outlook which is an indicator of the financial resilience of Lagos.
What further assurance of stability can you ask for?
This is the only state in Nigeria with that rating. This is possible because an APC Government runs this state.
This is the 5th largest economy in Africa, please remember that when you go out to vote. It is not a place to experiment with beginners.
Tell them that Lagos has paid that debt.
When next they tell you about debt, tell them that private companies, who have no responsibility for security, for water supply, for public health, for road construction and many other public services are borrowing in excess of what Lagos has borrowed.
When next they come to tell you about debt, remind them that they approved the borrowing.
And if they ask you about debt still, ask them to account for over N2 Trillion spent on fuel importation without appropriation, and to explain what happened to $20 Billion.
If these huge amounts were made available to the Federation account for the states, and local Governments, clearly things might be different.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a summary of what we have done with your time and your resources in the last 100 days.
Thank you for coming and for listening.
* Being the speech delivered by Governor Babatunde Fashola at a ceremony marking his 2700th day as the helmsman in Lagos State.