SANWO-OLU AND THE AJAH CHALLENGE

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There is perpetual gridlock at the Ajah end of the Lagos metropolis, and with good reason, writes Wole Williams

Lagosians are delighted that they now have an administration which delivers the goods and is at the same time conscious of public opinion. The Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration is, in many respects, reminiscent of the Babatunde Fashola government which reengineered Lagos State while remaining humane. The contrast is the Akinwunmi Ambode government of 2015-19 which wanted to perform its primary task without regard for stakeholders. For instance, it woke up one morning and decided to sack thousands of waste management firms and replaced them with one unknown company. Even when the company proved grossly incompetent and Lagos State was being overrun by garbage, Ambode refused to bow to public opinion. He spent precious time and resources demonizing Fashola, determined to deny him a place in history. Ambode refused to listen to Bola Tinubu, the National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) who selected him as the APC flag bearer. His inability to be a team player resulted in his being a one-term governor.

By discharging his core responsibilities to the Lagos effectively and at the same remaining people-oriented, Governor Sanwo-Olu has demonstrated that he is a modern leader through and through. Modern management and social science scholarship counsels managers and leaders to adopt the relational approach, rather than the task-oriented style, in discharging their duties. A task-oriented person wants to carry out an assignment without caring about relationships or the feelings of people around him or her. This was the way Americans used to work, hence motor companies, for one, were sweat shops where workers suffered terribly with little or no rights. In contrast, the Japanese, well known for social harmony, are a very good example of those famous for the relational approach to management and leadership. They want to carry everyone along, and this brings about loyalty, peace and solidarity in organizations and the larger society.

This article is informed by the fact that Sanwo-Olu is a listening governor and his attention is needed urgently in the Ajah area. The Ajah-Langbasa-Addo-Badore Road, which is eight kilometres long, provides the worst traffic gridlock in the whole state. Until recently it used to take motorists only 10 minutes to drive from one end to the other, but these days it takes at least two hours, even on Sundays.

There are four major reasons for the ever present gridlock. The first is that there are over 80 housing estates in this area, with most almost fully built up. The second is the ubiquitous and unregulated economic activity in this axis, including sand dredging and sand transportation by old trucks. The third is the incompetence of local government and police officials who direct traffic here, especially at the Ajah Market end which connects with the Lekki-Epe expressway. The fourth and the most serious is the fact that there is only one road which links the whole of Ajah, Langbasa-Addo and Badore. People living or working in this axis must pass through the same road, regardless of the part of Lagos they are going to or where they live.

In other words, at least three new roads are needed to take people away from the Ajah-Langbasa-Addo-Badore Road. Those going to Victoria Island from Badore need not go through the Ajah Market, just as those going to Ibeju need not go through the market. There are happily existing roads which can take people to different parts of Lagos without having to go through the traffic snarl at the Ajah Market which is now asphyxiating. All which is required is to have them constructed.

There is a road which starts from the First Unity Estate Extension in Badore and ends at the Lagos Business School. There is another which starts from Tom Island by Badore and terminates at the Pan Atlantic University. Another starts at Okeira Nla axis in Ajah and leads to the Lagos Business School. Another originates from the Seaside Estate in Badore and stops at the LBS. There is, in addition, a road which begins in Badore and ends at Lekki Phase One.

These roads have interestingly been known to the authorities in Lagos State, but little has been done to develop them. For example, Femi Animashaun wrote in a syndicated article in the Nigerian media of April 17, 2018: “On August 22, 2017, Governor Ambode held the quarterly Town Hall Meeting in Badore. Conducted with pomp and pageantry, it was attended by thousands of people, including the Deputy Governor, senators, House of Representatives members and many other eminent personalities. The governor spoke well, and charmed the audience with his knowledge of the state.

“In response to the request that he repair the eight-kilometre Ajah-Addo-Langbasa-Badore, which was expanded and reconstructed by Tinubu 11 years ago and completed by Fashola, the governor announced that he would overhaul the road and even further expand it. He said that he would add the BRT lane so that Lagos State buses which charge competitive fares could operate in the area. The crowd clapped enthusiastically. He was to get a greater ovation when he announced that the contract had been awarded, and that the contractor would start work by September, that is, in a month’s time. Not done, the governor told the fawning crowd that the contract for the road linking the area from Okeira to the Abraham Adesanya Estate near the Lagos Business School, a distance of about five kilometers, had been awarded. The applause had hardly died down when, in a well-measured tone, he called the attention of the audience to his plans to link the Badore community to the Lekki Housing Estate Phase 1 via the waterfront. The people now went wild with excitement. They became uncontrollable with excitement when he spoke of plans to link the Ajah community to Tom Island by constructing a bridge on the Badore Lagoon, so that the people would stop going about in a terrible circuitous way to reach other parts of the state”.

Quite regrettably, Ambode made no attempt to fulfill any of the promises. Governor Sanwo-Olu has an opportunity to do the right thing in this part of the Lekki Peninsula, which is growing exponentially and through which the Fourth Mainland Bridge will pass. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu began the dual Ajah-Langbasa-Addo-Badore Rd for N2.8bn in 2007 and his successor completed it in record time. Fashola also constructed the Addo-Langbasa Road and the First Unity Road in Badore. History truly beckons Sanwo-Olu to immortalize his name.

· Professor Williams wrote from First Unity Estate, Badore, Ajah, Lagos