Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, who was in Badagry for a quarterly town hall meeting, vowed to improve the standards of education and health in the state. Peter Uzoho writes
The town hall meeting, which had previously held in Iyana Ipaja (Lagos West), City Hall (Lagos Central), and Ikorodu (Lagos East), took place at the Muslim Community Praying Ground in Badagry, where the Governor for the first time in the history of the meeting, spent more than four hours interacting with various groups and individuals, including corporate organisations, religious leaders, youths, physically challenged, market men and women, non-governmental organisations, the political leaders and the general public.
Rising from experience garnered over time, the Badagry town hall meeting was organised in a unique fashion where Ambode met personally with all the groups in four different sessions, as against the previous meetings where he met with all the groups at a go. The format not only afforded the governor the opportunity of more time to interact with as many groups as possible, it also served as a veritable platform to provide instantaneous answers to pressing concerns and issues raised by Lagosians who came in their hundreds.
While setting the tone for the discussion, Ambode first reeled out his achievements in the last quarter, and intimated the people of his future plans to make life more comfortable, simpler and safer for them.
In the area of security, Ambode said his administration procured and donated additional equipment to security agencies in the last quarter with agencies such as the Nigeria Police, Customs, Immigration Services, the Army, Airforce, Navy, DSS, AIG Zone 2, Civil Defence Corps, Federal Road Safety Corps, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Lagos State Task Force and the Nigeria Prison Services benefitting.
He said the government also commissioned the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA) Rescue Unit facility with a specially designed dispatch centre to respond to emergency cases across the state, the first of its kind in Nigeria.
On infrastructure, Ambode recalled that within the quarter under review, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the construction of the 38km, Fourth Mainland Bridge was signed in the last quarter and it is expected that the bridge which will connect Ikorodu to Ajah will be executed through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement and would to be delivered within the next three years.
While going into further details, Ambode said: “The Iyana-Oworo Bus Park project embarked upon by our administration to decongest traffic on the Third Mainland Bridge is nearing completion and is already yielding fruitful results.
“Work has commenced on the Ultra-Modern Oshodi Interchange in line with our vision to transform Oshodi into a world class transport hub. Several road projects were completed in the last quarter while others are at various stages of completion.
“Some of the most significant among the projects include: Ajara/Agelasho/Poka/Erekiti Road in Badagry Local Government Area, construction of Aradagun-Iworo Ajido Phase I Bridge in Badagry Local Government Area, the construction of Flyover at Ajah roundabout along the Lekki Expressway and Abule-Egba junction along Lagos-Abeokuta expressway and the construction of Pedestrian bridge at Ojodu-Berger,” he said.
Also in the period under review according to Ambode, the Oko-Oba Housing Scheme comprising a total of 108 Units located on a land area of 15,785.632 square metres was completed and offered for sale, while the government has also commenced the process of completing the Ibereko Housing project in Badagry.
In the area of job creation, Ambode recalled that an MoU for the Lagos Smart City was signed with the operators of the Dubai Smart City, while the agreement is expected to bring multi-billion dollar investments to the state, create employment opportunities and transform the Ibeju-Lekki axis and the entire Lagos State.
He also revealed that another MoU was signed for the Lagos State Medical Park, adding that the initiative would bring more investment which in turn will create jobs and make Lagos a destination for medical tourism.
Besides, Ambode disclosed that the government officially launched the Lagos at 50 celebration designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the state, while the events calendar for the celebration will be unveiled soon.
In the area of social welfare and rule of law, the governor said in line with provisions of Section 12 of the Special People’s Law, his administration launched the Lagos State Persons Living with Disability Fund with N500 million, while the fund will be for the advancement of the cause of persons living with disabilities.
He further said that in response to the disturbing menace of land grabbing in the state, his administration set up a Special Task Force to curb the excesses of land grabbers under the office of the Attorney General/Commissioner for Justice, while government since pursued zero tolerance for issues relating to domestic violence and child abuse.
Speaking on his outlook for the next quarter, Ambode said his administration has concluded plans to massively revamp the health sector and to that effect, the sum of N10 billion has been earmarked to upgrade the health facilities across the state.
Specifically, Ambode said government would also invest massively in capacity building of the medical staff, all in a bid to provide world class health care for the citizenry.
“We have commenced a comprehensive action to rehabilitate and upgrade the facilities in all our hospitals. Modern equipment will be procured to facilitate treatment and we will invest in capacity building of our medical staff. We intend to spend over N10 billion on our hospitals across the state before December this year.
We will recruit and train medical professionals in areas of rare specialisation and special needs,” Ambode said.
Speaking on the half year 2016 budget, Ambode said the overall performance of the budget stood at 70 per cent, which according to him, was an improvement over the corresponding period in 2015 when the performance stood at 63 per cent.
