Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), at the weekend continued his inspection of ongoing projects across the state, reiterating the commitment of his administration to the safety of lives even as he warned members of the public against encroachment on lands and properties belonging to government.
Fashola, who began his inspection from the drainage projects along WEMCO Road, also inspected the Shogunro Scheme Phase 1 and 2 Lagos HOMS in Ogba, the Yaya Abatan/College Road Upgrading project in Ifako-Ijaiye, the Ogo-Oluwa Road Network project also in Ifako-Ijaiye, the proposed Digital Village (Katangowa), Amikanle, the Elere Channel and Ayinke House Upgrade in Ikeja.
Fielding questions from journalists after the intensive inspection, the governor expressed dismay over the attitude of the people towards their environment, warning that the way people treat their environment today would affect everyone in future.
Pointing out that the responsibility of government is to save life and property, Fashola condemned the way people defecate and urinate on the bare ground, pour fuel, engine oil and other chemicals indiscriminately in the name of doing business.
He also urged the utilisation of cemeteries for burials as against burying the dead in residential areas.
"For me, it is not about doing business today. It is what will happen in 20 years time. We are living in a way that we are abusing the environment. Simply because we want to do business, so we defecate on the road, we urinate, we pour engine oil and we pour fuel on the road because we are running okada business. Even we have to increase the use of cemeteries in burying our dead", the governor said.
Explaining that most of the wastes, especially organic wastes, being dumped indiscriminately would affect the underground water from which water is extracted when boreholes are sunk, the governor declared, "With all the chemicals going into the underground water, it, therefore, does not surprise me the incidence of strange diseases among the people today such as cancer, bronchitis, kidney failure and other strange ailments", adding, "Our environment is becoming increasingly toxic."
"So when government says let us clean up the environment, we do so in a long term and the future interest of all of us. Our experts have advised us, we cannot continue like this," he said.
Also responding to a question on the demand for resettlement by people living on the site of the proposed Digital Village, Fashola stated that his administration has kept a track record of resettling and paying compensation to people who have been displaced from their lawfully acquired property adding, however, that where people jump unto government land illegally, they should not expect compensation or resettlement when such property is reacquired by government.
"As far as resettlement is concerned, I know it is difficult to find an example of a resettlement-oriented government like this government. We did Isale Gangan redevelopment, we did Oluwole redevelopment and we resettled people. But in cases where people are squatters, they have no colour of rights", the governor said.
According to him, "The law does not protect illegality, it protects rights and you do not acquire rights by acting illegally. You don't jump unto government land and acquire a right there and begin to shout human rights. Human rights are legal rights; they are not rights acquired by illegal conduct and we must understand this in a democracy".
Challenging anybody who claims to have been deprived of his legally acquired property by his administration without compensation to bring forward such claim, Governor Fashola declared, "All of the demolition we did to expand the Badagry Expressway, we are still paying compensation. The people we moved from Oshodi are going into a new market that is ready. We have intervened in Obalende, clearing Obalende without necessarily displacing the rightful owners."
"I hope that members of the public will understand that they can't acquire right by jumping unto the roadside and saying it is where they must trade. May be, it may be politically popular to agitate citizens who are not aware of what rights and obligations are. People escalate these things. Some people, some of those societies and organisations make profit and get grants at the behest of the so-called masses they claim to be fighting for. Masses don't have the right to break the law and if they do, we will enforce it," the governor said.
Accompanying the governor on the inspection tour were members of the state Executive Council, including the Chief of Staff, Mr. Lanre Babalola, the Head of Service, Prince Adesegun Ogunlewe, Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Florence Oguntuase, Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Aderemi Ibirogba, Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Sola Oworu, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaiye (SAN), and Special Adviser on Works and Infrastructure, Mr. Ganiyu Johnson among others, Federal and State lawmakers representing the areas visited, local government chairmen and other top government functionaries.