23rd January, 2016
By the year 2025, it is projected that about 40 million people will be living in Lagos. Nigeria’s foremost mega society, the economic hub of West Africa and the most populated African community; Lagos is undoubtedly a second Nigeria in terms of administrative complexities. It is often said that any governor who can manage Lagos successfully can obviously manage the entire Nigeria.
Towards the close of the seventh Assembly, the former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola addressed the Assembly in a special session to present a clear situation of economic challenges based on dwindling financial situation as orchestrated by the Federal Government under Goodluck Jonathan and as a result of sharp decline on federal allocations and refusal of the Federal Government to reimburse Lagos State on projects executed on its behalf by Lagos State.
Lagos, with strong economic base and opportunities, does not come without challenges especially managing a steadily rising population which has continued to put pressure on facilities, making big efforts from the government to translate into little impacts in the eyes of the populace.
The emergence of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, a seasoned career accountant as Governor is a blessing to Lagos State at this critical economic relapse. A great money saver, prudent financial manager, astute believer in planning and steady approach to sustainable human development, Mr. Ambode is an antidote against a financially staggered Lagos in a time like this. He comes with a high profile in managing special financial situation as evident in the roles previously played in salvaging Lagos State against gagging by the Federal Government under the former ruling party, the PDP and precisely Obasanjo administration when Lagos created 37 additional Local Governments. Then, Mr. Ambode was the Accountant-General of Lagos State.
The present picture is crystal clear that states’ revenues are fast decreasing. The fall in global price of crude oil coupled with excessive looting of national treasury has adversely affected our federal revenue and obviously its reflective impacts on the states. Our country has been comatose that every state needs a genius as governor to survive this trying times.
If I am not sure of any other thing about Mr. Governor, I am confident that he possesses the passion, coupled with skills and professionalism to turn our Lagos around for better. In few months of the Akinwunmi Ambode administration, the Governor has made frantic moves that suggest Lagosians need not panic about the future.
First, you see a Governor that is swift and very responsive to issues affecting his state. He is very sensitive to peoples’ plight. His generosity to immediately alleviating plights of Lagosians who suffered series of inferno that beguiled Lagos last year was one good quality of a sensitive and compassionate leader.
In addition, you see a Governor that is steady; he studies situations before coming out with policies. Governor Ambode took adequate time to review all administrative matters on his table before he started acting. As far as my knowledge of governance can take me, I believe there is no better way to ensure smooth transition from one administrator to another without hitch. Since then, every step taken by Ambode is a pointer to governance that is inclusive, engaging and people-oriented.
Good governance is primarily about sound policies; whether it has immediate impact is another issue entirely. Governor Ambode hit the ground running by tackling, headlong, the security challenges in the state. The impact was immediate and effective. He began the overhauling of the traffic management system and on the way to rolling out a traffic system suitable for addressing challenges posed by over two million vehicles that ply Lagos metropolis daily. The Governor recently reviewed the partnership with transport union on LAGBUS and BRT in order to bring sanity and ensure descent, ideal conveyance for Lagosians while using public facility.
As a legislator, I am aware that implementation of our laws is a serious issue given our peculiar mega environment. Conscious of the need to ensure our laws work effectively on government and the governed, the Governor recently inaugurated a Board for the Lagos state Law Reform Commission which is a major step towards deepening democracy and the rule of law. Modern and civilised societies thrive on the quality of laws which regulate and guide actions of government, organisations, institutions and individuals. The dynamics of the law is relative to time and circumstances therefore demand that laws are revisited periodically to ensure their relevance and effectiveness.
For every government that has succeeded globally, their policies on youth development are unbeatable. Realising the strength of young people, the need to see youth as strength of the nation rather than problems, coupled with the desire to inject energy into his administration as required by the reality of the time, Mr. Ambode made youth empowerment one of the cardinal point of his campaign, which he has already started fulfilling. I am particularly happy with the establishment of Wealth Creation Ministry which is first of its kind in the entire country. This will drive our youth to productivity, self-reliance and creative sustenance. By signing the Employment Trust Fund bill into law, he has also demonstrated his readiness for high-level youth engagement. Tactically, the government will be proffering solutions to the economic challenges of the state and creating financial prospects in partnership with young people as a whooping N25 billion will be spent on entrepreneurship developments in the state channelled through the youth platforms. How smart! The One Lagos Fiesta that was put together in all divisions of Lagos to close year 2015 with the youths also shows Mr. Governor’s social ‘connect’ with the youth…the best way to go!!
Interestingly, I am aware that civil servants were jokingly saying the Governor pays their salaries too early. Why not? The Governor is civil service-oriented and waits not for the sweat of a labourer to dry as commanded by God. Even the out-of-service senior citizens or others who have one entitlement or the other are being promptly attended to in order to ensure no one goes to bed hungry while government is indebted to them. The Governor is also lighting up Lagos, improving night life and enhancing security of our communities day and night. Installation of over ten thousand CCTV camera will go a long way to improve the security situation and promote safety.
As a lawmaker who is equally very passionate about seeing Lagos work, I am extolling the virtues of this administration to strengthen the hopes of our people in what I believe will work. After our sleepless nights and hard-work at ensuring appropriation budget is timely attended to, the Governor, on the first working day of the new year signed the N662.588 billion Appropriation into law with a promise that the budget would be faithfully implemented in line with the determination of his administration to make Lagos work for all, irrespective of age, gender, tribe or status. What I see is a budget that will work. I see hope for our people!
Akinwunmi Ambode is building a Lagos for all – a Lagos where all can access opportunities for growth and development, not just a few people. We have challenges of a complex mega society but patience with this administration will help us more than any other factor to get to the Promise Land. Ours is a multi-ethnic society where every family all over the country has a representative. Our fight for special status on Lagos is undying and we shall resume the call with the Buhari administration.
From diplomats to the chamber of commerce, to investors and heads of corporate bodies doing business in and with Lagos State, many encomiums have been showered on Mr. Governor that are too numerous to mention here. All comments point to the fact that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is putting Lagos on the right track of lasting and impactful development in no distance future.
If you see what I see, a more prosperous Lagos beckons. We should take all it has to offer and also offer our best civic responsibilities. Governor Ambode is walking on the path of his predecessors who have achieved remarkable successes; of course Lagos has always been blessed with great Governors. Surely, I see Ambode becoming yet another glory for our dear Lagos after four years of exceptional turn-around of our mini Nigeria and a state known as the economic hub of Africa.
Olulade is a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, representing Epe Constituency 2.