|Governor Babatunde Fashola|
The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, at the weekend said his government picked up critical lessons from the Boston marathon attack in the United States, a couple of weeks ago, which left many people dead and scores badly injured, some with permanent damage.
Speaking at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University, Washington D.C, where he delivered a lecture, Fashola said he kept long nights taking notes on how the US government managed the situation from the moment the attack was launched.
Describing terrorism as a trans-boundary crime, Fashola told the audience that: “I kept long hours at night following the events, taking notes about how the first responders reacted and how the law enforcement carried out their duties. They are notes that I have shared with my colleagues in government that are in charge of health and security services and many of them shared some of those long nights as well.”
The governor described the occasion of the lecture as “an appropriate opportunity to personally convey the sympathy of the people and government of the state to all of you Americans here and members of the free world for the unfortunate and horrific incident that happened in Boston over a week ago. We join you in condemning and fighting terror wherever it rears its ugly head.
“For those who still fail to understand, terror is a trans-boundary crime with global ramifications. Even though we were not physically here with you during those traumatic moments, we were deeply affected by the events as we watched on global news.”
The incident aside, Fashola also shared his experience on the trip to the US when he said: “Violence and devastating consequences compelled me to review my invitation to speak here today. I asked myself if it was safe to come. I asked myself if the law enforcement and border security agencies would be increasingly hostile to visitors in view of the origins of the suspects of the crime.
“I asked myself if people like me, a Muslim, would not be profiled for all sorts of body searches. I considered calling Professor Peter Lewis to cancel the trip. The event is a call I never made. I decided to personally experience whatever new measures that visitors to this country would now have to contend with.
“I am pleased that I never picked up the phone to call Professor Lewis. I am also pleased to say that none of my fears about the possible heavy-handed reaction were borne out– at least, certainly not from my experience or that of my entourage. But something that was non-official, in this sense, did not represent the manifest position of the government of this country, happened,” he noted.
Continuing, Fashola said “As we were being assisted through Immigration by my country’s ambassador, the very amiable Ambassador Archibong, an elderly American lady shouted out: ‘Why should these visitors go through before me? This is my country.’ Her words will stay with me for a long time as I struggle to make meaning of them. But why are they relevant here?
“It is because Professor Lewis asked me to speak on a topic that relates to the challenges of governance and development in Lagos State, and governing Nigeria’s federal system. I had chosen the topic ‘Liberating and coordinating diversity.’ But I did not write my speech until Wednesday, the day I got here.
“As far as I know, many countries that have opted for a federal system of government have done so because it is the best known system for managing diversity; whether of tribes, nationalities, religions, ethnicities or languages. In this sense, this country and my country, especially my state, Lagos, are no different.
“Lagos shares many similarities with New York: as former federal capitals, as current commercial capitals, as melting pots of different people from different walks of life. Where would our two countries be without the diversity of their immigrant population- an immigrant population whose skills and financial resource help to keep the wheels of development turning?” he asked, adding: “I will let you ponder over these thoughts, and move to the content of my speech.”
By Olawale Olaleye