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Lagos Matters

Vanguard Newspaper Editorial lauds Ambode over MMIA Road

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AS the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwumni Ambode, prepares to hand over the reins of power to his successor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, at Alausa on May 29, 2019, perhaps the greatest achievement for which he will never be forgotten is the conception and completion of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Road in Lagos.

Motorists who regularly use the road, on Thursday, April 11, 2019, noticed that full street lights had come alive on the first phase which starts from Oshodi and ends at the Ajao Estate U-Turn. The beauty of the project which is still proceeding at steady pace day and night, is a sight to behold, especially at night now that the lights have been installed.

This former four-lane road, which the Lagos State Government started reconstructing roughly two years ago, has been expanded into a ten-lane marvel with two flyover bridges at Mafoluku and Hajj Camp and at least one pedestrian overhead bridge at Ajao.

When fully completed it will be a world-class masterpiece befitting of a country that likes to pride itself as “The Giant of Africa”. It will be a stunning departure from the old road that signposted the shame of a nation.

The old MMIA Road, apart from being narrow, was potholes-infested, with furniture makers, petty traders, fuel stations and commercial buses/motorcycles (Okada) struggling for space with users of the road, which is supposed to be the number one gateway into Nigeria from all parts of the world.

The situation was worse at night when the unlit corridor which was overgrown with elephant grasses seemed to welcome foreign visitors to the “kingdom of darkness”. Happily, those days will soon be over.

Yet, the road to this accomplishment was not exactly strewn with roses. Governor Ambode, in March 2017, went public with his feeling of frustration at the delay in securing the Federal Government’s approval to start work on its own road.

He blamed his immediate predecessor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Works, Power and Housing for that. Fashola, however, denied the charge, pointing out that the delay was caused by adherence to due process.

All is well that ends well. Though Ambode will leave office disappointed for not getting the chance to serve for two terms, he can take solace in the outpouring of gratitude from all well-meaning Nigerians for this gesture of wiping the shame of the MMIA Road from the brow of the nation.

This is another confirmation that a serious government can start and finish major mega-projects within a term of four years.

We hope the road will be completed before May 29, 2019 to enable Governor Ambode entertain the honour and pleasure of hosting the inauguration of this game-changing signature project.

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Lagos Matters

I am wiser now, says Ambode

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Akinwunmi Ambode, governor of Lagos state, says he has been describing himself as techno-politician but having spent four years on the saddle, he is wiser.

Speaking with state house correspondents during what he referred to as a “thank you visit” to President Muhammadu Buhari for inaugurating some of projects in the state, Ambode said politicians learn everyday.

Asked to state what lesson he has learnt as a politician in Lagos and in a very unpredictable terrain as Nigeria, the governor said: “You see, every politician learns every day. The fact remains that I came in as a technocrat, so I use to call myself a techno-politician but I think I am wiser now. I am more of a politician than a technocrat.”

Since the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999, Ambode goes into history as the first Lagos governor not to serve two terms.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor-elect of Lagos, beat him to the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) last year.

APC leaders in the state, including Bola Tinubu, a former governor, supported Sanwo-Olu over Ambode.

On what he wants to be remembered for after bowing out of office in two weeks, the governor said: “Well, in another 16 days or so we will be leaving office but what is important is that I was able to have that opportunity to be elected as governor of Lagos State and to touch humanity in a way that I deem it fit.

“We did our best and most importantly the projects we did were people friendly and people central. I just think a lot more people have enjoyed the benefits and dividends of democracy than we actually met it. And that gives me joy that we were able to touch lives.

“Wherever you find yourself just make positive difference to people and Nigerians, that is the whole essence of service. I’m grateful that I had that opportunity.”

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Lagos Matters

Lagos State House of Assembly refuse to transfer 2019 budget to Governor Ambode

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Two weeks after the Lagos State House of Assembly passed the 2019 budget, Governor Ambode is yet to receive it.

According to a report by Punch, the Assembly might be awaiting May 29 when the governor-elect,  Babajide Sanwo-Olu, would be sworn into office. A source revealed that government projects had been stalled due to the impasse.