He said: “Revenue recorded 73 per cent performance for the half year 2016 despite the challenging economic environment. Your Government spent a total of N115.624b on Capital projects during the half year 2016 leading to the Capital/Recurrent ratio of 50:50 with the plan to improve this ratio to 58:42 provided for in 2016 Appropriation Law in the remaining half of the year.”
Going into specifics of the outlook for the next quarter, the governor said the Employment Trust Fund would commence disbursement of funds to various artisans, entrepreneurs and unemployed youths to make life better for all, while all the critical sectors of the economy would feel the massive impact of government.
For instance, on education, Ambode said his administration would establish a Technical and Vocational School in Badagry before September 2016, while government would also embark on upgrade of the infrastructure in all public schools starting from July. According to the Governor, “All our primary and secondary schools will be upgraded to create conducive learning environment for students and teachers. Another N10 billion has been earmarked for this facelift of our secondary and primary schools across the state.”
The governor, who recalled the recruitment of a total of 1,300 teachers for primary schools, said in the next two weeks, the State Government would start recruiting another 1,000 teachers for secondary schools across the state. Speaking on his plans for Youth and Sports for the quarter, the governor said government would embark on upgrade of sports facilities and would also support and promote age-grade competitions and sponsor outstanding athletes to national and international training and competitions.
Ambode also disclosed that his administration would pay greater attention to the issues concerning the elderly especially by establishing three Elderly Care Centres across the state.
He said: “We will sponsor bills to the House of Assembly which will make specific provisions for the elderly in our society and create a framework for care for the aged. Our priority is to commence the provision of Three Elderly Care centres across the Three senatorial zones and further urge the private sector for support and collaboration thereafter.”
Ambode said as a follow up to the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) Response Unit in Cappa, Oshodi, an outpost unit would be situated between Ojo and Badagry in this quarter with two other outposts in Fadeyi and Lekki. While responding to the myriads of questions on neglect of Badagry over the years, the governor disclosed his greater plans to revive the tourism potentials of Badagry, saying the long term plan includes the establishment of University of Hospitality in the ancient town.
He also seized the occasion to intimate the state on his future plans, revealing that his administration was working round the clock to build the economy of the state beyond the dependence on oil, adding, “the future of Lagos is about tourism and services.”
The governor said aside the N500 million disability fund aimed at advancing the cause of persons living with disabilities, his administration would decentralise the Lagos State Office of Disability (LASODA) and absolve 200 physically challenged persons to manage their affairs in all the Local Government Areas and Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) in the state.
He also said the State Government has perfect plans to bring about seamless waste collection in the state, and ensure clean environment.
“I implore you to take ownership of all government properties located in your area because they are our common wealth. Remember to pay your taxes as and when due in order to enjoy more dividends of democracy. On our part, we will continue to ensure judicious utilisation of the resources of the state by executing projects that will outlive us and affirm our position as a Centre of Excellence,” Ambode said.
Speaking at the event, National Women Leader, South-west of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief (Mrs.) Kemi Nelson, said the event was a laudable initiative aimed at bringing governance to the people. “This is about bringing governance and discussion to the people. You see, if the governor had decided to hold this in Alausa, he probably would have invited few people but here, he has brought it to them and so all the people would come and tell the governor their expectations and where necessary, thank him where they feel he has done things to make them happy.
“So, I think it is good coming back to the people and giving them your account of stewardship and then hearing from the people directly,” she said.
In her assessment of Ambode’s administration so far, Nelson said: “Without mincing words, we have a governor that is serious minded. A governor that knows what he wants to do and he goes for it. He is not one that can be distracted from his goals; he is achieving and he is a silent achiever.”
On his part, APC Leader in Lagos West Senatorial District, Prince Rabiu Wasiu, said the town hall meeting was s veritable tool to engage the people and feel their pulse. He added that the initiative would also afford the governor the opportunity to reel out his achievements as well as clarify issues about the governance of the state.
His words: “You see, the town hall meeting is an avenue where all of us would have to come together, meet ourselves and hold interactive session. The governor will be able to meet the people and then explain his achievements in office as well as his plans for the people. So, it is a very good idea and I commend Governor Ambode for the initiative.”
Among many others, a roll call of eminent personalities who graced the meeting included Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr. Idiat Oluranti Adebule; Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello; Chief of Staff to the Governor, Mr. Olukunle Ojo; Senator representing Lagos West Senatorial District, Solomon Adeola Olamilekan, members of the Lagos State Executive Council and Chairman of Lagos State chapter of APC, Otunba Henry Ajomale.
Others are former Lagos State First Lady, Mrs. Abimbola Jakande; former Secretary to Lagos State Government, Mrs. Adenrele Adeniran Ogunsanya; former Lagos State Head of Service, Mr. Sunny Ajose; Akran of Badagry, Aholu Menu Toyi; Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Kabiru Shotebi, among many other traditional rulers and dignitaries.
For sure, given the number of dignitaries that witnessed the Badagry town hall meeting, it is becoming increasingly clear that the governor has democratised governance and the state and its future under him can only get better.