Lagos Gov unveils score card at town hall meeting

Ambode unveils score card at town hall meeting

To many, the other name of Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State is Tinubu country. It is so-called because of the support the area has given former Lagos State GovernorAsiwaju Bola Tinubu over the years. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode held a town-hall meeting there last week. WALE ADEPOJU reports that it was a moment of revelations for the people and their governor.

Alhaji Femi Olowolagba, a popular resident of Ipaja/Ayobo Local Council Development Area (LCDA), has a dream. His dream is for millennium schools to spring up on the outskirts of Lagos. Like Owolagba, Pastor Okere Boniface also has a dream. He wants Abaranje, a community in Alimosho,  to have public schools of note and good roads. His day will be made when pupils no longer have to trek long distances to  school and vehicles no longer have to hit the pothole-riddled roads that dot his environ.

The concerns of Alhaji Adeleke Okunnowo, who is the Secretary-General, Okooba Mosque, Orile-Agege, and Mr. Gift Oriseke are quite different. Okunnowo seeks a situation where the law prohibiting mosques and other places of worship from using external speakers become extinct. Oriseke’s dream is about how members of the Mosan Community Farmers’ Association will receive assistance from government for fish farming and others.

Tuesday last week provided Olowolagba and others the opportunity to dialogue with their governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on their aspirations. The venue was the inaugural edition of his quarterly town-hall meeting at the premises of the Abesan Primary and Secondary schools.

Speaking at the meeting, Comrade Kabir Olusola, Secretary, Majiyagbe Community Development Association (CDA), urged the governor to make jobs available to the poor. He said nowadays children of common people hardly find jobs.

“Before you get a job, the employers and human resource executives would ask you to bring a letter from a top politician or a wealthy individual in the society and at the end of the day, it is the children of the rich that will get the job,” he said.

The Iyaloja-general of Ikeja, Alhaja Adiat Apena urged the governor to rehabilitate the major roads in Ikeja, adding that they were in deplorable conditions. She said something should be done on the street lights as virtually all major streets in the area are unlit.

For Hon. Bisi Yusuf, Alimosho Local Government Area and its environs deserve special treatment from the governor because the people gave him “101 per cent support during his election”. He added that upgrading the infrastructure in the area would be a good way to start.

Hon. Yusuf, who described Alimosho as the Tinubu country, said the governor should urgently construct a flyover at cement bus stop, before Dopemu under bridge to make things easy for people going to Egbeda, Ikotun and Igando from Oshodi and Lagos Island.

According to him, those going to Egbeda, Idimu and Ikotun do not have any reason using the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway beyond Dopemu.

He also urged the governor to widen the Dopemu and Iyana-Ipaja bridges to ensure speedy vehicular movement and de-congestion. All these, he said, will ensure there is total decongestion of Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.

Hon. Yusuf also urged the governor to construct the Isheri-Oshun Road. He advised the governor to work on the waterways in the area, as alternative means of transportation.

“People from Igando up to Ojo and other parts of Lagos and Ogun states can benefit from it,” he said.

Comrade Fisayo Makinde, a representative of people with disability, urged the governor to assist them. He said they were marginalised and urged the governor to include some physically-challenged people on the commissioners’ list.

While the people were talking, the governor, who was flanked by his deputy, Dr. Aderanti Adebule, Oba Akiolu of Lagos, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello, and Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos, Chief Henry Ajomale, was taking notes. After they all poured out their heart, the governor responded.

Ambode acknowledged that people of Alimosho gave him 100 per cent support, adding that that was why he chose the area for his first town-hall meeting.

“I will look positively in providing some secondary schools next year,” he said.

He said the state would also provide schools in Abaranje and its environs. The governor also promised to look into the roads linking Abaranje to Ijegun, Igando and their environs.

“We will send the ministry of works to look at the roads,” he said.

On the issue of noise pollution, he said people must respect the law. “Let us curb the noise we make. People should learn to obey the law. So, let us not use the instruments, loud speakers to disturb others,” Ambode said frankly.

