Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Monday urged Nigerians to strive hard no matter how difficult to keep alive the memory of those who died for democratic governance to thrive in the country, just as he reiterated the commitment of his administration to growth and development of the state.
Governor Ambode, who spoke in Epe at the launch of AMBSAM Memorial Foundation, said the heroes of democracy must be celebrated always, and that all hands must be on deck to support their families both financially and morally.
AMBSAM Memorial Foundation was put together in honour of five persons who died in a boat mishap which occurred on March 28, 2015 in Epe area of Lagos State.
The victims had met their tragic death while on an assignment to monitor the 2015 Presidential and National Assembly election exercise conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The victims of the ill-fated mishap include late Adewale Olakunle, Mogaji Gbolahan, Bello Muiz, Salau Tunde, Agoro Shamuseen and Mogaji Wale.
Governor Ambode, who recalled his last moment with some of the victims, said some of them encouraged him to contest for the governorship election in the state.
The Governor said: “Just like this sunny afternoon, I was seated in my compound for which just about two hours earlier, some of the people we are celebrating today were actually with me and they were asking for words of encouragement and I remember that they said they were doing it for the upliftment of the Epe division.
“I did encourage them that time and I said by the time they are back, I would have lunch with them. I did not know that was the last time I will hear from them.
“A year after, I stand before you on their behalf to say that whatever it is that I am doing today is because of them. I want to say exactly that almost two years back, they were the first set of people that I really sat down with that I was interested in doing what I am doing today and I remember that was in my office in Victoria Island and I remember that they gave me words of encouragement that I should proceed. And for doing this for me, I believe strongly that there is no way I want to pay them back than to support their families and work hard for a greater Lagos because they died for our sake and they will never die in vain,” Governor Ambode said.
The Governor, who vowed to support the Foundation to succeed and stand the test of time, also urged the people to show commitment to the welfare of the families of the victims.
“I want to encourage all our elders, community leaders and all of us that we must keep the flag flying; we must stand up for them either in deed or action. Let me also reiterate my commitment to carry on with everything that we are doing. We have the vision to ensure that there is growth and development in Lagos State and that is what we are committed to doing,” Governor Ambode said.
Earlier, Coordinator of the Foundation, Otunba Tunji Abass thanked Governor Ambode for his passion for the underprivileged, saying the presence of the Governor at the launch was an eloquent testimony of his love for the people.
Abass said the basic objectives of the Foundation included immortalising the victims of the said boat mishap and catering for the up-keeps of their immediate dependants, as well as to create a scholarship scheme to take care of educational needs of the dependants of the deceased and other indigent students in the entire Epe division.
He further said the Foundation would also be a platform to provide succor to the less privileged in the Epe division and beyond who might have suffered a similar fate.
The coordinator said the Foundation, as part of its goals, would establish a life jacket manufacturing plant in honour of the victims and would also establish a memorial park with a state-of-the-art swimming pool which would be accessible to members of the community whereby they can learn how to swim.
He added that the planned manufacturing plant, when operational, will produce only quality and efficient life jackets.
Besides, Abass said the Foundation will equally embark on aggressive and massive mobilization of waterways users and operators on international best practices and safety tips, adding that the Foundation would also partner with elected representatives on enactment of a legislation that would position the waterways practice to present dynamics and promote enforcement through the introduction of stiffer penalties for operators.