APC Hail Ambode

The Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Sunday said Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode had performed remarkably well to deserve another term in office.
The Assistant Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Mr Abiodun Salami, spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

He said the governor had made great strides in infrastructure development, health, education, sports, entertainment and other critical sectors.

Salami said the gale of endorsements for the governor to seek another term was proof of his impact in governance.

He dismissed the claim by some opposition parties that they were working together in a coalition to stop Ambode in 2019.

NAN reports that the state Chairman of Alliance for Democracy, Mr Kola Ajayi who also chaired the coalition “Star Alliance” had said that 14 opposition parties made the decision to give residents a better deal.

Read More: In Heart & Soul, Emelonye showcases Ambode’s feats in health sector

Ajayi claimed that the state government had failed to meet the expectations of most residents.

Salami said no coalition could stop the governor from re-election as the “coalition of good people of Lagos” were behind Ambode because of his achievements.

“These parties in the so-called coalition are either ignorant of the great achievements of Gov. Ambode or they have refused to acknowledge the strides of his administration.

“These parties are not known to Lagosians and obviously they are looking for relevance at all costs with the so-called alliance.

“Lagosians are genuine progressives, they always appreciate the good work that Governor Ambode has been doing in the last three years of being in the saddle,” he said.

Salami said that the APC received so many defectors from opposition parties owing to the strides of the governor.

He said the APC remained the only party with the policies and programmes to take the state to the next level.

On the forthcoming congresses of the party in the state, Salami said arrangements were in top gear.

“We are putting everything in shape for our congresses. We will supply the details as soon as we are done,” he said.

“I Did Not Commission (sic) or Launch Eko Atlantic City”, Says President

The Presidency and the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, have disagreed over what President Muhammadu Buhari went to do at the Eko Atlantic City during his two-day working visit to the state.

Governor Ambode said in his official Twitter handle that the President went there to inaugurate the project.

The tweet read, “We took a tour of the Eko Atlantic City with Mr. President as he officially commissioned (sic) the project. Eko Atlantic is a good example of what Public and Private Partnership can do to the Nigerian economy.”

However, Twitter went wild with many users pointing out that it was former President Goodluck Jonathan who in company with the then Governor, Babatunde Fashola, and former United States President, Bill Clinton, that inaugurated the project in 2013.

The pictures of Jonathan inaugurating the project were also shared multiple times on the micro-blogging site.

In his response on Twitter, however, Buhari disagreed with Ambode, insisting that he only went to inspect the project.

Using the handle, @NGRPresident, he said, “The President did not commission (sic) or launch Eko Atlantic City. His visit was a tour as part of a two-day offical visit to Lagos State and the plaque he unveiled was to commemorate his visit to the site.”

Ambode Supports 25 Year Jail Term For Sex Offenders

Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode on Monday has supported a 25 year jail term for sex offenders and perpetrators of all forms of domestic violence.

Ambode led a walk against Domestic and Sexual Violence in Alausa, Ikeja with the Deputy Governor, Dr. Oluranti Adebule, Chief Judge of the State, Justice Olufunmilayo Oke, wife of the Governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal, Attorney General, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, members of the State Executive Council, members of the House of Assembly, stakeholders in the justice sector, celebrities, students, among others said it was time to take aggressive steps to put a stop to the menace.

Backing the 25 year jail term for rapists, the governor, decked in a red T-shirt with inscriptions including ‘I Say No To Rape’, ‘Stop Domestic Violence’, among others, said it was time to take the fight one step further by amending the Protection Against Domestic Violence Law, 2007 and also come up with strict punitive measures that would serve as a deterrent to perpetrators of such act.

“Rape should not be met with light sentencing; the minimum sentence of 25 years is highly recommended. We need new laws, which will respond adequately to the nature and occurrences of this era. Domestic Violence is a crime, and should be treated as such. The Protection Against Domestic Violence Law, 2007, should therefore be amended accordingly,” Ambode said.

He said in the last two and half years, the State has done a lot in the war against the oppression of the female gender, noting that the State’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team has executed interventions and initiatives including easy access to reporting incidents, speedy rescue and access to justice, medical and psycho-social support for survivors, sensitization & policy advocacy and the establishment of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Trust Fund to ensure survivors are financially independent.

