Published On: Sun, Jul 1st, 2018

Gov. Ambode’s revolution in Lagos

By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA

Governor Akinwunmi Amdode’s election and swearing-in as Lagos State governor on May 29, 2915, was greeted by many Lagosians with euphoria and great expectations. The citizens could not be blamed for being hopeful for two major reasons.

First, the residents, having experienced two successive administrations largely acclaimed to have done well in office (Bola Tinubu 1999-2007 and Babatunde Fashola 2007-2015), put much hope in the new governor to continue the developmental projects delivered by his predecessors. Two, owing to the emergence of the much touted ‘change regime’ at the centre, many Lagosians expected a synergy between the state and the federal government to translate into more goodies.

However, their dreams almost died as Ambode started on a shaky note. The governor had barely settled down for business of governance when his administration was rocked by two major hurdles -insecurity and traffic chaos.

Violent crimes like armed robberies, assassinations, kidnappings and cult related killings, among several vices rocked the commercial capital of the nation. To make the already bad situation worse, Lagosians were daily stuck in intractable traffic jams, while refuse heaps resurfaced in several parts of the city.

Angry Lagosians caught in the web of violent crimes and debilitating traffic jams, quickly wrote off the governor, questioninghis ability to step into the big shoes left by his predecessors.

Despite the initial setbacks which raised doubt in the minds of expectant Lagosians about the governor’s competence to follow in the steps of Asiwaju Bola Timubu and Babatunde Fashola, Ambode kept calm. For the embattled governor, it was time to go back to the drawing board and change strategies. He kept working day and night to fix the numerous challenges that daily befall his administration.

The story soon changed from criticisms and insults by disappointed Lagosians who had initially written him off to that of accolades for his sterling performance.

In the span of three years, he has been able to achieve a lot of successes that many Lagosians are in agreement that the governor has done a great job. From the health sector to education, security, infrastructure, tourism and agriculture, the governor’s impact is everywhere to be seen and appreciated. He has proved to be a good manager of resources, which is not surprising given the fact that he is an accountant.

 Security

In response to the public outcry over the increase in spate of crimes, Ambode decided to devote more resources to security. He rebranded the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the police. In a bold move, he donated equipment worth N4.765billion to the Lagos State Police Command in September 2015.

Among the items donated were 100 4-door salon cars, 55 Ford Ranger pick-up vans, 10 Toyota Land Cruiser pick-up vans, 15 BMW power bikes, 100 power bikes, Isuzu trucks, three helicopters, two gun boats, 15 armoured personnel carriers, revolving lights, siren and public-address systems etc.

Others are vehicular radio communicators, security gadgets including bullet proof vests, drones, helmets, handcuffs, uniforms, kits and improved insurance and death benefit schemes for officers.

The governor hinged the initiative on security, job creation and infrastructural renewal. According to him, when there is security of lives and property, more businesses will spring up and such will facilitate job creation.

Also in March 2017, the governor donated 48 patrol vans, 385 walkie talkies, 11 base and repeater stations, 1,150 uniforms, 570 handcuffs, 1,150 belts, berets and boots to boost the operation of the Lagos Neighborhood Safety Corps (LNSC) to keep all the communities in Lagos safe.

Under his watch, the LNSC, formerly knows as Neighborhood Watchers,was rebranded and transformed with 171 vehicles fitted with communication gadgets, 377 motorcycles, 4000 bicycles, metal detectors, 7,000 members of staff, among others to improve security in all communities in the state.

It would be recalled that Governor Ambode assented to the law that created the LNSC on August 15, 2016.

The move was another giant step towards enhancing security all over the state and a vital part of efforts by the state government to reform public security in the state. The Corps is designed to provide a second layer of policing in order to ensure that all communities in the state are more secure.

To also support the fight against crime, the state government in September 2017, commissioned the Lagos State DNA and Forensic Centre located opposite Bookshop House, CMS Lagos. The centre, which began operation in September 2017, handle  cases such as suspicious death investigations, analysis of human remains that were exhumed to resolve inheritance disputes, child trafficking, rape, impersonation, paternity and maternity issues, among others.

The centre in the first quarter of 2018, received over 150 requests for forensic analysis from within and outside Nigeria, while over 35 cases have been resolved using forensic technology.

