- For Positively Affecting The Lives Of Over 20 Million People
At the end of every year, City People Magazine Management usually picks its man of the year. Usually its someone whose activities positively impacts on the lives of very many people. Be it a politician, business person, clergy, philanthropist, an entrepreneur, academic, entertainer, its usually one accomplished individual who is doing something right and through that, many lives are being touched.
For 2017, Lagos governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode is City Peoples Man Of The Year. It took weeks of serious brainstorming for the management of City People to pick on this action governor of Lagos State for so many reasons. This is on account of the very remarkable way he has transformed Lagos from just been the ordinary city it has always been to the super city it is fast becoming and on its way to becoming a mega city.
Picture Lagos when Gov. Ambode took over the reins of government from his predecessor BRF and compare it to how it looks today. Its a world of difference. As at the time he took over from BRF many people felt there was not much Ambode could add to the giant strides of BRF, but it took only a year plus, to show the great stuff he is made up of. He built and improved on the existing template and began on a new course, with the result that Lagos got better with the passing of each year.
The moment he settled in, he began to address the fundamentals. The vision was clear, to turn Lagos into a megacity and anything that was impeding this move would have to go. And this affects every facet of life, especially in the area of Infrastructure. The biggest problem Lagos was facing was the increasing number of new people trooping into Lagos in search of greener pasture each day and many of them refusing to go back, and how all these had began to put a strain on existing infrastructure. So Gov. Ambode knew he had to pay a lot of attention to infrastructural facilities to make life easier for Lagosians. Many people forget that Lagos is a mini-Nigeria. It is the only state in Nigeria that is very cosmopolitan in its outlook. All the ethnic groups are represented in Lagos and they have a huge population. A lot of foreigners are also in Lagos, from the ever increasing Chinese population to the Indians, the British, the Americans and very many diverse cultures. That is the challenge before this dynamic technocrat who came in from day one rolling up his sleeves prepared to work. He had the challenge of galvanising all the different peoples cohabitating in Lagos into one productive force. So, he had to step up his game. This he has done in the last 2 and a half years building new roads and bridges and working on new infrastructural facilities to make life easier for the vast majority of the people.
He efficiently runs a city of over 20 million people and he has made that city work better in the last two and a half years. He has done a lot. But the interesting thing is that he was grossly underrated and underestimated at first. Many didn’t think he would get this far. But Gov. Ambode has gone ahead to prove bookmakers wrong. Since he came in, he has embarked on many populist reforms and has provided facilities and work for many people, especially the youth. He has empowered so many of them by creating new jobs for them with the result that Ambode has become the clear leader among his peers and a role model to many.
He transformed the economy of Lagos and has made the entertainment industry to be financially rewarding. This year alone, over 100 shows, concerts, plays have come up in Lagos and this has boosted the local economy of Lagos. From 1st of December for example there has been a lot of street parties and street carnivals. There was also EXPERIENCE, the biggest Gospel party in Africa. And in all these there was no security breaches or incidents. The service industry is working under him. When Olamide had his show last week about 15,000 people gathered to watch the show. This shows that Nigerians can organise such a big show. Falz show also came up last week. Everyday, its one or show or the other. Gov. Ambode has jump started that local economy by government simply providing the Venue and Security and corporate bodies sponsoring these events. It is an enduring template other people can build on. With all these shows, Lagos is sending across the message that the city is safe and that it is a state where you can hold big events without any qualms. No wonder a source says Lagos made from IGR last month about N30 billion, despite the recession that is biting hard. All Gov. Ambode has been saying since he came in is let my experience work for you.
What is this experience? The vast experience he had as a Local Government worker, LG Treasurer. He had worked in 6 to 7 local government areas like Ajegunle, Badagry. He had also occupied positions as Auditor General, and then Accountant General and then Perm Secretary. What all these show is that over the last 25 years. Ambode has had a ring side seat in the corridors of power.
In 2017 he did a lot of projects and in 2018 a lot more will be done. The Oshodi project is there. Ambode plans to turn Oshodi into a major interchange to be made up of 3 terminals of 5 storey building, I Mall and an 8 storey hotel all at Oshodi and buses coming from 3 axis-Abule Egba, CMS and Ikorodu-Ketu. The 10 Lane airport road will also be connected to it. So, Oshodi will be central to the operations of the terminal. A source explained that it is the determination of Gov. Ambode to make Public transportation the future of transportation in Lagos. When fully completed the area boys will be co-opted to become security guards for the terminal.
