Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday met behind closed doors with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
At the end of the meeting, the governor told State House correspondents how his government is managing the second wave of COVID-19 in the state and how it is trying to rebuild the infrastructure destroyed during the #EndSARS protests.
On COVID-19, the governor regretted that the state remains the epicentre of the virus while noting that the second wave appears more infectious than the first.
Sanwo-Olu disclosed that more patients in the state are in need of oxygen, hence the decision of his government to build 10 oxygen tents.
The governor said, “On COVID-19, it is actually a very serious case. We have all said it, we are in the second wave and incidentally, the second wave seems to be a bit more infectious than the first one, I mean the rate of infection and the number of people that we have seen. We still remain the epicentre, so what we have done is, we never stopped building capacity.
“One of the things that we are doing now is communication and we are taking it to the grassroots to let people know that they need to take full responsibility and know that even for their loved ones, they need to be real with themselves and know that COVID-19 is real, it is with us and it is not just something playing in their heads.
“We have seen, unfortunately, the fatality rate around the country, even in Lagos. One of the things we have realised is that a lot more people require oxygen attention, they need additional breathing aid, so we have started building what we call oxygen tents.
“We are building about 10 of such facilities, we have commissioned about four or five of them and we are also building proper oxygen plants, additional to oxygen plants in the state so that we can meet the respiratory requirements.”
Sanwo-Olu said the rebuilding of some property destroyed last year had started.
He added that affected small businesses are also being assisted to get back on track through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund.
He, however, said the process would take a while because it is easier to destroy than to rebuild.
He said, “It is work in progress. To take something down takes one day, to rebuild it take 10 years. It is a journey, not a destination. And so, it is going to take a while. We are carefully taking a proper study to know what we need to do, taking our time to get it right but we have started something.
“Some businesses that were affected, people who had their shops looted or burnt or something; wr have been able to directly begin to support such businesses, especially on a micro, small level using the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund.
“They have started intervening and supporting some of these small businesses, giving them grants, giving them soft loans and making sure that they can come back together very quickly.
“The bigger items around infrastructure, around transportation, they will take a fairly longer time. We are talking about a period that is still under three months. So, it is still a working document that we are doing right now and we also have to be very creative in how we raise the finance. We didn’t have money anywhere; you know it was towards the end of a financial year and we’re just starting another year.”
Sanwo-Olu added that to be able to complete the rebuilding process, the state government would need more support from both the public and private sectors.