Being the commercial nerve centre of the West African sub-region, the metropolitan outlook of Lagos has often been mistaken to be devoid of rural/local settlements. This notion of a no rural Lagos is a gross misconception as approximately 12 per cent of the people in Lagos State dwell and earn their living in non-urban neighbourhoods, country sides and remote villages!
Despite the fact that tourism, health, infrastructure, education, environment, transportation and security have consistently topped its priority list, the Akinwunmi Ambode led administration in Lagos State is not resting on its oars in transforming local communities in Lagos.
One major index of social change and development today is indeed rural/community development. No nation can boast of having achieved development if a large percentage of her rural inhabitants are still wallowing in abject poverty, want and a depth in socio-economic penury.
It is, therefore, in an effort to ensure even and accelerated development in all parts of the State that the Ambode administration anchors its development drive in the State on what it terms ‘all inclusive governance’. According to the state Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the administration’s idea of an all inclusive government is one in which “no one or segment of the society, irrespective of colour, race, faith, status, ability or disability is left behind”.
It is in furtherance of this philosophy that the State Government has put in place a systematic strategy of accelerating development in rural Lagos. Aboru, a rustic community in the old Alimosho Local Government Area of the State, represents, perhaps, the most suitable example of on-going efforts to improve infrastructure in local communities in the State. Recently, residents of the pastoral community understandably heaved a sigh of relief as the newly constructed Aboru Link Bridge, aimed at easing the perennial traffic gridlock along the ever busy Lagos-Abeokuta Road, was officially commissioned for public use.
Considering the importance being accorded rural development in the State, the bridge which could have taken about three or four years to complete was constructed within nine months. The 500 meters bridge, which was designed to last for over 100 years, serves as a major link road to Iyana-Ipaja from Abule-Egba, Abesan Housing Estate, Ayobo-Ipaja, LASU-Iba and Okokomaiko. It will particularly have huge positive socio-economic effects on eight communities along the axis. These are Agbelekale, Aboru, Abesan, Iyana-Ipaja, Ayobo, Ipaja and the neighbouring Ogun State.
With the coming of the Link Bridge also came construction of major roads along the axis such as Aboru road, Ogunfisayo Street as well as Kasumu Street. An icing on the cake was the construction of a Primary Health Care Center for Aboru residents which was a gift from the indigenous contractor that handled the construction of the Link Bridge. In order to sustain current tempo of development along the axis, the turning of sword ceremony for the construction of additional seven networks of roads was performed the very day the bridge was commissioned.
It needs to be stressed that Aboru is not the only rural community that is presently benefitting from the Ambode administration’s strong resolve to even development across the State. For instance, in the Badagry axis, a major leap towards improving infrastructure across the State was taken with the completion of the Imeke-Ajido Bridge, a major link bridge in the axis which was previously presented for public use. Similarly, the State Government has approved construction of second phase of the project which is a 17km network of roads connecting Aradagun to Whispering Palms, a major tourist resort in the State. The completion of the project is essentially strategic to the opening up of the entire Badagry axis.
To really take governance back to the grassroots, the Ambode administration had earlier empowered Local Councils in the State to rehabilitate 114 inner roads, estimated at a cost of N17.5billion across the 20 Local Governments (LGs) and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the State. This was designed to open up the grassroots for even development across the State. The inner roads project was executed to standard requirement with street lights, sidewalks and covered drains. More significantly, about 6,000 direct and 3,000 indirect jobs were created in local communities across State through the initiative.
Aside making life better for rural communities involved, these roads now simplify the ease of doing business in several local communities. Similarly, a total of 181 community roads across the 57 Local Government Areas (LGAs) and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the State are currently on the brink of being constructed. The initiative to rehabilitate the roads within the communities was to further consolidate on the success of the initiative that began in 2016. That the State Government is increasing the number of roads to be rehabilitated or constructed across all Local Government Areas in the State from 114 to 181 aptly underscores the resolve of the current administration to even development across the State.
Similarly, many local communities such as Shoko, Idale Whedakoh, Igbanko, Imota Onireke (Badagry axis), Origele Origbongbo, Muwo, Oke Ijewu (Ojo axis) Sabo Oriba in Iba, Onasa, Ajegbenwa Arapagi, Orimedu Extension Ibeju-Lekki axis, Jeki Alade Egbe Idimu LCDA, Anu Oluwa T-Junction Epe LG, Egasoyindo Eredo LCDA, among others can now heave sighs of relive as a result of various government interventions in the provision of rural electrification, rural roads, rural water among others. These areas that were hitherto remote communities had through the electrification programme of the state government benefitted from the construction of relief transformer substations, distribution of transformers and erections of poles in these rural and riverine communities of the State, thereby enhancing their growth and development.
Consequently, there has been an appreciable budget impact which has occasioned an improvement of economic activities in the rural areas as a result of rural initiatives such as provision of electricity, potable water and access roads. The Ambode administration has, therefore, proved that it is a government for the rich and the less privileged, as it is busy renewing urban Lagos, it is equally making frantic efforts to ensure a better life for the rural dwellers.