By Israel Orija
NO governor in Lagos State has engaged and involved communities as Gover Akinwunmi Ambode has done in the last three years.
Getting communities involved in his planning and projects conceptions from community to community throughout almost 4, 000 Community Development Associations, CDAs, across the State is no cup of tea.
But Governor Amobode has made this effective by providing the CDAs a political umbrella in the appointment of the Chairman of the community associations’ apex body, the State Advisory Council, as Senior Special Assistant on Community Affairs.
Through the community advisory council, he regularly consults and partners with the communities on needed projects in their catchment areas on or before the annual budget is drawn up. The physically challenged have also not been left out.
He established the Ministry of Civic Engagement to cater for their welfare through the Disability Fund and Employment Trust Fund, just as he has invested lavishly in vocational education to support artisans and Homes construction for Senior Citizens.
From his countless road constructions, including the 114 that were commissioned by community leaders in 2017, the 181 he recently embarked on apart from the 21 inner roads in Ojokoro LCDA and the other 21 in Agbado Oke-Odo to link up the area to the neighbouring Ogun State, Ambode has stridently strengthened the state’s security architecture, transforming the comatose Neighbourhood Watch into a modernised and better equipped Neighbourhood Safty Corps.
The Corps is saddled with the responsibility of information gathering and surveillance across Lagos communities as well as equipping all security agencies with the needed infrastructure for effective and efficient service delivery.
How does one forget efforts at improving power generation in the state. His intensifying generating and distributing of about 3, 000 megawatts of electricity for the State is a determination on the administration part to grow the economy and ensure sufficient power supply in the State. Perhaps, more candid is his display of leadership when he reversed himself on the new Land Use Charge policy and publicly apologised for the uninformed decision and appealed to Lagosians’ for understanding?
If the electricity reinvention programme is not awesome enough, the ongoing gargantuan Oshodi Planet Project, the expansion of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Road to a 10-lane dual carriageway, the Oshodi-Abeokuta expressway BRT extension project and the administration’s obvious conversion of Lagos into a huge construction site are certainly so and enterprising.
But not withstanding this apparent commitment by him to raising the bar of governance in the State , which to an extent has earned him accolades and incredible support, many still see the drive to ease the dreadful Lagos traffic congestion in the massive road expansion exercise as problematic and anti-people for its wide result in demolition of houses, illegal traders’ warehousing structures and the thunderous blow on street trading.
Beyond all of these, however, most negative for the administration has remained the now appalling state of waste management in the State. Once thought as something that has been conquered by the well thought out programme of Governor Bola Tinubu, the Private Sector Participating, PSP, programme on waste management had eliminated the once nauseating waste dumps across the Lagos metropolis.
Improved upon by his immediate predecessor and current Minister for Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, the programme that was supervised and regulated by the State’s waste management agency, LAWMA, did not only lift Lagos from the obnoxious tag of the dirtiest city in the world to one of the cleanest, the agency earned awards and consulted on waste management to many countries across the sub-region.
But today, Lagos is again being submerged by deluge of waste, no thanks to an experimental programme Governor Ambode had tried to replace the PSP operators with under a foreign firm, VisionScape, that was propagated as coming with cheap foreign capital to invest and evolve a hitech-driven waste management programme for the State. That was not to be. In fact, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly recently described the company as a ghost and Lagos waste management is back to the pre-1999 era when people live with waste and dump sites littered most street corners.
Views making the rounds is that the Governor should fully restore the PSP operators, revalidate their contracts, empower them to get more compactors, enforce the payment of their bills, revive and turn the Olusosun dumpsite into a modern waste conversion centre to make collected waste easy to dispose and eliminate truck queuing at the dump sites, to prevent Lagos been completely submerged by waste soon. The idea of trying to make the PSP operators go under the employment of VisionScape as the State Government seems to favour is not a workable option. Rather, it could make matters worse
Ambode had always taken the CDAs along on all his programmes since he assumed office, he faltered by not taking them into confidence in this case.
Side by side with this, is his decision to massively import buses from overseas for his planned replacement of the notorious and rickety Lagos yellow buses popularly known as molue. Laudable as the programme may seem, the importation of the buses will constitute serious capital flight for us as a country as the countries from where the buses are to be imported stand to benefit more from the value chain.
It will not only further strengthen the growth of their auto industry, it will provide more employment for their people. Whatever the state of our auto industry here might be, it would have made more economic sense to get local vehicle manufacturers to produce the buses.
As 2019 elections beckons, Ambode would need to be wary of the unabating resurgence of waste heaps in Lagos.
Israel .O. Orija, Community Leader, 14, 0woseni Street, Oshodi, Lagos