To further enhance the operations of the centre, the state government also in January 2018 awarded the contract for the expansion of the operations of the DNA and Forensic Centre to include a world class Forensic Toxicology and Chemistry Section in line with efforts to expand the scope of operation of the Centre to offer more services.

The addition of the Toxicology and Chemistry Section, according to the state government, was due to the high incidence and growing cases of homicide and suspicious deaths related to substance, alcohol abuse, drug related accidents and deaths, as well as suspected cases of poisoning. The Toxicology and Chemistry Section, which will be ready for commissioning in the third quarter of 2018, would automatically place Lagos as one of the leading centres for Forensics in Africa.

The centre had also held workshops and training for judges, legal practitioners, police, other law enforcement agencies and emergency responders in the state, while several representatives of foreign embassies in Nigeria and several International agencies have visited the facility and expressed their willingness to partner with the centre, a situation, which demonstrates the importance and credibility of the centre.

The DNA and Forensic Centre located opposite Bookshop House, CMS, Lagos-Island

Infrastructure

In order to tackle headlong the scourge of traffic jams, the Ambode administration embarked on a massive infrastructure renewal mission across the state. His ambition has been how to make Lagos a ‘smart and modern’ city. And in three years, he was able to achieve some feats his predecessors were not able to attain.

For example, the state government under the governor built and commissioned the Ajah and Abule Egba flyovers in less than eighteen months of attaining office, which have greatly reduced the traffic bottlenecks in those areas. The Ajah and Abule-Egba fly over bridges were commissioned on the 19th of May 2018 by the state government.

While the Ajah flyover is aimed at easing movement of residents and commuters on the Lagos Island- Ibeju-Lekki areas with a view to boosting the ease of doing business, while the Abule-Egba bridge is intended to bring relief to millions of commuters plying Lagos-Abeokuta expressway in Alimosho, Agege and Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government Areas of the state.

The new Ajah flyover

The Ajah flyover is a particularly significant project because of its strategic importance to the economic growth of the Lekki Free Trade Zone and the rapidly developing Ibeju-Lekki-Epe axis. This axis will to play a key role in the future prosperity of Lagos State as the home to many multi-billion naira private investments in the Lekki Free Trade Zone as well as the upcoming seaport and airport.

From Ikorodu to Lagos Island, Lekki to Badagry, Epe, Ikeja and so on, one road project or other is either completed or ongoing simultaneously.

Aside, the two flyovers, the Ambode’s administration constructed several hundred kilometers of roads, modern segregated bus parks and laybys to ease traffic in Berger, along the Lagos- Ibadan expressway, Oworonshoki, Lekki-Epe expressway, Ogudu, Alapere, among others.

In a move to find a lasting solution to the perennial traffic gridlock along Ikorodu Road, Ambode on November 9, 2017 commissioned multiple layby and slip road in Alapere. On the same day, the governor also launched the Intelligence Transport System (ITS), the e-ticketing for commuters using the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), the Ojota BRT Depot and the new complex for the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority known as LAMATA Place.

He also completed 23 bridges to ease traffic and link several towns in the state to Ogun state. Among the completed roads and bridges are the Aboru link bridg, Ipaja-Aboru, Abesan and AIT/Amikanle Roads.

After the successful completion of 112 roads spread across the state’s local government, the state government has started the construction of another 181 inner roads in the local governments and development areas. To cap it all, Ambode recently approved a flyover to be constructed in Fagba to permanently address the perennial traffic associated with the axis.

Also, as part of the transport reforms in the state, the governor in another unprecedented move, commissioned the Mile 12-Ikorodu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Extension Project and injected 434 new air-conditioned and comfortable BRT buses into the transport scheme in November 2015. As part of the integrated transportation system aimed at ensuring intermodal transportation of rail, water and land, Ambode re-launched the Blue Line Rail Project which upon completion will ease connectivity in the state as over 500, 000 passengers would be conveyed daily between Marina and Okokomaiko.

However, the most ambitious of all his road projects is the BRT lane on Abeokuta expressway from Oshodi to Toll-gate. It is so massive and involves scores of pedestrian bridges, drainages, lay-bys and culverts.

The project is to be followed by the second phase which is the Red Line Rail Project from Alagbado to Lagos Island.

On-going projects such as the Pen-Cinema bridge, Oshodi Transport Interchange, reconstruction of the Lagos Airport road, opening up of the Agege Stadium for continental football, improved tourism activities among numerous others are some of the initiatives that would no doubt transform the state’s landscape in coming years.

