Sunday, 6 September 2015


Gov Ambode's first 100 days in office and shape of things to come.

Gov Ambode's first 100 days in office .
It was just a few days after he was sworn into office on May 29. He was in Abuja for the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting when there were tanker fire explosions at the Idimu petrol station as well as a serious fire incident at Iyana Ipaja. He immediately took the next flight back to his state and headed for the scenes of the tragedies to personally empathise and share in the pain of the people. He gave instructions to provide immediate
succour for the victims while he convened a meeting of petrol marketers to map out strategies to avoid future tanker explosions. This kind of decisive responsiveness has been a hallmark of Lagos State governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode’s governance style ever since his assumption of office 100 days ago.

Let us take another example. Mrs Ruth Uche, an Igbo resident of Lagos was in a dilemma. She had just given birth to her third set of twins. Her depressed and distressed husband had absconded obviously out of desperation and helplessness. The governor read about her plight in the newspapers. He did not adopt an indifferent stance. He directed his deputy, Mrs Oluranti Adebule, to cater to the needs of the mother and help re-settle the family. Today, Mrs Uche’s absconding husband is back. The family has been fully re-settled and are living a normal life. It is obvious that seemingly little things matter to governor Ambode.

But there is yet another example. Miss Oluwajomiloju Goodness Ogundimu is the Lagos State 2015 baby of the year. Yet, her future was imperilled, her life threatened by a heart defect requiring surgery. Again, governor Ambode intervened. Baby Goodness and her parents can today look to the future with hope and optimism. She is now hale and hearty after undergoing successful surgery in India courtesy the Ambode administration.

An abandoned, penurious retiree can be as helpless and vulnerable as a baby. The emotional wound of being cast aside and neglected after an active life of service to the state and society can be searing and numbing. This was the plight of thousands of retirees from the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the state prior to Akinwunmi Ambode’s assumption of office. Today the story is different. Early in August, Mr Ambode approved N11 billion to offset arrears owed retirees including those from Local Governments and Parastatal organizations since 2010. The retirees can sing new songs of joy knowing their labour has not gone unrewarded and unappreciated.

In the early days of the governor Ambode administration, there was an alarming bank robbery incident in Ikorodu during which the bandits operated freely for hours. This was in addition to complaints of an increase of robbery incidents in traffic as well as reports of the creeping return of area boys and other sundry hoodlums to Oshodi and some other parts of the state. Governor Ambode not only stepped up pressure on the security agencies to live up to their responsibility, he has taken proactive steps to enhance their capacity to do so. For instance, at a dinner organized by the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), the governor presented his plans to strengthen the security of the state to members of the Organized Private Sector and requested for their support in this regard. The result was the realization of donations of over N1 billion to the state’s security efforts – an indication of confidence in the integrity of the administration.

Over the last three months, the Ambode administration has acquired 100 new power bikes, 10 armoured tanks and a helicopter to strengthen the security of the state. This is in addition to the acquisition of 100 new squad cars for a new initiative tagged Special Operation Service (SOS), which will coordinate community policing in collaboration with the Rapid Response Squad (RRS). Of course, there is a link between free traffic flow and reduced crime as well as enhanced economic productivity. Thus, the question of traffic gridlock in Lagos particularly in the notorious Apapa axis has received the unceasing attention of the governor in the last 100 days.

Governor Ambode has not only personally inspected the traffic situation in Apapa and appealed to the Federal Government to expedite action on rehabilitating the network of roads in the area majority of which belongs to it. He set up a task force to ensure 24 hours surveillance of traffic flow while also holding a meeting with Tanker Drivers and other stakeholders to come up with strategies to free Apapa once and for all from the menace of Traffic gridlock. Equally of concern to governor Ambode has been the rehabilitation and modernisation of the road network in the state. In this regard, he has conducted inspection tours of roads in various areas including Ipaja, Mosan-Okunola, Oshodi-Isolo, Ikotun-Ejigbo and Somolu areas. On his directives, work has commenced on the more deplorable roads including Ejigbo-Ikotun as well as Brown road in Oshodi. From all indications, it seems there will be a conscious shift by the Ambode administration from the perceived elitist focus of his predecessor to the more neglected and less privileged areas of the state.

In the education sector, the governor approved the recruitment of 1,300 qualified teachers for the state’s public primary schools while in the health sector he commissioned 20 Mobile care Units Ambulances and 26 Transport Ambulances for the state’s General Hospitals and primary healthcare centres on Monday, August 31. Beyond this, he has approved the purchase of generators and x-ray machines for all general hospitals in the state as well as the recruitment of more paramedic staff and special medical coordinators to guarantee 24 hours service to the citizenry.

During the electoral campaigns, Mr Ambode urged the electorate to allow his experience in governance to work for them. His sterling track record as a seasoned civil servant who rose to the apex of the service over a period of 27 years as well as an accomplished Chartered Accountant, consultant and astute manager of men and resources were some of his key selling points. His sure footedness right from his first day in office vindicates the electorate’s decision to vote for experience and demonstrated competence. Thus, some of the institutional innovations he has engineered to ensure the achievement of his objectives include re-aligning the Ministry of Rural Development, Parastatals Monitoring Office as well as the Political and Legislative Powers Bureau.

Apart from scrapping the office of the Special Adviser on Taxation and Revenue and Debt Management Office, he merged the Office of Works and Office of Infrastructure in the Ministry of Works as well as the Office of Drainage Services and Office of Environmental Services in the Ministry of Environment. This is to enhance efficiency and cost effectiveness. He has also set up an Office of Overseas Affairs and Investment (Lagos Global) domiciled in his office to spearhead his administration’s aggressive drive for foreign investment. The governor’s appointment of 19 new Permanent Secretaries based strictly on merit, competence and track record has also invigorated the leadership of the service with the promise of greater dynamism and more qualitative service delivery.

Governor Ambode has also moved to enhance accountability and transparency in the management of the state’s finances by abolishing the multiple account system previously in operation and introducing from September 1 a Treasury Single Account (TSA), which ensures that all government revenues accrue to one consolidated account. If governor Ambode’s first 100 days in office offer glimpses of the shape of things to come in the governance of the Centre of Excellence in the next four years, we should expect more of responsiveness, proactive action, compassion, innovation and focus to elevate Lagos to a higher pedestal of excellence.

Of course, given his tremendous public service experience, the governor knows that his ultimate success will largely be a function of his ability to shun sycophants and cultivate alternative sources of authentic information to aid effective governance. Given his vast experience in Local Government administration, millions of Lagosians are optimistic that Governor Ambode will return governance to the people by ensuring more effective service delivery at the grassroots level of government widely perceived as grossly underperforming.


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