By Akinwunmi Ambode
Exactly a year ago, Lagos State turned 50. Nigerians came out in larger numbers to participate in the one-year long celebration of the coming of age of the state of aquatic splendor. The celebrations culminated in a spectacular show on 27 May, 2017 at the grounds of Eko Atlantic.
It has been one year now since those celebrations took place. We look back today, one year after, and see a Lagos that is remarkably different at 51. Infrastructure development continues to be in the front burner of our administration. From Abule Egba to Ajah, from Epe to Badagry; Lagos resounds with an endless run of repaired and newly constructed roads and bridges. From Alapere to Okokomaiko, Agege to TBS, the city breathes with lay-bys that have drastically whittled hours spent in agonising traffic jams across the state. From Agege to Yaba, Ojodu Berger to Lekki, Lagos stares with shimmering streetlights that adorn the most populous black city in the world with glee.
The pace of development in Lagos State since last year, and indeed since we came on board, is modestly noticeable.
Yet during our campaign, our resonant message was that Lagos must work for all. We said it then and has continued to reiterate it since assuming powers that ours would be government of inclusion; where every hard working Nigerian would have a place to call home. Our message of hope knows no difference between federal and state roads: for the reclusive child of fate there are no federal or state Lagosians. All roads in Lagos, as with all other infrastructure, belong to the people.
Through the years, we have steadily repaired our state, modernising and retooling things to the point where we now talk about turning Lagos into a Smart City.
In every way, our infrastructure is improved. Our roads are better, our mass transportation has expanded, hospitals give better care to the sick and afflicted, education is improving and more affordable housing is being constructed before our very eyes.
The face of Badagry is changing. The makeover of Oshodi will cause you to marvel at the transformation that can take place even in densely populated urban space when there is the political will and determined creativity to give the people the infrastructure they deserve. We are improving and expanding the Airport Road so that a trip to and from the airport no longer takes more time than your flight itself.
The Lekki-Epe axis was once an isolated, inactive tract of land. Now it bustles with energy, activity and prosperity due in large measure to the roads and other infrastructure our state has constructed.
We have and will continue to build bridges linking parts of Lagos that have not been linked before so that commerce, transport and communication among Lagosians will be facilitated. We aim to make this state fully integrated so that one part is well connected to any other.
All of this work is underpinned by the belief that Lagos belongs to all of us. Lagos is not an exclusive club. It is an inclusive family.
Available statistics from the United Nations confirmed the fact that an average of 86 people enter into Lagos every one hour which is the highest in the world, while the population of the state was now around 24million, with attendant impact on infrastructure and other social amenities. And the significance of Lagos to the overall economy of Nigeria itself is not what anyone would want to toy with. There is therefore the need for a pragmatic approach by a visionary government to put machinery in place to tackle the future challenges. That is what our government has been doing in the last three years and the desire destination in the nearest future is to make Lagos the third largest economy in Africa.
As a government, we are conscious of the fact that infrastructure, security, stability and partnership with all stakeholders are fundamental ingredients for tourism development. We have channeled a lot of resources into creating an enduring infrastructural architecture for the business of tourism to thrive.
In order to do this successfully, we must first build a solid infrastructural architecture that will endure. It must be safe and secure; it must provide functional and diverse venues for the arts, culture, festivals, creative industry, recreation and wildlife; and it must constantly and productively engage with its critical stakeholders.
The Tourism Master Plan is focused on six key sectors; Culture and Heritage, Film, Art and Entertainment, Business Tourism, Nature and Adventure, Medical and Wellness, Beach and Leisure.
Qualitative education is one of the cardinal duties a government must render to its people and the importance our government attaches to education is reflected in the 12.07% of the total 2018 Budget allocated to Education.
This allocation is surpassed by only that of Economic Affairs and General Public Services. Our state has always been a trailblazer in various spheres of life and in order to consolidate on the economic gains made so far, the education of our youth is paramount. We seek the cooperation of all Lagosians to ensure we eradicate illiteracy in the state, groom the next generation of leaders and captains of industry as well as position our state as the standard bearer for the nation in the provision of qualitative tertiary education.
On security, we believe that the continued prosperity of our state can only be achieved under a well-secured and peaceful environment, hence our strong financial investment on security architecture, modern equipment, vehicles and welfare to enhance the fighting capacities of our security agencies.
We have inspired Lagosians to pay taxes. In truth, Nigerians do not like paying taxes, not because they are naturally averse to taxes, but because they have been taken for a ride for too long. We have demonstrated our readiness to judiciously and efficiently manage the state resources for the benefit of the generality of our people. The positive response of our people has shown that when a government wins the confidence of her people, they will respond with decisive performance of their civil obligations. This is the essence of the social contract we made with Lagosians when we resumed on 29 May, 2015.
The social contract of inclusive governance and purposeful leadership is what we are renewing with our people today that Lagos is 51; and in this month that our governance of Lagos clocks three years. We wish to assure Lagosians that our government is one that listens. Our administration does not play the Ostrich that buries its head in the sand. Ours is a responsive government that promises and delivers on inclusiveness. Yes, it’s not a perfect state because we believe there will always be challenges, but with God and all our citizens on our side we would always triumph.
I will readily admit that I am not infallible and it is an evident truism that I exhibit a different DNA and leadership style which some might not be alienable to, but we have kept faith with our cardinal principles by consistently delivering the goods/services and making our people happy. The future of Lagos State is bright and secured.
– Akinwunmi Ambode is the governor of Lagos State