By Bukola Nwonah
It’s about that time of the year again when women in Lagos State converge under the auspices of the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO) for annual National Women’s Conference.
For the past 19 years, COWLSO which is a community-based gender organisation established principally to complement the effort of the Lagos State Government in bringing about exponential development and growth at the grassroots, has been consistent in hosting the conference each year.
This year edition has its unique features. One, it is the first outing of the new Chairman of COWLSO, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, who assumed the leadership of the Committee, following the swearing-in of her husband, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, as the 15th Governor of Lagos State. It is a common knowledge that Lagos is a major commercial hub not just in Nigeria, but in Africa.
The theme of the conference: “Unlearn, Learn And Relearn: 21st Century Women’s T.H.E.M.E.S Perspectives/Approach”, was said to have been chosen after several brainstorming sessions on how to ensure that women in Lagos and indeed in the country key into the emerging opportunities being provided by the present administration in the State.
According to plans, the conference is projected to feature 3,000 participants, and as such one can come to terms with the fact that any programme designed to impact such huge number of participants, will eventually make positive impacts across the nooks and crannies of the State.
Speaking at the pre-conference press briefing at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, Dr. Sanwo-Olu said outstanding professionals had been specifically lined up to discuss the main topic and sub-themes of the conference, which is scheduled to hold between October 22 and 24, 2019 at the Eko Hotels Convention Centre, Victoria Island.
She said: “As it is the tradition of the Conference to strategically empower women to contribute positively to the development of the State and Nigeria at large, this year’s theme was carefully selected in line with the vision and aspiration of the present administration in Lagos State to bring about greater Lagos of our dreams.
“We have lined up very eminent Nigerians and outstanding professionals to help our women come to terms with how best they can key into the emerging opportunities being provided by the government of the day in Lagos State.”
Justifying the theme, the First Lady said several brainstorming sessions came to play before the members eventually settled for the theme.
She added: “A lot of brainstorming had gone among the COWLSO, especially NWC members and some of the things we did considered when we were trying to agree on the topics was to have a feeler and do a survey of what is happening in our system. We sent out questionnaires and asked questions orally and we found out that there was a knowledge gap; there’s the need for massive reorientation in our State, and in the nation as a whole.
“The theme of the event is to trying to re-orientate our people that we have learnt some things before that we need to unlearn those things and learn the right way of doing things. A simple example is, a patient goes to a hospital and while she’s waiting at the reception watching television and eating a snack, she litters the floor with paper of the snack. Someone comes and ask Madam why are you throwing this on the floor, and she responded I thought there is a cleaner being paid to clean the floor and so if I don’t throw it on the floor, how would she get paid? You can see that she has learnt something before she needs to unlearn.
“The same thing applies to traffic. A lot of people are impatient and once there is traffic, they start driving on lanes dedicated to BRT buses and then if every road user decides to pass the BRT corridor, there will be congestion and nobody will go anywhere. That is what some people have learnt and so there is a need to unlearn those things and everyone of us has to be the ambassadors so that we can learn good things, and it is a total overhauling of our values.
“So, I think that topic is apt when COWLSO decided to take that topic to unlearn some things that have been learnt; learn new things and keep on relearning,” she said.
While emphasising that learning is a continuous process, the First Lady said: “You see, a lot of people have entered the plane and no matter the class you are – first class, middle class, economy class, each time you enter the plane, they will tell you to please put on your seat belt; they will tell you the emergency exit, among other things. They will not say because you have entered the plane five times you don’t need the information and so it shows that learning is continuous even if you know it.”
Giving further details, Dr. Sanwo-Olu said the First Lady of Nigeria, Dr. Aisha Buhari would declare the Conference Open, alongside Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State, while his counterpart from Nasarawa State, Governor Abdullahi Sule would serve as Special Guest of Honour at the closing ceremony.
She said aside the main theme, other sub-themes include: “The 21st Century Woman – Build Not Born To Influence The Society; Entertainment And Tourism: Prism Of Possibilities – Tourism and Entertainment; The Total Woman; Entrepreneurship: Making Money And More Money – Agric Entrepreneurship, Financing and General Trading; Mould A Child And Build A Greater Generation; Healthy Woman – A Healthier Nation: Maternal & Child Mortality; Development And A Healthy City – Creating A Balance – Waste To Wealth, and Obey Traffic Laws,” among others.
With the array of interesting topics lined up for the 2019 conference, one can only commend COWLSO and look forward to interesting times ahead as participants positively put the experience to practice to engender a better society for all, particularly in Lagos State and in the nation at large.