Ongoing work on the Lagos Light Rail Project at Marina

Light up Lagos project

The Light Up Lagos Project is another major effort of the Ambode’s administration’s drive to light up every nook and cranny of the state.With the major public roads in Lagos at nights now brilliantly lit up, the dread of driving after dusk has given way to some ease, especially in areas like Ojodu-Berger, Ikorodu, Ikeja, Ogba,IleZik in Ikeja to the old Sango toll gate and from Murtala Mohammed International Airport to Oshodi, among others.

According to the governor, these projects are to provide adequate illumination on the roads in keeping with his vision to light up all major roads and border towns in the state.

“The Light Up Lagos initiative is an integral part of our administration’s programmes to put Lagos on the same pedestal and status as similar megalopolis in the world. This initiative is in line with our commitment to build a 24/7 economy that will create employment and wealth for our people.

“The Light Up Lagos project is also part of our security strategy to make our State competitive, safe and secure.

“Significant progress has been recorded since this initiative commenced on 9th December 2015. There has been an increase in commercial activity in the areas where we have installed street lights. Driving on major highways and streets in Ikeja, Alausa Central Business District, Third Mainland bridge, Iyana Oworo/Berger axis amongst others have become more pleasurable as a result of the improved illumination”, Ambode said.

The independent Tunnel, Ikorodu Road, with street lights courtesy of the Light Up Lagos Project

Health

The administration of has also recorded some impressive performance in the health sector just as in other sectors.To make it possible for communities to feel the impact of governance at the grassroots, the governor injected additional 46 ambulances to the existing pool with an additional 14 new ambulance points thereby bringing existing ambulance points to 25 all in a bid to reduce maternal mortality and tackle emergencies. The ambulances are available 24/7 if residents call 112 whenever there is an emergency.

The Ayinke House, redesigned to be the major specialist natal centre for the state, which was delivered in June will be commissioned for public use this July, while other facilities ongoing in the health sector would be delivered to safeguard the health of residents.

The Ayinke House is a 162-bed space facility and expandable to 250, with other features such as 22 neo-natal intensive care units, 16 intensive care units for adults, five fully equipped theatres, laboratory, common ward, maternal and child care centre, among others.

All the general hospitals spread across the state have also be refurbished and equipped for efficient service delivery.

Gov. Ambode commissioning amobile Cancer Centre for the diagnosis and treatment of residents afflicted with cancer-related diseases

Agriculture

Another major achievement of the Amdode’s administration introduction of LAKE Rice, the product of a joint agro venture between Lagos and Kebbi States, into the market at a subsidized price of N12,000/50kg at a time when the market price was over N20,000. This offered good tidings to Lagosians as it really helps cushion the effect of economic recession to a great extent. The availability of LAKE Rice, according to findings, is partly responsible for the fall in the price of the commodity across the state.

Aside providing relief for local consumers, one major goal of the LAKE Rice Project is economic diversification and wealth creation. Apart from the scheme already creating jobs and financial security for some stakeholders, it has also created another source of revenue for the state.

To further support the rice production drive, the state government is building the largest rice mill in Sub-Saharan Africa in Imota Local Council Development Area expected to take off in the first quarter of 2019.

Apart from ensuring availability of rice in the market, the mill which is of 32 metric tons per hour production capacity, is projected to facilitate the creation of over 200,000 jobs across the agricultural value chain, while it will also bring about the cultivation of 32,000 hectares of farm land to produce rice paddy, equating to an estimated 130million kg of processed rice per year (an equivalent of 2.6milion 50kg bags of rice).

 

Economy

Since his assumption of office on May 29, 2015, Ambode has committed himself to exploring to the maximum the economic and commercial potentials of the state. One of such effort is the push for progressive increase in the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state in order to meet critical financial obligations.

Currently, Lagos generates close to N50billion monthly and is targeting to hit N50billion as IGR by the end of the current year.

In a bid to further enhance the economic fortunes of the state and expand the frontiers of the ever growing mega city, the state government has deployed massive resources to the actualization of the Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ), a project conceived by former Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in partnership with China-Africa Lekki Investment Company.  The LFTZ sits on over 3000 hectares of land along the coastal corridor. The blueprint, over the years, has manifested into physical infrastructural development along the Lekki corridor.

