Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Saturday described the State as a safe haven for business and investments, noting that the recent attacks on malls in the wake of xenophobic reprisals by some hoodlums is reprehensible and condemnable.
The Governor who visited the attacked malls in Ajah and Surulere areas of the State assured business owners of safety and ordered security personnel to step up protection of all facilities so as to prevent them from further attacks.
The Governor who was at Sangotedo and Surulere Shoprite malls and stores to have a first-hand assessment on the level of destruction of the facilities described the incidents as “enormous.”
Speaking to journalists after a tour of the malls, Sanwo-Olu pointed out that it is sad that several shops and organisations belonging to Nigerians were affected in these mindless attacks.
He said: “we have seen the amount of enormous destruction in both plazas and the first thing is to condemn in strong terms, whatever could have led to this, it is an extensive destruction of people’s property.
“As a government we have come out to condemn this and to assure business community that ease of doing business is paramount to us and security of lives and property is part of the to-do list for us.
“We are charging our security operatives to stop at nothing, to ensure that they keep all of these facilities safe and secure,” he added.
Governor Sanwo-Olu noted that although this xenophobic act took place in South Africa, Nigerians are the ones feeling the hardship and should move to stop such occurrence, while stating that thousands of workers from these businesses have suffered losses as a result of these attacks.
“In both malls, over 5000 people are out of jobs. These are jobs where Nigerians are the ones that have been affected. So we need to be able to take the lessons out of this, be stronger together and be able to take corrective measures to ensure that things like these should certainly not repeat itself in our community.
The Governor also advised business owners to build positive engagements with their communities so as to be acceptable by the people.
He said Lagosians, in turn, should see such organisations as part of them and equally own and protect them against attacks such as these.
Speaking to representatives of affected businesses, he said, “Looking at it now, we need to get our businesses to have a lot more engagement with their local communities in which they do business. People now must continue to remember a need for building a sustainable brand that connects with the local communities.
“At moments like this, we can remember the positive things that these brands have impacted in our lives and communities, we should, therefore, see the need to protect them.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu, however, charged security agents to go after those involved and bring them to book.
He described them as “robbers” saying his government will not condone any act of criminality that will threaten the livelihood of any law-abiding citizen of Lagos State.
According to the Governor, “we will also be speaking and discussing with the police to find out what they are going to do with the number of people that have been arrested because speaking in clear terms, this is clear robbery.
“We could see from the evidence provided that people actually broke in by jumping walls into the properties – it is unimaginable,” he said.
Members of the cabinet that joined the Governor during this assessment tour include Commissioners for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Mr.s Lola Akande; Information and Strategy, Mr .Gbenga Omotoso; Special Adviser to the Governor on Sustainable Development Goals, Mrs. Solape Hammond; Commander, Rapid Response Squad, DCP. Tunji Disu.