In the wake of reported disturbances in some parts of Lagos State yesterday, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has sent a passionate appeal to residents to remain calm and avoid any form of violence that may throw the State into turmoil.
In an address to the State on Saturday, Oyo News reports that Governor Sanwo-Olu empathised with Lagosians over the hardship being experienced with the Federal Government’s currency swap policy being implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
While he acknowledged the residents’ frustration and the difficulties associated with the effort to exchange old Naira notes to newly redesigned cash and its attendant effect on livelihood, the Governor said destructive demonstrations would never be the answer.
Sanwo-Olu told the residents to remain law-abiding and urged them to resist unscrupulous opportunists seeking to take advantage of the widespread frustration to hijack the situation and create crisis.
The Governor, while applauding the security agencies for stemming the violence in some parts of the state yesterday, gave a clear instruction to them to take full control and ensure zero tolerance to all acts of arson, violence and vandalism across the State, stressing that there would be no justification for anyone to attack public and private properties.
He said: “This address is necessary in view of the ongoing situation in the country, regarding the change of currency notes and the attendant hardships being faced by ordinary Lagosians. I acknowledge your patience and unwavering perseverance in these challenging times. As your Governor, my heartfelt call to you is to remain calm at this time and avoid all forms of violence, arson and rioting. In the face of the difficulties and frustrations, violence and destruction should not and will never be the answer.
“We must resist the moves by opportunists who seek to take advantage of the anger and frustration that to hijack the situation and foment trouble. There are unscrupulous persons who want to sow seeds of violence and discord by their utterances and actions, all with the view of robbing you of the chance to cast your votes in the February 25 presidential and national assembly elections. Do not allow them to use you to achieve their evil intentions.
“There is no justification for attacking public or private property. The law enforcement agents have received clear instructions to take full control and ensure zero tolerance for any and all acts of arson, violence and destruction. I enjoin all law-abiding Lagosians to carry out their lawful activities without fear”, Sanwo-Olu said.
Sanwo-Olu said the State Government was fully aware of the challenges the residents were faced with in accessing cash and get other essential commodities. He said the Government was working hard to scale up palliative measures to lessen the burden on the masses.
The Governor said the 50 per cent reduction of transport fares across the State-owned transportation system – BRT, LAGRIDE, FMLM and ferries – would continue, as part of the palliative approach adopted by the State Government to reduce hardship on Lagosians.
Sanwo-Olu disclosed that the State Government had opened consultation with private transport operators and their unions not to exploit the situation to hike their fares and create more hardship.
He said: “We have also since commenced the distribution of food packs to the most vulnerable citizens, and the people most impacted by this disruption in the supply of cash. We will continue to highlight more vulnerable groups within our distribution channels who would benefit from the palliatives.
“As we scale up the rollout of these palliatives, we ask for your continued patience and understanding. Remain calm and go about your lawful activities and duties. The Lagos State Government under my watch will continue to stand by, with and for the ordinary people of Lagos.”
The Governor frowned at what he described as “rampant incidents of extortion” by players in the financial services value chain, especially Point of Sale (POS) operators, as well as petrol station attendants, who are cashing in on the situation.
He appealed to those involved in extortionate services to desist from such sharp practices, urging them to be their brothers’ keeper and support the efforts to lessen the hardships being faced by the masses.
“This is not the period to sacrifice our empathy, compassion and humanity on the altar of profit making,” Sanwo-Olu said.