Urges Lagosians to vote for the Lagos APC flagbearer, Akin Ambode, for continuation of tradition of Excellence

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, Monday evening flagged off the 2014 Countdown at the popular Lagos Bar Beach in Victoria Island advocating more participation of young people in leadership and decision-making as a means to fast track the development of the country.

Addressing the quality crowd comprising of representatives of sponsors, artistes and residents that witnessed the colourful yearly event, Governor Fashola said the sustenance and continued improvement in the standard of the ceremony by the Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency (LASAA), an outfit run by young people, has shown what young people could do when given the chance and with the right government in place.

The Governor said LASAA has become an example of what the Nigerian young people were capable of achieving when given the chance to lead adding that governments at all levels in the country should challenge them with policies and programmes that are capable of bringing the best out of them.

“LASAA is, perhaps, one of the many outfits that we have in Lagos now led and run by young people. It is an example of what is possible. If the right governments and the right people allow Nigerian young people to lead, policies and programmes that challenge young people will bring out the best in them”, he said.

Noting that the nation is too blessed with resourceful and talented young people to be dealing with the challenges that she is currently facing, Governor Fashola said the State has shown, through many of its agencies, that things could be fixed if young people  are entrusted to take decisions.

He declared, “Lagos has shown through LASAA, through Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), through its Electricity Board and through Public Works Corporation, among others, that things can be fixed if we entrust young people to take decisions. They know what they are doing with the right supports and with the right answers”.

Going down memory lane on how the Countdown began, Governor Fashola recalled that it commenced sometimes between 2004 and 2005 at a small space close to the road which was the only place left of the Beach by Sea erosion adding that it took the courage of his predecessor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to say the erosion must be  stopped.

“We had lost the road, all of the properties on this shore line had disappeared and all that the Federal Government of Nigeria was doing was pumping sand here every two years only for it to be washed away, it was that courage that birthed the partnership with South Energy and today not only that we reclaimed the road, businesses are back”, the Governor said.

He expressed joy that more businesses are now emerging at the small and micro levels where, according to him, “people can come here and say to themselves when they leave home, those three important words, “I am going to work”.

Governor Fashola, who emphasized the importance of job creation added, “But what did we do with that dream; we built on it, we developed it and after we had saved the beach, the next challenge was how to turn nature’s assets, an Atlantic coastline, into an opportunity for tourism, for economic development and for daily prosperity”.

“The countdown started as a last few days event, it has become a last one month event. But for me, the work is not finished. What we have done here for the last month of the year must now happen every month and from there on to every day; that is when the story will be complete”, he said.

According to him, the dream was to turn the Beach into a place where there would be Commerce, Sports, Cycling, buying and selling and where the whole world would fly into the country and into the State and say “we are going to the Lagos Bar Beach waterfront the way they go to many other waterfronts across the world; that is the dream”.

Governor Fashola, however, told his audience, “But it would not happen by accidents, it will happen only if people who know how continue to maintain and run the affairs of Lagos State, this has not happened by accident, it has happened because a Government and a Party that  know what they are doing run the affairs of Lagos”.

To sustain the tradition of Excellence, therefore, the APC Candidate remains the best bet for Lagosians, the Governor said adding, “The time to make our choices come upon us in the next few weeks”.

“It will be important to continue to keep this. If you want to see a bigger and a better Countdown next year go and get your Permanent Voters Card. Your vote is what is going to keep this and if you vote for our flag bearer, the flag bearer of the Lagos APC, Akin Ambode, I can assure you today that next year’s countdown will be bigger than this”, the Governor said.

He thanked the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Babatunde Akiolu 1,who he said has made the last ten-day flag-off a fixture in his annual calendar, adding, “Certainly during your time Lagos has prospered and will continue to prosper and long may you reign Sir”.

Governor Fashola also commended the State Command of the Nigeria Police Force, especially the Commissioner of Police, who, according to him, has with his men, continued to work tirelessly to make the Beach safe and secure adding that without such security it would have been impossible to have the presence of such eminent personalities at the event.

Also commended by the Governor were all the sponsors of the event, who according to him, have  demonstrated faith and trust by investing in the “dream” expressing confidence that their investments would continue to yield rewards going by what is already taking place on the one and half kilometre stretch, including a lot of enterprise and commerce.

“It has been happening for the last few days since the first day of December, we have had a Fish Festival here, we have had a Beach Soccer event here, and all of these have gone on”, he noted adding, “For me this is the real economy, the economy where people are allowed to venture on their own, so instead of giving our people hand outs, with very strategic thinking and partnerships, we give them a hand up to be all that they can be by their own efforts and by their own initiatives”.

Thanking the leadership, management and officers of LASAA for making the event possible, Governor Fashola, who expressed pride in the agency, recalled that before the Countdown was started he had been to places like Tanzania and Brazil where such event holds adding, however, that the State would not have benefited if people were imported to do it.

“I continue to challenge LASAA and year on year they have not only responded, they have moved the boundaries of my challenge”, the Governor said adding, “I am very proud of all of you and my gratitude is deep and I know that next year, as some of our sponsors have said, when we ask you to move the boundary one notch up you end up moving three or four notches up, God bless all of you”.

He continued, “Your service to Lagos will be rewarded as you continue to transform this land, this State into the model of Development, model of Public Service, model of Governance and model of Excellence that it has demonstrated itself to be. I thank you so very much, I am really very proud to be the captain of such a wonderful team.”

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Managing Director, Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency (LASAA) Mr. George Noah, expressed  gratitude to the Lagos State Governor, for seeing the need to have such an event “where people are employed, where people are entertained and there is great opportunity for commerce and brand building”.

While also thanking the State Executive Council for lending their support in the previous editions, Noah also thanked the numerous sponsors of the event, who according to him, “have been with the Agency from Day One and have been extremely loyal and supportive at all times”.

In his own goodwill message, a representative of Nigerian Brewery Plc noted that since the company started partnering with the Lagos State Government, particularly the Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency (LASAA), on the Countdown, it was evident that the 2014 Countdown has moved up three notches”.

Also present at the event were members of the State Executive Council including Head of Service, Mrs. Josephine Oluseyi Williams, Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure, Prince Segun Oniru, Commissioner of Police, Mr. Kayode Aderanti, Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Major Tunde Panox (rtd) and his Public Health counterpart, Mrs. Yewande Adeshina, the Oba of Lagos, HRM Oba Rilwan Babatunde Akiolu 1, and representatives of corporate sponsors of the event including the Managing Director, Seven-Up Bottling Company Plc, Mr.  Sunil Sawhney, his Airtel and Multichoice Nigeria counterparts, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya and Mr. John Ogbe and representatives of Nigerian Breweries and other corporate bodies as well as Traditional Rulers and top functionaries of government.

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