The ninth town hall meeting of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode shows that among other things water transportation, security of life and property in Lagos will not be the same again, writes WALE AJETUNMOBI.
Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, since assuming office as the 14th governor of Lagos State, has shown great promise. No wonder the state has literally been turned into a huge construction site. Every quarter he updates the people on how the affairs of the state are managed.
Nine Town Hall Meetings have been held in all the three senatorial districts of the state on a rotational basis. The fourth quarter town hall meeting held at the SUBEB Proposed Permanent Site in Kosofe Local Government last Tuesday.
At the meeting, the governor rendered account of his stewardship in the last three months, with another pledge to implement more infrastructural projects in all parts of the State in line with his electoral promises to the people.
While reeling out some of the activities of his administration in the last three months, Ambode said during the period under review, the government commenced the reconstruction of Oshodi International Airport Road, construction of Pen Cinema Flyover, the reconstruction and upgrade of Igbe-Bola Tinubu road in Igbogbo-Baiyeku Local Council Development Area, unveiled the first State-owned DNA and Forensic Centre in West Africa, while comprehensive plan to fix all roads that have been eroded by heavy rains witnessed in the last few months also started. To that end, the government said repairs of 43 major link roads across the five divisions of the State as well as a comprehensive flood control programme that will ensure a flood free State by end of year 2017 were being implemented.
Ambode said: “The traffic situation in the Apapa area in recent times has been of major concern to our Administration. We will therefore not relent in our efforts to reclaim Apapa as a liveable part of Lagos and return it to its pristine glory as a hub of economic prosperity.
“In Oworonshoki, construction work is progressing to transform the blighted waterfront into the biggest water transportation hub in Nigeria. When completed, the site will become a mega ferry terminal with the state-of-the-art facilities, including a park capable of accommodating 2,000 cars and cruise facility that will enable user’s easy access to the jetty.
“Plans are also underway to unfold an intensive design for the beautification of Jibowu and Yaba as part of the general greener Lagos plan to rehabilitate and beautify blighted areas. As part of the Onikan-Marina Regeneration plan, we have approved the upgrade of the 5,000 capacity Onikan stadium to attain the standards of a 21st century sporting facility, while as part of strategies adopted to secure Model schools in the outskirts and those close to riverine areas, a Joint Tactic Squad comprising officers of all the security agencies has been established to increase security within and around such vulnerable areas of the state.”
While responding to a request by a former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon Jokotola Pelumi, on the need to extend more developmental projects to Agbowa, Governor Ambode said his administration was already working towards transforming the Ikorodu-Agbowa-Itoikin-Ijebu Ode Road which is currently in a deplorable state to eight lanes through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, among other projects already planned for the axis.
He appealed for understanding of residents on inconveniences being experienced as a result of ongoing projects, assuring that all the projects would be completed on schedule.
Ambode used the opportunity of the meeting to reiterate the call for devolution of powers to state and practice of true federalism.
For him, devolution of powers to states and practice of federalism in the true meaning of the word is a sure way to address the knotty issues slowing down the progress of the nation. At different fora, the governor has consistently maintained that there is a compelling and urgent need for the country to allow states which are the federating units of the country to actualise their potentials.
For instance, while speaking recently at a joint working retreat of Senate and House Representatives Committees on the Review of 1999 Constitution held in Lagos, Ambode called for amendment of the Constitution to entrench fiscal federalism, which in turn, would go a long way in making the states to come up with innovative programmes and initiatives that would scale up development.
So, it was not surprising again when Ambode renewed the call for devolution of powers to states and true federalism at town hall meeting.
The governor said: “I support true federalism; I support all the issues raised by Asiwaju; we are on the same page. That is the page of APC; that is where we are and that is what we are committed to. Like I have always said, we need to deal with issues that relate to devolution of powers. Like somebody said, if I have more resources, all these items that you are coming to raise here, once you raise it, I will just say done. I need more money. So, why should somebody be saying they are the ones in charge of inland waterways when the waterways is transporting my own people and my own services and when there is a law about it.”
Ambode also questioned why despite the existence of Hotel Occupancy and Restaurant Consumption Law enacted by the Lagos State House of Assembly, there were still attempts from the central government to regulate hotels and entertainment centres in the state, a situation he said was an anomaly that should be addressed accordingly.
“We enact a law and somebody says he wants to do another law that regulates hotels inside Lagos. Is it not because of the roads that they put hotel there? That is what devolution of power is saying. If these things are on residual list, let Local Government and States deal with them. That is all that we are asking for.
“So, obviously that is the whole idea behind this agitation for true federalism, devolution of powers and the need to use it to liberate ourselves so that we can get more prosperous; so that our people can be more comfortable and it is all about the welfare of our people. Our people have said that we should do this work and we must be able to speak on your behalf on the things that really matter to all of you,” he said.
He urged traditional rulers and community leaders to join hands with the state government to wage a total war against all forms of crimes as well as drug abuse in their various communities.
He said his administration will not relent in its efforts towards reducing the menace, adding however that concerted efforts from the traditional rulers and community leaders, who are closest to the people, were very pivotal to achieving the desired result.
“We are in October and we are going to December, naturally, when it gets to the ember months, somehow traditionally, crime rate go up but in the last two years, we have been able to reduce crime rate when it is coming to December.
“I want to appeal to all our traditional rulers and other community leaders; there is a need for us to support the Neighborhood Safety Corps. Also, our volunteers and the people should now be more vigilant and then cooperate with our security agencies to maintain law and order. I want to reduce the crime rate to the barest minimum and I know that we are going to engage a lot of our youths in end-of-the-year activities to make sure that peace continue to reign in Lagos,” the Governor said.
Ambode also implored the various Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to increase their awareness campaign on the dangers of drug abuse, saying that there was an urgent need for them to also join the fight against all forms of domestic and sexual violence.
“Like people already know, we are at the forefront of fighting drugs, sexual abuse and violence against women and children, we will not relent in fighting these menace in the society. I believe strongly this is the time to talk to our children; I believe strongly this is the time to talk to our wards and even those who are around us that this time around, the State Government is ready to fight crime in all its ramifications,” he said.
The governor also commended residents for their continuous support to his administration, saying that it had gone a long way in driving the various infrastructural development programmes implemented by the State Government.
He hailed the efforts of some community associations who have taken the initiative to start up projects in their vicinity, assuring that aside recognition from the State Government, his administration would ensure that such projects would be supported to ensure completion.
Ambode also urged chairmen of the 20 local government and 37 local council development areas to look into the welfare of persons living with disabilities and the elderly, saying that the all-inclusive mantra of his administration must be felt in every part of the State.
Among dignitaries present at the event include Senator Gbenga Ashafa, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, former Deputy Governor, Prince Abiodun Ogunleye; former Speakers of the House of Assembly – Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Hon Jokotola Pelumi; APC Chairman in Lagos State, Chief Henry Ajomale; Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu I and other major traditional rulers; members of the State Executive Council, among others.
Source: The Nation