March 28, 2017

Closing ranks for Lagos Airport Road

Closing ranks for Lagos Airport Road

Stranded commuters in Lagos as commercial vehicles were off the roads to protest alleged highhandedness by LASTMA officials at the Cele bus stop, along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Monday.

FOR those who have wondered      why the road linking the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) and the rest of Lagos through Oshodi remains derelict in spite of Lagos State and the Federal Government coming under the same ruling party for the first time ever, the recent exchange of accusations and counter-accusations between Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos and Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), is an eye-opener.

At a media parley, Governor Ambode lamented that efforts of his government to transform the road (which is unarguably the nation’s foremost gateway) into a ten-lane artery to give the nation’s image a facelift, is being “frustrated” by the Works Ministry, headed by his predecessor and Lagos representative in the Federal cabinet, Fashola.

Fashola issued a swift disavowal of the allegation, saying that the request is still undergoing due processes at the Federal level and had nothing to do with any delay on his part. He wondered over the “motive” behind the allegation, barely a few days after he and the governor discussed the issue among other requests of the Lagos State Government (LASG) pending on the President’s desk for action.

This exchange exposed the residual disharmony that appears to subsist within the ruling All Progressives Party (APC), especially in its Lagos State home front where Ambode and Fashola belong to, which we find worrisome.

Even before the seat of the Federal Government was moved from Lagos to Abuja on 12th of December 1991, there had always been a cat-and-mouse relationship between the Federal and Lagos State governments over political differences. Among the losses that Lagos (which remains the nation’s economic capital and melting pot) suffered from this was the scrapping of former Governor Lateef Jakande’s visionary Metroline project, which would have addressed the traffic snarls that still bedevil one of the fastest growing mega cities in the world.

Now that Lagos State and the Federal Government are on the same page politically, and with the financial readiness of the LASG to fund this and other federal projects in the state, Fashola should use his good offices as a privileged Minister in the President Muhammadu Buhari government to fast- track projects that will benefit the state. This requires cooperation between the governor and minister, not recriminations.

With almost two years into its four-year tenure, Lagos State, which played a leading role in the emergence of this regime, should be reaping the fruits of its efforts.

The reconstruction and beautification of the Oshodi – MMIA Road is a nationally-relevant project because it will not only enhance the image of Nigeria, it will also help brighten further the economy of a state that stands head and shoulders above the rest in non-oil revenues of the Federal Government.  Enough of petty bickerings.