BBC Documentary On Lagos 'Has Political Undertone'


LAGOS, May 25, (THEWILL) - In what it described as unfortunate and disgraceful, the Lagos State Government today said the documentary the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) aired about the state portends a clear act of political and economic sabotage, which impinges on the state’s objectives of transforming the metropolis into Africa’s emerging model mega city.

The state government also endorsed the invitation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to selected members of the State Executive Council, saying there was nothing wrong if EFCC "seeks clarifications on some salient issues or demand answers to crucial questions from some selected cabinet members.”

The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Opeyemi Michael Bamidele expressed these views few hours ago at the final ministerial briefing to mark the third anniversary of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) at the state secretariat, Alausa.

In his response to questions at the briefing, the commissioner said the state government had protested to some relevant regulatory agencies of the United Kingdom (UK) about the report, which the corporation titled "Welcome to Lagos" and aired April 15, 2010.

Bamidele said the documentary had a political and economic undertone due to the fact that Lagos metropolis "is perceived as an emerging competitor in the new world by some countries, which might seek to rubbish the state’s landmark records."

He explained that the Government of Lagos State "has formally written a letter of protest to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) management on the documentary, which is disgraceful and unfortunate. We are conscious of the report in view of the fact that Lagos is Africa’s emerging market and that Lagos is a bride of foreign investors."

In a letter it addressed to the BBC Management and dated April 23, the state government expressed strong objection to the series, which it said, was not objective in any way because it concentrated on the most negative parts of the metropolis.

The letter partly reads thus: "In this case, the producer of 'Welcome to Lagos' chose to seek out such stories in the worst parts of Lagos. But calling the series Welcome to Lagos is akin to filming a rubbish tip in Peckham and calling the programme Welcome to London.

"However, a series like that can only serve to damage our prospects for foreign investment… Lagos does not deserve this negative coverage particularly at this stage of rapid development. The consequences of negative representations like this will only damage our efforts to build a better state for our ever-growing population.

"We urge the BBC to take steps to correct this by producing a series that looks at the broader picture and the rapid development currently taking place under the stewardship of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN). We would welcome the BBC team back to Lagos State and would like to offer assistance its team would require," the letter said.

Speaking on the invitation of the anti-graft commission to some cabinet members, the commissioner explained that the report was a mere insinuation and workings of some political saboteurs to derail the administration of Governor Fashola.

He said: "The recent invitation of some commissioners in the cabinet of Fashola should be seen as one of the obligations of the commission, but does not automatically translate to financial indictment on the state government.

"EFCC is an agency of the federal government. The commission is enabled by the law to invite and investigate any public office-holders when issues arise. It is there to ask questions when need be and seek clarifications when issues arise.

"But there are some forces who want to use the invitation to distract this administration. If EFCC were to rate all the states of the federation, it will rate Lagos as the best, cleanest, most accountable and transparent government in the country," he said.

Also present at the ministerial briefing are Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs. Oluranti Odutola, her colleague in Lagos Television, Mr. Olalekan Ogunbanwo and Director-General of Lagos State Records and Archives Bureau (LASRAB), Mr. Bolaji Uthman among other members of the state information team.