The close correlation, which exists between solid and stable infrastructural development and sustainable economic development of any given place cannot be overemphasized. With the benefit of hindsight and based on credible, empirical evidence across several states, gross infrastructural deficit, characterized by epileptic power supply, decrepit, pothole-ridden roads and bridges, clogged gutters and inadequate water supply have cumulatively remained the albatross to any meaningful manufacturing capacity of the country.
Indeed, it has contributed in no small measure to societal ills such as mass youth unemployment, restiveness, increase in ill health of the populace, as well as the static status of small and medium scale enterprises. The good news, however, is that someone is making the desired impact on the people he leads through well-articulated, enduring and massive infrastructural development, as even a first-time visitor to the Centre of Excellence would attest to.
Little wonder that as he visits many parts of the state, the deluge of encomiums, accolades and plaudits keep pouring in for turning his state into a vast construction site. That great Nigerian is none other than the far-sighted and forward-looking Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State. What makes his achievements in that critical area of governance remarkable is the glaring fact that he is making good the promises he made to Lagosians back in 2014/2015 during the campaigns. That is, in fulfillment of the unfailing element of trust; to walk the talk when and where it matters most. What is the magic wand, some may ask?
The first answer is his administration’s knack to have a clear vision of what exactly it wants to achieve with available resources. That is, in virtually all the spheres of the socio-economic landscape. That explains why constructions are not limited to only road network, but extended to schools, hospitals, parks, housing estates and markets.
The second, of course, is to increase the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) without necessarily waiting for the so-called federal allocation. For instance, as at December 16, 2016 the state had conveniently raked in N287bn IGR for the year under review as against N268.2bn generated in 2015, despite the economic recession in the country. The governor hailed tax payers in the state for performing their civic obligations faithfully and said the taxes paid by the people had been judiciously utilized to upgrade infrastructure and provide various services.
The third factor, which makes the projects laudable is the wide spectrum of the sectors they cover. What more, they touch tellingly on upgrading the quality of life of the residents of the state as well. That explains why the hitherto long-neglected people of Epe, for instance, cannot but be grateful for the construction and expansion of the once dilapidated road networks and building of low cost housing estates. There are additional road links to Ijebu-Ode in Ogun and Ikorodu in Lagos State. Other facilities include the upgrading of jetties and waterfront, all in the bid to boost tourism in the partly aquatic state.
It is on record too that he has successfully commissioned several people-friendly projects, including two modern flyover bridges in Abule Egba and Ajah areas that were once notorious for their asphyxiating traffic gridlock. His administration has also constructed several inner roads with multiple laybys to ease traffic, all within the first two years in office. It is also amazing to note that over 100 projects are ongoing across all the sectors.
In addition, he bolstered the state’s security and emergency rescue operations by providing state-of-the-art facilities worth billions of naira soon after assumption of office. Interestingly, he recently commissioned 21 road networks and two bridges totaling 27.4 kilometres in Alimosho Local Government. He equally made a pledge to further develop other communities within that axis.
Many of those roads, which connect Lagos with Ogun State from Agbado Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area, were fitted with walkways, drainage system, laybys, service ducts, lane marking and streetlights. Governor Ambode, who commissioned the projects amidst celebration by highly elated residents in four different locations, said the delivery of the infrastructure was part of the continuous bid to transform the Alimosho Federal Constituency and build new economy around the axis.
As the governor with the listening ear, Ambode had approved the extension of the project to Ladipo International Market axis along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway. This was in addition to the construction of a pedestrian bridge at Toyota Bus Stop, all in response to the yearnings of traders and residents of the area.
While speaking at the U-turn flyover point along Airport Road after being briefed by Messrs Hi-Tech Construction Company, the governor appealed to residents to bear with government for the inconveniences being experienced as a result of the construction work. He assured them that the project was designed to improve the economy and change the face of Lagos for good. But that is not all there is to the vast infrastructural outlay that the megalopolis is evolving into.
During his recent tour of projects scattered all over Lagos State, his first port of call was the Oworonshoki Lagoon reclamation project. This is designed to transform the swampy terrain to a major tourism, transportation and entertainment hub. Contrary to false media reports the project was not a housing scheme, but part of the overall programme for Lagos to emerge as the entertainment hub for Africa. “I have read reports insinuating that this project is a housing scheme or whether we want to sell the reclaimed land. That is not the situation and this project is a special one designed to make the state emerge as the tourism hub of Africa,” he explained.
At the Ilaje and Bariga axis the network of roads are being upgraded with a modern jetty being built. While receiving the governor and his entourage, the Chairman of Bariga Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Hon Kolade Alabi, said the people of the area were grateful to the state government for the projects being implemented to make life comfortable and boost commerce in their neighborhood.
At the inspection of ongoing new Model College in Sabo area of Yaba, billed to be delivered in December alongside that of Angus Model College in Shomolu, the governor said the intention of his administration is to scale up infrastructure in public schools across the state, starting with commencement of massive rehabilitation of public schools.
At the now popular, eye-popping infrastructural edifice of the Oshodi Transport Interchange the promise is that it is expected to be delivered by September, 2018 while the 10-lane Airport Road project would be ready for commissioning in December this year as the end of the year gift to Lagos residents and visitors.
The interchange has three-multi-storey bus terminals with waiting area, loading bays, ticketing stands, drivers lounge, parking areas, conveniences, surveillance tower and CCTV gadgets, among other features.
The project, when completed would bring about organised transport system, boost intra-tourism for Oshodi, leave a noble legacy of a state-of-the art city gateway to Lagos, ensure secured and comfortable environment, in addition to facilitating economic growth and job creation.
The lesson in all of these is that Nigeria is in need of intelligent, resourceful politicians with the character and charisma of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who has a vision for a holistic development of the nation, for now and the future.
Welcome to Lagos, the land of a million and one dreams, indeed, the Centre of Excellence!
•Ajanaku is Special Adviser, Information & Strategy to Ambode