During the 2015 electioneering campaign, one of the promises made by the then governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, which was visibly embedded in the party’s manifesto, was his plan to embark on massive road construction across the state.
Explaining how he intended to embark on such projects, the Governor said that two roads would be constructed in each local government every year. Much as it drew cheers from party supporters, many had also wondered if it was just a mere campaign gimmick from a candidate in desperate need of votes.
But it didn’t take too long after his swearing-in that residents began to see that they were not being not taken for a ride.
The Governor indeed wasted no time in matching words with actions. After few weeks on the saddle, Ambode initiated a monthly meeting with the then Executive Secretaries and continued same when the Sole Administrators, who were sworn-in in June this year to take leadership of all the 57 Local Government Areas and Local Council Development Areas (LCDA).
During one of the meetings, the Governor intimated the council chiefs of his intention to commence the reconstruction of two roads in each of the 57 councils between January and June 2016.
To motivate them to work, the Governor urged the Executive Secretaries to go back to their communities and liaise with them on the two roads which would be rehabilitated.
While charging the then council bosses to judiciously ensure that the projects were of international standard and that only the best contractors were engaged to ensure that the prescribed standard was met on all the roads, Ambode said the decision to embark on road rehabilitation was in line with the reforms at the local government level. Hence, the execution of the project was left solely in the care of the local governments, with the State Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs and Ministry of Works and Infrastructure playing supervisory roles.
The project, the first in the history of the state, drew commendations from various stakeholders, including some die hard critics of the Governor. Not only were the council bosses mandated to select inner roads, they were also given instructions to begin with roads that were in terrible condition, with the Governor charging them to ensure that the project was delivered within the stipulated time.
Therefore, the period of September 17 to 24, 2016, according to observers, is seen as a significant milestone in the State and the administration of Governor Ambode.
Several communities across the 20 local governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) were agog with activities. For most of these communities, it was a historic moment they had long being waiting for. The newly constructed 114 inner city roads, two from each of the 57 councils, were set for official inauguration.
In his usual characteristic style depicting his government of inclusion, Governor Ambode mandated several representatives, ranging from members of the State Executive Council, federal and state lawmakers, traditional rulers, political leaders, religious leaders, to inaugurate the roads.
Speaking during the inauguration of Jimoh Street, one of the roads at Ikorodu in Ikorodu North LCDA, Governor Ambode, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Idiat Adebule, urged contractors handling the 114 road projects in the state to speed up work or be sanctioned.
But he also had kind words for DC-Engineering Ltd., the contractor who worked on Jimoh Street for being the first to complete the road within the stipulated six months.
According to the Governor, “We have chosen to inaugurate the road here to appreciate the diligence and seriousness of the contractor for being the first to complete the project within the stipulated six months. I congratulate the contractor for this exemplary feat while I urge others to emulate the good example or face sanction”.
“At a time the national economy is facing challenges, our administration injected N19 billion to the economy of our state, stimulated employment and engaged the business sector. As we hand over this roads to the communities, I urge residents to guard jealously the infrastructure provided by the government,’’ the Governor added.
In Epe, the Governor, who was represented by the State’s Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Wasiu Anifowoshe, and a party chieftain, Alhaji Shakiru Seriki, commissioned about 610meters road in Ajijolaiya Street, Papa Epe and another 620meters road in Adegoke Atowa Street, Epe.
While urging community leaders, youths and residents of the State to take ownership of the roads, the governor in his address, said the completion of the roads was a glorious dawn of community development accelerated through inclusive governance and a historic leap of faith for his administration and the citizens.
The governor, who said residents must guard the infrastructure provided by government for them jealously, also assured them that more projects would follow those already completed in the nooks and crannies of the State.
In Lagos Island, two roads – 320metres Agarawu Street and Sanusi Olusi Street were commissioned by Governor Ambode, who was represented by House of Representatives member, Lagos Island Federal Constituency, Mr. Yakub Balogun and Deputy Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Wasiu Eshinlokun with the Oba of Lagos, HRM Rilwan Akiolu also in attendance.
In Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area, Governor Ambode also commissioned Molade and Temidire roads.
Represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Toyin Suarau at the commissioning of Temidire Street road, the Governor said the 114 roads provided jobs directly to 5,000 construction professionals and artisans and indirectly to over 50, 000 dependents.
Also at the commissioning of Molade Street road, being the second road project in Ajeromi-Ifelodun Local Government, the Ojora of Ojora Land, Oba Abdul-Fatai Oluyinka Aremu Aromire, who represented the governor said road projects are vital to the development of any community; adding that motorable roads make business strive and engender development.
In Ojokoro LCDA, the governor who was represented by Mr. Rotimi Agunsoye, representing Kosofe Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, commissioned Bioyin and Ademola Abiola streets.
One of the residents in Yaba LCDA, Alhaja Ramotalai Balogun whose street, Erejuwa was one of the roads commissioned, said the governor has won the hearts of residents of the area with the gestures.
“I can’t recollect the number of times we have appealed to the state government on the terrible condition of this road especially when it rains. Today, I am happy that I am alive to witness its transformation. Governor Ambode has not only won my hearts but that of many appreciative residents here. I enjoin him to keep up the good works,” she said.
At the commissioning of Seriki Kemberi Road and Alhaji Rasak Street in Iba LCDA, Ambode warned residents to resist the temptation to convert any of the 114 newly constructed Local Government roads to venue for commercial purposes or parking lot for abandoned vehicles.