Ambode, however, said that his administration would not rest on its oars until the menace is totally eradicated.

“A lot of progress has been made in the steps taken to protect the rights of women and the girl child and in the war against the oppression of the female gender. However, there is still so much to be done. We need to ask ourselves the hard question: for this cause we honour today, how can we truly ensure we are walking the talk?

“What we are tackling today is an almost innate culture which relegates women to the background and forces them to suffer in silence. In Lagos, we are waging a war against this culture and we will do everything within our power to transform ours to a culture of equality, respect and dignity for all. It is a journey of radical transformation, and our government is wholly committed to seeing it through.

“We are not just reactive in helping survivors but also taking aggressive steps to prevent future occurrences. Our aim is to build a system of trust and accountability, where survivors are encouraged to speak out and potential perpetrators are discouraged to commit future acts,” Governor Ambode said.

The Governor commended the Lagos State Judiciary for heeding the call to establish a Sexual Offences Court, just as he also lauded the State House of Assembly for enacting the Protection against Domestic Violence Law, 2007, the Child’s Right Law of Lagos State, 2015 and the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015, noting that all efforts was geared towards providing a solid platform for waging the war against Sexual and gender based Violence.

Besides, Ambode, urged the Nigeria Police Force to strive to be more professional and ensure proper investigation of reported cases by grooming specialist officers, since they were mostly the first point of call for victims of sexual and domestic violence.

“As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next best time is now. We firmly believe that the actions we take today will be the seeds sown for a brighter future for our women and indeed, our children. We believe our State can continue to pioneer in this agenda and become a benchmark not just in Nigeria, but globally”, he said.

In her remarks, the Chief Judge commended Ambode for leading the symbolic walk, saying the development as well as other efforts geared towards combating the menace eloquently confirmed the commitment of the State Government to reduce the menace to the bearest minimum, just as she urged victims to come out and seek justice.

On his part, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa who was represented by the Chief Whip of the House, Rotimi Abiru, said Lagos has set the pace in putting issues of rape, domestic violence, child abuse and others on the front bunner adding that the coming together of the three arms of governments was a proof of political will to fight the menace in the State to a standstill.


We’re Ready To Discuss Land Use Charge — Ambode

The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, on Tuesday said his administration was careful about the negative responses around the revised Land Use Charge Law and stated the government is ready to have a discussion.

Ambode announced at the ‘Lagos Means Business’ forum with the Organised Private Sector put together by the state Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives.

The governor, who was inundated with questions on the appropriateness of the law, especially the increased charges, said the review of the law was not a purposeful attempt by the government to give out problems to owners of properties but a decision taken in the best interest of the future of Lagos.

According to him, the law is not new but was passed in 2002 with a provision for review every five years, adding that until now, the law had not been reviewed though all the economic indices had changed considerably in the 15-year interval.

Ambode stated, “The law was made in 2001. It provides that every five years, we should review the charges and also find a way to increase. The law was never reviewed 15 years after until in 2017. Now, the question is this; those who are having commercial properties, the rental income they were getting in 2002 as against the rental income they were getting in 2017, is it the same?

“The level of infrastructure that existed in 2002 as against what has happened in the last 15 years, are they the same? Did it not come at a cost? So, why is the market value of the property that you built with N1m 15 years after, you are selling at N20m. Why do you think somebody who is a buyer will pay N20m for it? Is it not because of the facilities around the property? So, we have to sacrifice; that is how it works everywhere.

“So, somebody comes and say we have increased (the charges) by 400 per cent. The question is 400 per cent of what? You were paying N10,000 before, now we say you should pay N50,000 and you are calculating and turning statistics upside down by saying it is 400 per cent.”

The governor said that while the revised Land Use Charge Law required owner-occupiers to pay 0.076 per cent of the value of their properties, pensioners, religious institution, non-governmental organisations and government institutions were exempted from payment.

Ambode added, “So, who will take care of the ones that are free? If you are owner-occupier, you don’t need to pay. So, it’s the commercial part that people are complaining about.

“Why have we increased the rate? We should have been doing this every five years but I am looking at it that if I must sustain the level of my vision, I have to give something back to people. I don’t have to come and meet you if I continue to borrow money, but we are borrowing to punish you ultimately, which is not what we want because it is even the taxes you pay that will pay the interest and the principal. Somebody needs to tell us the bitter truth for us to sacrifice together and that is what we have done.”

