Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) of Lagos State yesterday berated the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for deeming it fit to hold its rally at the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park, Ojota, one of the greening initiatives of the state government, which the opposition party in the state had continuously described as “cosmetic and elitist”.
The PDP had last week Friday used the park as venue for the reception of Ekiti State Governor-elect, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, who is on a “Thank You” tour of Southwest states.
Fashola, however, at the 2014 Tree Planting Campaign, held in Eti-Osa East Local Council Development Area (LDCA), said the PDP, by their act, did not only vindicate his government’s greening policy, but have also displayed their inconsistency.
The governor, while expressing satisfaction at the success story of the greening initiative and tree planting exercise, which has provided job opportunities for thousands of youth, recalled that at inception, the PDP condemned the programme and labeled it a waste of tax payers’ money.
Fashola noted that the tree planting exercise and greening programme since inception in 2008, has generated over 75,168 employment opportunities for horticulturists, pruners, gardeners, welders, tanker drivers, security personnel and other artisans.
“But our uninformed and unable, and I say so emphatically, our unable opponents, they criticised this initiative, they called it cosmetic, they called it elitist. They clearly demonstrated their ignorance because the environment is also the new economy, they are ignorant people, what they call cosmetic and elitist, has developed our economy, it has created jobs and it has put food on the tables of many people who would otherwise be unemployed”, Fashola added.
He also recalled that the PDP-led Federal Government had attempted to disperse the fuel subsidy removal protest by Nigerians in January 2012 at the Park with fully armed soldiers.
“Our opponents have no shame. In their unthinking inconsistency, it was at the same Ojota Park, the same Gani Fawehinmi Park that they now chose to hold their Party Rally last week. They lie, they forget what they say, what they complain about, don’t believe them, have they forgotten that the Park was cosmetic, have they now forgotten that the Park is elitist, or indeed are they the true elites?
“For me, they have shown themselves up for who they are, a party that is unworthy of trust and lacking in consistency.
“I feel vindicated because this initiative is consistent with Goal number 7 of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and our party’s commitment to sustainable environmental development. I feel vindicated because we have turned environmental challenge into massive economic opportunity, I feel vindicated because our opponents in their flip flop and in their lies and in their shameful inconsistency have also vindicated me”, Fashola stressed.
Apparently looking forward to life outside office, Fashola reminded residents that it was his last tree planting exercise as Governor of the state, adding that the exercise has been institutionalized with the setting up of the Lagos State Parks and gardens Agency (LASPARK) to maintain and sustain the parks, gardens and trees.
“Our government and our party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), remains committed to continuing this initiative, but you know now what our opponents think about this programme, they have told you, so if you value this job, if you value the economic benefit, you must vote to keep this programme going, you must defend your livelihood and your jobs with your votes, may God help you all as you do so when the time is right”.
Earlier, Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, said over five million three hundred and thirteen trees have been planted while over 297 sites have been landscaped.
Mr. Bello urged residents to recognise the need to conquer environmental challenges by planting trees, reminding them also that it is an offence to fell trees in the state without the permission of LASPARK