By Gbenga Ogunremi
FROM the onset, let me emphasize the fact that this writer belongs to the school of thought that believes in ‘finding the good’ about people, communities, organizations and governments, and ‘praising it’.
Recognizing and praising what is good and worthwhile encourages our leaders, especially the political leadership of our dear country, to do more good, while it gives others the strength of purpose to join ‘the good’.
This piece is therefore intended as a recap of the giant steps and strides of the Ambode administration’s first 365 days in office, which from all indications foretell a new dawn of a glorious era.
Within this short period, Governor Ambode was able to prove the point that his latent leadership qualities and political will were robust enough, not only in sustaining the legacy of performance initiated and instituted by the grand master himself, Asiwaju ‘Bola Tinubu, and taken to the next level by the irrepressible Raji Fashola (SAN), but also in raising the bar even higher and subsequently emplacing Lagos State on an entirely new and upscale pedestal.
A fact-check reveals that the first 100 days was about setting in motion the procedures for actualizing visions and fulfilling promises.
With a fresh burst of energy, the governor hit the ground walking the talk of making Lagos work for all. His first move was to fashion out an institutional frame work that laid the foundation on which his government’s well-conceived programmes and initiatives were to be built.
So it was not a surprise that the Governor deftly moved to restructure the engine room of government- the civil service, to reflect a fully functional one that is efficient and service driven, by merging, realigning or streamlining some ministries, departments and agencies, a move that eventually led to a considerable cut in cost of governance, about N3bn less monthly.
New ones, such as the Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment, Office of Overseas Affairs & Investment (a.k.a. Lagos Global) and the Office of Civic Engagement were also created to drive government’s policy of inclusiveness and cater adequately for emerging needs of the people of Lagos.
This phase of public service reforms also witnessed the appointment of new permanent secretaries who were carefully selected based on merit, professionalism and proven track record of service to the state. This was in tandem with the governor’s preference for merit and professionalism, he wanted those that could connect effectively with his vision and help make real his dreams of a greater Lagos.
In the same vein, Ambode was able to put together a solid pack of dedicated aides, who were deemed capable of sharing the governor’s esoteric thoughts on good governance and imbued with the required revolutionary spirit.
All these appointments have indeed produced the appropriate synergy required to efficiently drive the government’s development agenda that is rooted in an overarching policy thrust of well-crafted initiatives that sit on a sturdy tripod of Security, Infrastructural development and Job creation.
Some 200 days later, government’s strategic and methodological plans to deliver a safe, clean and prosperous Lagos were already yielding positive results. Several high impact projects were ongoing state-wide, while some had been completed within this short period.
Today, Lagos State is a lot safer by virtue of several proactive security measures put in place by the governor. Available statistics in fact reveal a reduction in crime rate by 65 per cent by the end of the second quarter of the Ambode administration when compared with what obtained about a year ago.
A recent donation by the Lagos State Government of security equipment worth 4.8 Billion Naira to the police was a very bold initiative that clearly demonstrated the governor’s huge political will to rid the state of all forms of criminal activities.
The massive investment in this high definition security equipment which included the purchase of 3 Helicopters, Patrol vehicles, Gun boats, Armored Personnel Carriers, Power bikes among others, was roundly commended by a cross section of Nigerians.
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari called it a judicious use of public funds to protect the people of Lagos, while the Interior Minister, Lt. Gen. Dambazau (Rtd), described it as unprecedented in Nigeria’s history and a sign of seriousness about security of lives and property of Lagos residents.
For a fact, the prompt rescue of the kidnapped Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary girls and the recent quelling of the recent Mile 12 crisis are quite instructive and very revealing of the governor’s avowed commitment to fully rid Lagos of all forms of social decadence.
Another security strategy that promises to make Lagos competitive, safe and secure is the Light up Lagos project, an initiative that targets the lighting up of the nooks and crannies, inner roads, and major highways (including federal roads and border towns) in the state.
To date, street lights have been installed and retrofitted on many roads too many to list here, with the latest commissioning being that of Ile Zik in Ikeja to the Sango old toll gate and from the Murtala Muhammed Airport to Oshodi. Also, 68 communities in Lekki/Ise/Odeomi in Ibeju-Lekki LGA of the state that had been without electricity for five years were recently connected to the National Grid.
This move, apart from its aesthetic value, would lead to a considerable reduction in criminal activities, while it would also in great measure enhance the building of a 24/7 economy that would create employment and wealth for the people of Lagos state.
In terms of infrastructural development, government’s footprints across the metropolis in the last 300 days have greatly multiplied, most especially in the area of road infrastructure which is witnessing massive construction and rehabilitation.
For example, reports have it that over 300 major roads have been rehabilitated, 66 major roads at various stages of completion, while 80 road grading and surface dressing projects will soon be completed in all the LGs and LCDAs that make up the state.
Construction work is also at an advanced stage on the Ajasa- Command and Aboru-Abesan link road, and when completed would ease traffic on the Lagos- Abeokuta expressway and also link the various communities in the area.
Furthermore, construction of two roads in each of the 20 LGs and 37 LCDAs totaling 114 at a cost of N17.5bn is scheduled for delivery within six months, while work has commenced on the construction of fly-overs in two of the state’s high traffic zones of Ajah Roundabout and Abule –Egba Junction, which when completed would practically solve the associated perennial traffic gridlock in these areas and give succor to those plying these routes.
To top it up, Gov. Ambode is set to actualize the dream of every Lagosian as arrangements have been put in place to sign an MOU in the next few weeks for the construction of the 4th Mainland Bridge which will run from Ajah to Ikorodu to Isawo and berth at Ojodu, Ikeja, back to the Ibadan expressway.
Also, the recent signing of N25bn Employment Trust Fund (ETF) Bill into law by the governor effectively set in motion the government’s employment drive. It signaled the state’s readiness to tackle unemployment and reduce poverty level considerably.
The ETF, which is about granting soft loans to individuals for the purpose of making them self-employed, is expected to have a snowball effect as thousands of Lagos youths and artisans are set to be taken off the streets and empowered to work their ways out of poverty and live a decent and better life, transform their children’s futures and their communities.
This milestone initiative is further expected to promote wealth creation through entrepreneurial development which is sustainable and ultimately grows Lagos economy beyond bounds.
- Gbenga Ogunremi was the Chief Press Secretary to former Governor ‘Niyi Adebayo of Ekiti State.