By Anote Ajeluorou
Residents of Alimosho, Lagos State’s largest council area, last week, met Governor Akinwunmi Ambode during a town hall meeting at Abesan Estate Mini Stadium in Ipaja town, where they reeled out many of their demands.
The governor, accompanied by Senator Oluremi Tinubu; Lagos APC Chairman, Mr. Henry Ajomale; his Chief of Staff, Mr. Tunji Bello; and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Mr. Anthony Adeyemi, was there to feel the pulse of the electorate, get their views on development challenges and see how he could respond to them.
Alimosho folks were not laid back in outlining their challenges to Ambode in what their representative at the State House of Assembly, Hon. Bisi Yusuf, described as the most marginalised local government area in the state, despite always delivering 101 per cent votes to successive governors.
Idowu Adeyeye, a female graduate of Education, summed the mood of expectation among Abesan Housing Estate folks. Unable to secure a job after Youth Service, she had taken to learning fashion designing in a 6 by 8 metre shop, some 40 metres from the event venue. She would have been in the business of transforming raw beans into powdery form for use in making bean cakes. Funding, however, had been difficult. She had experimented with it in Abuja, but inability to procure needed machinery and meet NAFDAC’s (National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control) requirement blighted the idea. Now, she needs a N3 million soft loan and expressed hope that Ambode would put measures in place to help her secure the same.
Idowu also said that Abesan Estate needs regular power. That morning, the state’s sanitation officials were busy working hard to rid Ambode’s route of dirt. Portions of the road leading to the venue wore fresh tar hurriedly applied on potholes to make the governor’s way smooth. Idowu said she thought the era of such quick fixes because a government official was being expected was over, stressing that development ought to be consistent. She also called for another exit point into the estate, to avoid traffic gridlock.
Alhaji Femi Olowolagba of Ayobo/Ipaja axis informed Ambode that his area lacked schools and wants the governor to provide one of the Millennium-type schools for the children so they do not travel a long distance to get to school. Pastor Boniface Okere of Abaranje/Okerube axis also wants a school in the area, and for roads linking Ijegun and Ikotun to be repaired. Alhaji Adeleke Okunowo asked the governor to call government officials to order and stop them from harassing Moslems calling for prayers in the morning.
A farmer, Mr. Gift Oreseke, wants government to replicate the Ikorodu fish farm estate in Alimosho, to empower youths and assist other farmers in the area. Alhaja Toafeek of Ikeja wants bad roads in her area repaired and streetlights fixed. But there was protest from the audience; they felt Ikeja, unlike Alimosho, had it all and shouldn’t make further demands on government.
Hon. Yusuf wants the government to resolve the intractable gridlock that paralyses traffic flow into Alimosho from the Oshodi-Ikeja axis. He suggested a flyover bridge at Cement bus stop to decongest Abeokuta Expressway. He also wants Iseri-Osun road fixed. He advised government to take transportation through waterways seriously, saying it would only take a mere 45 minutes to travel from Alimosho to far away CMS by boat. He regretted that Lagos’ waterways are neglected while traffic makes life unbearable for the people daily. Yusuf also wants the Abesan mini stadium completed, to enhance the recreational and sporting life of the people.
“Alimosho gave you 101 per cent votes, sir,” Yusuf said. “Do these and your second term is assured! Put more people from Alimosho in your cabinet.”
Responding, Ambode said: “It is true Alimosho delivered 101 per cent votes to me; that’s why I’m here today. The shortage of schools in Ipaja will be resolved. This is the beauty of town hall meeting. This meeting is the beginning of our budgetary planning and we would get input from these meetings. We look positively at providing the schools next year. I know how difficult it is to live in Abaranje. We will provide a school for them next year.”
On state officials harassing Muslims in their early morning prayers, Ambode stated that there is a law prohibiting noise pollution and that it has nothing to do with religion. He said even record sellers are also affected by the law. “There is an existing law prohibiting noise. Law enforcement officials are not doing it to punish you. Try to curb the noise and not use it to disturb others. That’s the law,” he said.
On agricultural opportunities, Ambode said he would task the State Ministry of Agriculture to look at the possibilities in setting up farm estates in various parts of the state to accommodate anyone willing to farm.
He restated that the Employment Trust Fund would soon be launched to get finance to people who need it for startup businesses. This is in addition to the Ministry of Wealth Creation that would help stimulate business opportunities.
Ambode also spoke extensively on the poor road network in Alimosho and said work has started in some areas. “We’re compiling all bad roads in all parts of Lagos; they will have streetlights, too. Yusuf should join his colleagues to pass the budget speedily, so we can get to work on these issues.”
He expressed his commitment to completing Iseri-Osun road next year, Abesan mini stadium, flyover bridges on Abeokuta Expressway, Ago/Okota road, Ikotun road and many other projects in Alimosho.