Reeling out statistics to explain the challenges that would confront the state in the nearest future, the governor said Lagos was projected to become the third largest consumer market in the world with a population of 35.8 million, closely behind Tokyo and Delhi, while the population growth and rapid urbanisation would put infrastructure and public services under pressure.

According to him, the state requires a minimum of $50bn over the next five years to bridge the gap of infrastructural deficit, adding that a special infrastructure fund that would be driven by the private sector to address social challenges was the way to go.

Ambode Signs N1.046trn 2018 Budget Into Law

Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, has signed the 2018 Appropriation Bill of the state into law with a total budget size of N1,046,121,181,680.00.

A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Habib Aruna revealed that the governor assented to the bill on Monday in his office at the Lagos House, Ikeja.

The total budget size comprises of N347, 038, 938, 872.00 to be funded from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and N699, 082, 242,808.00 from the Development Fund for both capital and recurrent expenditure for the year which ends on December 31, 2018.

Governor Ambode also signed two critical bills into law – the Consolidated Transport Sector Bill and the Lagos State Teaching Service Commission Bill.

The Transport Sector Law 2018 provides for the development and management of a sustainable transport system in the state, as well as development, management and maintenance of transport infrastructure and facilities within the state.

The law also regulates the provision of an efficient transport delivery system and ensures availability of a safe and affordable transportation system.

It is hoped that with the law, an efficient integrated transport management system would evolve in the state.

On the other hand, the Teaching Service Commission Law 2018 provides for the control and management of teaching service matters in the state, and for connected purposes.

The law regulates and co-ordinates the management of teaching service matters and provides uniform guidelines for the effective management of Post-Primary Schools in the state.

Governor Ambode, while presenting the 2018 Appropriation Bill to the State House of Assembly, had pledged that his administration would make every effort to complete all ongoing projects and initiate new ones to consolidate on the development recorded in the last two and half years.

He said the budget, christened as “Budget of Progress and Development”, would be used to consolidate on the achievements recorded in infrastructure, education, transportation/traffic management, security and health among other sectors.

Outlining the key components of the budget, the Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr Olusegun Banjo, said capital expenditure would gulp N699.082billion, while N347.039billion would be dedicated to recurrent expenditure, representing a Capital/Recurrent ratio of 67 per cent to 33 per cent and a 28.67 per cent increase over the 2017 budget.

He also listed key projects captured in the 2018 Budget to include the Agege Pen Cinema flyover; alternative routes through Oke-Ira in Eti-Osa to Epe-Lekki Expressway; the 8km Regional Road to serve as alternative route to connect Victoria Garden City (VGC) with Freedom Road in Lekki Phase I; completion of the ongoing reconstruction of Oshodi International Airport Road into a 10-lane road and the BRT Lane from Oshodi to Abule-Egba.

According to sectoral breakdown of the budget, the general public services is earmarked to gulp N171,623bn, representing 16.41 per cent; public order and safety – N46.612bn, representing 4.46 per cent; economic affairs – N473,866bn, representing 45.30 per cent; environmental protection – N54,582bn, representing 5.22 per cent, while housing and community amenities got N59,904bn, representing 5.73 per cent.

The health sector also got N92.676billion, representing 8.86 per cent; recreation, culture and religion got N12.511billion, representing 1.20 per cent; education got N126.302billion, representing 12.07 per cent, while social protection got N8.042billion, representing 0.77 per cent.

Under the budget, however, there are provisions for completion of the five new Art Theatres; establishment of an Heritage Centre at the former Federal Presidential State House recently handed over to the state government; a world class museum between the former Presidential Lodge and the State House, Marina; construction of four new stadia in Igbogbo, Epe, Badagry and Ajeromi Ifelodun (Ajegunle) and completion of the ongoing Epe and Badagry Marina projects.

On Housing, there are provisions for the completion of ongoing projects, especially those at Gbagada, Igbogbo, Iponri, Igando, Omole Phase I, Sangotedo and Ajara-Badagry under the Rent-to-Own policy, among others.

Also speaking, the Commissioner for Finance, Mr Akinyemi Ashade, put the projection for revenue (IGR) at N897billion, while the remaining part of the budget would be funded by deficit financing.

