By Biola Onitiri
With the opposition having mobilized some one million voters for the February 2023 general elections, the hold of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Lagos State is no longer as tenacious as it used to be. The APC won the 2015 gubernatorial election by a mere 100,000 votes. For a state with some 22 million people, this development says a lot. Those of us in the know are not overtly excited over the huge victory of the 2019 gubernatorial election in which the APC candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, won 739,445 votes while Jimmy Agbaje of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) received a mere 206,141 votes. Nigeria has come a long way in the last four years. There is, for instance, the Bio-Modal Voter Accreditation System (B-VAS) which makes certain practices very difficult.
The Ajah part of Eti-Osa Local Government Area is a veritable threat to our party as 2023 draws nearer. It has a huge, well-educated and savvy population. As the Lagos State governor from 1999 to 2007, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a first-class political strategist, recognized the immense potential of the area, and so constructed the eight-kilometre Ajah-Addo-Badore Road for N2.8 billion. He gave the contract to a leading multinational construction firm, PW Nigeria Ltd, which delivered an impressive job in record time. His successor, Babatunde Fashola, ensured the completion and went a step further by awarding a contract to the same multinational to construct the famous First Unity Estate Road. Typical of Fashola, he did not stop there. He awarded the contract for the building of mini-water works in Badore. He also awarded a contract to PW to build a jetty to ferry people and vehicles from Badore to Ikoyi and vice versa. The contract, which was almost completed before he left office, was held down by a law suit. Fashola, in addition, provided street lights in Badore and the other parts of Greater Ajah. No wonder, there are well over 90 housing estates in this part of the Lekki Peninsula right now.
Fashola’s successor, Akinwunmi Ambode, had a complicated relationship with Greater Ajah people. But he was able to deliver in record time the Jubilee Bridge at the Ajah Junction on the Lekki –Epe Highway. It was a huge project which went a long way to ease traffic at this critical junction. Ambode visited Badore on August 2, 2017, in a flamboyant manner and held an elaborate Town Hall meeting, with all people who mattered in Lagos, including senators and first-class traditional rulers, in attendance. He spoke glowingly and promised to deliver amenities more than the people even asked for. Frankly, Ambode spoke from a deep understanding of the geography of the area. He told the huge audience that he had awarded a contract for the construction of the road from Okeira in Addo to Lagos Business School, about five kilometers. He said that construction would start the following month. He also announced that he had awarded a contract for the expansion of the Ajah-Addo-Badore Road from two lanes to three lanes to ease traffic. Each announcement received a thundering applause. Ambode also calmly announced the construction of a road from Badore to Lekki First Phase One. All this was on August 2, 2017. As you are reading this piece, nothing has been done on any of the roads. Absolutely nothing! If anything, the Ajah-Addo-Badore Road built by Tinubu is in a decrepit state, resulting in terrible traffic. Unimpressive as Ambode’s record in Greater Ajah is, it is far better than that of his successor, Sanwo-Olu. Absolutely nothing to his credit! Even the street lights which Tinubu provided and Fashola as well as Ambode maintained have all long packed up. It looks as if there is a government policy to decorate streets with heaps of stinking garbage. The Ajah-Addo-Badore Road which his administration patched last year got washed away with the first two rains this year. In other words, the Ministry of Works did a particularly shoddy job.
There is still time for the Sanwo-Olu administration to redeem itself in this critical part of Lagos. Let him take a look at the development agenda which leaders and people of Greater Ajah once presented to the Lagos State government. Construction of the road from Okeira in Addo to Lagos Business School with a spur to Cooperative Villas in Badore to ease the enormous traffic on the Ajah-Addo-Badore Road. There is only one road serving over the 80 estates in this part of Lagos. Any time a big vehicle breaks down on this road, there will be no movement for several hours. Immediate repair of the failed portions of the Ajah Addo-Badore Road which is 15 years old, by a capable contractor because of much of the road used to be swampy. And the current pressure on the road now is colossal. Regular clearing of the heaps of garbage on the Ajah Addo-Badore Road. The whole of the Ajah-Addo-Badore is in pitch darkness. It doesn’t take much to light up the streets. The whole stretch of Ajah through Addo to the First Unity Estate in Badore is covered by shacks and illegal structures. The kind of environmental impunity which cannot be observed in places like Ikeja, Surulere, Ilupeju, Yaba, Ebutte Meta and other parts of Lagos Metropolis is practised on an industrial scale here, which is an integral part of the New Lagos. Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps officers should be stationed here. The menace of tippers hauling sand from Ajah waterfronts to all parts of Lagos has been brought to Sanwo-Olu’s attention. The double-lane Ajah-Addo-Badore Road from the sand dredging junction to the Ajah Market has been reduced to single. Wet sand dropping from the trucks covers the right lane, making it difficult for vehicles to move on it.
Tinubu constructed a settlement for fishermen in Badore and built a road linking the settlement to both the Ajah Addo-Badore Road and the Tarzan Jetty. Thousands use this road daily to go to places like Ikorodu and Ijede as well as Victoria Island and back. The bad news is that this one kilometer, which has been renamed Catholic Mission Road, is in urgent need of rehabilitation. The Lagos State Ministry of Works and Infrastructure designed 11 years ago a road linking Taiwo Kolawole Road to the Badore Village to serve as an alternative road to Unity Drive in the First Unity Estate, Badore. The 1.5 km road was designed in conjunction with PW Ltd because both the Ministry and the construction company which built Unity Drive saw the imperative for the alternative road. Sanwo-Olu can develop the road to his credit.
Lastly, the increasing number of beggars and destitute dumped at the Ajah Market is alarming. The Ministry of Social Welfare must do something about this eyesore. Fashola did a lot in this respect.
Engr. Onitiri is chairman of a leading indigenous construction firm in Lagos