Ambode: Celebrating the man who dares to dream big for Lagos
Today marks 53th birthday anniversary of Governor Akinwumi Ambode, the man from the sprawling town of Epe, whose audacious visions is taking Lagosians by surprise.
“The future is for those who dare to dream and find courage to pursue their dreams,” those were the words of Ambode during his inaugural speech as the 14th governor of Lagos in May 29, 2015.
Though Governor Ambode was speaking directly to the youths of Lagos State to “embrace new thinking and be determined to succeed at all times,” he was indirectly speaking to the ethos that guides his own journey to greatness.
According to him, nothing pays as much as a combination of hard-work, courage, perseverance, and persistence.
These principles of life defined his aspiration to become the governor of the state known as Centre of Excellence.
Yet it is not an aspiration fired mainly by the need to acquire political power. He is driven by the passion to make Lagos a true cosmopolitan city like New York, London and Paris.
“I want the state (Lagos) to be a place where anyone can live and work and feel safe in. Yes, there are other competing cities, but I want people to know that as we move forward, Lagos will be one of the best places to live and work in,” he once told Didi Akinyelure of CNBC Africa.
That is an ambitious dream. But Ambode is an ambitious man. And nothing reveals his streak of ambition better than his impressive profile.
Within one year as governor, Ambode rolled out an audacious $70million regeneration project for the notorious Oshodi bus terminal. The project is intended to transform Oshodi into a world-class transport interchange hub.
“This is in keeping with the vision of this government to transform the key city centres of the state to reflect the mega city status of Lagos … our effort to redevelop Oshodi is aimed at improving the physical structure, security, and more importantly, creating the 24-hour economy which we promised,” the Governor stated.
In another bold and daring move the Ambode’s administration signed an N844bn Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the construction of the fourth Mainland Bridge.
The 38-kilometre bridge would be a major milestone achievement in the 50 years of the state’s existence and about 30 years after the construction of the Third Mainland Bridge.
The Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, which involves four partners, is expected to be delivered in three years and upon completion would be the longest bridge/expressway in the country.
Predictably, it would at completion bring a 14-year dream of Lagos to reality.
These and other feats of the governor, which spread across the transport, health, security, agriculture, housing and social welfare sectors in just one year, tells a lot about the drive and dream of the person.
He is an Accountant, an Administrator and a Public Finance Management expert.
He joined the Lagos State Waste Disposal Board in 1985, from where he moved to the Local Government Service in 1987, serving for 10 years. At various times, he was Council Treasurer in Alimosho, Shomolu, Mushin and Ajeromi-Ifelodun local government councils.
He later attained the position of Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Finance, and organised the first-ever National Tax Retreat in Nigeria in conjunction with Joint Tax Board/Federal Inland Revenue Services in 2005.
He chaired the Technical Committee that produced the Lagos State Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (SEEDS) document.
Besides, he led the audit teams as the Auditor General for Local Government to clear and publish the arrears of statutory audits of 1995 to 2004 within 12 months as well as headed the Implementation Team on the restructured wages and salaries payment system for over 3,000 staff of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).
Ambode holds the record as the youngest person ever appointed as Auditor General in Lagos State at the age of 37, and to his credit, the Lagos State Treasury Office was revolutionised while he got the state budget performing at a remarkable 85 per cent annually.
He was also the first-ever Permanent Secretary in the state to retire voluntarily.
The immediate past Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Adeyemi Ikuforiji commended the governor’s performance as been wonderfully excellent.
He has performed creditably well to the admiration of Lagosians and his party, the APC. In fact, if I am to assess him today, I will score him very high. The transformation he has carried out in Lagos has been extraordinary. The reason for this is very clear. It is because he is well prepared for the job. I don’t believe in average performance. I like achieving outstanding results and the honest truth is that, I personally did not foresee Governor Ambode doing as much as he has done in the last 11 months. He has really surprised me positively.
He commended the governor for his ability to penetrate the nooks and cranny of the state within a year to bring development closer to the people.
According to him, “Ambode is tackling issues headlong like a true leader should do. The most surprising thing is that he is doing all this without making noise. He is not bragging, making empty noise or using the media to bamboozle the people about what he has done. Critics may say anything they like, but if you look around, can you count the number of local roads Ambode fixed in the last few months?
Ikuforiji also scored the governor high on the electrification of Lagos through the Light Up Lagos Project, which he said has significantly reduced the crime rate and returned nightlife to Lagos. Also, look at the issue of security.”
In another comment, the Executive Director of Rights Monitoring Group (RMG), Mr. Femi Aduwo said Ambode has achieved uncommon transformation in security and infrastructure development of the state in one year.
According to him, “For sometime now, my group has been monitoring environmental challenges on behalf of the World Bank and we have been able to see what the Lagos State government has done in the areas of security, revenue generation and infrastructure development.
“Gov Ambode has provided sophisticated equipment for security agencies in Lagos State and you can see that Lagos is peaceful and I think his relative performance is commendable.”
In similar vein, Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, Mr. Gbenga Ashafa scored the governor high for his sterling performance in the last one year, saying: “The governor is fulfilling his campaign promises to Lagosians in line with the manifesto of the party.”
Ashafa, who is also the Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, said with Ambode in the saddle “Lagos is in good hands.”
He said Ambode has not only offered effective and people-centric leadership in the last one year, he has also consolidated on the achievements of his predecessors.
According to him, “In one year, Lagos has seen lightening-up of almost all the major and commercial roads in Lagos. Also communities that were hitherto not connected to the grid, like my area in Ibeju-Lekki have been connected, road constructions and infrastructural projects everywhere, an employment trust fund has been launched, the security apparatus has been overhauled to the extent that Lagos is probably the safest state in the Country at the moment and we have also seen the commencement of the 4th Mainland Bridge.
“Of recent, the Emergency Response Unit was launched with sophisticated equipment and infrastructure with trained personnel. As a matter of fact, it was the Vice president that commissioned it on behalf of the President.”
“Lagos is in a good place economically. It remains the most economically viable state in the country, despite the prevailing economic circumstances. Ultimately, Lagos is in good hands, I commend His Excellency, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for keeping his eyes on the ball and ensuring that he keeps on fulfilling his campaign promises as provided by our party’s (APC) manifesto.”
To another chieftain of the Lagos APC, Kamal Ayinde Bayewu, “Some of the things Ambode has put in place, structures that he has created, will be of immense benefits to the state in the long run. He has been able to take care of the elderly ones in terms of payment of their pensions.
He has been able to look at the health sectors in terms of provision equipment like well-equipped ambulances and creation of emergency centres in case of accidents.
He has been prompt to attend to a number of tragedies that have happened in recent times while also assuring the victims of government support. That is the hallmark of a good leader.
He has demonstrated a lot of compassionate spirit to the admiration of the people of the state. I see a very rewarding future for Lagos State and I can see that the governor has started on a very good note.
If you want to compare the achievements of the immediate past governor, Babatunde Fashola and the things that he did in terms of structure, I can see a governor that will surpass that.