Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode and his Ogun State counterpart, Senator Ibikunle Amosun on Thursday led other eminent Nigerians to celebrate the first African to qualify as a chartered accountant, Chief Akintola Williams who clocked 99, describing him as a true Nigerian who worked assiduously to lift up the country.
Speaking to reporters at a special birthday reception held in honour of Williams at his Lagos residence, Governor Ambode described the celebrant as the doyen of accountancy profession and elder statesman who deserved to be celebrated for his contribution to the growth and development of the country.
According to the Governor, “The main reason why we are here is to celebrate a true Nigerian and for somebody who has actually contributed to the development of Nigeria and he is still alive at 99, is worth celebrating and this is like a prelude to the centenary that we are waiting to celebrate next year, and that is why you can see that Ogun State Governor is here too.
“Apart from the fact that Chief Akintola Williams is the Doyen of the Accountancy Profession, we see him as a founding father of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN); he is also the founding father of the Musical Society of Nigeria. So, he has too many parts and this is one Nigerian that we are proud of and we are willing to celebrate him every day,” Governor Ambode said.
He particularly commended Williams for his role in the development of Lagos, saying the State Government would continue to celebrate true Nigerians like him.
“That I am here today is more or less to say a big thank you to him for lifting up Lagos; for lifting up Nigeria and we also wish him well on behalf of all Lagosians. We will continue to celebrate true Nigerians and he (Chief Williams) is just one true Nigerian, an elder statesman that we should all be proud of,” Governor Ambode said.
Responding, Williams appreciated all those who found time to be with him on his special day, and wished them long life as well.
Aside Governors Ambode and Amosun, other eminent Nigerians at the event include former Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd); first Military Governor of Lagos State, Brigadier-General Mobolaji Johnson (rtd); Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu; foremost banker and founder of First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Otunba Subomi Balogun; legal luminary and philanthropist, Chief Chris Ogunbanjo; former ICAN Presidents, among other captains of industries and members of the diplomatic corps.
Wife of the governor of Lagos State, Bolanle Ambode, has again reminded nursing mothers and pregnant women the importance of exclusive breast-feeding of newborn babies.
She disclosed this during a telephone interview on the occasion of this year’s World Breast-feeding Week, held in the first week of August every year.
Bolanle noted that the benefits of breast milk to the infant were too profound to be ignored, as it was an important foundation for a baby’s life, capable of determing whether the baby would live or otherwise.
She said putting a baby to the breast in the first hour of life was a major safeguard against infant’s death, adding that exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months, help them to grow, prevents under nutrition, promotes brain development while reducing the risk of overweight.
She said further that breast milk was vital because it acts as the baby’s first vaccine, boosting its immunity.
According to her, “Nothing can compare to the breast milk, no matter the nutritional value of the baby formula, it cannot adequately take the place of breast milk in the life of the new born”.
“God who created it in His own special way to be baby-friendly, has made it the most important and most beneficial type of food a baby gets to know. Nursing mothers should not make excuses of their jobs or career for not doing exclusive breastfeeding because the advantages to the baby are too many”, she submitted.
The governor’s wife commended the theme for this year: “Breastfeeding: Foundation for Life”, describing it as the basic truth about the practice.
She explained further that breastfeeding was good bonding between mother and infant, adding that improved breastfeeding practices around the world, could save the lives of nearly one million children under five years, according to international health bodies.
…To Explore Another 5,000-Capacity Terminal In Ijanikin
…Extends Egan-Agric Road Project To Ayobo, Orders Palliative Work On Ikotun-Ijegun, Others
…Inspects Ongoing Projects Across The State
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Sunday flagged off the expansion of the ABAT Truck Terminal in Orile Iganmu, assuring that work would be accelerated on the 1000-capacity terminal to take trucks parked indiscriminately on the roads and bridges.
Governor Ambode, who led an extensive inspection of ongoing projects across the State that last for about six hours, said the expansion of the Terminal was one of the resolutions reached at the recent meeting with stakeholders, especially in the Maritime sector on finding lasting solutions to take containerized trucks permanently off the roads, a development that is majorly responsible for the gridlock in the Apapa area.
The Governor said: “One of the resolutions is that we should have authorised truck Terminal Park and so my visit to this place today is to flag off the reconstruction of this terminal so that we can accommodate 1000 trucks.
“We would do this in collaboration with the Nigeria Ports Authority so that the call-up system can work efficiently. The expansion we are adding to this particular terminal in which we have decided to acquire the adjoining land, we would use that primarily for non-petroleum trucks so that we can sectionalized these trucks and allow the call-up system to work.
“This is just part of the efforts that the State Government is making to make sure this Apapa gridlock and the truck menace becomes a thing of the past permanently.”