”Today is a good day in our state; the governor just signed the 2018 Appropriation Law,” he said. “For the first time, the law has about N1.046trillion as total amount that we would spend in 2018.”


Monarch Lauds Ambode On Development As NIJ Postgraduate Students Visit Epe

The Aladeshonyin of Odo Noforija Kingdom in Epe area of Lagos State, Oba Babatunde Ogunlaja (Kalejaiye II) has declared his support for Governor Akinwumi Ambode to be re-elected in 2019.

The royal father made this known while receiving postgraduate students of Nigerian Institute of Journalism on a courtesy call to his palace on Sunday.

Oba Ogunlaja said the overwhelming achievements of Governor Ambode counts him worthy of a second term in office.

He stressed that all royal fathers in Lagos State are solidly behind him and would continue to give him the support he needs during his second term bid.

The traditional ruler also charged journalists to carry out their duties diligently with professionalism.

He also promised to support journalists just as he donated N100,000 to the visiting students.

Earlier, the son of the soil who is the host to the visiting students, Otunba Gbanga Abass tasked journalists across the country on the need for objectivity, particularly when reporting government policies.

While commending Governor Akinwunmi Ambode quest to transform Lagos for the good of all, Abass said the governor has performed excellently in agriculture, infrastructures, job/wealth creation, and human capacity development and many more achievements.

Abass who was full of praise to Oba Ogunlaja’s warmed reception said the monarch has demonstrated unrivaled love for the ancient town of Epe.

Our Achievement Would Have Been Impossible Without Civil Servants – Ambode

The Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Monday commended the State Public Service for contributing immensely to the achievements recorded by his administration in the last two and a half years in office, saying the feats would have been impossible without the support of civil servants.

Ambode made the statement while speaking at the State Executive Chambers in Alausa, Ikeja, while swearing-in five newly appointed Permanent Secretaries, Governor Ambode said since assumption of office on May 29, 2015, efforts have been made to fulfil the promises made to Lagosians, and that it was indeed gratifying that civil servants in the State not only keyed into his vision of a vibrant Lagos but have also been working hard and committed to making the plan a reality.

“In the last two and a half years, our administration has worked relentlessly to fulfil our promises to Lagosians. Our modest achievements in these past months would not have been possible without the support of the public service, most especially our Permanent Secretaries who have not only keyed into our vision of a vibrant Lagos but have also ensured that it becomes a reality through commitment and hard work,” Governor Ambode said.

He said aside the fact that Permanent Secretaries have been working hard to ensure the progress of the State, other officers from directors down the ladder of the civil service have equally been performing creditably well, adding that he was indeed appreciative of their dedication to duty, commitment and service to the State.

The new Permanent Secretaries, who have since been assigned portfolios, are Mrs. Ibirogba Clara Omotilewa (Office of Establishment and Training); Ogunnubi Timothy Olukayode (Ministry of Science and Technology); Dr. (Mrs.) Are Suwebat Iyabo (Primary Healthcare Board); Dr. Salaam Taiwo Olufemi (Ministry of Transportation); and Mrs. Awobamise Kofoworola Omotayo (Ministry of Information and Strategy).

While congratulating the appointees, Governor Ambode said their elevation was not just about filling the vacancies created by those who have retired, but a way of rewarding hard work and diligence, as well as a reaffirmation that any member of any discipline could raise to the peak in the civil service.

He said according to available facts, the new Permanent Secretaries as directors, demonstrated loyalty and commitment through active involvement in the implementation of some of the policies of the present administration, just as he expressed optimism that their appointment would be a source of encouragement to all officers who are diligent in the discharge of their duties as civil servants.

Besides, Governor Ambode charged the new appointees to contribute their quota to the development of the State and add value to governance.

“To the new appointees, it is my belief that you will continue to contribute your quota to the development of the State. This is no time to relent on your hard work but rather a time for you to come up with new ideas and innovation that will add value to our State in the way and manner government policies are implemented for the greater benefit and service of our people.

“I charge all of you to rededicate yourselves to the tenets of the public service reforms we have embarked on and prove to the rest of the service your justification for the new elevation,” the Governor said.

Responding on behalf of the appointees, Ibirogba thanked Governor Ambode for the opportunity given to them to serve the State, assuring that they would hit the ground running to uphold the vision and mission statements of their respective MDAs and also ensure that result-oriented policies are delivered.

