“If Governor Ambode were to be a student in your class, what grade will you give him? Distinction, I believe. He has performed wonderfully well and all that he requires is the support of everybody to continue this magical feat.”
The above extract, which succinctly portray the giant strides of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode as Lagos State governor, is taken from a published interview with the Balogun of Epe, Chief Lanre Razak, who also a chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC).
Going by the intimidating template set for Lagos development by Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu while he was governor of the state between 1999 to 2007, not again will a governor occupy the Round House, Alausa, without having it thrust upon his shoulders the decree to continue raising the bar of making Lagos an Eldorado.
Ambode has not only shocked the doubting Thomases, he has also left those who backed him for the coveted office with no reason to regret the choice made two years after.
It still beats the imagination of many residents of Lagos, the commercial nerve of Nigeria, the amount of bridges, roads, laybys built by Ambode within two years to eliminate traffic bottlenecks. In a way and speed never seen before, Ambode is busy opening up inner city roads in various parts of the Lagos metropolis.
Ambode hit the ground running on May 29, 2015, when he was sworn in as the number one citizen of the state. So, he left no keen watchers of the development radar of Lagos disappointed 365 days after, when he commissioned 114 roads in all the 57 local councils and Local Council Development Areas in the state simultaneously. A feat seen by many as unprecedented in the history of the country.
From Surulere to FESTAC Town, Agege, Alimosho, Ikeja, Kosofe, Epe among others, Ambode’s footprints in visible projects is boldly written everywhere. To him, it appears it does not matter who voted for him or not, all that matters is the development of Lagos.
LAKE Rice project, a brainchild of comprehensive rice cultivation joint-ventured by Lagos and Kebbi states to ensure food security, remains a flagship agricultural feat in a sector not many thought Lagos could ever veered into let alone exceling in such a short time.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, described by many as the architect of the 21st century Lagos, said that “Akinwunmi Ambode has reflected that he is clearly a thinker and doer. I want to say thank you because experience is a great teacher and I am experienced. I am on the spot and I have watched things in Lagos since my tenure ended.
“I was worried hell when you (Ambode) took over, not about your credibility, character or capacity, but because however wise or smart a man is if there are no resources to back the ideas, production would be zero, progress would be zero.
“When you (Ambode) took over, I know you inherited a burden of debt. The debt profile of Lagos was high, I was wondering how you will re-engineer and face the challenges to make progress. Today, I can see your report card, you have scored well, and you have shown prudency especially in the judicious use of resources of the state. You didn’t disappoint us.”
According to Time Magazine, in a lengthy article featuring the extraordinary project and team which, in less than ten years, have transformed Lagos, once a dusty and crime-ridden state, into one of the top 100 best places in the world to live and do business in, noted that “Quality of air is better than in Paris or London. Unemployment is lower than in Germany. The state’s GDP is now the first in Africa above Johannesburg, Cairo, and Pretoria. In less than ten years the city became the financial and entertainment center of Africa, with Nollywood becoming bigger than Hollywood in terms of number of movies and revenue.
“Crime has almost disappeared, and a decade of a responsive and accountable government has raised the revenue per inhabitant to the same level as in China, Brazil or Poland. In term of people’s happiness, the international happiness index now places Lagos at the same level as Finland.”
The report added that “Lagos is already a megacity of 21 million people with a strong internal brand. If Lagos was a state in the United States, its GDP would be higher than the one of 14 other states, including New Mexico, Delaware, North Dakota.
“The GDP of Lagos state alone is already bigger than the GDP of Kenya, and bigger than the combined GDPs of 25 other African countries. Inside the federated states of Nigeria, Lagos contributes 25% to the national GDP (or 32% to non-oil national GDP) while being the smallest of the 36 states.”
Lagos is 65% of Nigerian tourism, 50% of national port revenue, over 70% of international air traffic, and 50% of national energy consumption. The state economy growth has been estimated to be 7% during the last three years. Lagos adds 600,000 new inhabitants every year, growing at a rate of 6 to 8% a year, ten times faster than New York or Los Angeles, which makes it one of the fastest-growing cities in the world.”
Ambode said his administration would rehabilitate all the Federal roads in the state even without necessarily asking for reimbursement from the Federal Government, as is the tradition, in line with the dream of making Lagos one of the sanest cities in the world.
“Some of these roads pose problems to the people of Lagos and they do not make us to be globally competitive. So, it is in our interest that the roads are upgraded,” Ambode said.
Therefore, at a period that other governors would have been settling down for real governance, Ambode commissioned two eye-popping flyovers in Ajah and Abule-Egba to mark his second anniversary in office, Lagosians were full of praises to the governor for walking his talking.
Ambode has been working round the clock to make Lagos a globally competitive city-state, by improving connectivity and providing permanent to perennial gridlock in the city.
The governor is also planning drastic facelift to the ever-busy road linking Murtala Mohammed International Airport to Oshodi to a globally befitting class, which despite the initial hitch has got the blessing of the Presidency. The project, when completed poised to be yet another milestone that Ambode has become synonymous with.
The governor also disclosed that a new road was being built to link the Meiran/AIT Road to the Lagos State University (LASU) and the Lagos-Badagry Expressway.
Ambode said the road was also being extended to enable motorists to link Sango-Ota without necessarily going on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.