Footprints… As Ambode winds down
Gradually, the administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State has begun its winding down process preparatory to its transition to history. Ordinarily, this transition ought not to be.
Rather, instead of a transition, the process should have birthed the consolidation of the Ambode administration as the governor transits into the second stanza of his public service career.
But that will not be as the Lagos State’s peculiar political system has shown that good performance alone cannot guarantee a public officeholder a renewal of tenure, even by his political party. That unfortunately is the peculiarity of the nature and character of the politics of Lagos State.
So come May 29, 2019, Ambode, rather than beginning the process of consolidating on his achievements in the last four years, will pass the baton to his comrade in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
The governor will also be going down since 1999 as the second incumbent governor to have been denied the right of first refusal to a return ticket after former Anambra State Governor, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju.
But unlike Mbadinuju who was denied a return ticket by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2003 because of poor stewardship, Ambode is a victim of the byzantine prebendal politics of the state to which he chose not to align with at the expense of service delivery to Lagosians.
However, whatever might be his shortcomings in playing realpolitik that could have earned him an automatic second term ticket as did his predecessors in the state’s ruling party since the rebirth of democratic government in 1999, Ambode is leaving Lagos much better than he met it.
His signature projects in the area of infrastructural development in the five divisions that make up the state have ensured a better living standard for the people.
It was under him the state found a seemingly permanent solution to the intractable traffic congestion in Abule Egba and Ajah with the building of the Jubilee Flyovers in the two areas where commuters hitherto spent as much as two hours in standstill traffic.
Work has also gone far on the construction of another flyover at Pen Cinema junction in Agege to liberate commuters and motorists from the hellish traffic in that area.
The construction of the flyovers as well as the completion and rehabilitation of 500 roads, in the last three years, have greatly enhanced mobility across the state.
Another notable effort in this sector is the redesigning of the Ojudu Berger axis, a major transport hub, in such a way that transporters and commuters no longer pose a threat to other road users.
Also, residents of Lagos suburbs, especially in Alimosho Local Government and its constituent local government development area councils, who had lived under deplorable conditions occasioned by poor road network, have been gifted an environment they could boast of.
The roads in the areas are well paved with a modern drainage system to de-flood the area and streetlights to enhance security.
However, one cannot close the chapter on Ambode’s achievements in the area of infrastructure without looking at two iconic projects: the reconstruction of the road leading to the nation’s premier gateway, Murtala Muhammed International Airport and the Oshodi Transport Interchange. The two projects are to strengthen the state’s claim to a 21st Century megacity.
The International Airport project is transforming the four-lane carriageway into a 10-lane super highway with additional features of a ramp bridge and a flyover.
The Oshodi Transport Interchange, on its part, is to consolidate on the achievement of Ambode’s predecessor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who returned order to the crime-infested and chaotic ambience of the area, by turning it into a world-class transport hub.
The interchange, built through the public-private partnership model, comprises three terminals and has 18 lifts and CCTVs.
The Ambode’s touch has also been felt in other sectors such as the Bus Reform Initiative aimed to boost the state’s public transportation fleet with 5,000 new buses. Already, about 1,000 of such buses are ready to roll out under a new scheme that takes off in May.
President Muhammadu Buhari came to town two weeks ago to give it a presidential seal when he commissioned the two big projects, the Ayike House and the Lagos Theatre.
Ambode has also doggedly pursued the BRT scheme inherited from his predecessor with the addition of 434 new buses to those plying the Ikorodu Corridor.
A new corridor, that will soon become operational, has also been completed to extend the scheme to commuters plying the Oshodi-Abule Egba Corridor.
In the health sector, the Ambode touch has transformed Ayinke House, unarguably the biggest maternity hospital in Nigeria, from an 80-bed facility into an ultra-modern 170-bed specialist centre.
The LASUTH complex, which houses the Ayinke House, now has a state-owned helipad for medical emergency and the nation’s first DNA Forensic Centre.
The governor’s initiative under the Eko Theatre provides a platform to harness the creativity and potential of youths by building four theatres in Alimosho, Badagry, Ikeja and Epe.
Within the four-year of his administration, the governor has made Lagos more secured for the people through the provision of N6.6 billion gadgets to security agents that are statutorily ffunded and equipped by the federal government.
He also signed into law the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps Law and the Lagos State Properties Protection Law to protect property investors from land grabbers.
Ambode has been able to achieve all these and more in the field of human capital development and the economy through his financial engineering wizardry in such a way that he is leaving the state without adding to the state’s foreign public debt stock of $1.43 billion that he inherited from his predecessor.
As he steps aside come May 29, 2019, there is no doubt that he is leaving Lagos far better than he met it and history is going to be kind to him.
Ajayi, a public affairs analyst, lives at Iyana Ipaja, Lagos