Ambode Approves Reconstruction Of Onikan Stadium

Governor Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos State on Sunday gave go-ahead to the reconstruction and the upgrade of the 5,000 capacity Onikan Stadium, near Tafawa Balewa Square Lagos Island, in order to make it meet the expectations of a 21st Century sporting facility.

The upgrade of the stadium is in line with the new Onikan-Marina Regeneration plan.

In a statement issued by the State’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, the State Government said the upgrade demonstrates its commitment to using sports as a potent tool for development and job creation; adding that the stadium, which is the oldest in Nigeria, was originally built in 1930 but was last renovated in the 1980s.

According to the Commissioner, the reconstruction of the stadium is in consonance with the vision of the present administration to transform the facility and other infrastructure within the locality into a tourism hub and make the stadium available for various sporting activities, especially football.

“The upgrading of the stadium will rekindle the interest of football fans in the local league, as well as promote sports tourism, take sports to greater heights and encourage youth activities,” he said.

While noting that the upgraded stadium will further cement the State’s desire to attain a Host City status for local and international tournaments, Ayorinde remarked that it would also impact positively on the State’s revenue generation.

Elaborating on the scope of the upgrade, the Commissioner said the work would entail complete demolition of the existing facility, removal of the old turf, pitch, underground drainage and artificial pitch base.

He further stated that rehabilitation works would also be done on external and internal walls, electrical and mechanical installations; paved driveways, perimeter fence; borehole and water reticulation as well as external electricity lighting and landscaping amongst others.

Onikan Stadium has, over the years, served as a multi-purpose stadium used for many social and political activities apart from hosting of football matches but its fortunes nosedived in the past few years due to inadequate funding and maintenance.

“The Governor realized that the stadium in its present state could not inspire any sense of pride in Lagosians, especially our youths, and falls short of the expectations of a State that has always led the rest of the country in sporting activities,” Ayorinde noted.

He added that the reconstruction and upgrade of the stadium would complement the adjoining JK Randle Arts Centre, the proposed Lagos Museum, the Lagos History Centre as well as the Lagos Heritage Centre which is all tourism-inspired projects.

“Governor Ambode is passionate about sports development in the state, from the grassroots to the world stage and he is excited that the reconstruction will rekindle the love for local football league that is synonymous with the stadium and Lagos Island,” Ayorinde said.


Lagos Airport Road Project And Contextual Federalism

It is indeed remarkable that even as controversy persists on responsibility for road construction and rehabilitation in the country, Lagos State government has reportedly flagged off the construction of the access road to the international airport after receiving the approval from its legal owner and custodian, the federal government. Although many states in the country have acted in a similar fashion on segments of federal highways passing through their cities, this step in Lagos stands out as the most ambitious, in terms of cost and scope. And so it deserves some attention as contextual issues in federalism and development, a subject that has gained fervent currency in the policy. Besides, the development has thrown up some issues of opportunity cost, given the condition of secondary and tertiary roads in Lagos area.

The project involves rehabilitation of a segment of the 10-lane Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonsoki federal highway and the expansion of the link to the international airport terminal. The access road will be reconstructed into a ten-lane expressway in which three express lanes will be separated from two lanes for local traffic for the abutting Ajao Estate and Mafoluku.

The first part of the works takes off from the Transport Hub already under construction at Oshodi interchange to the exit to the international airport. This entails massive reconstruction of the section, involving excavation and replacement of existing but silted drainage system. This is the most challenging part of the multi-billion Naira project.

The second part requires the acquisition of adjoining land on which there are existing structures housing banks, hotels, offices and residences. The buildings to be demolished have been identified and marked.

The universal requirements of Resettlement Action Plan must be complied with and these entail negotiations and acceptance by the aggrieved parties. If there are any disputes and subsequent recourse to arbitration, this could drag on unless the state ensures speedy settlement. It is believed that Lagos state government that has in place an effective alternative dispute resolution mechanism will handle such should they arise in the course of this very critical national project to be completed within 15 months.

In the economics of public projects, whenever the costs of compensation are prohibitive, this often becomes a deterrent, especially because there are multiple demands on the resources of government. There are those who have raised questions about the justification and opportunity cost of the estimated N50 billion price tag. They make a case for many secondary and tertiary roads that are full of potholes and need urgent attention. This makes sense but the airport road project has become an ancient source of shame to the country and the state that has been regarded as the economic capital of West Africa.

