Dr. Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat is the Deputy Governor of Lagos State. He was the Commissioner for Ministry of Science & Technology, Lagos State from August 2005 to June 2011, Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure from 2011 till May 2015 and from July 4, 2011 Special Adviser on Works to the Minister for Works; and Housing until September 2018.
He was born in September 19, 1964 in Lagos into the family of the late Oba Mufutau Olatunji and the late Alhaja Kehinde Hamzat, who is from Iga Egbe, Lagos State. His father served as a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly and a Commissioner for Transportation in the state before becoming the Vice Chairman South West of then Alliance for Democracy (AD).
In August 2005, Dr. Hamzat was appointed Commissioner for Science and Technology during the tenure of Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu. He retained his position when Governor Babatunde Fashola assumed office in 2007.
After a long-fought primary, Dr. Hamzat emerged as the running mate for Babajide Sanwo-Olu for whom he had stepped down during the primaries. On March 10, 2019, after the election, he was declared Deputy Governor elect of Lagos State by the INEC and presented a Certificate of Return.
Today, he is the Deputy Governor of Lagos State and he has lived up to the billings. He complements the hard-working governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. They are both very active in serving Lagosians.
Few days ago, Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Dr. Tunji Bello, urged Lagos residents to prepare for likely consequences of 240-270 days rain as the 2020 rainfall was forecast to begin on March 19 and end November 22.
This was the forecast by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET). Since this forecast, Lagos State Government has been going round the state to clear some of its water ways and drainages.
Last week, Lagos Deputy Governor made a tour of Lagos Canals and Drainages across the state to inspect their state and also make sure they are in good condition to curtail flooding that had been forecast. During the tour of the canals, he spoke with journalists, and City People Senior Reporter, ISAAC ABIMBADE, was present. He spoke on the government’s plans to tackle flooding across the state. Below are excerpts of the interview.
You have gone round Lagos, how ready are you, knowing that we would have 270 days of raining in Lagos?
First of all, we have the Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, we also have the Special Adviser to the Governor, the Permanent Secretary and the whole retinue of the Management Ministry of Environment here present. So, we know we would have rain as usual, so the essence of our tour is to see where to be cleared. We have started some cleaning. We have started going through some of the channels, but we still want to go fast in tackling it. You know we also have a procurement process. We must follow certain procedures. How can we shorten that, so that we can move quickly. That’s why we are here and as we can see, Lagos has all these channels that can de-flood the state, but we need to start clearing and telling people to stop dumping refuse inside the canal.
As we can see, people are dumping refuse there. These are not dumping grounds; they are to move water.
At Doyin Orile Plantain market, we saw that the refuse there was much despite the presence of canal, what are you going to do?
We would clean it up. That is the essence of our tour. As the ministry said, it has been awarded. Contractors just need to do their work. We would clean it up, but the issue for us is that, how do we prevent it from being clogged up like that again. You can see there is banana there. There is pawpaw there, but we would do something to prevent the current situation. We would do our job, everybody will see when it’s clean.
And I am sure that the people who live in the neigbourhood would see that this is better for them. So, this is to convince people to take ownership of their canals, because without it everywhere would be flooded. That is the essence and that is why we are moving round.
What is your advice to Lagosians?
Rain would come in large quantity. As we can see, it’s started raining earlier than it used to be. Some people say it’s climate change, but it’s raining. The reality is that, as it is raining the water must find somewhere to go. But citizens also need to do their part. Do not drop garbage into the canal. Don’t build on the canal. If you do, we would have to remove it.
There was a building you asked to be sealed at Surulere, why did you do that?
That’s Lawanson road, Itire. First of all, you could see that LASBCA has already sealed that building, but they ignored it, but that was not even the issue. The issue is, you can’t build and take over the road. You can see the granite, the sand heaps on the road. A two-lane road, about 7.5 metres is now reduced to 2.5 metres, that can’t go well. And we all complain there is traffic bottleneck on Lagos roads. That’s one of the reasons. So, if you are building, put your materials inside your property and use it. So it contravenes the laws. The first thing is that LASBCA has sealed it, they are working illegally. Second, they dumped all their building materials in the middle of the road. That is a no-no; it would be removed as quickly as possible.
Apart from what you have done this morning, what other measures have you put in place to reduce flooding?
It will rain, and flooding is not a menace. We need water for various things. As long as we clean our drainage and canals, as long as people follow the instruction of the ministries; local government and others, we would be fine. So, one of the things we are making sure apart from the normal communication that goes round is to make sure that we are also ready. That is why we are cleaning our canals. And we also try to see how the water flows. If our channels are cleaned and people don’t discharge waste there, we would be fine as a state. What is important is for us to be ready, which is what we are doing. but on the part of the citizens, we also want them to stop dropping refuse in the canals. We have been saying this for years.