There appears to be a silent war between Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor-elect of Lagos State, and the presidency over the solution to the protracted gridlock in Apapa area of the state.
Sanwo-Olu had, last week, promised to put an end to the gridlock within the first 60 days of his administration, promising to rid the area of all the trailers whose operations had been responsible for the intractable gridlock.
He had said: “The Apapa trailer issue; it’s a campaign issue; it’s very serious. I’m going to take it very seriously. I believe that it is something that we are going to solve in the first 60 days of our government.
“Whatever is going to be required of us, we will take them out. There is a lot of politics being played around there. But no, it cannot be the way we’ll continue to live. We cannot continue to give excuses.”
While Sanwo-Olu received a lot of commendations from Nigerians on the proclamation, the presidency on Wednesday also gave two weeks for the immediate clearing up of the intractable Apapa gridlock. It also gave operators of trucks and tankers 72 hours to vacate the access roads leading to the ports.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity (Office of the Vice President), Laolu Akande, in a statement, said the directive mandated the immediate removal of all trucks from the bridges and roads within Apapa and all adjoining streets leading into the Apapa axis..
Akande said the directive followed an emergency meeting convened by President Muhammadu Buhari and chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on April 25, 2019.
Speaking with our correspondent, a presidency source who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Federal Government quickly issued the directive to the tanker drivers, having realised that “Sanwo-Olu is trying to take credit for a project he knows nothing about”.
According to him, the presidency has been working round the clock to find a lasting solution to the gridlock in the area and it would be unfair for Sanwo-Olu to want to take credit for it.
“The presidency issued that statement to counter the governor-elect because they realised he wants to take glory for a project he knows nothing about.
“If you recall, the presidency has been working on a lasting solution to the Apapa gridlock. Even the vice president had to fly on the area on a chopper to assess the situation.
“But we think Sanwo-Olu has gotten wind of the situation and now quickly came out to say that he will provide the solution to the gridlock so that when it happens, he will take the credit.
“That is why the presidency quickly came out and issued the statement to set the records straight.
“We will collaborate with him when he is sworn in as the governor to work on a solution to it just as we have been working with the outgoing governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.
“But he should not speak authoritatively on finding a lasting solution to it because the issue is beyond him.”
When asked, during an interactive session with journalists on Thursday whether he read the mind of the Federal Government before making the statement on ending the Apapa gridlock, Sanwo-Olu said: “As for your question on the Federal Government reading my script or me reading their script, I think it is about time we realise that we are in this together.
“What happens to me happens to everybody that has to do with that port and I have passed it to the consciousness of the Federal Government. So, it is not out of place that Lagosians have been crying.
“People have also mentioned that I promised to solve all the problems in 60 days rightly or wrongly. I need to challenge that but I am not going to go into that today. But for them to also give timelines like what doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get done.
“Something needs to be done and I will tell you that I will give that committee all the support that they will need from day one for Lagosians to see a permanent solution to that,” he said.
Also on Thursday, Sanwo-Olu promised that he would review the controversial Land Use charge in conjunction with various stakeholders upon assumption of office.
According to him, “We are going to look at it again. We are certainly going to look at it again but with lots of consultations. It has to be collaborative.
“There will be lots of stakeholder engagements. We are going to look at it with the hope that both the players in the various sectors both work together and see the best way to do it.
“I said to our people that we really cannot make omelet without breaking eggs. For us, to be able to leapfrog all the initiatives that you are asking of us, revenues have to come from somewhere.
“So, it’s for all of us to have that conversation but we will certainly not do things that will have a negative effect on our people. So, we will review it positively in conjunction with various stakeholders.”