When the questions and criticisms on the project are considered, the irrefutable fact of history is that every tenured administration decides its priority project and the legacy it will bequeath to posterity. A Lagos State that is rebranding itself had to be concerned about the first impression of a visitor arriving in the country through the state. At present, the visage of squalor that abuts access to Nigeria’s leading airport could not be ended soon enough without this special intervention.

Some of the secondary roads are state roads. The tertiary roads, the streets to our homes, are the responsibility of the local governments. This tier of government is yet to wake up to its responsibility for road building. Now that some states have carved out Local Development Units, they must carry out an inventory of roads in their domain and plan a systematic improvement on an annual basis. In our urban areas, a policy of improving a street or two every year will eventually lead to the attainment of clean neighborhoods because good roads are an indication of better living.

Certainly, the Local Governments have the responsibility for routine maintenance of streets and they must set a goal of zero tolerance for potholes. This too should concern state governors who should involve the local government councils in building and rebuilding projects. So many state governments are generally believed to be overbearing in this regard. They should begin devolution of powers in the states too before asking for such from the federal authorities in Abuja.

While Nigeria is yet to establish an agency for funding and administration of roads, there is an annual meeting of the National Council of Works, involving Federal and State officials responsible for roads and housing. However, with specific aspects of public works already carved out as separate ministries or agencies, there is a need for a periodic national forum on roads. Each state must institute a similar forum of State and Local Government officials responsible for roads. This is where responsibility can be shared and spelled out. It is not just on paper but indeed and there should be no guile.

Once again, the Lagos State project brings to the fore the experiences of other states which developed segments of federal highways. In our ancient cities, after the demolition of structures for the expanded right-of-way, there are shanties and slums behind the parapet of modern expressways through neighborhoods. The subsequent improvement of such adjoining areas must be included in the development agenda.
All Nigerians must applaud and support Lagos State for the construction of a befitting access road to the Murtala Muhammed international airport. It is the country’s apex international airport now in the country’s commercial capital.

As a complement to such initiatives by state governments, it is important to plan for the improvement and regular routine maintenance of roads and streets used by citizens on a daily basis.


While the Federal government administers national roads and the State governments do the same for state roads, it is necessary to harp on the Local Governments that their failure concerning roads is giving the nation and states a bad name.

The enforcement of tier responsibility for roads will be a relief to the federal government on some of the heavy burdens at the center. In our nation’s experiences of federalism and unitary governance, there have been cases of special dispensations to the regions or states for developing the road aspect of our critical national infrastructure.

This is why the development in Lagos should be seen as a key aspect of why the current heated debate on restructuring should not be politicised. In other words, there should be a cognitive restructuring (renewing of minds) at the center that should look into ways of redrawing Nigeria’s roadmaps and devolve some responsibilities to the states accordingly.

That is what the experiment in Lagos has thrown up: that there are too many federal roads in the states they can no longer maintain and so that should be part of the discussion on restructuring construct the governing Party is developing at the moment.



Source: The Guardian

My Random Thoughts…

By Akinwunmi Ambode

I am sharing my thoughts in this article, not necessarily as the Governor of Lagos State but as a Nigerian; a Nigerian who wants to see progress and sustainable growth in our country.

I have been lucky to be administering over a State that has been put on the right track by my two predecessors, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN). I do not think I have done anything special except to bring my own style of leadership, my own experience and my vision.

Lagos, as it is, has not reached its peak but we can see signs of progress and positive transition to the Lagos of our dreams. What bothers me personally is that I do not see the same level of progress elsewhere in the country. I am not happy that most States in our country are not advancing like Lagos. It will be unfair of me to think that because Lagos is functioning, then I can go to bed and assume all is well. If only one man is prospering in a village, it is not progress. Rather that man is in danger.

According to the statistics released by the United Nations, by 2050, Nigeria is projected to have the third largest population in the world, with two-thirds of the population today below the age of 35. What are we doing today about this? What are we planning to feed them with? How are we going to provide them with jobs, housing and infrastructure? How are we planning to make the country self-sufficient and self-reliant for the future?

