Federal Agents And Roads In Lagos
THE disagreement between the Federal Government and the Lagos Government over the activities of members of the Federal Emergency Road Management Agency (FERMA) Task Force in the state should be expeditiously resolved so that service delivery to the people and peace in the society is not compromised. The source of bickering between the Federal and Lagos State governments is the constant incidents of the officials of the state traffic maintenance agency, the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), being prevented from carrying out their duties on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway by FERMA Task Force members supported by policemen on the ground that a Federal Road is off limits for LASTMA. This is a classic case of small-mindedness occasioning an absence of consideration for the people.
Ordinarily, a partnership between the Federal Government and Lagos State on assets like roads should yield better services to the residents of the state. But the presence of the task force officials on roads in the state has instead created unnecessary hostility between both governments because of mutual suspicion, which starkly negates the vision of Lagos as a special place in the heart of Nigeria even after the capital had moved to Abuja. Lagos was envisioned as the economic capital of the nation with a special status funding to enable it maintain federal assets inside it.
The circumstances of the Federal Government’s current intervention in traffic control in Lagos, of course, render it open to suspicion. Why should it be now that FERMA would send its officials to control traffic on roads where LASTMA has always been in charge? And is there a political undertone in the creation of the Task Force? Clearly, if the Federal Government is so concerned about controlling traffic on federal roads in Lagos, this is not the best time to demonstrate such concern. The timing of that action tends to justify the fear in some quarters that the so-called Task Force officials of the Federal Government are nothing other than political hirelings waiting to be used during elections. This is not acceptable.
While, the Federal Government jurisdiction over some roads and other fixed assets in Lagos State is not in doubt, however, in different parts of the state, where such assets exist, hardly is the presence of the Federal Government felt in terms of rehabilitation and maintenance, a situation that has necessitated the intervention of the Lagos State government.
More importantly, this disagreement over federal roads is another indication of the haunting failure of leadership in the polity, for the matter could have been resolved without causing any acrimony if the parties were genuinely bothered about delivering service to the people. The Lagos State government claimed it had written to the Federal Government on the matter but that no response came, thereby foreclosing collaboration between both governments on how to safeguard federal assets in the state. The remarkable example of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua who approved the demolition of federal property to allow the construction of the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge by the Lagos State Government should be emulated.
Apart from roads, the Federal Government left behind buildings and other fixed assets in Lagos when the federal capital moved to Abuja. These assets belong to all Nigerians and they should be maintained for the benefit of citizens. Since the Federal Government appears less able or enthusiastic to maintain these assets, the state government should be handed the responsibility albeit with a guarantee that same will not be coveted by greedy and powerful individuals in the state but well managed for the use of all.
Lagos is too important to the survival of Nigeria to be left on the altar of politics. More importantly, the Federal and Lagos State Governments should set up a joint committee to decide how best these fixed assets can be managed. This has become necessary to stop the politicisation as well as destruction of the citizens’ assets and put an end to the recurring clashes between the officials of both governments.
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