A Promise Kept

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The residents of Ikorodu area of Lagos last week, rolled out the drums to welcome Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who was in the area to give account of his stewardship, writes Godbless Aghogho

Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode again came out last week Thursday to render account of his stewardship to the people of the state. It was indeed an opportunity for the governor to let the people know the numerous projects he embarked upon in the last 10 months. He also took time to feel the pulse of residents and responding to the many petition placed before him by residents of the state.

The venue of the First Quarter 2016 Town Hall Meeting, which is the third in the series took place at the Ikorodu Town Hall and the venue was jam-packed as early as 9am with top government functionaries, former public office holders, traditional rulers, community leaders, party chieftains, market men and women, youths, religious leaders, artisans, members of the private sector among others.

The concept of the public engagement, which was introduced by Ambode, was geared towards rendering account of stewardship and directly engaging the people on their views about governance and more importantly where government should intervene in issues affecting them.

The meeting under review before now had previously moved to Lagos West and Lagos Central Senatorial districts respectively where the Governor equally rendered account and listened to the people on what they actually want from government, a development which formed the basis for subsequent developmental strides.

Before welcoming questions and suggestions from the people, Ambode gave account of how he has managed the state over the last quarter and also unveiled the numerous projects to be embarked upon in the months ahead.

For instance, Ambode said the State Government would formally sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with investors for the construction of the proposed 4th Mainland Bridge before the end of next month, adding that once the agreement is signed, work would begin on the Bridge, which according to him, would go a long way to boost the economy of Lagos East Senatorial District.

He said: “Many investors have shown interest in the actualisation of our dream for the 4th Mainland Bridge which will run from Ajah to Ikorodu to Isawo and berth at Ojodu, Ikeja back to the Ibadan expressway. By the grace of God, we will sign MoU and commence action before May 29.”

He revealed that investors have equally shown interest in the redevelopment of the fish market to an international Fish Market and the redevelopment of inner roads in Epe and Ibeju-Lekki.
Ambode also said the intention of his administration was to ensure that no part of the state is left undeveloped, expressing optimism that the Lagos East Senatorial District which used to be the economic hub of the state in the then Western Region will regain its position.

He said: “Over the years, the economic activities have continually dwindled resulting in urban migration, underdevelopment and unemployment. It is with a view of revitalising the economic activities of this zone that Government has identified the need for urgent intervention.
“To this end, Government will be relocating the Mile 12 Market to Imota. Work on this will commence next week. Our vision is to make the East Senatorial Zone economically viable and liveable”, Governor Ambode said.

Responding to complaints on the menace of Okada transportation in the state, Ambode asked the people whether they would support a total ban on such mode of transportation in this age and time and in a city like Lagos, a question which was answered in the affirmative by majority of the stakeholders in the hall who raised their hands in support.

The Governor said: “I’m encouraged by this very transparent, credible, free and fair affirmation which I just got from the people. From the response, many of the people in this hall are in support of a total ban on Okada and since this is a government of the people, all the security agencies in Lagos including the Police, Task Force, LASTMA and others, to start with, are hereby directed to fully enforce the ban on Okada between Mile 12 and Ikorodu.

“We will not tolerate Okada on the road and I hereby emphasise that there is no more Okada on Mile 12-Ikorodu Road. Anyone caught flouting this directive will have their Okada impounded and we would prosecute such people as well before the court,” the Governor said.

Speaking on the need for the youths in the state to key into the programmes lined up for them by his administration, Ambode urged street urchins and youths involved in social vices such as cultism to lay down their arms assuring that they would be empowered to be gainfully and productively engaged.

He said the plan of his administration is that youths, artisans and entrepreneurs in each of the senatorial districts and divisions in the state would be able to access at least N1billon between now and June from the Employment Trust Fund (ETF), and use same for their greater economic prosperity, and by extension that of the state.

Ambode, who also responded to pleas by residents in Ikorodu on the need for the expansion and rehabilitation of the road network, assured that government will explore the Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative to transform the Ikorodu-Imota-Agbowa-Itokin-Epe Road into a standard 8-lane road.

He also directed the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources as well as the State Electricity Board to look at the possibilities of providing electricity for Igbo-Olomu community in Ikorodu who have been without light for over 10 years.

Highlighting some of his administration’s strides in the last quarter, Ambode said the state achieved major breakthrough in security, saying that since the launch of the N4.78 billion equipment, the state had won several battles against crime.

He said the quick response in the rescue of the kidnapped girls in Ikorodu and the quelling of the Mile 12 riot were testimonies of the effectiveness of the security system in Lagos.

The Governor added that many criminals had so far been arrested since the launch of the security equipment, saying that he was ready to pay for information given that would lead to the arrest of hardened criminals.

“I am ready to pay monetary compensation for information on hardened criminals as we proceed to make Lagos crime-free. We are happy to report that crime rate has also reduced in the last three months,” he said.

Ambode also used the occasion to appeal to residents to continue to pay their taxes, take ownership of projects the government has initiated and support the government to achieve the policies and programmes aimed at ensuring a safe and prosperous Lagos.

