The initial hiccups and poor handling of waste management aside, Lagosians are in agreement that Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has done a great job, writes Tobi Soniyi
When Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode came up with a revolutionary plan to tackle the seemingly intractable waste problem in his state, little did he know that a few factors beyond his control would frustrate his plan. A few people have tried to hang the governor over this and not many have taken the time to digest his comprehensive and scientific approach to waste management.
Those who did say that had Ambode’s plan succeeded, it would have been another first in the history of the country. Rather than criticism, what the governor deserves is support. His new waste management plan is one that promises to deliver the greatest good to the people.
That aside, many also easily remember how Ambode started on a shaky note in 2015. The governor was just about settling in for business of governance when the corollary of the rocky start began to be felt in major sectors especially security and traffic management. Naturally, tempers flared and people started questioning the ability of the governor to step into the â€œbig shoesâ€ left by his predecessor, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola now Minister of Power, Works and Housing.
In the face of the initial turbulence, Ambode kept calm and remained focused on the big picture and soon, the story changed and people who castigated him initially started showering accolades on him for sterling performance in office.
The governor would later explain the slow start of his administration thus: to achieve success one must first think through policies, plan and then act by brilliantly executing the well-rounded programs. True to him, the process of thinking and planning the programs brought about the initial drawback, but today the story of Governor Ambodeâ€™s Lagos is a potpourri of positively impactful infrastructural renewal as well as focused and dynamic leadership in all sectors and sections of the state.
As a public financial expert extraordinaire, Ambode came up with checks and balances for revenue inflow and also introduced the Treasury Single Account which in turn blocked revenue leakages and loopholes. The development ensured that there were funds to carter for government activities, while he immediately followed same with N11billion approval to offset arrears owed since 2010, not only for Lagos State Government mainstream retirees but also retirees in Local Governments and other government agencies.
In response to the public outcry over the increase in spate of crime, Ambode rebranded the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the police. In an unprecedented move, he donated equipment worth N4.765billion to the State Police Command. This was done in September of 2015 and the items include 100 4-Door Salon Cars, 55 Ford Ranger Pick-Ups, 10 Toyota Land Cruiser Pick-Ups, 15 BMW Power Bikes, 100 Power Bikes, Isuzu Trucks, three Helicopters, two Gun Boats, 15 Armoured Personnel Carriers, Revolving Lights, Siren and Public-Address System, Vehicular Radio Communicators, Security gadgets including bullet proof vests, drones, helmets, handcuffs, uniforms, kits and Improved Insurance and Death Benefit Schemes for officers.
The governor, in coming up with the policy framework of his administration, had hinged it on security, job creation and infrastructural renewal. According to him, when there is security of lives and property, more businesses will spring up and such will facilitate job creation.
In March 2017, the governor donated 48 Patrol Vans, 385 Walkie Talkies, 11 Base and Repeater Stations, 1,150 uniforms, 570 handcuffs, 1,150 Belts, berets and boots to boost the operation of the Neighborhood Watchers to keep all the communities in Lagos safe. It must, however, be noted that the Neighborhood Watchers have been rebranded and transformed to Neighborhood Safety Corps Officers with 171 Vehicles fitted with communication gadgets, 377 Motorcycles, 4000 Bicycles, Metal Detectors, 7000 members of staff, among others to improve security in all communities in the state.
As part of the transport reforms in the state, the governor in another unprecedented move, commissioned the Mile 12-Ikorodu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Extension Project and injected 434 new air-conditioned and comfortable BRT buses into the transport scheme in November 2015. As part of the integrated transportation system aimed at ensuring intermodal transportation of rail, water and land, Ambode re-launched the Blue Line Rail Project which upon completion will ease connectivity in the state as over 500, 000 passengers would be conveyed daily between Marina and Okokomaiko. The project is to be followed by the second phase which is the Red Line Rail Project from Alagbado to Lagos Island.
To ease traffic, the Ambodeâ€™s administration constructed several laybys and modern segregated bus parks across the state with some still ongoing notably in Ikeja, Oworonshoki, Lekki-Epe expressway, Ogudu, Alapere, among others, while in a move to find a lasting solution to the perennial traffic gridlock along Ikorodu Road, Ambode on November 9, 2017 commissioned multiple layby and slip road in Alapere. On the same day, the governor also launched the Intelligence Transport System (ITS), the e-ticketing for commuters using the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), the Ojota BRT Depot and the new complex for the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority known as LAMATA Place.
The road sector is perhaps, the biggest beneficiary of the administration as no part of the state was left behind in the last three years.