One of the key instruments to the permanent prosperity of Nigeria lies in the hands of the 109 Senators and 360 Representatives in the National Assembly. I just want to plead that we should be open-minded and forward-thinking; we should think about the teeming millions of youths, from Kano to Ibadan, Zungeru to Warri, Jalingo to Yobe, Umuahia to Calabar, and then back to Lagos; we must give serious consideration to what we intend to bequeath to them.

In my opinion, the prosperity of this nation lies with the States. We need to get the States and Regions working again and the only way we can unleash the potential of the state is for our representatives at the National Assembly to help their own states take the next step and move to the next level. In the past, there used to be positive rivalry and competition among regions prior to the entrance of the military in the national governance. The military split the nation into States and moved all resource control to the centre for their own administrative convenience. Now that we have tasted democracy, I think it is time for us to sit back and think, for the sake of those who are older than us and for the sake of our children, and even those yet unborn.

We need to raise our voice in support of the demand for devolution of power to States and fiscal federalism, especially the review of the current revenue sharing formula.  These, in my view, are fundamental and critical to creating an enabling environment that will accelerate development in all parts of the country. The ongoing process for the review of the 1999 Constitution presents a golden opportunity for us to redress all the aberrations created by the interjection of the military that have stunted growth and inhibited the capacity of States to harness the huge potentials of our nation.

Even with the kind of resources we have in Lagos, it is very clear that there is huge infrastructural deficit in the State. In addition, the resources are not so huge as to make Lagos globally competitive and deliver the social infrastructure we all crave. So where will the money to drive the Lagos of our dreams come from?

The economy is not doing well as much as we want. I cannot tax the people any more than we are doing presently, but we have to become more efficient in tax collection because that is the major source of revenue with which we can protect the future as well as improve the welfare and well-being of all Lagosians.

This takes me to the kind of reforms that we have embarked upon in the last two years. We made security a priority. Our goal has always been to deliver a clean, safe and prosperous Lagos. I want to use this platform to thank the private sector and the corporate Lagos who have been wonderful and have been silently supporting us in the provision of security equipment and infrastructure to our security agencies. Because of them we have been able to improve the performance of our security agencies but we will not take them for granted.

On Cleaner Lagos Initiative. In the last two years, we have found out that Lagos generates one of the highest waste in the world. As at the last count, documented waste in Lagos is estimated at 13,000 tonnes per day; compared to New York which is 10,000 tonnes. Considering undocumented statistics, we can add an additional 4,000 tonnes per day to that figure.

Now, if we want to be revolutionary; if we want to be globally competitive; if I want to deliver on the promise that I made to deliver a clean, safe, and prosperous Lagos, I cannot use the same template that has been in use in the past. Cleaning Lagos and keeping the environment clean has nothing to do with environmental sanitation and putting your economic productivity at a standstill for three (3) hours in a month. That will not clean Lagos.

Cleaning Lagos means we should give Lagosians scientifically treated land fill site, transfer loading stations, functional dyno-bins, functional compactors, brand new materials and also be able to employ more people. That is why I extended my hand to the private sector for a partnership that will lead to the introduction of 500 brand new compactors, employ more than 27,000 street sweepers across the various wards in Lagos and create 200,000 indirect jobs. And we are commencing this in another few weeks.

I fully appreciate the concerns of the people who have been cleaning Lagos in the years past. I do not take them for granted, neither am I going to ignore them. The new model is a win-win for all of us; I have offered them 100% income from the commercial enterprise so that our PSP can gain capacity and also get more capital to do more work. There are over 5,000 companies in Lagos, enough to go around all the PSP operators, with a minimum of 15 companies to each PSP. The government can support them to make their contract with those companies bankable.

So, while we are using the Cleaner Lagos Initiative to clean private residences and domestic refuse, our original PSP operators are compensated by dealing with companies and getting 100% revenues with just 1% administrative charges to LAWMA. In the past, LAWMA collects 40% in charges. This reform is a product of deep thoughts and serious human considerations for the environment and all stakeholders. We promise Lagosians that effective from October; within six months they will see the difference. All they need to do to help us achieve this goal is to cooperate with the government and pay the annual public utility levy in accordance with the law. This is what will fund the project. Our bins will be cleared systematically on a daily basis. The same way the way the refuse on Adeola Odeku is cleared is the same way refuse in Badagry, Ayobo, Agege and other parts of Lagos will be cleared.

