“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it” –Mark Twain
By Mobolaji Sanusi
Governance, in most parts of the Third World of which Nigeria is a prominent one, has been turned into a platform of propaganda; an aegis through which the ego of whoever is in power can be massaged. The political turf, even in the advanced countries of the universe, has witnessed politicians making hollow declarations; the seats of power in several states/countries have witnessed leaders making pledges that mean nothing to them; such leaders make empty promises that are ab initio meant to be broken. When one lives in such inauspicious climate of mostly political deceit, it is always a delight to see a governor of exception, albeit one from our country’s centre of excellence, justifying public’s expectations in giving him the mandate to serve them. This writer is happy to be identified with the government of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode that is restoring integrity, rather than vainglorious superciliousness, back to governance in this commercial nerve centre. Ambode is never a pretender of politics of development unlike lousy bootlickers that surreptitiously engage in politics of boorishness.
Recently, l went on our Agency’s routine inspections across the state and per chance, we were at Abule-Egba, a Lagos suburb. Before then, we had, during a similar routine inspection around Ajah area of Lagos state, seen the over-head bridge that the governor is constructing. If we thought what was seen at Ajah was scintillating, what we encountered in Abule-Egba was marvelous. That is without delving into the beauty of that newly commissioned bridge/link road in Ayobo area of our dear state. These three overhead bridges, without equivocation, would stand their own against any of their type in developed countries of the world. This writer only imagined what the soon-to-be-commenced Fourth Mainland Bridge will look like when eventually delivered.
Without political sentiments, Governor Ambode has done a yeoman’s job in almost two years of his assumption of office, including the completion of over 114 internal roads in one year and over a hundred more waiting to be commissioned; institution of a graduate empowerment scheme; rigorous pursuit of The Eko Atlantic project; that of Smart City Lagos and operation Light Up Lagos, among others were some of the initiatives currently put in place to serve present and future generations of Lagosians, other Nigerians and foreigners at large.
Lest I forget, the panoramic view of Berger Bus stop at Ojodu, on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, is a beauty to behold. The aesthetics and security benefits of the project cannot be underestimated. Thanks to the ‘Ambode standard’ in infrastructural rebirth.
This space is certainly not enough to tell the story of the landmarks that Governor Ambode is doing across the state. In Epe for instance, the ancient town is practically under construction. The truth is that if someone has not been to Epe in the last one or two years, he/she will probably miss the way. Aside the road linking the town from Ketu, the road linking it with Ijebu and some other internal roads are all undergoing admirable upgrade. The shape of what to come at its beach side is still being unveiled. So many things are just evolving in this Island town, while Badagry, Ikorodu, Agege, Alimosho, Ibeju-Lekki and other once forgotten parts of the state are also seeing wonders through commendable implementation of projects that are not below the ‘Ambode standard.’ One needs to see the transformation that is happening in Lagos Island. The TBS Bus Terminus is likely going to make someone screech Lagos wonder, courtesy of the ‘Ambode standard’ that has made Lagos a model of envy, not only amongst opposition parties, but even in the midst of other governors across the country. In a few months time, this golden man will unveil a new Oshodi in Lagos golden era. It is presently at the teething stage and at the end of a few months to come, the public will scream for bliss.
All these point to one thing – that Ambode was able to think, plan and now that he is acting, the dividends are all open for the public to salivate. Thanks to the ‘Ambode standard’ in the governance of Lagos State. Again, this is happening at a time when most of his fellow governors are still grappling with teething challenges or engaging in needless political bickering.
