IT was a rare opportunity to interact with their governor one-on-one, and residents of Ayobo-Ipaja community in Lagos enthusiastically took advantage of it by coming out in their numbers to express their feelings and desires to the state’s chief executive. And not surprisingly the people had so much to say, both in appreciation of their governor’s kind gesture in coming to meet them and what they expected him to do for them.
For Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, the occasion was right and indeed
auspicious to demonstrate commitment to one of his electoral promises of
running a government based on bottom-up budget plan.
This is because prior to the April 11 governorship election in Lagos
State, not many Lagos residents understood what Ambode, who was the
standard-bearer of the All Progressives Congress, APC, at that poll,
meant at the time.
But on Tuesday, October 6, 2015, when he stormed the Ayobo-Ipaja
community to render account of his stewardship at the maiden edition of
his quarterly Town Hall Meeting, themed, “Community Inclusion in
Governance,” it was an opportunity to explain it all.
Governor Ambode, who addressed thousands of residents, party
chieftains, traditional rulers and top government officials at the
Abesan Mini Stadium, Ayobo-Ipaja, explained that a bottom-up budget
means meeting first-hand with residents to ascertain what their priority
needs are and how his administration can accommodate them in the budget
as well as execute them effectively.
Responding to several critical questions of governance posed to him
by residents, Ambode pointed out that one of his first key tasks on
assumption of office was to stabilise the finances of the state.
According to him, over the last four months that his administration
came on board, he had embarked on financial re-engineering and reviewed
the revenue and expenditure frameworks of the state, adding that these
efforts coupled with the realignment of Ministries, Departments and
Agencies have saved the government almost N3 billion every month.
“This has provided us with more funds to inject into capital projects
and the initial funds to establish the Employment Trust Fund which we
promised our youths,” he said.
Governor Ambode who reiterated his vision to make the state globally
competitive in all sectors, said that his administration has mapped out
long-term plans and programmes that will lead Lagos on the path to
becoming a truly competitive city-state.
Highlighting some of his administration’s strides in the last four
months, the Governor said that aside using the period to set up an
institutional framework to pilot the programmes and policies of
government, remarkable interventions and reforms have been made in the
areas of road rehabilitation, health care, security, service delivery,
transportation and education.
Speaking specifically on road rehabilitation, Governor Ambode said
about N1.3 billion has been earmarked towards the construction and
rehabilitation of over 190 roads across the state, most of which were
not catered for in the 2015 budget.
He listed some of the roads to include Agege Motor Road, Herbert
Macauley Way, Yaba, Murtala Mohammed Way, Isolo, Ahmadu Bello Way,
Victoria Island, Dopemu Road, Agege, Akowonjo Road, Akowonjo, Obalende
Bridge, Obalende, Isaac John Road, GRA and Apapa Road, Ebute Meta.
Other roads he mentioned include the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway,
Toyota-Charity Axis, Olufemi Street, Shomolu, Billy Street, Epe, Aswani
Road, Isolo, Yekini Street, Shogunle, Oshodi, Isawo Road, Ikorodu, some
of which he said are federal roads.
“As I speak, work has commenced on the Ago Palace Way-Okota Road. The
State, in conjunction with your local governments and local council
development area, is coming to your neighbourhood soon.
“The Ejigbo–Ikotun Road, Okota-Cele Road, Metalbox Road and Acme Road
in Ikeja are currently being rehabilitated, while work has started on
Brown Street, Oshodi, Ladipo Street as well as Mushin Road.
“Till date, we have committed N1.386 billion to road construction and
rehabilitation. We will pump more funds into road infrastructure in
this present quarter,” the Governor said.
Our needs: Meanwhile, speaking to Vanguard Metro, the Chairman,
Oke-Isagun Community Development Area, CDA, Mr. Adebisola Adewole,
expressed confidence that Ambode’s visit to the area is a sign of good
things to come.
Adewole, who however outlined some of the major challenges of his
CDA, said: “We quite appreciate him (Ambode) for demonstrating to us
that for progress to be achieved in our communities, he needed to meet
with the people to feel their pulse, to know their problems with a view
to providing solutions.
“Again, most of the things that our people have told the governor is a
statement of fact of what we are facing here. In the area of roads, we
are facing serious problems of traffic congestion, not to talk of Ipaja
or Dopemu Bridge. There are two roads that are of major concern to us.
If government can fix them for us the perennial traffic gridlock faced
around Ipaja, Ayobo, Abesan, Abulegba will be reduced. Those two roads
are Oke-Isagun Road and Iyana Ipaja Road.
“The major road is off Command Road, and we have two estates there.
Government has already tarred Diamond Estate and presently, they are
embarking on the construction of low and medium-cost housing projects in
the other estate, that is the Sunrise Estate. That road is in-between
that estate. There are also two schools sited in the Oke-Isagun
community. So, we would appreciate that government fixes the bad roads,
especially now that its institutions are sited there. The road should be
opened up to Aboru and to Iyana-Ipaja. We have the strong belief that
Ambode is a listening Governor, who will always come to our aid whenever
we call on him.”
Question and answer session: The question and session of the meeting
was indeed a lively and interesting affair. It was an opportunity for
the residents to make known their requests to the governor.
For instance, Pastor Boniface Adeyemi, a resident of
Abaranje-Okerube, in Ikotun area of the state, appealed to the governor
to assist them construct a secondary school in their community.
Responding, Ambode assured that the appeal will be captured in the state’s budget next year.
Similarly, Alhaji Adeleke Ogunowo from Oku-Oba Central Mosque, asked
the governor on the state government’s stand on noise pollution,
particularly as it affects religious organisations.
Responding, Ambode clarified that the state has an existing law that
prohibits noise pollution, adding that the activities of security
agencies to ensure residents abide by this law should not be seen as
punishment against religious organisations.
He however, urged the residents to curb noise pollution in their various areas, so as not to disturb others.
Also, Mr. Gift Ikpe from Mosan-Okunola community appealed to the
governor to empower residents of the community, particularly the youths,
by establishing fish farming centres.
Responding, Ambode promised to direct the state’s Ministry of
Agriculture to partner with the community to set-up fish farming centres
in the community.