The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Monday described the security of lives and property of residents as the biggest achievement of his administration in the last three years, saying it was gratifying to note that the State is now the safest in Africa.
Speaking at the commissioning of a Forward Operating Base of the Nigerian Army in Epe, Ambode said the combined investment of his administration in the security architecture of the State and efforts of security agencies had resulted in peaceful atmosphere for residents and visitors.
The Governor, who recalled the days of kidnapping, cultism and other security challenges in Ikorodu and Epe axis, said it was satisfying that the activities of criminal elements such as militants, among others had been confined to history in the State.
He said: “As I mark my own three years in office tomorrow (Tuesday), I can say significantly that if there is anything that I have actually achieved in these three years is the security and safety of lives and property in Lagos State.
“There is no way that could have been possible and that is why I say it quietly and openly if not for the support and cooperation of all the security agencies and most significantly the efforts of the Nigerian Army which is actually hidden underground but visibly seen by everything that is going on here.”
Recalling his early days in office, Ambode said his first major task was how to address kidnapping and other nefarious activities perpetrated by militants in Ishawo axis, adding that a Military Base was eventually set up as well as Military Operation, code-named: “Operation Awatse.”
He said: “At the beginning, the issue of kidnapping and cultism was actually in this eastern axis between Epe and Ikorodu but with the efforts that we have seen and visible to all of us, it has become a thing of the past and we are very grateful to the Nigerian Army.
“I want to quickly recollect that my first task was the issue of kidnapping that was so notorious in area of Ishawo in Ikorodu and there and then, we had the support of the Nigerian Army to set up a small base and we had to also take over property of some of those militants to accommodate the Military Base.”
He said crime rate had drastically reduced in the State, and that no efforts would be spared in sustaining the peace in the State.
Ambode said: “I must say the last three years have been very peaceful and everybody would agree that crime rate has reduced in Lagos. We need to sustain it because at the end of the day that is what really grows our GDP and that is what makes other people to want to come to Lagos and I can clearly and openly declare that Lagos right now is the safest city across Africa.”
While alluding to how former military barrack in Epe was closed, Ambode described the commissioning of the FOB as historic and significant considering the fact that it was witnessed by traditional rulers and community leaders in the area, adding that the development was a new dawn for community relationship with the Army in the axis.
Besides, the Governor lauded the General Officer Commanding in charge of 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Enobong Udoh, for his steadfastness in promoting peace in the State, just as he reiterated commitment to continually support the Military and other security agencies in the State.
He said: “I want to openly say I will support the second FOB that is coming up in Ikorodu and if there is any need for us to give further support for gunboat engines or infrastructure, you can count on us that we would support anything that will keep the lives and property of our people safe at all times.
“Our support for Operation Awatse is continual and we would support every other thing that is necessary and also beyond this, we would also support the welfare of all the security agencies that are operating in Lagos so that we can continue to have peace.
“What we are seeing is a new strategy to keep our outer spaces safer than ever before and we need the Military presence in Ikorodu, in Epe and all the outer spaces so that we can go away from the central protection and also make every other place in Lagos livable and also economically viable.”
Ambode also commended the new initiative by the Nigerian Army to promote human security alongside national security, saying the State Government was solidly behind any initiative aimed at ensuring unity of the country.
Earlier in his remarks, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, commended Governor Ambode for the support to security agencies and the massive infrastructural development across the length and breadth of the State, saying the initiatives of the Governor were laudable.
Buratai said: “We really want to thank you (Governor Ambode) for the transformation and development going on in Lagos State.
“We acknowledge the transformation in Lagos and we say thank you.”
Buratai said the FOB was set up to enhance security in the axis, and as well help to facilitate other military formations that would soon be moved to the area.