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INTERVIEW: Smart city project, water transportation — Wale Oluwo speaks on plans to rebuild Lagos as governor

INTERVIEW: Smart city project, water transportation — Wale Oluwo speaks on plans to rebuild Lagos as governor
May 21
14:01 2022

Wale Oluwo says with the support of the people, he will clinch the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The former commissioner of energy and mineral resources rejected the endorsement of Babajide Sanwo-Olu by the Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) in Lagos.

Speaking in an interview with TheCable, Oluwo said if elected governor, he would revamp the state by implementing the Smart City project, Light Up Lagos, and establish an innovative water transportation. He said this will sustain the economy, decongest traffic and curb insecurity.


TheCable: GAC, the highest decision-making body in the APC in Lagos, has endorsed Sanwo-Olu for the governorship, do you think you stand a chance in the primary election?

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Oluwo: It doesn’t bother me because GAC constitutionally can sponsor a candidate for their own interest. I’m coming out for the interest of the people of Lagos, the downtrodden and the struggling masses, that’s what this is about.

I’m also doing this for the party members because the GAC is not the owner of the party. Members of GAC are members of the party in their own individual capacities. So, the constitution of the party does not recognise a group called GAC. It’s not an organ from the party and it has nothing to do with the party.

But it is an interest group that can sponsor candidates to pursue its interest, that’s what that group is about. Whoever they are supporting is a candidate of the GAC for the interest of the GAC and its members.

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When it comes to the primaries, I stand the chance. We have members of the party and the members are the owners of the party, so if they are convinced about the valid proposition I bring to the table and they give me their votes, I’ll emerge the candidate.

I cannot tell you I will emerge without relating it to the people. They are the ones that will trigger that emergence.

TheCable: As someone who once defected from the party, and resigned as commissioner, do you think you still have the structure to beat the incumbent governor in the primary election?

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Oluwo: I’m a foundational member of APC. I joined in 2014, that was when everybody registered. I was in the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) all along. I’m deeply planted in the party.

Going out of the party was because there was no levelled playing field because of the national leadership that we had during the period of the former chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. And to that extent there was really no primary election in Lagos for governorship.

In a way, it was manipulated to favour a particular candidate. We have the records to show that, but now there is a new leadership at the national level, headed by Abdullahi Adamu, former governor of Nasarawa state. We have confidence in his leadership. His experience is enough and he will create a level playing field for everybody.

We have a structure of AMCO that is supporting us during this primary election, just the same way my adversary is having the structure of the GAC. You cannot say they have the people of the party on their side, the structure is different from the people. We have two modes of election, it is either you’re doing indirect, where you have delegates to vote or you’re doing direct, where the people will vote.

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What if it’s direct. The delegates will not be necessary and the members of the party can take ownership of their party and give me that leadership, and I will lead them very well.

TheCable: In the last primary election, there were reported cases of AMCO members being intimidated by another group in the party, what are your plans to avoid this in the primary election?

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Oluwo: We are relying on the constitutional provision that created internal democracy process as a party of our nature. So, that process is expected to have party members participate. And it’s the responsibilities of the authorities to ensure protection of all who are participating in the democratic process.

So, we made our case there, we expect protection from the police and other legitimate authorities to protect our people, but we will not allow ourselves to be attacked, we will defend ourselves. We don’t want violence but a smooth primary, very orderly, where everyone can accept the results.

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TheCable: The Lagos government recently placed a ban on motorcycles in six LGAs of the state, do you think this action is right considering the effect it will have on security?

Motorcycles popularly known as okada

Oluwo: I think they are trying to do the right thing in the wrong way. You cannot do a blanket ban of motorcycles in six local governments. How do you enforce that. Motorcycles are being ban probably because people are using it to commit crimes, that’s the excuse.

Yes, some people are using it to commit crime but it’s not everybody driving motorcycles in Lagos that is using it to commit crime. So, you cannot do that generalisation because it will be very unfair to those who have been left behind by the kind of system we have in Lagos now.

TheCable: If you were the governor, what would your administration have done in this case?

Oluwo: The roads that the Okada will ply are constructed with government money and government money belongs to everybody. So, you cannot discriminate that this one can ply the road and another one cannot.

But here is one thing, because government has the responsibility to protect lives and property, having motorcycles on a major highways is a big risk, so you can ban them from the highways, which is what we have been doing all along. We must allow motorcycles to operate in the neigbourhoods.

The decision by the government is a knee-jack approach to administration, you don’t run a government like that. I believe riders are Nigerians, they are riding their motorcycles to feed their families and sustain their livelihood. You cannot close your eyes to that, let us accept that motorcycles must operate. Let us define where they can operate and where they cannot operate based on risk assessment.

