Ambode’s reputation on the line
Sir, As the rainy season has started rather early this year, many Nigerians are rejoicing. At least, the weather is now less harsh, making it a bit bearable to stay without public electric supply. But for the people in such communities as Ajah, Langbasa, Addo and Badore in the Lekki Peninsula of Lagos State, these are terrifying times. The only road which links them to the rest of the state is in its worst shape ever, and the rains can only worse them. On Saturday, February 24, 2018, motorists spend some four hours on this road, a journey which during the administrations of Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola would take just 10 minutes. The reason for the unprecedented traffic gridlock was the rainfall of the previous night which created potholes and expanded existing ones into craters. The drainage facilities have to this day remained blocked by silt. The drains, called gutters in the layman’s language, have not been cleared for once since Akinwunmi Ambode became Lagos State governor in May, 2015. This is not a brilliant record.
Needless to add, motorists, passengers, pedestrians, and motorcyclists rained curses and abuses on the current Lagos State government when they got stuck in traffic on February 24. They had reason to feel betrayed by the state government. 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 expand it. He said that he would add the BRT lane so that special buses which charge competitive fares could ply 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 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.
The bad news is that six months, or a whole half a year, later, no action whatsoever has been taken on any of these promises. The September dateline for road construction and reconstruction has turned out to be a fluke. The people are no longer expecting Ambode to construct any road or expand any one. All they want him to do is just to patch the spots where the Ajah-Addo-Langbasa-Badore Road has failed, leading to easily the worst traffic gridlock in the country. The other thing they want him to do is just to clear the drainages of all the rubbish which blocks flood water.
With the APC administration at the national level waning in popularity on account of President Buhari’s nepotism and generally poor record in office since 2015, Governor Ambode has to watch it in Lagos. An APC member myself, I advise Ambode to recognise the strategic nature of both of both his office and the state in APC’s future. The line between success and failure is very thin, all the more so in politics.
Governor Ambode should not add the mess which the Ajah axis of the Lekki Peninsula has become to the list of such grand policy failures as the overtaking of Lagos State by garbage which could make the state foremost incubator of lassa fever in Nigeria. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
• Engr Femi Animashaun is CEO of an indigenous firm, lives in Lagos.
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