BY GEORGE OKOJIE
The governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, is two years through a four- year term that began on May 29, 2015. GEORGE OKOJIE, in this report, examines the achievements and challenges of his administration in the last two years.
Lagos State Government under the leadership of Mr Akinwunmi Ambode by general assessment has been outstanding in the delivery of the dividends of democracy in the state.
On assumption of office the governor was confronted with upsurge in criminal activities in the state, especially traffic-associated robberies which made many residents to doubt his competence to govern the state.
Before Lagosians knew it, Ambode adopted a tripartite approach to security surveillances procuring series of security equipment and vehicles for the Nigerian Police to the tune of N4.765billion to ensure prompt, effective and efficient policing of the state.
Thus, the peace associated with Lagos State did not come from the blues. It took the sagacity of a focused team headed by the governor of the state.
Aware that most of the projects that would transform the state can only be executed when the state is financially buoyant, he immediately embarked on financial re-engineering of the state’s financial system.
Thus, despite the economic recession that crippled smooth running of government both at the state and federal level, Lagos State Government was still able to record the sum of N312.820 billion as year 2016 Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
According to the state Commissioner for Finance, Mr Akinyemi Ashade, the new IGR, represents 75 per cent of the projection and 72 per cent of total revenue, compared with N247.946 billion representing 80 per cent of the projection and 69 per cent of the total revenue of year 2015.
He said the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), in year 2016 raked in N247.022 billion representing 80 per cent of the estimate, 79 per cent of total IGR and 57 per cent of total revenue compared to N225.041 billion which represented 81 per cent of the estimate, 79 per cent of IGR and 56 per cent of total revenue in year 2015.
In the area of agriculture, he made a proactive move and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the production of Lake Rice with his Kebbi State counterpart, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu in March 2016.
‘Lake Rice’ which is acronym for Lagos-Kebbi rice is a product of the collaboration between Lagos and Kebbi designed for the development of agricultural commodities like rice, wheat, ground-nut, onions, maize/sorghum and beef value chains now sold to residents at designated outlets across the state.
Within the period under review, the governor prioritised job creation and set up a N25billion Employment Trust Fund to provide support to youths, entrepreneurs, artisans and other unemployed residents of Lagos State.
According to the state’s Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Mr Babatunde Durosimi-Etti , it is in fulfillment of the state government’s mandate in wealth creation to get many young entrepreneurs productively engaged.
Durosimi-Etti said that 1,104 applicants have accessed about N1.76 billion as loans, adding that that the state received 1,937 applications; 1,505 Medium Enterprises and 432 Small and Medium Enterprise.
The transformation that has taken place in Lagos seemed to have caught the attention of a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, Olabode George.
A former deputy national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George has hailed the performance of Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode in the areas of infrastructural developments.
Though he is in an opposition party in the state, George urged the governor to do more in order to etch his name in gold upon the completion of his assignments in office.
The Atona Oodua of Yorubaland, said though he has never met Governor Ambode and they belong to different political parties, the governor deserves commendation for what he has done so far in the areas of infrastructural developments in Epe local government and other parts of the state and also in the area of traffic decongestion in the state.
George, who hails from Lagos Island Local government in the state, also appealed to the governor to help in developing his local government and other areas of the state.
George said, “I have never met this young man but I must say that I am impressed with his performance so far especially in the area of infrastructural developments.
“I don’t know everywhere in Lagos because I hardly go round but I must sincerely commend him on what he is doing in Epe local government. I am very proud of what he is doing there. I passed through Epe recently and I thought I was in a different state.
“I want to appeal to him that when he is done with Epe, he should head back to my local government, which is Lagos Island so that when he leaves office, not will Epe people remember him for his performance, but the entire Lagos will remember him and say ‘yes, there was one governor that passed through here and his name is Akinwunmi Ambode’.
“He is a Yoruba man and he is doing his best but I know that we as opposition will do better when we get there. My advice to him is that he should ensure that the standards of living of Lagosians are improved especially in the areas of education and healthcare.
“I must commend him because it is not easy governing a state like Lagos. Lagos is like the New York of the United States” he said.
George is not alone in this as other Lagos indigenes have hailed Ambode’s performance.
A coalition of Lagos State indigenes at home and in the Diaspora also lauded Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for his exceptional performance in the last two years, pledging their backing for his government.
The alliance, operating under the auspices of Lagosians Future Group and DE Fash Movement both comprising the indigenes of Lagos Island and Awori indigenes, said Governor Ambode’s achievements in the last two years in office is unprecedented and laudable.
According to the group’s coordinators in Lagos, M. Seyi Bamigbade and his counterpart in the Diaspora, Mr Kunle Salako; evidence of the governor’s performance has shamed his critics by giving the dividends of egalitarianism to Lagosians.
Highlighting some of the achievements of the present administration in the state, the coalition said he has not lost focus of the real essence of governance, especially in the area of improving the lives of the citizenry by ensuring delivery of infrastructural development that will affect the people both directly and indirectly.
“What has got many talking about Lagos today is the way Ambode’s administration has gone about delivering the dividends of democracy to Lagosians and improving on the giant strides witnessed in the past two administrations.
“In the last two years, every local government in the state has felt the impact of the present administration through one project or the other. Many roads have been upgraded and infrastructures in schools have also been upgraded. The governor has also done well in the area of security and many more projects are springing up,” the group said.
The coalition solicited Lagosians’ support for Ambode- led administration so that he can deliver on his promises to the people of the state.
Bamigbade said,” we cannot agree less with the number one citizen of Nigeria. We have opened the governor’s scorecard, we have graded him by the best standard set by Lagosians and we are happy to inform Nigerians that the governor has done very well.
“In just two years, he has touched the lives of every Lagosians in the area of health, education, sport, entertainment and tourism, empowerment, infrastructure, improved the internally generated revenue and improved on the security in the state.”
The latest in the series of developmental projects being constructed all over the state was the unveiling of the multi billionaire Abule-Egba, Ajah Jubilee Flyovers, the Epe- Ijebu –Ode Expressway.
The governor said both bridges were creative solutions by his administration to address the perennial traffic associated with the areas, as well as boost economic activities in both areas.
Ambode explained that the Ajah and Abule Egba Bridges, christened as ‘Jubilee Bridges’ was to improve connectivity in the axis and facilitate economic growth, while specifically saying the Abule-Egba Bridge was meant to open up other areas of the state and improving the lives of residents in the area.
He recalled that the area was troubled with terrible traffic gridlock on a daily basis, which according to him was crippling business activities, causing loss of valuable man hours and revenues.
According to him, the Freedom and Admiralty roads, which he recently commissioned, would provide an alternative route to the Lekki/Ikoyi Bridge, thereby, easing traffic at Lekki Phase 1.
“We had to give this project priority because of its strategic importance to the economic growth of the Lekki Free Trade Zone and the Ibeju-Lekki-Epe axis. This axis will play a key role in the future prosperity of Lagos State as the home to many multi-billion naira private investments in the Lekki Free Trade Zone as well as the upcoming seaport and airport.
“As a government, we are irrevocably committed to making Lagos State an investment haven and we have made it a duty to put in place, top class infrastructure that will facilitate movement of people, goods and materials,” Ambode said.
The governor said that beyond the bridge, his administration was already looking to activate the Badore jetty in line with efforts to commence reforms in the state’s water transportation efforts.