The good people of Lagos State of Nigeria, who for eight years have been swimming in the luxury of the incredible performance of the immediate past governor, Raji Fashola, had prayed for a successor, who would either sustain or surpass the irrepressible record set by Fashola.
However, it is often said that the morning, determines what the day will bring. And also, a proverb has it that ‘A child destined for greatness would exhibit such character traits from the cradle.’ That saying by the elders heralded the coming of Akinwunmi Ambode, Fashola’s successor, who in few weeks after resumption left no one in doubt that he is well equipped for the task ahead.
The Ambode administration in Lagos State is began to project a sense of the direction his peculiar style will take the state with his activities so far. Lagosians are getting to know the man, Akinwumi Ambode better, as his activities are giving them an assurance of what to expect in the following years. Born on June 14, under the Zodiac sign of Gemini, the governor’s body language and utterances show intelligence, inquisitivity, ability to communicate, friendliness and compassion, with an amiable disposition.
We will recall his emotions when a tanker loaded with fuel, fell at Iyana Ipaja. He promptly arrived at the scene of the inferno, to assess the damage, pleading with the residents especially those affected by the fire to be law abiding, promising to alleviate their suffering. He also set up a 12 man committee of experts to look into road crashes involving tankers and trailers and to provide lasting solutions to the problem. He believes in an all inclusive government, always welcoming opinions. He said his government will not just bark down orders, but will involve the people in decision making.”I am here to make life easier for Lagosians” , he said. Also recently, his government moved to relocate all congested bus stops, especially those close to markets, in order to ease the traffic grid locks. He came to the conclusion after visiting Ojodu Berger, Ketu Mile 12, Oworonshoki, Agege /Pen Cinema, Iyana Ipaja and Dopemu areas of the state, promising to reach other areas. He believes in a practical approach to gather first hand information ‘It is not enough for officials of government to stay in their offices to find solutions to traffic problems” While approving the construction of a much anticipated pedestrian bridge at Berger bus stop, he has provided funds for the Lagos state public works corporation to rehabilitate damaged roads and construction of new ones in the state.
His programs will be people oriented with his preparedness to dialogue with the residents at the grassroots, having recently met ‘Neighborhood Watch’, people at local government levels and other stakeholders with a desire to ensure that peace, efficiency and the wealth of the state gets to all. He had since been holding quarterly Town Hall meetings with each of the three senatorial districts of the state.
His own image and the corporate image of the administration matter a lot to him as he cautioned the officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority “LASTMA’, the Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO) and Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI), not to harass or forcibly take over citizen’s vehicles, reminding them that technology was being used to send messages and reminders about vehicles documents to the people, adding that such technology could also be used in tracking down those who commit traffic offences without forcibly seizing their vehicles. He urged KAI officers to enforce the law against street trading in a civil manner and use social media to achieve effectiveness. He said the three parastatals are the ‘New Face’ of Lagos, stressing that he would be commended for what they did right and get hard knocks for their errors.
It will be recalled that the Opposition Party took advantage of the excesses of some LASTMA, KAI and VIO officials to campaign against his party, APC. Some of the issues almost turned into an electoral liability for the APC. LASTMA has since been given a human face.
Also commendable was the appointment of Mr Tunji Bello, as the secretary to the Lagos State Government. A journalist, lawyer, political scientist, commissioner of environment since 2011, his appointment is seen as a round peg in a round hole. Lagosians can be assured of stability, security, infrastructural development and better programmes from a man who knows his onions. The Alausa Secretariat, the seat of government, is also a familiar terrain for Ambode, a former Accountant- General of the state, who, with the benefit of hindsight can manage the ecoomic challenges of the state creditably.
The state, has been blessed with visionary leaders. From the era of Governor Bola Tinubu, Governor Babatunde Raji Fasola and now to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, it has been success all the way for Lagos State. Thus governance in Lagos State assumed a new dimension, since the advent of democratic rule in Nigeria, 17 years ago.
He had swung into action by appointing 19 new Permanent Secretaries for effective service delivery and efficient performance. Recently the state recruited 1,561 officers into the State civil service and deployed same to various Ministries/Agencies according to their man power needs.
