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Now that Ambode has arrived!




If Eko oni baje was a coinage of the Ahmed Bola Tinubu-led government in Lagos State, the saying gained currency during the tenure of his successor, Raji Babatunde Fashola. Incumbent governor, Akinwumi Ambode, is proving to be something else in giving real life and meaning to the slogan. After overcoming what appeared initial distractions, Ambode has, through his sterling performance over the past 18 months, attested to the widely-held belief that Lagos deserves nothing less than the best.

And, Lagos has always got the best! There has always been this feeling that Lagosians will always vote right for the nation’s Centre of Excellence to remain in safe hands! Little wonder apprehension was thick in the air when a fumbling Goodluck Jonathan, in a desperate effort to capture Lagos for the PDP relocated the seat of government to the nation’s former capital during the 2015 general elections. After flooding every available space of Lagos with local and foreign currencies, the former president’s party failed to tinker with the massive support enjoyed by the APC.
During the Fashola years, even opposition politicians could not resist the Lagos is working chorus and some openly confessed that Fashola gave real meaning to Eko oni baje. The former governor was so dexterous and so committed to taking Lagos to the next level to have warmed his way into the heart of APC national leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu. If, by the end of his tenure Fashola established Lagos as the most enviable single entity within the federation, what Ambode has done in the last 15 months or so has rekindled hope among experts that Lagos, not the troubled Niger Delta, is by far more crucial and more critical to Nigeria’s survival!

In his first 100 days in office, Governor Ambode appeared so unsure of the task ahead and simply played to the gallery by acting as if he was on a mission to shred whatever reputation his predecessor had built through diligent execution of office of governor. Ambode seized every opportunity to lash out at his predecessor and was so thorough in discrediting Fashola to the point of amusing opposition politicians who sneeringly referred to Governor Ambode’s PDF or Pull Down Fashola campaign as the major achievement of the administration in its first 100 days in office!
All Governor Ambode or his hirelings did then was to flash a controversial N78 million contract awarded by his predecessor for the upgrade of a website. Misapplication of public funds, for whatever reasons, is unacceptable and, had Ambode turned the blind eye to the act, chances are very few people would have believed Fashola was capable of spending public funds to the tune of N78 million to upgrade a private website. Even if Ambode wanted to turn the blind eye, Fashola’s rising political profile, especially at a time there were calls on the leadership of his party to consider him for national duties, must have rankled a section of the APC.

In fact, Fashola’s profile once rose to a point where people indicated their preparedness to endorse a Muslim-Muslim ticket if he was picked to run with then candidate Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari! Under normal circumstances, this should be an enduring tribute to a man whose name remains high on the fast-receding list of upright Nigerians. But, with politics in the mix, it did not take too long for the air to get thick with speculations that Fashola had inadvertently angered the gods.

Curiously, it was Ambode, the man Fashola vigorously campaigned to succeed him, who turned round to exact a revenge on behalf of the angry gods.Whoever advised Ambode to abandon a proxy war, however, has the interest of the governor at heart! But, equally important is the fact that it is to the eternal benefit of the good people of Lagos State that Ambode quickly got over the initial distraction and quickly went to work. And, boy! Ambode hasn’t disappointed! This is to be expected, anyway, because right from the epoch-making days of Alhaji Abdullateef Jakande, the Baba Kekere of Chief Awolowo’s political family, Lagos has been lucky with its civilian governors who all virtually ended their tenure with the action governor moniker.

Ultimately, of course, governance in Lagos State has become a relay. And, in this relay to excel, Ambode is following in the footsteps of his predecessors who left the state better than they met it. This is a fact to which residents and visitors to the state readily attest. For instance, the Ambode administration has further opened up the state to the point of drastically reducing Lagos’ legendary chaos, which was one of the reasons cited for the relocation of the seat of government to Abuja. The governor is doing this by building on the revolution initiated by his predecessors to ease traffic gridlock on Lagos roads. The procurement of hundreds of large-bodied buses to beef up the state transport service is a right step to link and open up more parts of the states.
Security remains a major challenge but the assistance rendered to security agencies by the state government is expected to improve the situation. The Ambode administration has reinvigorated the war against indiscipline that has encouraged more people to use footbridges without having to compete for space with street hawkers or have their dress pulled by desperate beggars. Gradually, reefer-reeking Area Boys and Girls are being taken off the streets. What the Ambode administration is doing in Lagos is an attestation of what any determined and focussed leadership is capable of doing. One great lesson democracy teaches, but unfortunately lost on politicians, is that peaceful change comes through the ballot.
The continuing good work in Lagos stems from that Lagosians are clearheaded in distinguishing serious leaders and pretenders. It was in the spirit of voting for clearheaded leaders that Lagosians lined behind Ambode in April, last year. It is in the common interest of the people of Lagos State that he realised early enough that he was elected to improve on the performance of his predecessors. He could not have done that with people breathing down his neck and getting him distracted in the process.
  Yes! Ambode has arrived! 
• Magaji lives in Abuja and can be reached via 234-805-138-0793

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Akinwumi Ambode
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