The government is trying to be lazy about this. It requires a lot of intellectual application of yourself to be able to think that if some riders are using it for criminality, how do we capture them. There is suppose to be a smart city project, and this project is going to put Lagos in a position that there will be cameras all across the city. Those guys that burnt human being at Lekki, they can’t find them because there is no camera in the city.

In fairness to governor Sanwo-Olu. He’s trying to install fiber-optic cables which is the foundation to put cameras at every corner of the city, but they are doing that the wrong way. Fiber optics are so sensitive they are not something you lay on the surface, you have to dig deep down.

So, you are going to have a fiber optics system that powers the camera all over the city, but they are being broken down everyday because they are just on the surface.

The smart city project will help us to monitor the riders. They must also be properly registered. We must remove them from the highways and let them operate in the neigbourhood. Then we must improve neigbourhood security. Motorcycles are not really the problem, the problem is security.

TheCable: As a leader in AMCO, do you not think that some Lagosians who were against the administration of Ambode might be worried that you would continue on his path?

 

Oluwo: There is nothing wrong with that. Ambode administration has been adjudged to have performed very well. So, government is continuum, the present administration was suppose to take it to the next level. So, that is the question, have they done that?

If they have not, why can’t we go back to where Ambode stopped. To be fair, the present government is doing some things but no matter what you do, you must prioritise. Number two, your funding platform must be right.

For me, if we go back to where Ambode stopped and then the little Sanwo-Olu has done, we will continue from there. It is a good thing to say we want to continue from where Ambode stopped.

TheCable: As an expert in the energy sector, how do you intend to bolster the energy sector and the state’s economy?

Oluwo: If they had continue from where I stopped with the energy reform when I was in the office, we wouldnt be having this discussion.

I spent two and half years working on a reform project for the power sector in Lagos. I use the first six months in office to study the power architecture of the state.

I went to all the power substations in Lagos, over 500 of them. And I got all the stakeholders in the energy sector together, and we came up with a reformed document. That document was designed to give Lagos 24 hours power supply.

I took it to Abuja and they set up a technical committee. Three times we presented it to the Nigeria electricity regulatory commission. It was approved after the third session.

I came back to Lagos to create a bill that will make Lagos to implement embedded power that can put the government working with the discos in a position to generate, distribute power all in Lagos. And our economy will be on 24 hours power supply.

The bill was passed by the state assembly and the governor assented to it in 2018. We have the legislative framework to change the power equation in Lagos but nobody has touched it. The reformed document is there, they didn’t use it.

For me, it is never too late, no society will make progress where there is no security, energy and infrastructure and other social amenities.

We will go back to that energy reform where I stopped and continue with it when I become the governor.

TheCable: How would you address the traffic challenges and insecurity that come with it?

Oluwo: When I was in government I expanded the street lights in Lagos by five times. I met a few and I implemented a massive expansion of street light. That was the programme called Light up Lagos.

It was one of the popular programme of the Ambode’s administration. But that programme was supposed to compliment security and ensure the safety of people who travel at night.

So, if you don’t want people to be robbed, you must ensure the lights are on. But I can see that lot of the lights have not been on in the last two and half years. I don’t know why.

You must have security stationed at dangerous spots. These are spots where robbers can rob you and have somewhere to run. From Bar Beach to Berger, I know where they rob. These were the things we had dealth with.

However, to curb that now, you must identify those areas all over the state. That smart city project that puts cameras everywhere is a deterrent. Because people know if they rob they can be seen and be arrested. The motivation to rob is going to reduce.

Also, by and large, about 90 to 95 percent of people in Lagos move around using the road. The water transportation has not picked up. The railway transportation is comatose.

My solution is that those BRT corridors that we have, we can make that our railways. We must now expand our roads to create BRT corridors on them. As you do that you must have conducive bus stations. These things are not rocket science.

For the water transportation, we will first need to deal with the fear of people, who believe that if anything happens on water it will take time before they are rescued. So, if we can have Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) officials in their thousands to manage traffic on road, we can have marine LASTMA officials in their hundreds to take charge of traffic on water. So that you have emergency response centres at points along the water. We will also do the channelisation of the water ways to make sure we distill and remove sands from the water.

Then you must standardised the boat that ply the water. They must be flat and stable. We will make sure the water ways are secure, and employ a lot of diverse life saver, so that if there’s any mishap, you can engage them within a minute or two.

We must also standardise the safety jackets and support it with legislation. This legislations will make suppliers (vendors) of the life jackets responsible for prosecution. That’s how we are going to operate.

It is going to be a serious government. We are not interested in money, fame, power or influence, we are in this for the people. We must take the resources that are being wasted, take it from those who are wasting it and put it back to work for the people. That’s what this struggle is about and we will do it.

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