It was launched in 2004 as a vehicle to fully utilize the investment and tourism potential of the State. The Zone is a multi-use facility with zones for industry, manufacturing, residential and tourism. The development is being built over three phases with the first, being the development of infrastructure which has been achieved through a partnership between the Lagos state government and a consortium of Chinese companies.

The rest of the Zone is opened to other investors. Investors have the incentive to retain 100% ownership and capital, profit and dividends can be repatriated. Tax holidays, license waivers and various other concessions and advantages apply to investors in the Lekki Free Trade Zone.

Towards the full realization of the Lekki Free Trade Zone initiative, the Ambode administration have committed over N2billion in partnership with the Dangote group as a major stakeholder in the construction of a deep sea port that is valued at about N4billion in the zone.

The idea is to turn the Lekki corridor into a thriving industrial, commercial and economic hub. As a one stop business community with its full complements, the zone is being equipped with capacity to generate its own electricity. The construction of over 36 kilometers inner roads have been completed for the benefits of subscribers.

Meanwhile, proper security arrangement has been put in place to ensure that lives and properties are well secured in the zone. A police station has been completed.

Presently, over116 investors have registered with Lekki free Trade Zone, out of which 16 have commenced full operations while another 100 have signified their intention to register and situate their business within the zone. The largest oil refinery in Africa, a fertilizer plant, petrochemical plant and a sub-sea gas pipeline project is under construction by African richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, and valued at $17 billion is also located in the zone.

To further enhance more revenue for the state, government has put up several infrastructural projects in all her Central Business Districts. It should be noted that most of the state’s income come from taxes, levies, dues and rates paid on commercial transactions that daily take place in the Central Business District of Lagos Island and Ikeja. So, the Ambode’s administration has spared no effort make the CBD’s conducive for business.

As part of its urban regeneration of Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lekki and Ikeja G.R.A, the Lagos State government recently unveiled 45 new road construction equipments. The equipment, including three road printers and three giant wheel leaders, were unveiled after a public demonstration to the media and government functionaries to complete the construction of interlocked road in Joseph Hotounu Street, Lekki.

Others are five driving rollers, 18 hand operating rollers, one excavator, one paver, six tractors, three wheel loaders, one chip sealer, one milling machine, one Hiab, one sweeper machine and one synchronous chip sealer.

A cross section of Lagosians who spoke to Business Hallmark applauded Governor Ambode for his achievements in developing the state to a mega status in the last three years. Though, the respondents cut across party lines their verdict was the same – the governor had performed beyond their expectations.

In his own comment, Hon. Dipo Olorunrinu said that the governor has been able to distinguish himself as one with clear cut direction and agenda.

The lawmaker, who is the only PDP member in the Lagos State House of Assembly, said that despite him belonging to the PDP, he won’t shy away from saying the facts as they are.

“Putting party bias apart, Ambode is good, considering the massive infrastructure development across the state and investment in security. He has become a darling to the people in the state and those outside.

“The government of Ambode, which I am part of as a legislator, cannot be rated low in people-oriented policies and programmes,”Olorunrinu said.

Also, the Lead Convener of LOUD (Lagos of Our Dreams), Prince Kenny Bakare, who spoke on the governor’s achievements in office, said it was gratifying that Governor Ambode was constantly coming up with policies and projects aimed at putting the state on a world class pedestal geared towards sustainable economic growth and development.

He said that Ambode’s track record of achievement is the main basis of its call for the governor to continue his good works across all facets and sectors of the state.

“Governor Ambode has done so much for the State and the only thing we can do is to support him to build and complete the Lagos of our dream. We are calling on all Lagosians to give him their full support.

“In just two and half years in office, the administration of Governor Ambode constructed Abule-Egba and Ajah Bridges, we refer to these two bridges as capital projects and the last time Lagos State witnessed such gigantic transformation was during the military era.”

A civil servant, Mr. Taju Adegoke, said that the governor had turned the state into construction site, noting that his achievements in the last three years were unparalleled.

An electronics dealer at the Alaba Market, Chinedu Ogbonnaya, said that the governor’s administration was on course.

“Everybody admires him including the non-indigenes. The governor has been able to transform all sectors of the economy with great improvement in tourism. He has done very well and I won’t mind voting for him in 2019 for more transformation and giant strides in all facets, though I voted for Agbaje in the last election.

 

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