A former commissioner for public transportation and a stalwart of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Lagos State, Chief Lanre Razak in this interview with newsmen canvasses for a second tenure for Governor Akinwunmi insisting that his score card so far more than qualify him for the job. Excerpts:
How justified are those clamouring for a second term for Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State?We thank God that we are witnessing what I call the Ambode phenomenon in governance in Lagos State for over two years now. Massive and people-oriented infrastructural development is going on across the state but before I proceed, let me tell you what happened last week. I think on the Oworonshokin end of the Third Mainland Bridge, there was multiple auto accident and some vehicles fell into the lagoon.
In the past, it was only construction companies like Julius Berger Plc that provided equipment that could assist government to rescue such vehicles and the victims but good enough Lagos State government had procured more than needed equipment for such rescue effort. That was the reason why the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA quickly deployed its officials and equipment to the scene of the accident to rescue the victims and lives were saved immediately. That shows that Governor Ambode considers safety of lives and property very important ; it is the duty of government and on that score, the governor is not only interested in infrastructural development in the state but considers lives very sacred and put all those things to make life safe are in the front burner.
On the issue of infrastructural development which his administration is delivery speedily which have great positive impact on the people, don’t forget that for 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP administration at the federal level, Lagos State was abandoned in the scheme of things. I mean federal presence was nil and nothing was happening to even the existing federal infrastructure in Lagos since another political party controlled the centre. Consequently there was unprecedented decay of federal roads in Lagos State and that is why a serious and committed administration like that of Governor Ambode can’t do otherwise than to face the challenge headlong as he is doing. I will only appeal that people should bear with him after all the projects he is executing is in the interest of the people and he is really working for them as a good servant governor. I am therefore not surprised that the people are clamouring for a second term for him given the good job he is doing.
We want you to be specific on some of the projects that are impacting more on the people?
One of such projects is traffic management in Lagos State. Most of the roads his administration is constructing are to ensure free flow of human and vehicular movements across the state. A good example is the beautiful job he has done to the lay bys and alternative roads into Oworonshoki to reduce the pressure on the Third Mainland Bridge either while going or returning from Lagos Island or Ikoyi. The story is the same at Ojodu/Berger to allow free flow of vehicles along the Lagos –Ibadan expressway and still provide safety for the people. At Ajah, you will see the good job that has been done there, I mean the overhead bridge. At Lekki Peninsula, the government constructed
Freedom road and that has completely removed the traffic bottleneck hitherto experienced at the first roundabout.
Elswhere at Abule Egba on the Lagos Abeokuta expressway, his administration built a flyover to ease perennial traffic congestion while the rate of construction of the Monorail project from Badagry to CMS, has assumed a reasonable speed that our people are very happy about. Many have even wondered that all these projects have been implemented in less than three years! And whether our governor sleeps at all or thinks Lagos 24/7. It is important to note that all the Town Hall Meetings the governor had hosted have greatly helped in meeting the needs of the people because all complaints brought by the people at during each parley at the next meeting, what you get are participants coming forward to thank the Governor Ambode expressing joy that ‘our complaints at the last meeting had been taken care of and a good job had been done about it’.
Those are the kind of feedback we are getting across Lagos State since the current administration came on board in May 2015. Also from Epe axis, people thought that considering the fact that the governor has been very busy in Lagos, he may not have enough time for Epe people. But he has proved such pessimists wrong by working very hard to deliver new roads in Epe and that shows that he is a fair minded governor, a just person and addresses development issues in Lagos and considers Lagos as his entire constituency. He is not concentrating developmental projects in any part of the state to the detriment of the other part and this is why the people from almost every constituency, the 20 local government areas, LGAs and 37LCDAs are now clamouring that Ambode should have a second term. That is also my appeal to Lagosians to let those who should know realize that we never had it so good in Lagos affairs and that this gentleman who has taken Lagos State to a point of a trillion naira budget for 2018 should be given another opportunity.
Available statistics have shown that the governor is not just making a trillion naira budget announcement; that the state’s 2017 budget performance is about 80percent which is a high level of performance by all standard. Many people believe that since party primaries for next year’s general elections hold in 2018 that Mr. Ambode will be busy begging voters people to support his reelection bid, but on the contrary he has been concentrating on his job and it is the people that are now appealing to those concerned to let’s have the governor for another term of four years. So my appeal also to those whose houses or property have been demolished or will be pulled down for roads, whose land has to go for infrastructural development should see it as not an issue that is targeted against them for any reason than for the common good of Lagos and the good of the people of Lagos. They should appreciate that and give their maximum support for Ambode’s reelection project.
The PDP and Eko Foundation have accused the governor of not being accountable and transparent in the execution of capital projects; that the costs of the major projects including the Airport Road reconstruction and Abule Egba flyover is not disclosed to the people. What is your take on this?
They are simply mischievous. There is no way a public project is executed without costing and Governor Ambode goes through the due process. All these jobs in question went through due procurement process. There is a ministry responsible for costing the projects and I know that several contractors are always invited to bid and if these projects don’t have cost attach to them you can’t ask for any bid. Above all the financial accounts of Lagos State are being audited annually, when they do that you know the costs of the entire projects executed by government for that year. But when they could not fault him on non-performance, the best they thought they could do is to say that they don’t know the cost. It is a thing of joy that they have acknowledged that some projects have been executed but are demanding for the costs of the projects. If they care to know the costs, the State Government has a website and all the details of government’s expenditure are published there for all to see and government do publish audited reports of government annually. This is not a government they can accuse of not being transparent or not accountable to the people. Mr. Ambode is an accountant of many years experience, he has been an Auditor-General of Lagos state, a former Accountant-General of Lagos State, one time Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, and a trained civil servant who knows what he is doing and believes strongly in accountability and transparency in public affairs. Those complaining are very few who want to be noticed, who could not fault him for what he is doing and just want to make noise so that we know they are there. We have recognized them as Lagosians as they claim to be, that they appreciate that Ambode is doing a lot of good job and we appreciate that they want to know the costs of these projects. Some of us have taken it as personal duty since they have closed their eyes and don’t want to go to where they can get the details of the costs; we will be sending the details to them so that they can tell the world that Ambode is transparent, honest and he believes in accountability.
What is your advice to those whose property had been demolished for development projects?
My position is that there is an adage in Yoruba , that there is no way you will make tribal marks to look beautiful without having to go through pains and it is only when the marks are healed that you look very beautiful. Also, there is no major development that will not inflict some element of injury or pain and those who suffer for the cause of producing the good infrastructure that Mr. Ambode is putting up now should please bear with him and bear with the people of Lagos State. We need those projects and we appreciate their contributions towards getting the projects done. I want to assure them that at the appropriate time when all these developmental efforts are being recorded, their names will equally be printed in gold as those who made reasonable sacrifices and contributions towards implementation of those projects. The governor is working very hard to turn Lagos to a smart city so let us all join hands with him and give him additional four years to really make Lagos one of the best economy in West Africa if not the whole of Africa.
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