Thursday, May 10, 2018

Ambode and the magic wand of MMAirport-Oshodi road

Ambode and the magic wand of MMAirport-Oshodi road
September 10
12:21 2017

By Idowu Ajanaku

The winning edge a leader exhibits, to stand tall, heads and shoulders above his contemporaries is predicated on his consistent capacity to translate people-oriented vision and dreams into concrete reality. Assembling a team of competent professionals, who also believe in that vision, is imperative. Other facilitating factors include the driving desire to prioritize the projects and scale them within a realistic financial framework and time. The other is the involvement of the beneficiaries for their proper use and sustainable maintenance.

Interestingly, these attributes and more Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has amply demonstrated since mounting the pedestal of political power on May 29, 2015. The accountant-turned politician has to his credit several solid structures on infrastructural development that have endeared him to the hearts of millions of Lagosians over the past two and a half years.

But one new project that will certainly mark him out as a leader with his thinking cap firmly fixed in place is the long-neglected road that stretches from the Murtala Muhammed Airport Road to the ever-bustling Oshodi, flagged off recently. With an eye on the future, as Lagos gears up to become the third largest economy on the continent by 2020, overtaking the combined resources of 32 others in Africa,  he is fully aware that the advantages are profound, not only for Lagos but the entire country, Nigeria.

As the busiest airport road in Sub-Saharan Africa that welcomes a variety of nationals-including businessmen, investors, entrepreneurs, political bigwigs, entertainers and tourists-from across the globe, its status ought to have been restored long before now. It should have been rebranded as a national pride, with a warm, welcoming embrace signifying the Africaness that Nigeria symbolizes.

In its past state it definitely left a sour taste in the mouth of an average first-time visitor to the country. It portrayed Nigeria as a country at war with itself! Indeed, not even the airport roads in the war-torn Syria or Beirut are as decrepit and deplorable. But as a pragmatic leader, Ambode saw it and decided to light a candle, instead of blaming the darkness.

To up the ante, the state government disclosed that it would not adopt the federal government design made decades ago for the reconstruction of 10-lane Oshodi-Murtala Muhammed International Airport road, Instead, the road with a distance of 5.7064 kilometres  will boast of two service lanes,20 lay-bys, interlocking paving stones walkway and  five modern bridges; bolstered with two flyovers and three pedestrian bridges. Ambode, who was represented by the Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Mr. Adebowale Akinsanya, specifically noted these additional structures at a stakeholders’ meeting held at the Welcome Centre Hotel, Airport Road.

In retrospect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu had made attempt to reconstruct the road during his second term tenure in 2003 but the then Minister of Works, Adeseye Ogunlewe used the federal might to chase away those working on it. He insisted that the road belonged to the federal government and the state had no business working on it. It was a similar situation during the Fashola years all because the PDP government controlled the federal centre while the ACN and later the APC took over the mantle of leadership. What an aberration for a country in crying need of political and economic restructuring.

However, hope rose when the former governor, Babatunde Fashola became the Minster for Power, Works and Housing. Surprisingly, deliberate efforts were made to frustrate the state government’s genuine efforts to take charge as the Minster became a clog in the wheel of progress.  His explanation then was that the federal government designed an eight-lane dual carriage way to be built with a paltry sum of N2 billion in the federal budget. Governor Ambode was left with no option but to address a press conference to ventilate his shock at the turn of events. In fact, it took the prompt intervention of Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo through an executive order to set the ball rolling for the project.

The good news now is that the state government is going to execute the same project using Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). And on completion it will be a replica of the modern road network that leads to Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. With the advantages of changing the socio-economic landscape of Lagos metropolis, the image of Nigeria as well as easing traffic in the ever-expanding metropolis, it will eventually lead to an increase in foreign investment. Jobs will be created and the quality of life of the average Lagosian improved upon.

This innovative approach to governance through sustained urban renewal falls in tandem with what Asiwaju Tinubu has said of the people’s governor.“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.”

Similarly, back in June this year the Word Bank, represented by its Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer, Mr Joaquim Vieira Levy commended the massive and impact-making  infrastructural development across Lagos State,  under the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode administration. Levy used the auspicious occasion  of the visit to assure that the state’s urban renewal and infrastructure development projects  would continue to receive more boost from the World Bank to assist the Government deliver more on key infrastructural.

The World Bank Chief decided to pick Lagos State as its pilot state for its sustainable development assistance scheme. The reason. It is because Lagos  has demonstrated leadership  in providing good governance catalyzed by  infrastructures that have direct positive impact on its citizenry. This is the truth.

For instance, one Nathaniel Ajayi, a resident of Abesan, a sleepy community in the northern part of Lagos, had this to say of Ambode’s magic wand in transforming Lagos with projects that have direct bearing on the lives of the residents: “I was born in 1993 here in Abesan, I had always dreamt that one day the kind of development I see in Victoria Island, Lekki and Ikeja will take place here. Today our governor has made my dream come true.” Nathaniel spoke at the inauguration of the link bridge at Abesan to ease transportation headaches in that axis.

What more can one add but to urge the indefatigable Governor Ambode not to rest on his oars. Keep up the good job!

Ajanaku is the senior special assistant to the governor on media and strategy


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1 Comment

  1. Gbolahan
    Gbolahan September 10, 14:33

    Thanks to the thinking governor, but when aides cast aspersions on past leaders they should be cautioned. The writer of this piece while tryiñg to raise the profile of his principal should not forget that before Jesus Abraham was.

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