SOMETIME last year, in my bid to bypass the traffic gridlock at Mile 2 (tanker drivers, having turned that axis of the Apapa/Oshodi into one huge parking lot) and catch an early evening flight out of the country, I opted to use the Ago Palace Way, Okota, to connect the new Itire link-bridge and circumnavigate all the traffic bedlam.
But that decision literally backfired. The about- 10-minute drive from the Apple Junction end of Ago Palace Way to Ago Roundabout took me exactly three and a half hours. I barely managed to catch the KLM flight. The road was simply unmotorable, partly flooded and all dug up and abandoned.
That was Mid-last year!
Last weekend, however, I drove through that same Ago Palace Way and I almost broke into a celebratory dance. It’s done. All paved. With interlocking blocks, drainage and all. I’m sure the streetlights will soon come up. I could have done the stretch in 10 minutes, but I took my time, leisure-driving. Savouring it all. Work has even commenced on some of the adjoining roads. I did not only give thumbs up to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, I also said a prayer for him.
Unlike with the presidential election where the electorate are beginning to doubt if they did not thumbprint in error, I suspect there’re no such doubts in Lagos. The electorate definitely got it right!
Incidentally, I was a latter day convert to the Ambode-for-governor project, having never really known the man. I only supported Ambode because he was the choice of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. But for the Tinubu factor, my preferred candidate for Lagos governorship was Jimi Agbaje, who, I believe, bested Ambode and all the other aspirants in terms of articulation and seeming grasp of the issues.
But having lived in Lagos since 1992, having lived through the administrations of Tinubu and Raji Fashola (whom he anointed, against all odds), many of us have learnt to trust Asiwaju’s judgment. I was, therefore, ready to wager on Ambode – knowing that there was already a great master plan on ground. It was now like a relay and Ambode only had to pick up the baton from a team that was already winning, and continue the race.
Moreover, I feared that PDP would only come to upset the applecart, halt the steady march to progress, or even put everything in reverse gear while trying to rake up murk – with the single aim of clipping Tinubu’s wings (and probably jailing him to avenge Bode George).
I also began to take more interest in Ambode when I discovered that many of Lagos State’s civil servants secretly wished he would not become governor. They cited Oracle software and how Ambode, as Accountant General, closed all the avenues civil servants were using to ‘make’ money. I immediately concluded that there must be something good about him, if he could halt the bleeding of the state treasury by civil servants. I began to love him the more.
On a selfish level, however, I lived in Okota, where the all-important Ago Palace Way, for almost six years, had become everything but a road. The reconstruction was taking forever. If it was not marred by a vexatious court case, then it was by outright lack of funds.
But the predominantly Igbo population in the area felt it was deliberately abandoned for purely ethnic reasons. That perceived abandonment was partly responsible for the seeming rejection of the APC in the area and the ‘dangerous’ romance with PDP. Incidentally, the residents never took notice of the fact that while the APC pledged to complete the road, if re-elected to Alausa, the PDP was threatening to probe the various contracts awarded for that reconstruction. That basically meant that no further work would go on while the probe lasted.
Having been fully disenfranchised by the system’s refusal to release my PVC (Permanent Voter’s Card), I resorted to convincing whomever I could on why they needed to vote Ambode for continuity. The rest, as they say, is now history.
And having driven through the new Ago Palace Way, I feel so proud and fulfilled. And then, I remember Ambode’s modest efforts at restoring security, the efforts towards a better environment, the repositioning of LWTV, etc. We’re definitely up to something good. The next challenge now, dear governor, is the menace of Okada and their kindred spirits, Keke Marwa and Danfo drivers. Of course, there are also those who use junk vehicles, from the refuse heaps of Europe, to occupy one lane of every newly reconstructed road. But, I guess, we’ll have to take it one step at a time.
Meanwhile, It’s full marks for Your Excellency on Ago Palace Way.
…I also welcome this book
PENULTIMATE week, a book made its way into the Nigerian market. Written by my friend and brother, Adagbo Onoja, a former aide to a former minister of foreign affairs of Nigeria, it is an exploration of the media as an instrument of foreign policy. But The Media Imagination in Nigerian Foreign Policy is not a run of the mill sense of any of what it speaks of. The sense of the media here is a much broader one, for example. The way the term media comes to mean power at the same time is one of the features of the book that readers would find interesting, complicated or disagreeable, depending on where one is coming from. Perhaps, not so with the other chapters, especially the one I would call ‘the Obasanjo School of Diplomacy’ and the knocks and kudos it earned in the book.
Another chapter prone to being singled out is the one on the media politics of the ministry of foreign affairs in the period under review. That and the entire section two of the work must be the area that made Hajia Zainab Okino, a former editor and a columnist of this paper to refer to it on the blurb as a handbook for diplomatic reporters and editors. Section two is where we come to realise that negative as Nigeria’s international image might appear, it is only so because the country has not conceived of the media, as an instrument of power. This is actually the leading claim of this work and the last chapter is spent on outlining how that might have been done, taking liberty with history of countries that have done so.
Those out looking for new terms would find quite a number of them in this book. It is here I am seeing the term ‘asymmetrical diplomacy’ for the first time. This is beside others like media imagination itself, the constructivist turn, the Mackinder syndrome.
This is a generally frank, informative and readable work. All I know is that should there be one, whenever and wherever, I would attend the book presentation to listen to how the speakers tear the book together and apart simultaneously. I congratulate Adagbo Onoja, the author. By any standard, it is a magnificent intervention in media analysis, with powerful insights into Nigerian foreign policy, all rolled into one. And to think that a quality book like this is by a Nigerian publishing company, the Kano-based Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), makes everything even more splendid.