By Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju (rtd )
As we mark the one year anniversary of the unfortunate incidents that marred the Endsars protests, there are indeed lessons to be learned on both sides of the divide.
Personally as one who has been part of the Nigerian journey both in times of peace and war , having served my nation at the highest echelon of my profession as GOC Third Armored Division and as a member of the Provisional Ruling Council – the most significant lesson to me is the unity of our nation and the issue of peace. No nation can thrive in chaos. And nothing meaningful can be achieved through violence.
I fought in the Nigerian civil war and I know that the recourse to violence is an harbinger of ruin and destruction. It should never happen again. In this wise , as a Patriot and a Stakeholder in the Nigerian project I want to advise the Lagos state government to take the following steps in order to ensure the endurance of peace and genuine reconciliation among all Nigerians who dwell in Lagos state.
The Lagos state government should remove the toll booths on both the Admiralty Circle and the Lekki -Ikoyi toll gates.
The Toll Gates were then and are still objects of hate and aversion among commuters and motorists.
At a time of great economic crisis when the rich and the poor are feeling the harshness of a depressed economy, it will be insensitive and wrong to bring back the toll gates which no doubt will add to the economic misfortunes of our people.
Transporters will increase their fares; Traffic gridlocks will return, stretching from Ozumba Mbadiwe to Ajah and from Alexander in Ikoyi backing up to the Third mainland bridge. Man hours will be wasted. Motorists often collapse in the heat and emission of choking carbon monoxide.
Surely , this is not what we want . The Lekki axis is an unplanned increasingly growing city with only one exit and only one entrance. There is hardly any manufacturing plants or any major industries here save vast estates and various residential abodes.
Lagos is about the only major metropolis on earth where there are two intra -city toll gates. Toll gates are often placed between cities.
The danger here is that the road is perpetually clogged, entrapping motorists in a permanent gridlock thereby creating opportunities for roving robbers and outlaws who rob both commuters and motorists at will.
Sanwoolu must avoid shedding of blood of our youths on the streets of Lagos. The stopping of the street urchins and gang warfare at the least provocation requires strong and effective policing.
Lagos state must use the the billions already generated from over 12 years of Toll collection to build alternative roads to alleviate the pains and anguish of commuting on the Lekki axis. That’s the essence of governance.
The long proposed Fourth Mainland Bridge and the seemingly abandoned Metroline which Fashola started should be resuscitated to open the Lekki corridor. Government can also establish a build , operate and transfer arrangement with the Dangote Refinery or any other major entrepreneurs to build to construct the Atlantic highway which was once proposed during the military . All these will definitely remove the present chaotic traffic on the single entrance and exit Lekki- Epe corridor.
Positive government intervention does not only engender economic growth and development but it invariably prevents the slip into destructive conflict and anarchy.
The redeeming largeness of peace and equity is what we want in Lagos state and all parts of our nation. This is the time to redefine our vision towards this greater good.
* Major Olanrewaju rtd, was former GOC Third Armored Division. He is a Trustee of Omo Eko Pataki.