Governor Ambode also disclosed that the State Government has concluded plans to utilise an expanse of land in Ijanikin area with a capacity to accommodate at least 5,000 trucks.
“I have just been briefed that we have an additional land space in Ijanikin that can accommodate 5000 trucks. We will explore that possibility immediately; all that we are doing is just to make sure that there is a permanent solution to this whole idea of trucks destroying our bridges and roads,” he said.
While appealing to Lagosians for their understanding, the Governor said that within the next six to eight weeks, the Terminals would be up and running to get the trucks off the roads and bridges within the axis.
Governor Ambode said aside the expansion of the Terminal, the commitment by the Federal Government to commence the reconstruction of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway was on course with the approval of N72.9billion by the Federal Executive Council for the project.
“You would recall that about two weeks ago, we had a stakeholders’ meeting with the Vice President presiding in Apapa and at that meeting, we resolved that we would ensure that the reconstruction of the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway would be awarded within two weeks which has been fulfilled by the Federal Government; they have awarded the contract and construction should commence within the next two weeks.
“We thank the President, Vice President, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, and that of Transport for reconstruction of Oshodi-Apapa Expressway and the rail track from Apapa Ports to Ibadan which is strictly a cargo rail that would assist in moving heavy-duty goods away from the Apapa axis,” he said.
Besides, Governor Ambode said his administration was also looking at utilizing barges on the waterways to move heavy cargo as a way of complementing efforts on road and rail transportation system.
“I just think Lagosians will have the relief to see that we have actually done what is right and in their overall interest.
“I want to thank all the stakeholders for their interest and we must continue to join hands like I said and we would get the results that we so desire,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of stakeholders, Chairman of Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Chief Remi Ogungbemi said the flag off of the expansion of ABAT Truck Terminal by the Governor was a new dawn towards addressing the Apapa gridlock.
According to him, “Today, I must say is a beginning of a good thing that will start happening in our sector as haulage operators in the State. Today is the beginning of a new era as far as Lagos State is concerned.
“We have been saying it that our Governor is an action Governor and his coming here today has shown that he is very dynamic and pragmatic. This is what we have been expecting and for the Governor to be here to see things for himself and flag off the rehabilitation and expansion of this terminal shows that he is not only talking but matching words with action,” Ogungbemi said.
He expressed optimism that the steps taken by the State Government would go a long way to end the menace of trucks parking on roads and bridges in the State.
Earlier, the Governor had inspected the progress of work on the modern bus terminals in Yaba and Oyingbo, as well as the failed section of Sari Iganmu Road which had been abandoned for over two years, assuring scores of residents, who trooped out to welcome him, that contractors would move in to fix it within the next two weeks, while their blocked canal would also be cleared.
The Governor and his team also inspected the ongoing palliative work embarked upon to fix the bad sections of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway.
While inspecting the progress of work on the Egan-Agric Road Project which is an access road to the ongoing Egan-Igando Housing Scheme, Governor Ambode said the project would be extended to Ayobo to serve as alternative route to decongest the Lasu-Iba Road to ease movement and further make life comfortable to the people.
He said the housing scheme, which had been on for about eight years, had largely been stalled due to the bad road in the axis, saying that the work would be accelerated, while interested residents would be allowed to benefit from the rent-to-own housing policy whereby the ownership of the scheme would be on monthly basis.
Besides, the Governor ordered immediate traffic signalization and palliative work on Ikotun-Ijegun Road, Abaranje, Isheri-Oshun, among other adjoining roads in the axis.
Addressing residents, Governor Ambode said: “We have received several complaints from this community about the deplorable state of the road from Ikotun to Ijegun, Abaranje and the other axis leading to Igando. I have come to see this place myself and beyond repairing the roads, we also need to do a lot of traffic management solutions here and so we are going to signalize Ikotun Junction and this particular junction immediately.
“Public Works Corporation should proceed to do palliative from the Ikotun Junction down to Ijegun, Abaranje and then we link it up to Igando. I know there are some complaints about Isheri-Oshun also. The part that we have finished there, we will look at that part and then from Isheri-Oshun down to link up this Ikotun-Ijegun Road and immediately carry out palliative now that the rain is subsiding,” the Governor said.
…Says Sector Remains Critical To Solving Traffic Congestion
…As Lagos Seals Partnership With Multi-National Consortium To Clean-Up Waterways
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, on Friday expressed the commitment of his administration to provide critical infrastructure and enabling environment for investors to participate in the ongoing efforts to rev up water transportation, saying the sector remains critical to solving the traffic congestion affecting the State.
Speaking at a Roundtable on Water Transportation organised by the State Government, and held at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, the Governor said though the sector had been left unattended to over the years, but that the State Government was nonetheless now committed more than before to fully harness the potentials of the water transportation to the benefit of the people and economic prosperity of the State.
