By May this year, Akinwunmi Ambode will be stepping down as the governor of Lagos State. He would have spent four years in office by that date.
Although a one-term governor, overseeing the affairs of Nigeria’s most populous and dynamic commercial state for only four years, Ambode will, however, be leaving behind a legacy that will give Lagos and Nigerians a positive showing locally and internationally for years to come.
If all goes well as recently hinted by Adebowale Akinsanya, the Lagos State commissioner for works and infrastructure, the Lagos airport road, which links the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) from Oshodi, will be completed and handed in a couple of months.
Ambode secured the approval of the Federal Government to redesign and expand the road in June 2017 and eventually flagged off the reconstruction work in September of same year.
What is currently happening on the federal road leading directly to the international wing of the airport had been long overdue, but successive governments had turned a blind eye and showed less concern about the pain that Nigerians, international tourists, visitors and motorists had been subjected to for years as a result of the poor state of the airport road.
But that narrative is changing and, in the words of John Amadi, a resident of Ajao Estate, which is situated along the airport road, the redevelopment of the road “bears a testimony to the commitment of Ambode to changing the ignoble past and making Nigerians proud again”.
For decades, the airport road had been left in a state of squalor despite being the entry route into Nigeria for international visitors and investors arriving the country through its busiest airport by far, MMIA. Before the current intervention, the road bore a sad narrative of Nigeria’s shameful infrastructure trajectory.
For many years, the airport road elicited concerns from all quarters and provided uncomplimentary headlines for local and international media.
Government after government only paid lip service, as promises never got translated into reality.
For air transport passengers using the road, it was always a case of getting stuck in traffic congestion and missing their flights in the process.
For several others, in the bid to keep appointments around the airport precincts, commercial motorcycles (popularly also known as ‘Okada’) had become the alternative mode of transportation, thus mocking Africa’s biggest economy as perhaps the only country in the world where air passengers ride on motorcycles into the airport.
Apart from the fact that the two-lane road fell short of the standard expected of an international airport road, it was almost perpetually in darkness as the streetlight poles only stood menacingly to remind that government in this part of world cares less about the safety of the citizens and international visitors.
According to Adelekan, the reconstruction of the road also shows that what public office holders need to bring about positive changes at all levels is political will.
He is of the view that the often flaunted excuses of paucity of funds are most of the times not the real reason why governments fail to deliver value to the citizens.
Akinsanya, the commissioner for works and infrastructure, who visited the site last week in the company of Governor Ambode, is optimistic that the project will be completed before the end of the first half of 2019.
Although initially targeted to be delivered in December 2018 as a ‘Christmas Gift’ to Nigerians, issues bordering on relocation of utility facilities had pushed forward the projected completion date.
The road is designed as a six-lane dual carriage expressway (three major lanes on both directions), plus two-lane service roads on both directions. The reconstruction is with a ramp bridge designed to provide a U-turn from Ajao Estate to the airport. Also incorporated is a flyover at NAHCO/tollgate, and drainage works.
The road, which is nearing completion, is also coming with two new pedestrian bridges at Ajao Estate and NAHCO/Hajj Camp, as well as slip road to provide access to Ajao Estate, lay-bys and streetlights to meet required international standards.
Governor Ambode, who undertook an inspection tour of the road and other projects in the state, said his administration took the decision to reconstruct the road because it is one of the busiest roads in the state, with average vehicular volume of 50,000 daily.
According to him, the poor state of the road was not acceptable for the status of the state as the fifth largest economy in Africa and the nation’s commercial hub.
The road will link up with the Oshodi Transport Interchange (OTI), also being constructed by the government, to provide a seamless and stress-free ride for passengers arriving the airport and driving into the commercial city.
…Says Sanwo-Olu Better Qualified Than Other Candidates
…As APC Officially Flags Off Campaign In State
The Lagos State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday officially flagged off its campaign towards the 2019 general elections, with the State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, urging voters in the State to massively support all the candidates of the party to ensure continuity of good governance.
Addressing scores of party members and leaders at the rally held at Skypower Ground in G.R.A, Ikeja, Governor Ambode said it was on record that only President Muhammadu Buhari showed concern about abandoned infrastructure in Lagos and was working on their renewal in conjunction with the State Government, saying it was time for residents to support the candidates of the party across all levels to consolidate on the gains so far recorded.
The Governor, who was at the rally with his wife, Bolanle, said the forthcoming elections would not be about religion or ethnicity, but basically about the need to return a government that had showed genuine care for the people, adding that it was clear that the President had walked the talk.
“At the national level, we have only one choice, the choice of continuity is what we want and we need continuity and consolidation. We need to vote for President Muhammadu Buhari and Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
“This election at the national level is not about religion neither is it about tribe. It is about those who have the poor at heart. You know at the national level, we are already doing TraderMoni, we are doing N-Power and we are already doing Employment Trust Fund, among other things.
“We know that we would be glad to have Muhammadu Buhari as the next President in this country; all the abandoned infrastructure that we have had in this State, it is only Muhammadu Buhari that has been propagating the renewal and so we are very conscious that we need to continue voting for the APC,” Governor Ambode said.
At the State level, the Governor said from 1999 till date, Lagos had continued to witness progressive growth, and there was need to support the candidates put forward by the APC to consolidate and further take the State to higher levels.
According to him, “The first question to ask is why we have been experiencing progressive growth in the last 20 years in Lagos and the answer is very simple – that is because I have had predecessors that have actually delivered on their promises starting from Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to Babatunde Raji Fashola and to myself.
“It has been 20 years of progressive growth and it has been under one single party, APC. We have had an uninterrupted continuity of governance in the last 20 years and that is why you can corroborate that with other things that are happening with the development and growth of Lagos State.
“Now, what I seek from all of you is the continuous growth and continuity in this State and for us to continue in that governance spirit, that is why we have no other choice than the choice of our party. In this context of this country, our party – APC is the party to trust and also the party that we can rely on.”
He particularly urged voters to support the gubernatorial candidate of the party, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, saying they were more qualifies than the candidates put forward by other political parties in the State.
“The qualities of Babajide Sanwo-Olu, a former banker, former cabinet member are very strong and he is also very strong in public sector management. When you compare his qualities to the qualities of other candidates, he is very competent and he is very reliable and I have no doubt that we will have him as the next Governor of Lagos State.
“So, come February 16, we will vote President Muhammadu Buhari and Professor Osinbajo and come March 2, we will vote Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Dr Obafemi Hamzat,” Governor Ambode said.
Also speaking, Sanwo-Olu commended APC members for their commitment to party, assuring that he would continue the policies of the present administration and also take Lagos to higher levels.
“I want to thank all of you for coming out today; we have a long way to go and God will bless all of us. We would continue with the continuity of my brother, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and we would take Lagos to a higher level,” Sanwo-Olu said.
At the rally, 65 other parties in the State also pitched tent with the candidates of the APC.