He said, “They just refused to pass it to the governor because they want to play politics with the budget. Most of the people in the Assembly are loyal to one man and he appears to be dictating to them. But what more do they want to do to Ambode? They have humiliated him, denied him his return ticket, and even threatened to impeach him. What has he done to deserve all that?  

“What they failed to realise is that this is beyond Ambode. It is about Lagos State. It is about governance. Since they took this decision not to pass the budget to him, things have been at a standstill. No development; nothing. This is wrong at all levels because people’s lives are being held.” 

However, another government source said while the Assembly might have certain reasons for not passing the bill to the governor, the law permits Ambode to spend a certain percentage of the previous year budget. 

She said, “It is true that the budget has not been transmitted to the governor. But their reason is immaterial. Whatever they like they can do. The law allows the governor to spend a certain amount of last year’s budget pending the time the new budget would be ready. The governor will do his best within the time available.” 

The Ambode administration had said it sent the budget to the Assembly early, but the lawmakers went on a break and could not sit over it in December 2018.  Early 2019, the Assembly had issued an impeachment threat to the governor for allegedly spending from the budget when it had not been passed. After protests and public demonstrations, the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, and some party stalwarts called the lawmakers and the governor into a meeting, where the matter was reportedly resolved.  On April 29, the Assembly passed the N873.532bn budget, more than 80 days after the governor eventually presented it.

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Lagos Matters

MURIC Hails Ambode Over Massive Infrastructure Renewal

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The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has commended Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode for embarking on massive infrastructural drive which positively changed the landscape, saying the Governor’s name has already been written in gold in the history of the State and can never be altered by anybody.

Speaking while presenting a letter of appreciation to the Governor on Monday, May 6th, 2019 during a Ramadan Tafsir/Iftar and special prayer organised by the State Government to mark the official commencement of the Muslim fasting month, Director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola, described Governor Ambode as a top performer whose achievements are indelible. 

Akintola, a renowned Islamic scholar, said aside the massive infrastructural drive, the Governor also prioritized welfare of Muslims and worked hard to enhance peaceful co-existence and harmonious relationship among religious groups in the State. 

“Quran Chapter 14 verse 7 says if you show appreciation, we would give you even much more. This is what we have come to do to you  (Governor Ambode) today sir. We want to appreciate you; you are a performer and numero uno. We have seen action in Lagos State.

“Jesu healed 10 lepers in the book of Luke Chapter 17 verse 17 and only one came back. Jesus now asked were not 10 cleaned; where are the nine? Muslims of Lagos State appreciate you sir and you will never ask where are those Muslims because we are here. We love you, we appreciate you, we value you. You are a jewel of inestimable value. Is it the infrastructure that you have developed in Lagos State? Is it the gentlemanly attitude that we all have seen in you?

 Other States are burning as we speak but Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, the Executive Governor of Lagos State, took the political landscape with astounding equanimity. When there should have been storm, you calm everything down. Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, your name is already written in letters of gold in the annals of Lagos history; it is indelible and nobody can ever erase it again,” Akintola said.

He particularly commended Governor Ambode for setting up the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) in the State and going further to decentralize the activities of the Council in all the 20 Local Government Areas and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), just as he commended the Governor for prompt payment of workers salary.

According to him, “Salaries are owed for eight months, nine months, eleven months in several States of the federation in spite of all the financial facilities they got from the Federal Government; Lagos has not owed one month not even one week. Salaries are paid, workers are happy, there is industrial peace in Governor Ambode’s time. We appreciate the Governor and this will go down well in history.

“Of particular note is Muslims and Christians sitting together through the Committee (NIREC) that the Governor set up which has greatly enhanced peaceful co-existence. For this friendliness that the Governor established; and for this generosity that you extended to the Muslim Committee, we say Allah will bless you sir.

“In appreciation of the great works that His Excellency the Governor of Lagos State has been doing, the Muslim Rights Concern came up here with a letter of appreciation thanking the Governor. We never had it so good in Lagos State.”

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