The Lagos State Governor Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the Deputy Governor, Dr. Idiat Oluranti Adebule, along with top members of the All-Progressives Congress (APC), at its fifth Town Hall meeting on October 11, presented its score card to citizens since his administration came into office on May 29, 2015. Those who listened to him were drawn from all the 57 councils spread across Lagos, market women; school pupils; artisans, etc. Also in attendance was Oba of Lagos Rilwan Akinolu, senators Oluremi Tinubu and Ganiyu Solomon.
Governor Ambode reeled out achievements that included roads, streetlights, hospitals, environmental regeneration, urban developments, transportation, education, poverty alleviation, housing and youth and social development, employment, women empowerment and so on.
On works and infrastructure during the period under review, the governor revealed that the State Government continued with its aggressive commitment towards infrastructure development to ease the movement of vehicles, pedestrians and commuters. So far, it has delivered on the following; the completion of Agbe Road in Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government Area, and Adisa Ajibulu Road with Bridge in Oshodi-Isolo; it completed Ojodu-Berger Pedestrian Bridge; awarded the construction of Ago-Palace Way-Jakande Estate Link Bridge, foot Bridges at Itogbesa-Irewe and Okunudun-Erekun, Ojo LG; the repair of Apapa-Oworonshoki Expressway (Ilasamaja Segment) amongst others.
The gathering also heard of impressive strides in wealth creation and employment. The governor informed stakeholders about the commencement of the training of the first batch of 100 youths in the Open Andela Training in ICT in software development culminating in applicants receiving Google and Microsoft Certification. He said government also organised an 8-week training on capacity building for 500 tradesmen and artisans at all the five Technical Colleges across the state namely Ikeja, Ado Soba, Ikorodu, Ikotun and Ekpe. In a similar vein, the government registered 18 zonal bodies from the Trades Association, issuing 638 identity cards to artisans. Observers have taken note that this has led to a spiraling effect of self-employment leading to the alleviation of poverty in many homes and generally in the society.
The government also completed the construction of drain for effective free flow of water at places like Odomola Senior Secondary School, Epe and at Education District VI, Oshodi. In this regard the administration carried out landscaping and beautification of a strip of land at MobolajiJohnson Avenue. 104 trees were also tagged at Freedom Park, Lagos Island for record and identification purposes while more than six million treeshave been planted to dateto upgrade the face of Lagos.
Governor Ambode disclosed that the government had spent N166.8 billion on capital projects in the last nine months of 2016.
He declared: “A review of the 2016 budget shows that our state generated total revenue of N97.3 billion in the last quarter and had a total expenditure of N110.2 billion considering the fact that our cash reserve has remained positive. We expended N55 billion on capital expenditures in the last quarter”. Ambode said the completion and handing over of 114 roads across the 57 local governments and local council development areas in the last quarter was a major achievement of his administration, disclosing that in the next three weeks his administration would commence the process of bid invitation for the construction of additional 114 roads across communities in the state. In addition, the governor had more cheering news for the people. Governor Ambode said he was going to boost employment opportunities and security in the state by recruiting additional 5,000 neigbourhood watchers into its Neighbourhood Safety Agency. He said he would begin this in November.
Analysts believe that this move would scale up maintenance of law and order while depleting the labour market. “The government,” he said assuredly, “will pay them salaries and allowances that will attract graduates too to be recruited. We are hopeful that this move will reduce criminal activities such as incessant kidnapping, invasion of any part of the state by militants, ritual killings, gang war and domestic violence among others.”
Ambode put smiles on the faces of the citizens when he promised that his administration would work harder and support re-presentation of a bill that seeks a special status for Lagos State as the commercial capital of the country. It would be recalled that Senator Oluremi Tinubu on October 5, 2016 presented the bill to the upper legislative chamber. But the law makers turned down the request. Now hear what Ambode says: “The bill was suspended and not rejected. It means that we have another chance to work harder and re-activate the bill to ensure it succeeds for the overall interest of Nigerians.”
Speaking on the bill, the Oba of Lagos claimed that ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo was responsible for Lagos not being granted special status. Oba Akinolu said Obasanjo had the opportunity to have granted that privilege during his eight-year tenure. “If Obasanjo had done so, the issue of the National Assembly turning down Oluremi Tinubu’s bill would not have arisen,” the Oba argued.During an interactive session, most of the questions posed by the citizens centered on the upgrade of the state chiefly through good roads.
Pastor Gbenga Oyebode of Surulere, Jimoh Olawale (Apapa Iganmu), Alhaji Saliu Ibrahim (Aguda) among others, sought the intervention of the governor on the state of the roads in their areas.
For Mrs Bisola James (Ifako-Ijaiye), the concern was for attention to be given to the professional women in Lagos.
The gathering was moved with compassion when a visually challenged student of the Pacelli School for the Blind Master Kelechi, in his petition, thanked the governor for his support for the school. But he pleaded with Ambode to provide the school with a bus.
Responding to their questions, Ambode said he would promptly handle the requests of the student of the Pacelli School. “We’ll deal with the flooding of the area as part of our structural support to the school.”
The deputy governor at the meeting also spoke of new model schools in the offing. She disclosed that a secondary school would come up at Sari Iganmu. She said N10 billion had been set aside for the new model schools, adding that by November, the projects would kick off. She described what was unveiling in the education sector in Lagos as a “New Dawn”. She concluded: “If your area is not captured now, you will be accommodated in 2017.”
As the program got to a close, Desmond Olusola Elliot (Surulere 1) thanked Governor Ambode and his cabinet for meeting the people. He described the event as a wonderful Town Hall meeting in a wonderful state.
The attendees milled out, spilling into the streets with the scene again coming close to what you would expect after a big football match with supporters of winning and losing teams exchanging comments. This time, there was no vanquished side. All left hailing the Town Hall meeting as a fulfilling one that had not disappointed them. Those who spoke out what was going on in their minds said they looked forward to the next Town Hall meeting, even as some would be expected to monitor the promises of the governor on his vows to help an old woman, build model schools beginning from November 1, recruit neighbourhood security watchers and prevent flood where the Pacelli School for the Blind is located.
Ojewale, a journalist lives in Ota, Ogun State.