Prominent journalist and former Chairman, Ejigbo Local Government Council, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, is Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy. As the Yuletide Period approaches, WESTERN POST’s ADEOLA OGUNRINDE at the weekend sat down with Bamigbetan in his office in Alausa to field questions with him on the state’s preparations for the festive period and what the government is doing to safeguard the security of traffic officials in the wake of the recent killing of LASTMA man…
How is Lagos preparing for the festive period?
The festive period is very important to Lagos because during this period Lagos becomes a destination for many. Nigerians in the Diaspora are eager to come home and they hope to spend much of the time they are spending in Nigeria in Lagos. Those within Nigeria who are looking forward to enjoy their Yuletide period see Lagos as the place to be, people in rural areas already imagine how to come to Lagos. It is important for us to prepare for our guests, international and domestic guests. The first thing I think is important is security and just a few days ago the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, invited the security officials for the meeting on how to prepare for the Yuletide season and he came out of that meeting giving them the directive to outsmart the criminals . His body language is saying no go area for criminals. Since the Governor had issued that statement you have seen that security officials in Lagos are in top gear ready to protect the lives and properties of Lagosians. It is not just security alone, it is also about traffic. Many who will come into Lagos during this Yuletide period are coming with their vehicles and LASTMA also has prepared itself in managing traffic during this period. One of the issues we are having is alcoholism, people taking more beverage than usual during this period and the Federal Road Safety Commission and most recently Lagos Traffic Radio have launched Drink and Drive Campaign so our roads don’t become accident spots and that Lagos records the lowest accident during this period. We also have to look at entertainment. Lagos, in the past five years, has maintained a home for entertainment in Nigeria which has not being rivaled by any city. The One Lagos Fiesta, which takes place in five places simultaneously in Lagos and has brought together so many youths, will also be invoked during this period. Already, arrangement is in top gear that One Lagos Fiesta becomes better this year and because of One Lagos Fiesta, we have also experienced lesser crime rate during the festive period. We expect Lagosians to see this period as a period to welcome visitors, to provide more services because Lagos never sleeps during this period. We are calling on Lagosians to corporate with us during this period.
The general election is getting pretty close and some members of the Executive Council in Lagos have been elected to run on the platform of their political party in Lagos State. Are those executives not going to resign to concentrate on their campaign towards the elections?
That is a legal issue. We will look at what the law says and apply it appropriately.
This last quarter, the Governor’s Town Hall Meeting was supposed to hold in Lagos West and nothing has been said about it. What is the situation?
Something will be said about it at the right time.
What about the perennial traffic caused by trailers and tanker drivers on the highway towards Apapa, won’t that gridlock affect the Yuletide period in Lagos?
You can’t use that alone to judge Lagos. Lagos is too wide. We have five thousand roads in Lagos. When the city is very busy, traffic becomes an issue but when the city is relaxed in this Yuletide period more people are going to stay around their areas, enjoying their environment than going to the Island. The issue of traffic occurs more when business is at its peak. Don’t also forget that people are likely to travel outside of Lagos during this Yuletide period, to their villages and towns.
A few days ago, a LASTMA official was killed, what is the Lagos State Government doing to make sure security officials who work directly for the government are protected when it comes to issues like this? What does the state government do to compensate their families?
Every person employed by the Lagos State Government has a contract of employment. That contract of employment entitles such a person to several insurance and welfare packages, including death benefits. Remember, this is not the first time the Lagos State Government has distributed cheques on this matter. Over times, we have institutionalized polices that seek to protect the worker at work, during ill-health, even at death. Workers who lose their lives at the point of duty are adequately taken care of. While we regret this occurrence, we continually train our staffs to handle such occurrence in such situations.
How has your job as Commissioner for Information and Strategy being in the past few months?
As regards our task is to make sure Lagosians have up-to-date information about activities of the Lagos State Government, in this ministry, we don’t issue nothing less than 15 press releases a day. The first thing is to increase the way information is dispersed because we know that the more informed our people are, the better the decision they are going to make. We have also introduced features on the website of Lagos State such as chat lines to seek information or offer suggestions about the activities of Lagos State. We also have several portals to tell citizens the prevailing rates of what they are buying in the markets.