Likewise, at the commissioning of Ojediran Shopitan and Taiwo Molajo streets both in Ikorodu West LCDA, Governor Akinwumi Ambode said illegal breaking of roads, usage as automobile workshop, as well as refuse dump, must stop henceforth on the new roads.
At the handover of Borno Way, Ebute-Meta in Lagos Mainland LGA, the Governor represented by the Secretary to the State Government, (SSG) Mr. Tunji Bello, cautioned against arbitrary cutting of roads and vandalism.
He said the government will not take vandalism of public infrastructure lightly, tasking community leaders in the areas where the new roads were built to take custody of the roads.
Sole Administrator of Igando/Ikotun LCDA, Mr. Samuel Ajayi at inauguration of Osunba Street and Balogun Olanrewaju Road, revealed that Governor Ambode had directed the 57 councils to submit 288 additional roads (four from each council) for construction consideration from 2017.
Ajayi confirmed the receipt of a directive from Governor Ambode to submit four new roads for construction, a development he described as unprecedented in the history of Lagos.
Governor Ambode at the commissioning of Federal Low Cost Bypass in Ikorodu North LCDA assured that at least 456 inner city roads would have been commissioned before the end of his administration in 2019.
Represented by his Senior Special Assistant on Community Affairs, Alhaji Tajudeen Quadri, the Governor said that another set of 114 roads were being identified and would be delivered next year.
Adding his voice, Special Adviser on Education, Obafela bank-Olemoh, at the inauguration of Aborishade Road, Lawanson and Martins Street in Mushin Local Government confirmed that the next set of 114 roads would commence before the end of the year.
He said in another one year, projects that will impact the community and new sets of roads, two in each local government and local council development area will emerge.
Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa who represented Governor Ambode, alongside House of Representatives member, Taofeek Adaranijo at the commissioning of Ogundele and Fashola Streets at Orile-Agege LCDA, pleaded for more support for the present administration and the All Progressive Congress (APC) to be able to enjoy more dividends of democracy.
Sole Administrator of Orile-Agege LCDA, Mr. Olufemi Agboola, said the roads are major link roads, which would ease traffic gridlock, reduce travel time, especially the 0.61 kilometres Ogundele road to connect Oja Oba on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.
When questions were raised about the choice of local contractors to carry out the projects, Governor Ambode was quick to justify the decision. According to him, indigenous contractors were engaged for the project not only to boost employment but also encourage the local construction industry to grow.
Governor Ambode, who spoke in Oshodi-Isolo at the inauguration of Kalejaiye Street, through the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Engr Ganiyu Johnson assured residents that any mistake committed by the indigenous contractors in the course of the project would be addressed, adding that the construction of the inner roads was in response to the yearning of the people.
He said: “We have to encourage our indigenous contractors because whether we like it or not, that is one of the ways to generate employment and when we engage them, there will be money in circulation.
“We are challenging them to do their best and as government we don’t want to shy away from mistakes. If they (indigenous contractors) make mistakes, we also try to correct and encourage them. We are learning, it is a learning process and with time, I believe they will get there.”
At the commissioning of Ogunyinka Street, also in Oshodi LG, Governor Ambode who was represented by the Iyaloja General of Nigeria, Chief Mrs. Folashade Tinubu-Ojo however urged indigenous contractors to justify the confidence reposed in them.
In Odi Olowo/Ojuwoye LCDA, where Awoyejo Buraimoh and Akinola Aiyetoro streets were inaugurated, the Commissioner for Special Duties, Mr Seye Oladejo and a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Tunde Braimoh, said Nigeria can overcome the current recession if more local contractors are engaged for developmental projects to grow the economy just as the State Government did in the execution of the 114 roads.
Speaking at the commissioning of Balogun Oyero and Adebimpe roads in Ikosi-Isheri LCDA, Ambode said that the level of work done by the 89 indigenous contractors in the construction of the 114 roads was a direct and indirect way of creating jobs to residents.
In Ikeja Local Government, Governor Ambode who inaugurated Onilekere Street, where he was represented by Iyaloja- General, Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, said Lagosians should expect nothing but a better and safer Lagos in the next three years.
During the commissioning of the road in Olu Akerele Street, also in Ikeja LG, former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji also lauded Governor Ambode’s administration for taking the dividends of democracy to the grassroots.
At the inauguration of the 500meters Bolaji Banwo Street in Coker Aguda LCDA, Governor Ambode unveiled plans to link inner roads in the State to the Lagos Smart City Project, while it also intends to complement the project with strategic security management driven by technology.
Represented by the Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr. Olufemi Odubiyi at the commissioning of 500meters Bolaji Banwo Street in Coker Aguda LCDA, the Governor said security remains one of the cardinal objectives of his administration, and that technology will play a key role in securing residents.
“We have come up with an initiative which is an ongoing project and it is called the Smart City Project. In the area of security, we are going to be deploying CCTV Cameras to ensure that when you are sleeping, you have a guaranty that you are being watched.
“The present administration is interested in making sure that this city is safe and technology is one of the areas we are looking at by deploying CCTV Cameras which will be linked to our Command and Control Centre in Alausa. We are going to have an eye over Lagos and this is because of the importance this government is paying to security of lives and property,” he said.
With the the inauguration of the 114 roads, residents are already gearing up for the next phase. Already, the various councils have started compiling list of roads expected to get a facelift next year, while community leaders are lobbying with the hope that the contractor’s bull dozer would be making the next stop at their community.
––Anibaba is a public affairs analyst.