Indeed, there is something intriguing but yet fascinating about the Lagos State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode. His calm and ever-affective disposition easily gives him away as a ‘correct Lagos boy’. His mien coupled with his non-descript body language makes it very difficult for any observer to appropriately place him in some categorisation reserved for the nation’s political players. Alas, none of the various categories of politicians in the country today can be said to be delivering on their campaign promises.
But Ambode is like a bolt out of the foregoing. Yes, he belongs to the Tinubu political group. In fact, many call him, the former governor’s political son. That makes him an active player in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. And of course, typical party members would expect the youthful governor to conduct the affairs of Lagos State in a business-as-usual manner where everything and anything goes even at the expense of the general good of the state and the people. Alas, so far, Ambode has disappointed them.
I do not need to be a Lagosian to assess what is being done in Nigeria’s foremost state. Being a journalist that has come this far on the job, I do not hesitate to state that besides Kano where I spent my teething years in the profession, Lagos happens to be the state where I really got to practice journalism in and out of the newsroom. So, I know the Centre of Excellence very well.
Thus when Ambode’s government began counting its achievements one year into its four-year tenure last week, I made it a point of duty to be a keen onlooker and recorder of the history being made.
Last Monday, the government announced plans to upgrade the network of roads in the state capital, Ikeja, to improve and boost the economic stature to world class standard and to reduce traffic gridlock around the corridor to the barest minimum, just as it revealed its readiness to expand Awolowo Way with an elevated highway from the Ikeja Airport Hotel to Alausa. It is designed to decongest traffic gridlock along Allen Round-about, Kudirat Abiola Round-about and Agidingbi Road-about.
Besides, the state government’s plan to expand Allen/Opebi Road to Odo Iya-Alaro via a link bridge at Ogudu to the Third Mainland Bridge was in line with the vision of Ambode to transform Ikeja into a state capital commensurate with other capital cities in the world. Beyond these, the governor hit the ground running on assumption of duty on May 29, opening up the mega city including its hitherto slumps, constructing roads, bridges, water ways and lighting up sections of Lagos.
And all these he is doing with less or no ceremony or media blitz as some of his colleagues in the APC and other states do even with little or nothing significant to show. For instance, my little niece residing around Gowon Estate at Egbeda was full of joy last weekend when she told me that “our area has been transformed by Ambo.”
Given the fact that the government at the centre is APC and the party administers the affairs of states like Osun, Ogun, Edo, Niger, Nasarawa, Kano, Yobe, Adamawa and Benue among several others, it would be expected that like Ambode, things would be working in these states. Alas, that is not the report coming from other states save for Tambuwal’s Sokoto, Wike’s Rivers and Mimiko’s Ondo where meaning is being given to the people’s welfare.
Yes, some readers would attribute Ambode’s progress to the huge finances at his disposal. They may also argue that his predecessor and current Power, Works and Housing |Minister, Raji Fashola, did a lot which he is currently building upon. To such people, my question goes thus: do you realise that many governors in the 2007-2011-2015 classes did not deliver on their mandates all through their tenures; instead they left underdevelopment all over while they carted away funds that should have rightly been channeled towards uplifting their states and people?
What we have today is the sad story of unpaid salaries and pension/gratuities of workers whom they deliberately condemned to poverty and penury amidst clearly visible underdevelopment. And as a continuum, one would expect that governors in Ambode’s class should be able to build on the little efforts their predecessors made even with their diabolical plot to sentence the people to lack in perpetuity.
Where is the FCT minister?
A lot of residents of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and visitors alike have had to ask if there is a substantive minister in charge of the administration of the federal capital city. Some of my colleagues in this stable and others have also done so in their columns and related write-ups.
Their reasons are not far-fetched. Apart from the embarrassing heaps of dirt that have taken over hitherto beautiful areas, especially in the city centre and choice spots along the airport road and Nyanya, the two major gateways into the FCT, there is an alarming rise in crime, especially robberies ranging from one-chance keke NAPEP and cab operators to breaking and entry including outright armed robberies. For a federal capital as modern as Abuja, this is not to be heard.
At least, Ambode strategised against these form of insecurity immediately he assumed duty in Lagos, a city that had excelled in all forms of criminalities in the not-too-distant past. Today, Lagos is working.
But instructively, instead of confronting the problems alongside the needed development, the minister is busy making life hellish for residents.
For instance, early this week, residents of the FCT, especially those around Karu, Nyanya, Mararaba, Jikwoyi, Kurudu, Orozo and its environs were disappointed to witness the ‘mother of all traffic gridlock’ as a result of ‘speed bumps’ introduced at the Abuja-Nyanya expressway, precisely at the Kugbo furniture market axis of the road over the weekend. Although the speed breakers were introduced to reduce the frequency of accidents that had become a regular occurrence on that road, the development has left residents in awe as to what would have led the FCT Administration to install speed bumps on a road that is a nightmare for motorists. The attendant damage to vehicles is there too. To many, it is a sad reminder of the Adamu Aliero dispensation as FCT minister.
Although he has ordered the immediate removal of the bumps, it does not stop the fact that the FCT minister needs to up his game.
Abuja people need security; they need workable means of transportation; they need low cost houses; they need some form of rent control agency in the mould of what Fashola did in Lagos as governor which has kept house rent at an affordable rate for all categories of residents; they need electricity; jobs and not the tight-lipped and yet no-action administrative style that we are seeing now.
And like I mentioned earlier, governors and administrators in the Ambode class of 2015 must sit up. Enough of the cries for bailouts from the centre. What happens to your IGR, your monthly allocation from the federal treasury and other related revenue sources? Why consume your entire security vote and yet there is insecurity all over?
Simply put, where are other Ambodes?