In addition to all of these is the forthcoming commissioning of 20 boundary roads in January 2018 which will further open up the state. Needless to mention the ongoing Pen Cinema fly over which will open up that axis. When fully completed it will be the longest flyover in Lagos. And the uniqueness of these projects is that they cut across the length and breadth of the metropolis and the state. They cut across the 57 local governments and LCDA and senatorial zones. Lagos West consists of all the projects at Abule Egba, Oshodi and Pencinema area. In Lagos East is Epe. Gov. Ambode has transformed Epe. In Ikorodu, work has begun on the road that will link Agric-Bus Stop area to Lagos Ibadan Expressway. As for Lagos Central there are on going projects at Onikan axis, like the JK Randle Yoruba language Centre, Marina Museum and a multi storey car park in that area. So, all his projects cut across all the zones and next year will be a year for commissioning of a gale of projects.
That is why many are of the opinion that it will be difficult and totally impossible for that matter to beat Gov. Ambode if he decides to run for a 2nd term. Said an observer, “Going by his remarkable achievements and work done, Gov. Ambode has thrown power on the streets. Power is now being determined on the street. Power is now being determined by the people on the street. He has become a moving train, which is difficult to stop. More obvious is the fact that most of the ambitious politicians have given up and wary of coming out so as not waste their deposit. Many of them believe Gov. Ambode already has a headstart now that the train has left the station.
Through the introduction of Lake Rice he has helped the people of the state to have access to affordable rice. His intervention in that area has made the price of rice in the state to drop sharply to N13,000 as against N19,000 hitherto. What this means is that subsidy by government has put Rice on the table of many for Xmas.
Gov. Ambode has also begun work on getting Lagosians to have uninterrupted light next year through its Independent Power Project. Already, Aso Rock has given approval for the Lagos Independent Power supply. What has helped Gov. Ambode is the fact that many Lagosians have and accepted to be paying their Tax regularly. Explained an insider: People are responding positively because people can see what Gov. Ambode is doing. He is spending money on visible projects that impact positively on thousands and millions. So the citizens in their generality can see what he is doing with the taxes and levies he is collecting. People are appreciative of what he is doing. For instance, he has beefed up security around Lagos with Policemen all around maintaining the peace.
Gov. Ambode is not focusing on Roads and building bridges alone. He is also doing a lot in the area of Education, hospitals. When he came in he realised that most of the hospitals are overcrowded. Due to the rising population, there was a lot of pressure on existing facilities and he had to expand more. The reality that the governor found out was that Lagos infrastructure had become over burdened because Lagos is the only state that is working in Nigeria. Once he came in, the governor told his team that Lagos should be ready for this ever increasing explosion of the state.
What has won him more accolades is the fact that people can see that Gov. Ambode is doing a lot to upgrade and provide infrastructure for the masses and not only the elites. This is true in many ways. If you check out 80% of the Legacy projects he has embarked, on it is targeted at the masses, like the Pen Cinema bridge project Abule Egba bridge, Ojudu Berger, bridge, all to ease traffic and gridlocks in those areas and uncountable laybys all over Lagos.
What has made many people commend Gov. Ambode a great deal is because Lagos is a mini Nigeria where all the major ethnic groups co-habitate. Yet he is making it work. He is also combining so many projects at a go like the BRT Lane from Abule Egba to Oshodi. Only a few weeks back, he opened the park infront of the Lagos State House of Assembly. Its called the JJT Park named after former governors Mobolaji Johnson, Lateef Jakande and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. They are all former governors of Lagos. The first was the first military governor of Lagos, the second is the 1st Civilian Governor of Lagos and the 3rd is the father of modern Lagos. The Governor said it was a way of appreciating these 3 men. Its like a Unity Park. The location is symbolic. It opens 7am to 7pm with full security. There is free WIFI. He is also about to complete a multilayer car park beside it at the Alausa Secretariat. When it is completed soon it will have a Restaurant, Car Park, Gym, Staff club, Daycare, Swimming Pool.
Gov. Ambode has also just transformed the famous BAGAUDA KALTO Press Centre at Alausa totally in just 1 month he rebuilt the whole place. It now wears a new look. Many more projects are being embarked upn and they are all being personally supervised by Gov. Ambode. His brain works 24/7. And he is on his toes. Every evening, after the days work, he drives around Lagos to check up on the hooks and crannies of the state. In his capacity as the Chief Security Officer of the state, Gov. Ambode moves around at night with his security team to check out which areas need to be fortified. And guess what? He drives himself. And he decides where and where he wants to check.
Ultimately, the state is the better for it.