He said the chaotic traffic situation in some parts of the State in recent times and the pressure on the road with attendant danger to lives and property, made the need to forge ahead with the reforms in the water sector being championed by his administration even more compelling.
According to him, “The question to ask is what has brought us to this despicable situation so to speak where the only mode of transportation for over 22million people is road and the road itself is chaotic. In the last three years, we have been fighting traffic and unfortunately in the last two weeks, we have seen what has happened in Apapa and what we have been trying to do. Just about three weeks ago, we saw what happened with regards to the Otedola Bridge disaster and then the carnage, as well as the inability of government to provide for the needs of the people.
“So, among the over 22 million people, almost 8 million are walking on the streets every second and at the same time, 86 people enter into Lagos every one hour according to United Nations statistics for 2016 which is the largest in the world. So, if other states are failing, more people are going to be coming to Lagos and that means maybe right now, there are 120 people entering Lagos not wanting to go back and the only mode of transportation we have for them is just the road and that is why we are coming up with other modes.
“1/5th of Lagos is water. We have the smallest geographical space in Nigeria of 3577 square kilometers with 25 per cent of that being water. So, you are asking yourself that why in the history of Lagos and in the history of Nigeria, that we did we not just think of other modes of transportation and what really went wrong?”
While reeling the benefits of water transportation especially to traffic management, the Governor said it was instructive to note that being surrounded by water, many parts of the State could be connected within few minutes.
“I was in Apapa yesterday and I look at the gridlock and it made sense to me that it is just five minutes ride between Apapa and Marina and so the question is can’t we create barges that take our cars officially and then push them there in just five minutes and so in no time everybody is in their offices instead of going through the traffic?
“Between Badore and Ikorodu is just ten minutes. So, we lay off people on Ikorodu axis. This is something that has been waiting for a long time and I just think this is the right time for us to do it because those coming behind us will not forgive us if we don’t take advantage of all the things we need to do to develop water transportation,” the Governor said, adding that major channelization projects, shoreline protection and jetties, among others were currently being constructed as part of efforts to boost the sector.
He said in addition to efforts ongoing, the roundtable was basically to come up with sustainable framework to boost water transportation and encourage people to adopt it as alternative to other modes of transportation.
While wooing investors to take advantage of the reforms in the water sector, the Governor said it was instructive that in the last 36 months, more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) came into the State largely due to transparency and credibility to encourage investors, assuring that his administration would continually create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
Earlier, Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Ladi Lawanson said the essence of the roundtable was to evolve effective framework in partnership with the private sector and relevant stakeholders to play up water transportation in Lagos with the view to diverting a lot of pressure currently on the roads to water.
Also speaking, a major player in the sector, Mr Ganiyu Balogun, who is the Managing Director of Tarzan Ferry Services, commended Governor Ambode for his commitment to rev up water transportation and harness it’s potentials for the benefit of the people.
He said stakeholders were aware of the challenges in the sector and were willing to partner with the State Government to address the issues in the overall benefit of the State.
There were also presentations at the event by University of Lagos, United States Mission in Nigeria, Trade and Investment Department of British High Commission and Paramount Maritime Holdings of South Africa, all expressing readiness to partner with the State Government to boost water transportation.
Meanwhile, the State Government at the roundtable also sealed a major partnership with a consortium of multi-national companies, Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance, to rid the waterways and water bodies in the State of filth with specific focus on plastic waste.
The agreement will also bring about the setting up of a world class collection and recycling framework for plastic waste in Lagos State.
The consortium including Nigeria Bottling Company, Coca-Cola, 7-Up Bottling Company, Nestle and Nigerian Breweries, among others, will be investing in boats with capacity to collect waste from the waterways, thereby protecting the ecosystem and boosting water transportation.
…Directs Removal Of Trucks From Area Within 24 Hours
…VP, Gov Meet Stakeholders, Resolve To Find Permanent Solution To Gridlock
Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday assured that the anticipated reconstruction of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway would commence within the next two weeks as part of the Federal Government’s resolve to finding lasting solution to the chaos in the Apapa axis.
Osinbajo, who spoke at a dialogue with stakeholders on the Apapa traffic congestion in company of the State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode; Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Managing Director of Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, among others, held at the Officers Mess of the Western Naval Command in Apapa, said the Federal Government was already looking into the issue of infrastructural renewal, especially with the state of roads in Apapa, adding that approvals for the reconstruction of Oshodi-Apapa Expressway and other major roads linking the Apapa Tincan Ports and tank farms would be concluded within the next two weeks.
The VP, who also led others to inspect the Apapa axis, said there was no excuse on the part of the Federal Government on the state of affairs in the area, noting that aside the economic implications, it was also an important residential community that must be allowed to thrive.
