• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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Lagos and the defining moments of 2015

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Though 2015 has come and gone, giving way to a brand new year, its memories would continue to linger for some time in the minds of many Nigerians. On the political front, it was the year when the country was supposed to fall apart as proclaimed by several prophets and political analysts who predicted doom for the country. Eventually, when the much-dreaded 2015 national poll came up, it was full of drama instead of hammer. It was so packed with loads of comedy that the nation was turned into a huge theatre of joke. One of the grand actors in the electoral comedy was former minister of Niger-Delta affairs, Godsday Orubebe. His Oscar-winning act, till date, remains the talk of the town.

In Lagos State, the nation’s acclaimed economic and commercial nerve centre, political continuity was redefined on May 29, 2015 when Akinwunmi Ambode was sworn in as the 14th governor of the state. Since he came on board, renewal of public infrastructure has been high on his agenda. This is quite logical. In our society, there is arguably no achievement that boosts good assessment of a government than the development of infrastructure. Therefore, the Ambode administration has embarked on rehabilitation and maintenance of numerous roads across the state.

In Lagos, the rainy season often has serious implications for human and vehicular movement. Since significant portions of the roads had been largely damaged by the rains, the Ambode administration came up with “Operation fix all potholes”, which is geared towards ridding all roads of potholes to enhance a hitch-free vehicular movement. By defying the prolonged rainy season in its road rehabilitation quest, the administration disregarded a universally held belief that road maintenance work is seldom done during the rains. Through this process, over 300 roads have been improved across the state.

A major defining act of the Lagos State government in the previous year is the strengthening of security mechanism in the state through the purchase and deployment of surveillance helicopters, utility and operational vehicles, power bikes, armoured tanks and others worth billions of naira to the state Police Command. From the outset, the vision of the Ambode administration is to transform Lagos into a 24/7 economy. To achieve this goal, the security component was accorded a top priority. Till date, the governor and his team have not looked back in the onerous task of ensuring a safe and secure Lagos where investors get adequate returns on their investments. 

With the declining fortune of the national government, guaranteeing that investors receive encouraging returns on their investments was a major preoccupation for the state government in 2015. It is the conviction of the state government that Lagos needs to attract more investors into the state to build a sound economy that is insulated from the global economic downturn. To achieve this lofty vision, the state government opened its doors wide to both local and international investors who desire to do business in Lagos. A few of such groups that state government played host to in 2015 include president of Dangote Group of Companies, Aliko Dangote, investors from Dubai, United States of America, as well as business consortiums  from several European and Middle East countries. During such meetings, Governor Ambode promised an enabling environment for willing investors and improved business climate in the state.

As part of the effort to build a solid economy and ensure proper accountability and transparency in all government-accrued revenues, the state government embraced the operation of Treasury Single Account (TSA) effective from September 1, 2015. The decision was taken to address the challenges posed by the operation of multiple account system. The operation of a single account also encourages taxpayers to request for a single account before making their payments. To ensure the success of its numerous economic and social reforms, the civil service, which oils the machinery of government, was restructured for tactical re-positioning. Consequently, some MDAs were re-aligned while new ones have been created to align with the vision of the administration.

Similarly, to cut the cost of governance, government agencies with rented office accommodations were brought back into the state secretariat, Alausa Ikeja. Presently, the state government saves N3 billion monthly through the several fiscal measures it has put in place to stabilize the state’s economy. The result is that the economy of the state remains relatively steady. While some states groan under financial difficulties due to the continuing fall in oil prices resulting in salary arrears being owed workers, it is noteworthy that the state economy remains robust and capable of discharging its responsibilities to contractors, workers and the people at large.

Reviving the tourism industry is part of the strategic plan to boost the state’s economy. Towards the end of 2015, the state government left no one in doubt about its plan to turn tourism into a money-spinning venture. This it demonstrated through the seamless way it organised the inaugural edition of the One Lagos Fiesta. The annual Lagos Countdown, with which the state government ushers in the new year, has always been an exhilarating affair. But the 2015 edition, which metamorphosed into the One Lagos Fiesta, was defining in many perspectives. For one, the scope was expanded from a single-location event at the Lagos Bar Beach to hold concurrently in the five major divisions of the state. Thus, fun-seeking Lagosians gathered at Agege, Epe, Badagry, Ikorodu and Lagos Island for the annual countdown event which took place simultaneously at the locations and was beamed live to a global audience. The idea is to ensure that no part of the state is excluded from the celebration. It is in fulfilment of Governor Ambode’s pledge to run an all-inclusive government in which no segment of the society is left out in the scheme of things. The security arrangement of the fiesta is equally commendable. To hold such an impressive and expansive event without any security breach is quite laudable. The economy of the state equally received tremendous boost as demand for related services and products was relatively high.

Other significant moments for Lagos in 2015 include the restructuring of Lagos State Traffic Management Agency, LASTMA, the commissioning of Mile 12-Ikorodu BRT lane and buses and 20 Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU) ambulances and 26 transport ambulances, successful home-grown cochlear implant surgery on a 64-year-old man, recruitment of 1,300 teachers for public primary schools in the state, release of the sum of N11bn to pay off pension liabilities owed the mainstream retirees and the retirees in LGAs since 2010 and institution of an endowment fund for youths in the state, to mention just a few.

As year 2016 unfolds, especially with the recent passing of the budget by the State House of Assembly, Lagos residents are poised to experience more pleasant and productive moments from the state government. The administration is passionate about building a Lagos that works for all class of people. Hence, Lagosians can be assured of continued prompt response to their needs by the Ambode administration.

Tayo Ogunbiyi