That Governor Akinwunmi Ambode second term ambition was dead on arrival was not lost to many who had observed unforgivable lapses in his governance style from the very beginning. At party level, the first sin of Ambode was his attempt to establish a political empire for himself almost immediately he assumed the exalted office of governor. The move was clandestine but was easily noticed by people close to the Asiwaju who continued to complain of his rebuff anytime they attempted to meet with him on matters of concern. The governor also fell out with the Asiwaju on many fronts. One of them is the initiation of the new Lagos Land Use Charge without consulting with the Asiwaju and handing that cash cow to an agency allegedly owned by the younger brother of his wife. The procurement of an Outside Broadcasting Van allegedly worth N1.5 billion and cameras worth N900 million for the Lagos Television LTV supposedly to improve the services and coverage of the television station, without recourse to the Asiwaju was also a sore point.
Tinubu is said to have called Ambode to suspend the contract, pending further instruction from him, but the governor rebuffed the demand and proceeded to award the contract. Two directors of the TV station who refused to sign the due process paper on the contract were said to have been removed by the governor and replaced with loyalists. But beyond the Asiwaju factor which could be said to be more personal, one thing was very certain: There is consensus among many ordinary Lagosians especially those outside Ambode’s Epe constituency that his projects only brought chaos and pain to them. Residents of Agege are embittered by the ongoing remodeling of the roads within their axis without any alternative. They worry most that the projects would not be completed in another five years going by slow pace of work. Their Alimosho local government counterparts who daily have to battle yawning craters that leave vehicle owners aghast also have knocks for the governor. Residents of Ajeromi Ifelodun, Amuwo-Odofin, Ojo, and communities bothering the Lagos-Badagry Expressway are also not smiling. While they blame the federal government for slow-pace work on the ten-lane project connecting Agbara, they accuse Ambode of not doing anything to address the parlous state of the arteries that fall within the purview of the state.
In the last two weeks residents of the area decided to take their destinies in their own hands by circulating text messages notifying the Ambode administration of their plan to lock down the road on October 30 and 31. Yet, the most visible marks of the governor’s letdown is his hasty sack of Private Sector Partnership (PSP) refuse managers that have for decades managed Lagos waste to the admiration of Lagosians. His adoption of Visionscape – a company that has many unanswered questions about its track-record and how it emerged the preferred refuse manager of Lagos turned out to be the nail on his coffin.
Never had the environmental sanitation situation in Lagos been so bad. What was coined as Cleaner Lagos Initiative is now dubbed “Dirtier Lagos Initiative” owing to the uncleared heaps of refuse in virtually every part of Lagos. Fears of an health epidemic are now very rife owing to the amount of flies and rodents feasting on the dirt. Many streets have been completely taken over by refuse which not only foul the air, but also inhibit vehicular and pedestrian movement.
More than 10 months after commencing work with colorful vehicles and waste bins, Visionscape has failed to deliver. After its shaky start which made its promoters to hastily broker a deal to partially recall the PSP Operators, no tangible progress has been recorded in the waste management department. The Ambode administration also positioned Visionscape and other multinationals to operate one of the major waterworks in Lagos on a Public Private Partnership arrangement. That deal has met stiff resistance from local groups who pointed out that the dismal performance of the firm in waste management as a reason why it must not be allowed to touch Lagos water.Resistance to the governor’s water privatization plan also spread to his own constituency in Epe where youth and women groups marched to the mini water works to demand its rehabilitation and a halt to the PPP plans.
The announcement of the Speaker of Lagos House of Assembly, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa last Thursday that Visionscape operations has been suspended with immediate effect would seem to be another phase in the clipping of the wings of the governor. It may not be a misnomer to believe that Obasa and other party members hitherto sidelined by the governor are now taking their pound of flesh. It is suspected that the drama playing out may be a testing of the waters for a final blow on the governor which may come in form of an impeachment. Obasa it was that rallied 36 out of the 40 Lagos lawmakers to endorse flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), a decision that sealed Ambode’s fate. Events in the days ahead will tell if the aggregation of angst of Lagosians is what the Lagos lawmakers plan to pour on the embattled governor.
–Philips wrote in from Lagos.
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