On agriculture, he said he would exploit the possibility of partnership to boost the sector. On employment, he assured that employment trust fund would be inaugurated to ensure cheap finance for people to create jobs for themselves.

Responding to the question on bad roads in Ikeja, he said he would solve it, adding that the state would fix the street lights.

On the Isheri-Oshun Road, he said it would be completed next year. He added that the jetty will be worked on.

“I am still committed to the mini-stadium in Abesan and I will finish it next year too,” he promised.

Ambode said the state had always made provision for slots in the government for the physically-challenged persons, adding that he would do same under his administration.

“This may not be in the cabinet but i won’t forget you,” he said.

On employment, he said: “we will be setting up zonal offices so that youths can have access to job opportunities.”

Ambode appealed to the people on two major subjects: security and the environment. He urged them to take community security seriously.

“Let us know our neighbours. This should be taken seriously. We don’t want any bad thing to happen to you,” he added.

The governor was presented with some gifts by the six executive secretaries in the LCDAs under Alimosho.

The meeting also afforded the governor the opportunity to speak on how far he has taken the state in the first quarter. The first quarter, said the governor, has witnessed the stabilisation of the finances.

He said: “I am determined to be accountable for every revenue and expenditure of the state. One of our first key tasks was to stabilise the finances of the state. We embarked on a financial re-engineering and reviewed the revenue and expenditure framework of the state. 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.

“Today, a major landmark of our administration is the reduction in the cost of governance. We want a lean government with quality service delivery.

“Lagos State government is proud to declare that it has consistently met its obligations, especially prompt payment of workers’ salaries without seeking any bailout from the federal government

“In August, this administration approved the release of N11 billion for the payment of arrears of pensions owed to pensioners since 2010. We have, on monthly basis, consistently been presenting retirees on the contributory pension scheme their bond certificates and have also approved the appointment of four additional pension fund administrators to further boost the processes and accord staff a wider range of options.

“We are currently reviewing our loans with our bankers with a view to restructuring them in order to free up funds for further infrastructural development.”

Civil service reforms

The governor also told the people about the reforms happening in the civil service.

“At the onset, we promised to offer a government of continuity with improvement. With my knowledge of the civil service as the engine room of any government, we chose to commence this journey by repositioning the state civil service in order to make it more efficient and cost-effective, with a vision of delivering better service to the citizens. We are building a civil service that is well structured with officials who have the right attitude, skills and are well-motivated to deliver the goals of this administration.

“In the course of the reporting period, 20 new permanent secretaries were appointed following their track record of excellent performances. This is to create opportunity for upward movement of career civil servants and also reward diligence, dedication and hard work. I am happy to inform you that the permanent secretaries have held the fort and kept the wheel of governance at a steady pace in the absence of commissioners and special advisers. I thank them for doing so.”

Security

Despite the enormity of the security challenges in the state, steps have also been taken to improve on what he inherited on May 29.

Ambode said: “We promised you a safer lagos. We have reviewed the security infrastructure and have put in motion plans to address the lapses.

“We are aware of pockets of violence and robberies that have occurred in different parts of the state. We are investigating these occurrences and our security agencies have swung into action to curb further incidents.

“We have established an integrated security and emergency control platform, all of which are aimed at strengthening the security apparatus in the state.

“The safety and security of every resident of Lagos is non-negotiable. We will leave no stone unturned in our drive to ensure a crime-free state.

“Equipment and vehicles of various needs were donated to all our security agencies to boost their efforts in combating crime.

“As we tackle violent crime, we are also tackling domestic violence and other gender-related crimes. We have intensified our awareness campaigns on domestic violence through the domestic and sexual violence response team. Our traditional rulers and market leaders have associated with this resolve to put the unwholesome practice in check.

“Recently, 190 officials of the state emergency command and control centre were trained on how to receive reports of sexual and gender-based violence, especially with the approval to use the 112 toll-free lines to report cases of rape, defilement, domestic violence, child abuse, neglect, maltreatment and other sexual assaults.

“Let me use this opportunity to express my profound appreciation to members of the organised private sector (OPS) for their support, collaboration and donations towards the state security trust fund. The recent fund-raising of almost n1billion from the organised private sector is a strong indication of your confidence in our administration to tackle security in the state.”