Governor Ambode has so far successfully commissioned a 4.765 billion naira worth of security vehicles and equipment to improve security. The items include Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), Gun boats, Helicopters, cars, Pick-up vans, A Drone and Motorcycles. This has in no doubt stemmed the tide in security lapses, thereby securing the state for business to thrive. The recent is the commissioning of 1.85 billion naira, security equipment by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mohammadu Buhari, who was ably represented by the Vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. Aside from The Rapid Response Squad (RRS), other beneficiaries include 107 Police Stations, 13 Area Commands, The Nigeria Customs, Immigration Service, the Nigerian Army, Air Force, Navy, DSS, AIG Zone 2, Civil Defence, Federal Road Safety Commission, LASTMA, NDLEA, Lagos State Task Force and the Nigerian Prisons Service. It will be recalled that a few months after becoming governor, he had gone on patrol with his security chiefs to the dangerous spots of Lagos as early as 5.00am to assess the situation. The crime rate in Lagos has now reduced considerably. With modern vehicles and equipment, Lagos Police may soon measure up with their American or European counterparts.
Road construction projects are ongoing in various parts of the state, while some were completed and commissioned, among which are, Ago palace way, Ajasa Command road etc. Worthy of note are the construction of 2 inter roads from each of the 20 LGAs and 37 LCDAs totaling 114 roads. These roads are expected to open up the inner roads to take away pressure from the main roads. Laudable among these are the construction of Flyover Bridges at Abule Egba and Ajah roundabouts. The construction of Pedestrian Bridges are ongoing across the State, such as Berger B/stop on Lagos-Ibadan expressway and the new one at Ojota B/stop. Governor Ambode recorded a milestone in his achievements by signing the MOU for the construction of 4th Mainland Bridge. The construction of the 844 billion naira project is coming, 30 years after the construction of 3rd Mainland bridge. The bridge will run through Lekki, Langbasa to Bayeku Town connecting Igbogbo River Basin, through to Itamaga, Itokin to Isawo and ends at Ojodu Berger. The construction will commence this year and will be completed in 3 years. The governor also commissioned 434 buses in the new BRT Scheme in November 2015, to boost transportation. Four single Electric Multiple Unit (EMU), car train coaches were procured to operate on the Lagos Urban Rail Network (LURN) especially on the blue and red lines. The Akinwunmi Ambode led administration has attracted more investors to the water transportation.
About 600 KM network of roads and streets in 366 locations across the state have been lit up under the ‘Light up Lagos’ project, which has so far extended the hours of business activities.
In fulfillment of his administration’s commitment to bringing quality healthcare services closer to the people, particularly during emergency situations free of charge, the governor has so far commissioned 20 Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU) Ambulances and 26 Transport Ambulances, the President on a two day working visit to Lagos commissioned the Lagos State Emergency Agency (LASEMA), Response unit at Cappa, Oshodi, the first of its kind in Nigeria, with word class facilities, with an initial acquisition of 51 equipments including, 3 Forklifts, one Crane, 13 Trucks, 10 Paramedics Motorbikes, 2 Fire trucks Ambulances among others.
The accountant in him has also propelled an increase in the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state by 4.85 billion naira with total revenue of 101.69 billion naira in the first quarter of 2016 as against 97.28 billion naira in the first quarter of 2015.
In an effort to boost Agriculture, as well as creating employment, the governor, with his Kebbi State counterpart, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will guarantee Commodity Value Chain for mass production and distribution of food crops such as Rice, Wheat, Ground nut oil, Onion, Maize/Sorghum and Beef. It is a fact that Lagos consumes 798,000 metric tons of Milled Rice per year, equivalent to 15.96 million of 50kg bags, with a value of 135 billion naira per annum. A State that consumes 6.000 herds of Cattle daily which may increase to 8.000 in the next 5 years cannot wait to harness the potentials in this area. Lagos State is indeed moving forward towards achieving its ‘Smart City Project’.
Kunle Job with Femi Opamoye