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Re: Lagos is hurting investor confidence

Our attention has been drawn to the above-titled article written by Cheta Nwanze and published in BusinessDay on Tuesday, February 16, 2021. In the article, the author erroneously alleged that the Lagos State government has a penchant for mob rule. A rather absurd and wild claim!

The writer did not stop at that, he went further to describe the Lagos State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) as one of the government’s foot soldiers in creating chaos.

Not only that, but Nwanze also claimed, albeit without proof, that the government has more directly empowered crime bosses in the NURTW to create an alternate economy for themselves and determine the outcome of elections in the state.

Not done with making spurious claims, the author equally claimed that fights break out daily in different parts of the state, thus giving an impression of uncontrollable anarchy.

No doubt, these are weighty allegations, and one only hopes that Nwanze really understands how contentious and libellous his claims are.

To start with, alleging that the government has a penchant for mob rule is, to say the least, reckless, baseless and impetuous.

If the author blundered by the assertion that the government encourages mob rule, he, no doubt, completely missed it with the submission that the government unswervingly permitted ‘crime bosses’ in the NURTW to fashion a different economy for themselves and determine the outcome of elections in the state.

Read Also: Lagos deploys cameras to combat violation of traffic rules

Sadly, the author did not give names of such ‘crime bosses’, nor did he give instances of how they determine the outcome of elections in the state.

Communicating with a national or global audience via the media is a sacred duty. Those who engage in it hold it a duty to be responsible, holding only to things that are empirical and authentic. It is, thus, sad that the author of the said piece decided to abuse the platform of the BusinessDay Newspaper to promote outright lies and fallacies. So, he is aware that some elements are used to determine the outcome of an election. And he has never been to the election tribunal or other such apposite organisations to give evidence?

Alleging that the government colluded with a certain group to predetermine the outcome of the election is a serious allegation. Nwanze needs to shed more light on the subject matter. He has raised a far-reaching criminal issue and he must be ready to validate it at the appropriate quarters. Expectedly, the appropriate agencies are taking note.

By giving the impression that Lagos has become a jungle where fights endlessly go on, the writer ironically exposed himself as one who promotes ideals that are against the very issue he pretended to be canvassing – smooth business environment. For obvious reasons, penning such unfounded lies is a worse criminal activity.

Not only that, it is equally pejorative because it gives potential investors the false impression that the state is a lawless jungle where touting reigns supreme. Is this really the true picture of Lagos? No! Lagos is run on law and order. Any study giving the impression that Lagos is a place where corporate organisations are attacked at will is at best spurious and at most dubious.

The truth is that the government cannot be responsible for the behaviour, good or otherwise, of any group or individuals in the state. The state government is renowned for promoting peaceful coexistence among every segment of society.

Through the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), the government has put in place a seamless security plan with the aim of creating an environment conducive to economic undertakings. Operational vehicles, motorbikes and firearms among others have been procured via the Fund to enable security agencies to perform optimally. The success of the LSSTF model has made other states replicate the same. Now, how could such a model state suddenly be accused of promoting lawlessness?

When certain groups or individuals engage in acts capable of resulting in the breakdown of law and order, the duty of the government is to ensure that appropriate security agencies rise to the occasion. This explains why the government invests billions of naira in beefing up security in the state. Is it, thus, logical to accuse the same government that invests so much in the security of sponsoring criminality?

On the EndSARS issue that Nwanze attempted to cite as an instance to back his claim that Lagos has become a hotbed of crisis, the open secret is that the protest began as a youth-activated national uprising against police brutality in the country. Its spread cut across every part of the country.

Aside from this, it is on record that the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, did all that was humanly possible, within his power as a governor, to ensure the protest was peaceful until it was hijacked and became chaotic.

Our nation currently faces a myriad of challenges. This, of course, is not strange. Every nation faces such from time to time. What is, however, quite dangerous and worrisome is when people, in the name of communicating, deliberately promote lies. Reports show that the EndSARS protest turned violent mostly as a result of deliberate lies peddled by some and circulated via social media.

The government would continue to do its best to promote peaceful coexistence in the state and ensure investors get value for their money. As for Nwanze and other such promoters of falsehood, they should be reminded that truth is constant and cannot be murdered.

*Ogunbiyi is deputy director, Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.

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