Health

Realising that a healthy Lagos is a wealthy Lagos, the administration, according to the governor, has provided 20 mobile intensive care unit ambulances at the cost of n145.240 million. They have been deployed in all ambulance points in the state. With the new acquisition, the governor said the state now has 36 mobile intensive care unit ambulances.

“We have also provided additional 26 transport ambulances at the cost of n257.4 million. They have also been deployed across all our general hospitals. We have created ambulance points across the state to enable our people to have easy access to them. The ambulance service can be reached by calling the toll-free line 112.

“Our administration, in the last three months, has installed 22 power generating sets ranging from 350 – 500 KVA as additional back-up sets across all our general hospitals at the cost of N270 million to ensure 24-hour power supply. In addition, 26 mobile x-ray machines which the state procured at the cost N519.656 million are being installed at all our general hospitals.

“Similarly, we have granted approval for the recruitment of more paramedic staff and special medical co-ordinators to ensure 24-hour service in our health facilities.”

One area which the governor touched on that pleased the people is the Ayinke House, which used to be the Mecca for expectant mothers.

“The abandoned Ayinke House project which is more or less our baby factory for pregnant women has been re-awarded and the contractor is on site to finish and deliver this project within the next 3-6 months,” the governor said.

Education

Education has not been neglected in the last four months, the governor noted, adding that “there is work to be done” because of the enormity of the challenges in the sector.

He said: “The governing councils of our tertiary institutions were inaugurated with prominent selfless Lagosians offering their hands of fellowship to rescue these institutions. We are on course.

“The recruitment of 1,300 primary school teachers is ongoing to fill the gap in key subject areas that we have identified.

“The government is concerned about the disparity in quality between public and private schools. We have decided to pay attention to all children, irrespective of where they go to school. The gap in quality must be bridged.

“Desks, chairs and other needs have been approved for procurement immediately. The security of schools is also receiving attention.”

Transport

Ambode identified transportation as one of the biggest challenges facing lagosians.

He said: “In recent weeks, the menace of trucks on our roads has caused us untold hardships and loss of man hours and revenue. This administration will stop at nothing to find a lasting solution to this challenge and ensure our people can move from one part of the state to another with less traffic impediment.

“The Apapa traffic gridlock is the most worrying. Today, this traffic is affecting other parts of the state and slowing down businesses. We have met with various stakeholders to find solutions to this problem. We have also appealed to the federal government to mobilise the contractor awarded the construction of Apapa Trailer Park and road networks to immediately return to site.”

He went on: “We are looking at long-term solutions to traffic challenges that our people face daily. We have identified some of the causes of the traffic among which are poor design of junctions, bad location of bus stops, movement of heavy vehicles, bad roads and bad driving behaviours. We have started implementing solutions already. In the meantime, we want to inform the tanker drivers and other road users that the Lagos State traffic law is still in force and would be applied on any offender.”

Road infrastructure

Lagos roads should be in good condition, the governor admitted, adding that “we must all remember that the appropriation law for 2015 – the approved budget – does not include most of the roads we met in bad condition and this is a major limiting factor in execution.”

He added that the Ejigbo–Ikotun Road, Okota-Cele Road, Metalbox Road and Acme Road in Ikeja are being rehabilitated, while work has started on Brown Street, Oshodi, Ladipo Street as well as Mushin Road.

He added that 181 roads across the state, touching every local government, including federal roads, have been maintained. They include Agege Motor Road, Herbert Macauley Way, Yaba, Murtala Mohammed Way, Isolo, Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island and several others. The state has had to cough out N1.386 billion for this construction and rehabilitation.

What will tomorrow bring?

Ambode said there would be better tales to tell in the next quarter.

His words:  “You cannot run a 4-year marathon at top speed from the onset. Like any other well-bred CEO, I have put in place all the ingredients needed to run a successful race.

“We will continue to woo investors to Lagos. We are assisting businesses and creating environment conducive to these investors to start business and employ our people.”

The people will certainly be waiting and watching.

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