Briefing journalists recently, Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Engr Adebowale Akinsanya said in the last three years, the state government had completed about 500 significant projects which had impacted positively on the life of residents.
From Ikorodu to Lagos-Abeokuta expressway to Badagry, Epe, Ikeja and so on, one road project or other is either completed or ongoing simultaneously including 21 Lagos-Ogun boundary roads with two bridges in Alimosho inaugurated in March 2018, Pen Cinema Flyover, 181 inner roads, Epe arterial roads, and the recently approved flyover to be constructed in Fagba to permanently address the perennial traffic associated with the axis.
In the health sector, the governor as early as 2115 commissioned 20 Mobile Care Units Ambulances and 26 Transport Ambulances which were deployed across the various general hospitals and primary healthcare centres in the state. He also approved the purchase of generators and x-ray machines for all general hospitals to ensure 24-hour power supply. The first state-owned helipad for medical emergency was also constructed within the premises of Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), among others.
Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris said in area of tertiary healthcare for instance, LASUTH benefited from the supply of medical equipment by the governor, while renovation of some buildings in the hospital was carried including Old Admin Block, Surgical Emergency, Kitchen, Laundry Section, Chest Clinic, Engineering Workshop, Main Laboratory, Tailoring, among others.
To ensure food security, the governor entered into a strategic partnership with Kebbi State in 2016 which brought about the famous Lake Rice. The initiative forced down the price of rice in the market. The governor is building on that to install a 32 metric tonnes per hour rice mill in Imota, a suburb of Ikorodu.
It is projected that when operational from February 2019, the mill will ensure availability of rice in the market and will also facilitate the creation of about 200, 000 jobs across the agric value chain, while it will also bring about cultivation of 32,000 hectares of farm land to produce rice paddy equating to an estimated 130million kg of processed rice per year (an equivalent of 2.6million 50kg bags of rice). Also, the scheme will be aligned with the Western Nigeria economic integration agenda whereby the states in the South-west will supply the mill with rice paddy.
In the same vein, work is progressing steadily at the new Mile 12 Regional Foodstuff Market in Imota. The idea of the new market was aimed at easing traffic and the need to move to a much bigger, comfortable and convenient place.
In that axis too, work is already completed for operational take-off of the Timberville Sawmill in Agbowa/Ikosi Ejirin LCDA where plank traders in Okobaba Sawmill will be relocated to. The development will pave way for the regeneration of Okobaba.
In the power sector, the government through the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, has done a lot. First, the governor unveiled the Light Up Lagos Project with three-pronged approach focusing on street lightening, community electrification and embedded power programme. Through the street lightening component of the scheme, major highways and streets are now well lit at night thereby enhancing security and improving aesthetics of the environment. On the community electrification component, many communities across the state have so far been connected to the national grid and many others had their either moribund or non-existent transformers replaced with new ones.
The governor had also set up a Power Advisory Committee made up of key stakeholders from the public and private sector to drive the bid by the state to generate 3000 megawatts of power.
Another laudable achievements of the governor is the N25billion Employment Trust Fund (ETF) set aside to provide minimal interest loan for members of the informal sector and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). So far over N4.1billion has been given to about 5,000 beneficiaries.
The governor is also taking tourism serious. A tourism master plan is being developed for the state. It will drive tourism potentials of the state for the next 15 to 20 years.
As part of the smart city project, many online portals have been developed to enhance residentsâ€™ interaction with government, while High Definition CCTV cameras with gantries being installed across the state. Also, the State Government has concluded plans to transform the Sabo Industrial Estate in Yaba into a technology hub and another Silicon Valley where new set of entrepreneurs and innovators will be raised to address the challenges confronting the nation in the ICT sector.
Education has also been receiving the needed attention with completion of new model colleges, revamping of infrastructure in public schools and ingenuity in coming up with innovative initiatives such as Ready.Set.Work (RSW), Code Lagos, among others.
Thee Deputy Governor, Mrs Idiat Adebule said a total of 12,500 final year students in tertiary institutions have so far been trained in the last two years on entrepreneurship and employability skills under the RSW, while plans have been firmed up to train additional 25,000 students through the scheme in 2018.
The RSW is an intervention designed to equip graduates of tertiary institutions in the state with knowledge, skills and attitude required to gain employment upon graduation. It is a 13-week training through which participants are prepared for immediate entry into the workforce as employees and employers of labour by equipping them with market-aligned soft skills, business tools and a mindset of re-orientation.
Amode as an all-rounder has also invested massively in housing, environment and sports.
One thing that is clear from his efforts so far is that – he is determined to leave Lagos better than he met it.
One thing that is clear from his efforts so far is that – he is determined to leave Lagos better than he met it