“We have been working quite hard now to get approval for road construction. Among the roads are the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and Mile 2- Liverpool roundabout are important roads but they have been delayed but I am personally working to ensure that we could get that through and we are trying to look at immediate solutions that can be done and how the process could be expedited to achieve results.
“I can guarantee that we will get all the approvals done. I don’t think that it should take us more than two weeks to get the approval so that we can begin the work. There are so many other bad areas, especially the coconut area in front of Tincan Port, the Leventis to Wharf Road is also another area we are looking at, the rehabilitation of the Creek Road so that we can have a two lane access into the ports and all of those are important roads and all of them are Federal roads, so we have a responsibility to ensure that these things are done,” Osinbajo said.
On the situation with Ports across the country and the need to decongest the Apapa Tincan Ports, the Vice President listed insecurity as one of the major issues preventing the Ports in Port Harcourt, Warri, Onne, Calabar and others from operating, however, adding that the Federal Executive Council had recently approved a security arrangement in the Ports to enable them function optimally.
“A few weeks ago, the Federal Executive Council approved a maritime security arrangement for all of those areas and that has already been deployed. So we expect that as soon as the security architecture is laid out, we should be able to use those Ports frequently and that would of course decongest the Apapa Tincan Ports,” Osinbajo said.
Addressing other issues involving the movement of cargo from the Apapa Ports, the Vice President said the Federal Government was in talks with a concessionaire to rehabilitate the narrow gauge rail, which according to him, will aid the quick movement of goods pending the construction of a standard gauge.
“As Mr. President had directed, what I intend to do, is that we should meet as frequently as possible. We have already drawn up some roadmap and a check list of the various things that we need to do in the next couple of weeks to ensure that we are able to ease the situation around here and make it more decent for people to live in this community and work in this axis. It is important for us as a country and commercially also and we are definitely committed to making sure that it works,” Osinbajo said.
Speaking shortly after an on-the-spot assessment in the Agejunle area, Governor Ambode wielded the big stick and ordered the immediate shutting down of Climax Bonded Terminal in Ajegunle, saying that their operation was not only illegal but also causing untold hardship to residents in the area.
Governor Ambode, who was saddened by the situation in the area shortly after an on-the-spot assessment, directed that the terminal and other adjoining areas be closed, while the trucks parked around the terminal be evacuated within the next 24 hours.
He said that there was no record from the State Government showing that the operators of the terminal were authorised to convert the property for such purpose, warning that the State Government would not fold its arms and allow flagrant abuse of its building laws to the detriment and safety of residents.
He said the decision to shut down the place was in furtherance to the need to protect residents from imminent dangers which such building portends, saying that the primary responsibility of the Government was to protect lives and property.
“You guys are causing me a lot of havoc. So, as far as the Lagos State Government is concerned, Ajegunle remains a residential area. I have crosschecked from all the ministries and officials, there is no approval from the Physical Planning for you to use this neighbourhood which is residential as a bonded terminal and then I understand that you are extending to Awodiora.
“I don’t want to do too much problem with your owner, but whoever is the owner would have to come to the Ministry of Physical Planning. I have the duty to protect all the citizens of Lagos State, I will not allow anything you have called Bonded Terminal to reside in a residential area and I need to protect my people,” Governor Ambode said.
Speaking further, the Governor said the presence of trucks parked on the single lane road in the Ajegunle axis was subjecting residents to long hours in traffic and other attendant menace to the environment.
“It’s bad enough that the roads here are single lanes and then I’ve gone round the whole Ajegunle axis and I’ve seen all the trucks all over the place, so I take over all the places called bonded terminals in Ajegunle from this moment, I shut this place down and all the agencies concerned should take my instructions, I do not no want to ever see this place opened again including all the other places that they have put the terminals and other places they have procured, I would not authorize any place that is residential as a Bonded Terminal.
“Tell the Commissioner of Police, tell others, every person here must evacuate in the next 30 minutes and in all the other locations that they have put in place, they remain under lock and key until I say otherwise. Including Customs, including everybody, tell the CP and the Naval people, I don’t ever want to see it open again. All the trucks that I’ve seen across this axis, in the next 24 hours, I don’t want to ever see it here again and all the other places they have placed them, the Government Monitoring Unit and tell the Director DSS, I don’t want to see anybody here again. Whatever it is that they have put here, I would only open it when they are willing to take all these trucks away from here and that’s my instruction,” Governor Ambode said.
Also in his remarks at the dialogue with stakeholders, Governor Ambode said the meeting was critical as the situation had become a national emergency that required all levels of government to work together to save the economy of the nation and also restore the glory of Apapa axis.
“I want to reiterate my commitment to say that whatever it is that is assigned to me as part of the resolutions that Lagos State should do, we are committed to doing it and we would also cooperate with the Federal Government and every other stakeholder to make sure that we have a permanent solution to this Apapa crisis,” the Governor said.