While responding to request from residents on the action plan of government on water transportation, Ambode said his administration would soon roll out comprehensive programme on the transportation mode, saying plans are in top gear to transform water transportation in Lagos to world class.

He said government would embark on channelisation of the waterways and construct modern jetties, and embark on massive campaign to encourage the people to embrace water transportation.

Responding to concerns raised by the disabled, Ambode said a Disability Fund to be managed by the disabled people themselves would soon be launched, assuring that he would never forget such category of people.

While responding to submission of Alhaja Omoniyi Akashoro, the Iya-Oja of Okorodu on the need for market, motor park and health centre to be constructed in the area, Ambode said he was thrilled by the revelation of the woman that that are actually available land in the area lying untouched which could be used to build the said infrastructure.

Ambode therefore directed the Lagos State Ministries of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Transportation and Health to look into the request and come up with immediate action plan to commence work on the projects.

He also announced that the stadium in Igbogbo would be upgraded and transformed to boost sporting activities in the Lagos East zone.

Besides, Ambode, while responding to request by a Community Leader in Shomolu-Bariga, assured that the area would soon experience massive transformation, especially in terms of fixing the dilapidated road network in the area. He said his administration had started work on Odunlade Street in the area, assuring that other roads would soon be rehabilitated.

The Governor also appealed to the leaders in Ikorodu to make available land to construct new market to relocate marketers currently plying their trade in Ikorodu Roundabout, saying such place was not appropriate for market.

Speaking on the administration of Governor Ambode so far, former Lagos State Deputy Governor, Prince Abiodun Ogunleye said there was no doubt that the Governor has done creditably well ever since his swearing-in to office on May 29, 2015.

He said: “Well, from my assessment, the Governor has done well. He has increased our aerial power to control crime; he has provided additional vehicles and motorcycles for security people to move around and even if you move to Ikorodu where we had a lot of criminal activities like illegal bunkering, that has stopped and the people are living peacefully.

“In terms of health, he has done a lot as well; he has provided mobile clinics and on education he has done very well and I know that the school feeding programme would soon start in the state.
“I have had personal experience with the Governor as well as I know that he has had to help people personally, and that makes me believe that for him to have done so much within just one year, the next three years, he would do much more,” Ogunleye said.

On her part, former Secretary to Lagos State Government, Princess Aderenle Adeniran Ogunsanya, thanked Governor Ambode for the numerous projects which he had sighted in the Ikorodu division, saying it was clear that the Governor is working.

“I think he is working; I think he has done a lot of ground work and we have been seeing some changes. We welcome the BRT; we welcome the effort he is making to get Isawo Road started. We thank him for that because I know that a few months time, we will see a great difference.

“I also think that more publicity should be done about his work because I know Governor Ambode is working but the masses need to know so that such will send signal that things are going to get better and that they are being worked upon,” Ogunsanya said.

Also speaking, Mr. Laja Martins, the CDC Chairman for Ikorodu North, recalled how he doubted the ability of Governor Ambode to deliver when he took over the mantle of leadership in the state, but that within the spate of one year, he has been proven wrong.

“I must say I am very much impressed with what Governor Ambode has achieved so far. Take for example two issues; the rescue of school girls in Ikorodu here. The Governor was fantastic with his team and the second is the Mile 12 issue, the Governor handled it in a very mature way and that is very unprecedented. I must say we are very happy. Look at how many roads he has constructed. Just yesterday, the roads being constructed in Ikorodu were lighted. Governor Ambode is wonderful and he is a God-sent Governor,” Martins said.

Some of the notable public figure who thronged the venue included former Lagos State Deputy Governor, Prince Abiodun Ogunleye; Senator representing Lagos East at the National Assembly, Gbenga Ashafa; member, House of Representatives representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency, Jimi Benson; former Senator representing Lagos West at the Senate, Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon; Senator Gbenga Adefuye; Chairman of Lagos State All Progressives Congress (APC) Chapter, Chief Henry Ajomale; former Secretary to Lagos State Government, Princess Aderenle Adeniran Ogunsanya; former Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Jokotola Pelumi; Majority Leader of Lagos State House of Assembly, Sanai Agunbiade; lawmakers representing Epe 1 and 2 at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Abiodun Tobun and Segun Olulade respectively, among many others, while members of the State Executive Council were led to the meeting by the Governor himself.

Notable traditional rulers who participated fully at the event included the Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Kabiru Adewale Shotebi; the Alara of Ilara-Epe, Oba Akeem Adesanya; Ranodu of Imota, Oba Adeniyi Agoro; Aladesanyi of Odonaforija Kingdom, HRM Oba Babatunde Ogunlaja; the Apase of Epe Land, Chief Sakiru Akanni Seriki, Lagos White Cap chiefs, among others.
The atmosphere was a carnival like event with many celebrating the achievements of the Governor ever since assuming the mantle of leadership in the state of aquatic splendour, and the hope of greater achievements in future geared towards the upliftment of the state.