As a journalist/columnist of over two and a half decades’ standing, one was trained to exercise self-restraint in getting directly involved in analyzing/praising a government of which you are a part of. For objectivity/credibility sake, it has been argued that any member of a government should allow outsiders do the duty of independent public appraisals of a government he/she is serving. Today’s piece should be considered as an exception to that rule. Since l assumed duties, today is the second time l will be doing this; the first being when ‘The Economist of London’ did a grossly incorrect and biased report on Lagos barely over a year ago. Then l did a response titled: ‘London Economist’s neo-colonial journalism’. l rarely want to comment, leaving the beat for those credible hands appointed by our humble governor for such assignments, minding my managerial job and striving to make a success of it. However, there are periods of necessary interventions when it always dawned on me that it was my writing exploits in the field of journalism over the decades, far above my modest academic credentials in Law/Managerial Psychology, and my loyalty to the worthy political cause of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Akanbi Tinubu and; my unwavering sincerity of purpose, steadfast and implicit unswerving belief in the Akinwunmi Ambode political trajectory from the word go and above all, the grace of God, that earned me the position that l hold today.
For that reason, one may be pardoned, in the face of overwhelming empirical positive evidence, to publicly unveil one’s identity, as was done in the past regarding the towering achievements of Governor Ambode. After all, that great American writer, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known worldwide by his pen name, Mark Twain, once observed: “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it” So, there is nothing wrong if yours sincerely rolls out the drum to celebrate his boss and high performing governor of the centre of excellence for shaming doubting Thomases and taking governance beyond the realm of rhetoric.
I am not surprised by his doubled successes on this exalted seat because from a few close encounters, l can comfortably say that Ambode sleeps, dreams, eats and talks passionately every day about the progress and upliftment of the centre of excellence. In the course of yours sincerely’ journalistic sojourn, one, in all modesty, had encountered some sitting governors and from close quarters – most of them like to dominate discussions but few of them really make much sense; Ambode is one of the few exceptions to this personal observation.
Any meeting l had with him without my pen and papers to make jottings ends in regret.
Even from afar, the most ardent critics of the APC in Lagos, including Chief Bode George, have publicly professed the laudable achievements of the Lagos governor. He was reported in virtually all newspapers of February14, 2017 to have said on Ambode’s performance: ‘I have never met this young man but I must say that I am impressed with his performance so far especially in the area of infrastructural developments.’ So much has been done and much more to be done. The governor has shown that he is capable of surpassing his current achievements in the distant future.
The popular governance culture in the country is to equate flattery with realism. What Nigerians are reading in this piece is nothing but the realism of empirical developments of monumental standards in the commercial nerve centre of the country. Unlike the usual practice in the country and elsewhere, this is not a piece of flattery nor mass propaganda that we regrettably considered in our clime as knowledge. The reality is that lies do not have the purity of truth. The purity of Ambode’s achievements, so far, is incontrovertible.
One political icon of our epoch that will be happy wherever he is today is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Jagaban of Borgu land, for the scintillating landmarks being witnessed in Lagos today. His discernible eye for talent remains unparalleled. William Shakespeare once declared: “When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry”. This highly hearth-shattering observation of inimitable Shakespeare sums up how the Jagaban will be feeling today in view of the giant strides of Governor Ambode who has shown uncommon humility, loyalty in service and admirable level of competence. Rather than be spoon-fed like several other godsons, Ambode has set the right pace in governmental focus and this is more valuable than any other gift that a son might give to his father. Perhaps, it won’t be immodest to state that Asiwaju will be shedding tears of joy for the gifts of performance that his protégé is according him today. He only has to bother less about how to politically straighten things; his political son is loyally deft in his provision of good governance in our state. Jagaban said this much while unveiling the Ayobo-Aboru Bridge, which Ambode planned to coincide with the political icon of our time’s 65th birthday.
Mark Twain, in recognition of remarkable performance in all spheres of human endeavour once memorably declared: “There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things”. Ambode belongs to the former category because of his self-effacing posture within his short period of leading this mega-city state. Ambode is not just a man of success, but also a man of value. He is an achiever and not a propagandist. To many Lagosians, he is a “smooth operator” and silent Achiever in view of his systemic style of governance and in the process achieving his set developmental objectives without harassing the people; even as the various laudable projects roll on across the length and breadth of the state.
Going forward, Lagosians are already assured of more golden infrastructure from our golden governor; after all, he has deployed the right courage, ability, zeal and focused direction to do more for our dear state, and the country.
-Sanusi, a journalist on sabbatical, is CEO of Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency (LASAA).