Politics

Ambode’s two years performance stirs controversy in Lagos

PDP, NCP, LP differ on achievements

For the first time, since Nigeria returned to democratic rule 18 years ago, the camp of the opposition parties in Lagos State appears to be divided over the performance of the incumbent governor and the ruling party.

The Lagos chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) recently shared a contrary but surprising position to the views of the Labour Party (LP) and the National Conscience Party (NCP), over the performance of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode two years in office.

While the case has always been that the nature of bitter politics, synonymous with Nigeria democratic arena hardly allow opposition parties to see anything good about the party in government, it has a different case in respect of Governor Ambode, whose activities in the last two years have set the rival parties at discordant tunes.

Both factions of the Lagos PDP have in separate reactions commended Ambode for having introduced a new dimension to the growth and development of the state far beyond what his predecessors, Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola did. But the LP and NCP shared contrary opinions that the state could have been better if its resources are maximally harnessed to the benefits of its citizens.

A factional PDP chairman, Mr. Segun Adewale, whose group is loyal to the Ali Modu Sheriff group of the PDP, said Ambode had performed relatively well in the last two years but that his efforts were mainly concentrated in highbrow areas of Ikoyi and Victoria Island, neglecting the grassroots.

He said there was no doubt that the governor has done his best but he could still do more by using the remaining two years to develop other parts of the state, particularly Lagos West Senatorial District where infrastructural development is poor.

He recalled those days when armed robbers operated with impunity in the state attacking banks and other financial institution “but today the state of security had improved. The administration only has to do ore job in ensuring the activities of kidnapers is addressed.”

Adewale’s comment on Ambode was however corroborated by the spokesman of the party, Mr. Taofik Gani, whose faction was loyal to the Sen. Ahmed Makarfi Caretaker Committee, who commended the governor, particularly on roads construction and rehabilitation across the state and to some extent, security.

He said Ambode had exhibited more honesty and commitment in governance more than his two predecessors. He, however, said the PDP would have done better if given the opportunity. He said the governor should focus more on education and rehabilitation of inner roads across the state.

He however noted that Ambode’s achievements would not be complete until he probes the administration of his immediate predecessor, Fashola, whom he accused of plunging Lagos into unnecessary debts before exiting office.

Gani and Adewale’s views further reflected the earlier position taken by Chief Olabode George, a former national deputy chairman of the PDP and leader of the party in Lagos on Ambode, which he made as far back as February, when he said he was in awe of the governor for the infrastructural development the administration was undertaken in the Epe Local Government Area. He urged the governor to replicate the same in Lagos Island.

In his words, “I have never met this young man, but I must say that I am impressed with his performance so far, especially in the area of infrastructural developments. I must sincerely commend him on what he is doing and I am very proud of him.”

Chief George, who had been a fierce critic of Ambode’s last two predecessors Tinubu and Fashola, said the incumbent has also done exceedingly well in the area of traffic management in the state, saying, “I also must commend him in the area of traffic management, especially in the area of traffic decongestion in the state,” he said.

However, the Lagos NCP Chairman, Fatai Ibuowo, whose view contradicted the PDP said the two years of Ambode had not moved the Lagos beyond 30 per cent development and growth.

He charged the governor to do more on generating water, saying that the present production of water in Lagos is zero. He also faulted the governor on the recent law on drilling of borehole, which he said was draconian, as he added that some of Ambode’s policies have brought more hardship to the people while he should look critically into crating avenue for youth employment.

In similar view, the LP Chairman, Pastor Biodun Popoola said beyond Ambode, there was nothing interesting about the way Nigeria’s democracy is current been handled by politicians.

According to him, “We cannot isolate Ambode when the larger society cannot boast of any concrete thing that this 18 years democracy has done to improve their fortunes.”

Although, some observers in the state are beginning to coin a slogan that ‘two is greater that eight’ meaning Ambode’s achievements in two years has surpassed that of his immediate predecessor. This is not new as it was also noted during the era of Fashola that his achievements surpassed that of his predecessor, Tinubu.

But the Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, while putting the two years achievements of the incumbent governor in context told The Guardian in an interview “in the past two years the ruling party had recorded giant strides, which had left no one in doubt that Ambode is no stranger in matters of governance.

Talking on security, which he described as the bedrock on which other achievements thrives, Igbokwe said, “Lagos has become an emerging phenomenon and a shining example of what good governance should be in Nigeria.”

According to him, “The huge investment of the administration in providing equipment and adequate welfare for security agencies was worth the while. The administration therefore would stop at nothing to ensure the state remains safe and secured for residents and investors.”

One of the outstanding security measures the administration introduced to the delight of the citizens, was the land grabbers issue (Omo Onile), which was once a menace for a long time and also posed a huge security threat to land owners and property developers.

The signing of the Lagos State Properties Protection Law; otherwise known as the Anti-Land Grabbing Law in August 2016 drastically reduced the nuisance of land grabbers. Many investors described this as a crucial and commendable step in the efforts to deter what has become the state’s biggest threat to land development.

Although, there had been serious agitation for the creation of state police to enhance effective security, which the Federal Government is yet to look into, however Ambode has taking a stride by signing the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps Law, which was also inaugurated on March 27, 2017. This singular move had since changed the face of security in the state.

