Tinubu at Lagos red line inauguration: Labour must maintain peace or wait to join 2027 elections 

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has hit hard at the Orgainsed Labour, led by the duo of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), over its approach to national issues.

Specifically, the president said it is unacceptable for them to call out workers on strikes in just nine months into his administration.

He warned them to either maintain peace or wait to be part of the next round of elections in 2027.

The president gave the warning Thursday at the inauguration of the first phase of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Red Line project, a 37km project expected to reduce travel time and improve transportation and logistics within the state. 

He also witnessed the signing of the contract for Phase 2 of the LRMT Red Line project by the Managing Director of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Engineer Abimbola Akinajo, and the Chairman of CCECC Nigeria Limited, Jason Zhang. 

Prior to his departure for a state visit to Qatar, Tinubu embarked on an inaugural train ride from the Ikeja station to the Agege station, accompanied by Lagos state Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Deputy Governor Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, some state governors, members of the federal and state executive councils, members of the federal and state legislatures, Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria Cui Jianchun, and a select group of journalists.

…Cautions Labour

Speaking to reporters aboard the train during the inaugural ride, President  Tinubu assured Nigerians that their lives would  only become more enjoyable as modern amenities are built across the entire nation under his progressive leadership.

‘‘This is very efficient and comfortable, and I am happy. Our transportation system must be all about the people. We have cut down imports on PMS by almost 50 percent. We need mass transit to complement the daily efforts of citizens and make things easier for our people. And this is what this is all about. It is about the people. It is about democracy. We are happy about it,” he said.

Tinubu also called on Nigerians to embrace change and work towards national progress. 

He reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to eradicating corruption, and called on labour unions to refrain from disruptive actions. 

”Some labour unions should understand that no matter how we cling to our freedom and rights, to call for strikes within the first nine months of a new administration is unacceptable. 

”If you want to directly participate in the electoral process, wait until 2027, if not, maintain the peace. Labour is not the only voice of Nigeria,” he said. 

 …Urges FG, states collaboration  

Earlier, President Tinubu had while addressing a gathering of Nigerians at the train station in Ikeja, directed the Transportation Minister, Senator Sa’idu Alkali, to ensure the federal and subnational governments strengthen their collaboration to provide reliable, efficient, and affordable transportation systems for all Nigerians across the country.

”It is my singular pleasure to inaugurate the first phase of the LRMT Red Line to the glory of God Almighty and for the benefit of the people. ‘Today, I am seriously honoured that I am a Lagosian and the first to be President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

”My promise is not to let you down. We will arrive at the destination with joy, happiness, and prosperity; God willing,” he said.

…Reflection on his governorship  

 Reflecting on his tenure as a former governor of the state when the vision of a modern and effective public transportation system in the state was conceived, the president described the project as a dream realized and a fulfillment of years of hard work and dedication by successive governments.

The president said: “I am happy that the history of Lagos remembers us and will be kind. I am very, very happy indeed that today is a day to remember the infrastructural history of our country and particularly Lagos, my Lagos, the centre of excellence. Today is evidence that it is good to dream, and it is a serious validation of democracy by the people and for the people when you put people at the centre of focus of your vision of planning. You will realise the value of democracy.

“25 years ago, I was elected to lead Nigeria most populous state, the smallest in land mass, when all that existed here was suppressed and aborted potential and when the dream begins, my team and I toiled day and night to draft and implement a developmental vision that will transform Lagos into the economic power house of Africa and a respected mega city on a global state. We are releasing that dream.

“I am pleased to declare to you that the momentum of greatness we kickstarted a quarter of a century ago has since become an unstoppable goal. It is not a crime to dream and dream big, stay focused and stay on course, particularly make development the central focus.”

…On reforms

Speaking on his administration’s reforms and the accompanying challenges, Tinubu said: “I could hear a lot of noises now, I live with it, I asked for this job, I cannot complain. It is all about democracy. But this revolution that is starting, this reform that is ongoing; we are not looking back, because it is here for the people, the engineering, the reconstructions, and the affirmation to be loyal. There is only one thing that I know; it is that there is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel.”

“I agreed smugglers will fight back, corruption will fight back, we will fight them to ruin. Corruption will go away; we will save the money for you to educate our children, to pay for the healthcare of our people, to pay for modern transportation that works for the highest of our people, not those few smugglers and foot layers. The fight is on, we will be on it, and we are not looking back.”

 He said: “We cannot afford to relax, the bourgeoning population, we must plan and prepare for it, we must be committed to great value and this economy will grow, we will feed ourselves out of the penury and we’ll be happy that we did it. What is our problem? if it is corruption, we must exterminate it no matter how hard it is fighting back and saying no to corruption. We must adhere to our pledge, patriotism, perseverance, consistency and stay focused.”

 …Lauds LATMA

The president commended the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), the urban transport agency he established over 20 years ago, for its exemplary performance.

He implored LAMATA to sustain the momentum in completing all other phases of the Red Line project, as well as the full execution of the broader rail blueprint of the state.

…Sanwo-Olu’s remarks

Also speaking, Governor Sanwo-Olu said the first phase of the project, executed by the state government, spans 37 kilometers and shares the track of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) Lagos-Ibadan modernization project from Ebute Metta to Agbado with stations at Oyingbo, Yaba, Mushin, Oshodi, Ikeja, Agege, and Iju. 

The governor said the phase one of the project would transport 750,000 passengers daily at inception and 1.1 million passengers daily once fully operational.

Sanwo-Olu appreciated his predecessors, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), for the construction of the Blue Line, and Akinwunmi Ambode, for further developing the project.

He also thanked former President Goodluck Jonathan for signing-off on the track-sharing agreement, and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) for providing the necessary cooperation and support.

Seeking for more support from the federal government, Sanwo-Olu said: “Mr. President, this is not the end of the story, but merely the beginning. As I said earlier, we are on a long and exciting journey. Much has been accomplished, and there is still much ahead to be done. There will be a total of six Lines on the Lagos Rail Mass Transit System, when fully developed. We have already started preliminary work on the next two: the Green and Purple Lines.

“The Green line is a 71.49-kilometre route from Marina to the Lekki Free Zone, one of the fastest-growing industrial areas on the continent today, and also where we will be siting the new Lagos International Airport.

“The Purple Line is a 54.35-kilometre line from the Redemption Camp to Ojo, near the Lagos State University. The final two lines will be the Orange and the Yellow Lines.”

About Abdullahi M. Gulloma, Adewale Ajayi and Suleiman Idris,Lagos

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