In the transport sector, we have decided that to integrate our rail, road and water transportation systems. It will take time and but I believe in the philosophy of Think It, Plan It and then Act It. Sometimes, people can be impatient and say we are not responsive, but the issue is that when you run a government, you cannot run a reactionary government. We are running a responsive government which is one of the tenets of good governance. We must and are expected to think through all our policies properly and to the end before planning and executing. The difference between the thinking time, planning time, the execution time and the action time demanded by the populace is what makes people cry out.

There are a lot of things coming up under the bus reforms initiative. We are introducing new bus terminals; there are already new terminals at Tafawa Balewa Square and in Ikeja. We are constructing more; Yaba, Oyingbo, Mile 2, Ojodu Berger, Ogba and Agege. All these things will be in place before our new buses come in February 2018.

We are doing a lot on water transportation also. We want to make sure that everyone is able to move from one place to another.

Like the transport sector, we are doing new things in the health sector. We do not have enough General and Specialist hospitals. From Lekki to Epe there is no General hospital along that axis and we need to do something about it. More Specialist hospitals are coming up but the government cannot do it alone. My take is that the private sector needs to come on board. The private sector is at the front burner of what we are doing and we have a management team made up of experts from the private sector. We welcome ideas and projects that can bring value to the majority of Lagosians. We believe strongly that value is driven by the impact on humanity and that is what all our story is all about.

We love the criticism that Lagos is the second least livable city. It is a challenge to us and we are working on it, but people forget that the major considerations for this classification are terrorism and crime which I believe we do not have in Lagos. I am passionate about Lagos. I do not compare myself (Lagos) with Melbourne. What is important is that we are making some giant strides, positively affecting the lives of our people and even receiving accolades for the little things we have done. There is still a lot more to come and in another one year, I believe that people will see that Lagos has taken proper shape. I am a good listener and I appreciate objective criticism. I read and listen even though I often do not respond.

Lagos is the most thriving Cosmopolitan city right now in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our goal is to expand capital expenditure such that in another two to three years, Lagos state will become the third largest economy in Africa.

These are just some of my random thoughts…

• Mr. Ambode is the Governor of Lagos State

Ambode Signs An Agreement To Acquires 32 Tonnes Per Hour Rice Mill From Switzerland

Lagos State Governor; Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Friday in Zurich, Switzerland led a team of the State Executive Committee members to sign an agreement with Bühler AG (“Bühler”), a leading rice-mill producer in the world, for the acquisition of a 32 tonnes per hour Rice Mill.

The Governor, who spoke shortly after the signing ceremony, said the development was in furtherance of his vision of enhancing food security and creating employment in the State.

It is estimated that the partnership would facilitate the creation of about 200,000 jobs across the agriculture value chain, while it would also bring about the cultivation of 32,000 hectares of farm land to produce rice paddy, equating to an estimated 130million Kg of processed rice per year (an equivalent of 2.6milion 50kg bags of rice).

Speaking further, Governor Ambode said the landmark event also provides the platform for the State to partner with the other South West States in consonance with the region’s resolve towards achieving economic integration.

The Governor emphasized that the partnership with Buhler was in sync with his administration’s economic agenda of diversification of the nation’s economy and conservation of foreign currency reserve.

“The state of the art rice mill will be sited in Imota, Ikorodu and it requires 32,000 hectares of land for cultivation of rice paddy. This investment is expected to create thousands of jobs in rice value chain. In addition to the current arrangement with Kebbi State, Lagos would go into partnership with neighbouring states, to ensure sustainable inputs for the mill and foster regional economic integration,” Governor Ambode said.

According to the agreement, the partnership with Buhler covers supplies and installation of the rice mill, including silos. It also covers maintenance and technical support as well as technical training of Nigerians in the ever growing sub-sector of the Nigerian economy.

The rice mill will be the single largest mill of its kind in Nigeria and is expected to be delivered within twelve months.

Aside from Governor Ambode, other members of the State’s delegation included the Commissioner for Finance, Mr Akinyemi Ashade; Special Adviser to the Governor on Overseas Affairs & Investment, Professor Ademola Abass; Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon Suarau Oluwatoyin; and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Olayiwole Onasanya.