Under arrangement, a total of 177 Salon cars and vehicles equipped with necessary communication gadgets, 377 motorcycles, 377 helmets, 4,000 bicycles, metal detectors for ensuring that illegal weapons are not smuggled into public places, among other operational equipment handed over to the corps for effective community policing.

For instance, in South Africa, the Lagos State Rapid Response Squad (RRS) was recently awarded as the best anti-crime police squad in West Africa, while it’s Commander, ACP Olatunji Disu also bagged the most outstanding Police Operational Officer (POO) in West Africa award.

Overall, Lagos was awarded the Best Security and Most Safety Conscious State in Africa. The appreciable level of peace and security in the State has in no small way given opportunity for massive development to take place.

It was not an exaggeration of mere saying, when Chief George commended the governor for his innovative traffic management strategy that has in no small way, reduced travel time motorists spend on the roads.

For instance, from Oworonshoki to Ketu Alapere to Ojodu Berger, the chaotic traffic story has changed for good. The construction of two pedestrian bridges measuring 98 metres, Lay-bys and Slip Road along the once notorious Ojodu Berger, the gateway into the state, has eased the traffic in the axis.

To further reduce the challenges of traffic across the state, Ambode has also delivered on the 114 inner roads, which he promised to commission across the 57 councils last year.

Commending administration’s intervention on traffic management in the state, Mr. Lanre Odubote, one time lawmaker said the construction of the Ajah and Abule Egba flyovers, which were christened ‘Jubilee Bridges’, aside a record time of completion opened up the state for further economic opportunities.

The Ajah Bridge, completed within a space of 10 months is a 160 metres long dual carriageway with total length of 620 metres, while the Abule Egba Bridge is measuring 1.3km with a water fountain that has become the cynosure of all eyes in the area.

Except for the remarkable intervention undertaken by erstwhile Governor Lateef Jakande under the ‘Low Cost Housing Estate’ between 1979 to 1983, Lagos has faced acute challenges in the housing sector, which previous administration had no solution until the recent decision by Ambode to reshuffle its housing sector under the Lagos Housing Mortgage Scheme (Lagos HOMS). This alone has brought a new dimension to making home ownership much easier and flexible.

According to Igbokwe, “In December 2016, the government flagged off its Rent-to-Own Scheme. The initiative offers prospective beneficiaries the opportunity to pay the required five percent of the value of the housing unit as commitment fee while the balance is spread over 10 years. The scheme is specifically developed for low and medium income earners.”

One cannot but note how Tinubu under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme rejuvenated the Lagos environment from 2003 to 2007, and the impact of Fashola in same area but Ambode is making a turnaround, courtesy of the proposed Cleaner Lagos Initiative.

The initiative embedded under the Environmental Management and Protection Law, which the governor signed earlier this year, is expected to secure the public health safety of residents most especially children.

Under the initiative, the commercial sector would be serviced by licensed waste management operators while an environmental consortium will provide waste collection, processing and disposal services for residential properties through a long term concession.

Over the concession period, the consortium would be deploying a large multi-dimensional fleet of over 20 landfill and transfer loading station management vehicles, 600 new rear-end loader compactors, 140 Operational vehicles and close to 900,000 new bins to all be electronically tracked and monitored by a new unit – PUMAU (Public Utilities Monitoring Assurance Unit) under the Ministry of Environment.

Aside the fact that the initiative would create over 40, 000 dignified jobs, the 27, 500 Community Sanitation Workers (CSW) who would be engaged will receive several incentives including tax reliefs and healthcare, life, injury and accident insurance benefits all aimed at tackling the issue of poverty and the chronic unemployment crisis.

The State Government also commenced the cleanup of Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Lekki Areas all geared towards restoring the master plan of the areas.

To achieve the desired result, the Governor set up a Special Task Force to rid the areas from illegal structures, shanties, street hawkers and conversion of walkways into trading points and food courts in Ikoyi, Victoria Island and the Lagoon Front of Lekki.

Igbokwe also explained that the health sector has continued to witness massive infrastructural upgrade. Said he, “In February, not less than 14 primary health care centres were upgraded to run a 24-hour service, while other existing centres were also equipped to cater for the health needs of residents especially at the grassroots.

In the education sector, a significant level of development has also been recorded. Governor Ambode approved N15.5million as seed funding and grants for university entrepreneurs under the Ready. Set. Work initiative as well as training of 422 Graduates on entrepreneurial skills.

So far, in the last one year, over N11.5 billion has been expended on improving infrastructure in schools across the state.

While about 79 public schools were renovated, 16 schools were fenced, six new classroom blocks were constructed and 707 double-bunk beds and 469 mattresses were supplied to boarding schools, among other projects executed.

In another major fulfillment of his promises, the administration has launched the N25 billion Employment Trust Fund to facilitate access to loan by artisans and entrepreneurs. The aim of the initiative is to boost the informal sector realizing its importance as the next frontier of the Lagos economy.

But despite these records there are still grey areas where the governor is expected to address. Many citizens of the state are still uncomfortable with the menace of street urchins and the challenges of motor part touts.

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