Nwonah is the Head of Public Affairs, Office of the First Lady of Lagos State
SANWO-OLU BIDS JUSTICE BULKACHUWA FAREWELL, AS APPEAL COURT PRESIDENT RETIRES
…Lagos’ll Always Keep Faith In The Rule Of Law, Says Governor
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said his administration will not deviate from the tenet of constitutional democracy, promising that actions of the State Government under his watch will be kept within the ambit of the law.
He said his Government’s faith in the judicial system remained unshakable, adding that Lagos had been a beneficiary of the rule of law.
Sanwo-Olu spoke on Wednesday while receiving the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa, on a courtesy visit at the Lagos House in Marina.
Justice Bulkachuwa, who was accompanied by other Justices of the Appeal Court, is retiring from the service after reaching the mandatory retirement period.
The Governor said Lagos would always stand on the good side of the law, adding that his administration would particularly stand in principle against actions that may undermine the independence of the Court.
He said: “Government in Lagos State is committed to ensuring that we all live within the ambit of the law. We will continue to engage the judiciary as an independent arm of the government. All of us in the executive arm will continue to uphold the tenet of the constitution that we swore to in our ways and deeds. We will not run foul of the law or any pronouncement of the Court.”
Sanwo-Olu saluted the outgoing Justice Bulkachuwa for her courage in driving far-reaching reforms in the Court of Appeal, saying her legacies would strengthen administration of justice across the country. The Governor said her legacies would be a guiding light for members of the judiciary and officers in the other arms of government.
The Governor said: “We are happy that you are proceeding to retirement at this prime age. You are now 70 years old but you are looking like a 50-year-old. Glory be to Almighty Allah for the grace of youthful appearance and energy. You have had a wonderful career in the judiciary.
“The several successes you have recorded during your tenure as President of the Court of Appeal will continue to be the legacy we will uphold in remembrance of your service to the nation. You are the oldest serving President of the Court of Appeal and you brought many reforms and laudable initiatives to strengthen the judicial process.
“Whoever is succeeding you will have enough to draw from your legacies. We hope you keep your doors open not only to the judiciary but also all of us who are looking forward to learn from your leadership skills.”
Justice Bulkachuwa said she would dedicate her retirement life to promoting girl-child education across the country, noting that she would not have achieved her potential had her father not given her a chance to go to school.
She was hopeful that the reforms and discipline she had instituted in the judiciary would be strengthened by the serving members, pointing out that she had mentored a new breed of judicial officers to entrench “good legacies” she is leaving behind.
“I will still be with my sisters and brother in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Courts. I have mentored so many young judicial officers and upcoming lawyers to carry on the legacies. I will still be part of the judicial system despite my retirement,” Justice Bulkachuwa said.
Asked why she chose to visit Lagos Governor in her first valedictory visit to any elected official, Justice Bulkachuwa said it was in Lagos the first Court of Appeal was set up among the three divisions created in 1976.
Besides, she said Lagos is playing pivotal roles in the administration of justice system, pointing out that majority of lawyers in the judiciary are serving in the State. She added that most of Appeal Court’s cases were being instituted in Lagos.
THERE’S NO MULTIPLE TAXATION IN LAGOS – SANWO-OLU
Lagos State Government has reiterated that there is currently no multiple taxation in Lagos State revenue system.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu stated this during a courtesy visit to Lagos House, Ikeja by the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS) Mr. Muhammad Nami.
Placing emphasis on startups, the Governor stated that his administration will always improve on the ease of doing business in the State rather than stifle the economy with loaded taxes.
Mr Sanwo-Olu promised to embrace and support the activities of start-ups who are scared of the tax burden associated with businesses.
He also urged Nigerians to pay their taxes regularly in order for the Government to attain a balanced development at all levels, which according to him, include social infrastructure, security among others.
The Governor promised that Lagos State Government would continue with the existing relationship and further collaborate with the Federal Inland revenue Service in sharing information to aid revenue collection and ensure deliverables were met.
Sanwo-Olu lauded the Federal Government for considering the starte up businesses in the exemption threshold on taxation.
His said: “we will make sure that there is ease of doing businesses, especially start-ups, that are always scared that they have multiple taxation. There is nothing like multiple taxation in Lagos.
“It is clear that they are exempted but that doesn’t stop them from doing proper filing and ensure transparent reporting at whichever level of their business.
“We will also use this opportunity to encourage our citizens that it is only when they play their own part as responsible citizens both at the corporate and individual level that the government can come up and discharge its responsibilities.
“Development is by tax and it is only when we collect reasonably amount of tax that we can introduce development both at infrastructure level and more importantly on security so we cannot but ensure that we collaborate and corporate with you,” he said.
