Features Write-Ups

AKINWUNMI AMBODE: ONE YEAR AFTER

Tayo Ogunbiyi

How time flies! The Akinwunmi Ambode administration in Lagos state will, in a few days’ time, celebrate its first year anniversary. Without a doubt, the administration has positively impacted on the lives of Lagosians through its numerous innovative and people oriented programmes and projects.

The Light up Lagos project, conceived to light up major highways and streets in the Lagos metropolis with the ultimate goal of boosting commercial activities, enhancing security, improving the citizenry’s standard of living as well as boost the aesthetics of the City-State, is one of such impactful projects.

Thus far, some of the areas that have been lit up include Maryland to Mile 12, Oworonshonki to Kara through Alapere, 7up Toll Gate and Berger, Martins Street/Ereko, Brook Street, Lagos Island, Olowookere street, Alimosho, Old Ota road, Alimosho, Cemetery road, Badagry, Ligali Ayorinde, Victoria island, Babatunde Anjous, Eti-Osa, Itire road, Surulere, Bode Thomas, Surulere among numerous others. The ultimate target of the project is the development of a Lagos that is safe and secured Lagos, that operates a 24/7 economy.

In a mega city of Lagos status, access to public transportation is of great necessity. Hence, the Ambode administration recently launched over 400 air-conditioned buses on the ever busy Ikorodu road from Ikorodu roundabout to CMS. Also, in order to improve road transportation, the Ambode administration came up with “Operation fix all potholes” through which over 350 were improved across the State. This is aside major works done on recently commissioned Ago Palace way, Ejigbo-Ikotun road, Moshalasi-Ayobo road, ACME road among others.

In an attempt to creatively tackle unemployment, the N25bn Employment Trust Fund, ETF, was established to address unemployment and promote wealth creation through entrepreneurial development. Former Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru heads the Board of the Fund.

Also, in order to create the conducive environment that will further stimulate wealth creation among Lagos residents, the state government recently domesticated the Federal Government’s policy on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). Similarly, the Ambode administration recently inaugurated the state Council on MSMEs for proper coordination of the MSMEs in the state. The Council would identify MSMEs operating in the state to help enhance their productivity and enable them to serve as the bedrock for the economic development of the state.

To attract the needed investment that will enhance prosperity in the State, the administration intervened in public security by donating security equipment worth N4.7b to the State Police Command. The administration was to later present 140 brand new Ford Ranger Pick-Ups and 335 Power Bikes fitted with communication gadgets, Helmets, Bullet Proof vests and other kits at a cost of N1.85billion. The equipment, which was commissioned by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo will be distributed among the 107 Police Stations and Thirteen Police Area Commands in Lagos State. Other beneficiaries include the Nigeria Customs, Immigration Services, the Nigeria Army, Air force, Navy, DSS, AIG Zone 2, Civil Defence, Federal Road Safety Corps, LASTMA, NDLEA, Lagos State Task Force and the Nigeria Prison Services.

Towards boosting the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, base of the state,

the state government had widened its tax net to include more groups and individuals. It has started the process of overhauling the informal sector with a view to ensuring voluntary compliance by all tax payers. Towards this end, three categories of tax payers, namely market men/women, artisans, micro, small and medium-scale enterprises and domestic staff had been classified in the sector. They are expected to remit one per cent of what their earnings to government’s coffers.

With a view to enhancing tourism development in the state the One Lagos Fiesta was organized to hold concurrently in the five major divisions of the State. The Apapa Amusement Park was equally redeveloped to offer Lagosians an opportunity for leisure, recreation and entertainment. Sports development was also given a boost through the ‘Lagos City Marathon’ which attracted over 50,000 spectators, the Nestle Milo Secondary Schools’ Basketball and the annual Governor’s Cup (Lawn Tennis).

In the area of administration of justice, the state government inaugurated mobile courts to summarily try traffic as well as environmental offenders and mete out immediate punishments to those convicted. This is also a way to decongest the courts and not add to inconclusive cases that have been in courts for years. Similarly, the ‘Revised Laws of Lagos State’ was recently launched in order to make them accessible to the general public.

The Ambode administration equally scored a significant first in public health care delivery when the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) in December, 2015 carried out the first successful Bone Bridge Surgery in West Africa as well as successful Cochlear Implant surgeries on three deaf patients without the support of foreign doctors.

LASUTH also had its first successful Kidney Transplant carried out by its team of urologists and nephrologists in November 2015 and discharged the patient in good condition on December 1, 2015. It also won several international awards of excellence with the Departments of Internal Medicine, ENT, Psychiatry and Pediatrics being granted accreditations by the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, while the first female Oncologist in Nigeria, Dr. Fatiregun Omolara, emanated from LASUTH.

In order to bring quality healthcare service closer to the people, particularly during emergency situations, 20 Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU) Ambulances and 26 Transport Ambulances were commissioned for public use by Governor Ambode. It is part of a holistic plan geared towards widening the coverage of emergency services beyond the metropolis to the hinterland.

Governor Ambode likewise demonstrated his unflinching resolve to lift education in the state by ensuring that the sector got a fair share of the 2016 budget. The intent is to ensure that needed funds are made available for its flagship programmes such as A-Meal-a-Day project, Ibile Tablets for secondary schools, State’s initiative on the development of e-curriculum, among others. The administration has embarked on the rehabilitation of schools, construction of new classroom blocks and provision of furniture. This was funded jointly with the Federal Government under the UBEC scheme. Also, 1,300 teachers were recruited into public primary schools to strengthen Universal Basic.

Pensioners are not left out in the plan of the Ambode administration. Not long after assuming office, Governor Ambode ordered the release of the sum of N11bn to pay off pension liabilities owed the mainstream retirees and the retirees in Local Government Areas. The development is part of efforts put in place by the present administration to find a holistic solution to the issue of payment of pension entitlements to retirees under the pay-as-you-go pension scheme which was discontinued in April 2007, as well as outstanding accrued pension rights due to retirees under the contributory pension scheme.

True democracy cannot exist in a society incapable of supporting the aspirations of its people. With the steady strides of the Ambode administration in the past one year, it has been demonstrated that a truly representative government must create the enabling environment for its citizenry to prosper in various ways. This is the real essence of democracy.

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