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Lagos Failing? Of Course Not!

It cannot be said of a man who has vowed that his watch would witness the rule and execution of brilliant ideas; that the state he is governing is no longer vibrant, that that state is failing. That would be far from the truth and reality.

To claim Lagos is failing under Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is to deny not only the empiricism of the success recorded so far but also to repudiate the firmness of the template upon which he is giving shape to the future.

Failure can’t also be ascribed to a man who made Lagos sail unscathed through a period of financial turbulence when he was the Accountant-General at a time the behemoth called the Federal Government had withheld the economic lifeline of the state.

But on account of the recent rash of robberies in Lagos, the sporadic gang wars in Mushin and Oshodi as well as the return of traffic snarls on the major roads of the megacity, critics are warning that Lagos might be sliding under Ambode. This is an unacceptable verdict. Indeed it is an unrealistic assessment even as it is a harsh conclusion unreflective of what is on the ground. What we behold really is a man armed with a gear preparing to land the state into the future. Ambode, by the reckoning of astute observers, is laying the foundation for an edifice that promises to house a beneficial future.

In a very short period (five months out of a potential 96-month tenure allowed by the constitution), he has posted a sterling performing that has seen the power of ideas at work.

The point is that Ambode is now wielding more enormous powers and operating with wider latitude supported by the vote of the majority in Lagos. These are weapons that are enabling him to work and achieve better than he did as the Accountant-General. In addition to other resources, they are capital requirements needed to add quality to governance, needed to add quality to the lives of the citizens you are governing and above all to “make life simpler and happier for our people” as Ambode himself put it on May 29, 2015 when he was sworn in as the Governor of Lagos.

He has gone ahead to kick start the great project of radicalizing governance in quite noticeable ways. One of such is that he has brought back from the precipice of death hundreds of senior citizens and their kinsmen and women numbering more hundreds. The governor gave out N11b to pay their pensions and gratuities. This is unprecedented! He is reviving the pay-as-you-go system which was discontinued in 2007. His goal is to return to that plan by August 2016.

The accountant that Ambode is, he is quietly reordering government priorities by cutting down the cost of running the machinery of administration inorder to free funds for social and economic renewal. This fiscal policy will enable him save N3b monthly in that area alone aside the huge income from the internally generated revenue and what the central government in Abuja would be putting on the table.

It is injudicious to say a man who has fixed in five months the notorious Ayobo-Ipaja Road has failed. It had been an eyesore for the past eight years, embarrassing successive governments and the citizens year in year out.

Ambode has also given a hint of how he hopes to run an administration oiled by compassion for the people. I think what he meant by the concept of “compassionate government” he spoke of on May 29 is what he has demonstrated many times over. He will relate with the people directly, not bureaucratically as it were. Their joy will be his joy. Their pain will be his pain.

In other words, his won’t be an abstract administration. He won’t be a distant and inaccessible governor. Which is why as he headed for the office once, a lady in the throes of anguish during a road accident found Ambode as one of those pulling her out; a poor woman with multiple births whose husband had run away from home was pleasantly surprised to observe the refreshing hand of Ambode bringing back the fleeing spouse; motorists used to seeing their governor only on a high horse rubbed their eyes feverishly to confirm they were not under illusion when they sighted a sweating Ambode in the mad gridlock along Oshodi-Apapa expressway as he sought a solution to the nightmare experienced on that route. Certainly this is not a failed governor who does not understand the pains of the citizens.

And early in October 2015, the governor announced a gigantic program to light up some 67 communities in Lagos state. Under the plan, nocommunity will be without electricity by the end of December 2015. No other administration in the country has embarked on a scheme this ambitious. It captures the whole state at a go. I must also comment at the dramatic speed that attended this development. Ambode disclosed the plan on Tuesday October 6, 2015 at the maiden Town Hall Meeting at Ayobo-Ipaja. By Thursday October 8, 2015 only two days after, he had concluded the plans to start the project! Talk of passion! Talk of commitment!

Now consider the benefits of electrifying the landscape of a mega polis occupied by more than 20 million citizens: criminals will no longer operate under the cover of darkness, thus enhancing security and safety of lives and business; artisans and small scale business operators can function with no worries over losses arising from lack of power; much money used to buy fuel for their businesses will be saved for reinvestment in other ventures; these will boost citizens earning capacity; thousands of jobs will be created through contracts for this ground-breaking electrification project.

All these activities on the part of Ambode represent an agenda to secure Lagos state in the present and launch it into the future.

Now there is some loose talk about Ambode not having a firm grip on the management of the traffic situation in the state on account of laws apparently attaching a human face to harsh traffic laws. For instance, critics have fussed about his statement that he wants to use technology in arresting those who contravene the law, instead of resorting to harassment or forcibly taking over people’s vehicles. Ambode has also asked Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) to treat motorists and street traders in a civil manner.

Of course, this aspect of the philosophy of compassionate government can be tempered with an application of the stick to discipline those who abuse the governor’s leniency and offer of a carrot. Which is why as I write this, the government has begun an intensive campaign against traffic misconduct. The Governor’s Monitoring Team (GMT) has swung into action whipping those in the habit of driving against traffic, plying the BRT lane, and those disobeying traffic lights. The governor has also instituted 24/7 communication channels by which the operatives of GMT can be reached for prompt response to security and traffic breaches.

 

 

 

Source: The Nation Nigeria

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