By Israel Orija
WHAT more is left of the antics and schemes of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s opponents but their current misguided calls for his disqualification from the 2019 election? But they are no more than time-wasting antics and an admission of the fact that they have no answer to his outlandish performance in this first tenure of his administration.
Considering his excellent performance this first term, the Governor has no challenge to his return to office, he will re-contest and win by a large margin in the 2019 gubernatorial election in Lagos State.
These calls for his disqualification by the opposition are mere gambits and wishful thinking of intimidated jokers badly subdued by the strides of his achievements. They are political neophytes who are not alive to the governor’s political strategy of working through the grassroots he has successfully absorbed as stakeholders in governance.
Take a look at this illusion of the confusionists. On Wednesday, January 17, 2018, a spokesman of the PDP, accused an unknown group of beating the gun in organising a three million-man march to advance Ambode’s re-election bid in contravention of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s no campaign rule until the ban on political campaigns are officially lifted. He called for the disqualification of the Governor for violating the rule and the arrest and prosecution of all those involved in the solidarity march and support for the Governor and the beneficiaries for what he called, “pre-election malpractice”, stating that anything short of that would be deemed to mean that the election was “rigged abinitio to favour Ambode and the APC.”
The PDP mouthpiece continued: “Let it be known that we are predicting that Ambode will not contest in 2019, because as soon as we start our own game, even the APC leader would think twice to endorse him.” He described Ambode’s road construction projects as cosmetic.
But as he has clearly revealed of himself so far, Ambode is a tested administrator with a clear vision to make Lagos State the envy of all. The opposition party didn’t know he had such immense capabilities to govern Lagos because he was not a known politician. The thought was that he would completely depend on the directive and guidance of his political godfather to pilot the affairs of the state, forgetting that his 27-year sojourn in the state’s civil service, which saw him work across several local government areas, had equipped him to know the needs and pains of the people.
As soon as he assumed office in 2015, he swore to make Lagos work for everybody and adopted an all-inclusive governance approach, realising the competing peculiar needs and yearnings of a diverse and complex Lagos. He knew also from the inception of his administration that majority of the people in the lower rung of the ladder conferred on him the political authority to govern the state. Unlike in the past when governance was top to bottom, Ambode had adopted the participatory governance approach of the developed economies. He rejuvenated the town hall meetings at which individuals freely speak their minds in the Question and Answer sessions in particular and the Governor responds, taking decisions on the spot and proffering solutions to problems and challenges. Projects, by this approach, are demand-driven and with the interactions regularly held from zone to zone, no one is left out and the Governor is at home with all.
The three million-man march, which the opposition claims to be a breach of the electoral law, was to acclaim the Governor’s relentlessness in developing Lagos State for which all residents have acknowledged him as detribalised and non-discriminatory, raising the living standard of all Lagosians irrespective of tribe or religion.
In the course of President Buhari’s recent visit to Lagos, Ambode commissioned 21 border roads to link Lagos and Ogun states. This is aside the 114 roads he constructed in the 20 LGAs and 37 LCDAs commissioned by Community Development Associations, CDAs in 2017. He has again approved and mobilised contractors to construct additional 181 intra-city roads to ease transportation in the state.
While the PDP was busy challenging his victory in court, Ambode was studying the cause of the Lagos gridlocks that have defied all past prescriptions. He came up with a blueprint to ease the menace, one of which was the construction of 114 intra-city roads, flyovers, pedestrian bridges and lay-bys. As a result, most of these roads were selected by CDAs he has now elevated to the level of stakeholders in governance and periodically interacts with. The Governor has found favour with the communities and their leaders, who now see him as one of their own.
He is about completing the Oshodi transport inter-change equipped with pedestrian bridges,shopping malls and CCTV cameras, among others, to elevate Oshodi to a first class Business District. He hopes to complete Agege Pen Cinema flyover in nine months.
The Governor’s determination to protect lives and property is unequalled. Apart from his total re-invigoration of the state’s security apparatus, particularly the Rapid Response Squad, RRS, through the Security Trust Fund, which has seen the anti-vice squad, the State Police Command and other security agencies in the state better equipped in all instances, he has raised the bar in the state’s security architecture by his massive investment in what has now become the first DNA Forensic Lab Centre in West Africa to store and screen blood samples of criminals, determine paternal and ancestral issues and enhance crime investigations in the state in particular and the country in general. To further take security surveillance to the grassroots, the Governor transformed the State Neighbourhood Guard Scheme into the Neighbourhood Safety Corps, strengthening and providing them with tools to carry out unhindered crime surveillance at ward levels in support of the police.
The Governor’s all-inclusive strategy and his unrelenting performance across the state’s five divisions, have seen him shoulders above all other candidates contemplating challenging him in the coming election, a reason the PDP has become very jittery and intimidated and left with no other option but such mundane approach of calling for his disqualification on baseless grounds.
Lagosians have only faulted him on the Land Use Charge,the recent Post Construction Audit of All Existing Building Plans in the state, which demands that landlords bring their approved building plans for verification and the persisting crisis with the PSP waste operators, which has now destabilised the state’s waste management system and resulted in waste heaps at street corners and road medians.What these have brought to the fore is that, no one is perfect.
•Mr. Orija, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Lagos.