Responding to the Chairman on the N8.5 trillion target set by the President, Governor Sanwo-Olu said the country has the capacity to generate such amount but warned that it must be done cautiously.
Also speaking on the ongoing Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) 2020 meeting holding for the first time in Lagos, Sanwo-Olu said it was an opportunity to deliberate on the proceeds that State gets from the Federal Government was used judiciously.
He said: “I am sure they know clearly that you can live up to those bills and 8.5 trillion sounds a lot but they know you have the capacity.
The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, said the aim of the visit was to ensure effective performance of the service in meeting its target and in its request to share information, collaborate in building capacity as well as engage private sector on the Value Added Tax collection.
“We feel without this collaboration, we cannot generate this 8.5 trillion that we have been mandated by the President to generate,” he said.
LAGOS-BADAGRY HIGHWAY MUST REMAIN 10-LANE CARRIAGEWAY, SANWO-OLU APPEALS TO FG
The 10-lane right-of-way already set by the Lagos State Government in the ongoing construction of Lagos-Badagry Expressway needs to be preserved, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu urged the Federal Government.
Sanwo-Olu said the ongoing construction work on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway would shoot up population upon completion and open the corridor up for more physical development.
The Governor stressed that the maintenance of 10-lane on the stretch currently being constructed by the Federal Government was necessary to help the State efficiently manage traffic and enhance safety of residents on the axis.
Sanwo-Olu spoke on Wednesday, while meeting with members of the Senate Committee on Works that paid him a courtesy visit at the State House in Alausa. The Committee was led by its chairman, Sen. Adamu Aliero.
The Federal Government is currently handling the construction of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway from Agbara to Seme Border, while Lagos Government is complementing the effort from Orile to Iba town, creating five-lane on either sides of the 22-kilometre-long stretch.
The Governor said reducing the expressway to two-lane highway could not be sustainable for future development, adding that the preservation of the 10-lane already set on the highway would make it easy for Lagos to extend its Blue Line Rail project into Badagry town.
Sanwo-Olu said: “I am happy that the Federal Government has taken up the construction of Lagos-Badagry Expressway from Agbara to Seme Border. But the challenge is that we don’t want them to reduce the expressway to two lanes. We’ve said to them that they should keep the 10-lane right-of-way, instead of reducing it back to two-lane. Even if what they are going to build is two lanes on either sides, let them keep the space for expansion to 10 lanes. So that in future, either State or Federal government can build on it.
“We also have our rail infrastructure along that Badagry corridor and we are hoping that it will be completed before the end of next year. With the rail corridor and the 10-lane expressway, it means we can extend the rail project to Badagry. That’s why we must preserve the 10 lanes for future development.”
The Governor thanked President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly for prioritising the rehabilitation of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the budgetary support being giving to the Ministry of Works and Housing handling the project.
Sanwo-Olu praised the Minister for Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, for the progress recorded on the ongoing construction work on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, while also urging the Federal Government to hasten the rehabilitation work on other inter-state expressways, including Ikorodu-Sagamu Highway, Itokin Expressway and Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.
He said Lagos had already started to leverage Public Private Partnership (PPP) in providing requisite infrastructure to support businesses and enhance economic growth. He said the State was ready to support other private-led initiatives that would bring succour to commuters and residents of the State.
Aliero said the purpose for the Committee members’ trip to Lagos was to inspect the ongoing road projects being handled by the Federal Government in the State, noting that the Senators would be visiting Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonsoki, Lagos-Ibadan and Lagos-Badagry expressways to inspect the ongoing work on the roads.
The Committee chairman said Lagos deserved the attention being accorded to it by the Federal Government, describing the State as “strategic” for commerce and innovation in the country.
Although two of the road projects are being funded from Sovereign Wealth Fund and Budget, Aliero said there was need for Government at all level to partner with private sector for development projects. He said the National Assembly had start working on legislation that would make the Government to leverage PPP model in financing infrastructure.
He said: “We can no longer rely on budgetary allocations to continue funding projects. We have to find an alternative way of providing infrastructure, including roads, railway and power. Perhaps it is important now to go into PPP, giving the example laid down by Alhaji Aliko Dangote who is constructing and expanding Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonsoki Expressway. If we had gone by budget, it might take another 10 years to complete the road.
“If we allow the private sector to construct and manage the infrastructure, it would go a long way in making provision of infrastructure easier. This is why the Senate is coming up with strong legislation to enable the private sector to go into partnership with Government to build infrastructure. Whatever money remain can be invested in social sector, such as education and healthcare delivery.”
Aliero praised the Lagos Government for complementing the effort of the Comptroller of Works in traffic management and rehabilitation of failed sections of federal roads.
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