• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

Ambode in renewed LG tour, promises consolidation on progress in Lagos

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After the lull in political activities occasioned by the postponement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the security challenges in the Northeast, campaigns appear to have resumed full stream. Akinwunmi Ambode, gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State, has since hit the streets once again with his unfeigning message of continuity as he resumed the tour of the local government areas.

In the last few days, Ambode’s campaign train has moved to a number of places to remind indigenes and residents of APC’s development pact with them and the need to return the broom party to power in the ‘City of Excellence’ in the principle of “one good turn deserves another.” At every point of call, tumultuous crowd enthusiastically massed out with a genuine interest to identify with the man who has come to embody the concept of continuity in the governance of Lagos State. In the last two weeks that his campaign has regained momentum, the central message from the Epe-born candidate is clear and unequivocal – the need to use the next four years to consolidate on the remarkable progress being witnessed in Lagos State by retaining the state for APC in the gubernatorial poll slated for Saturday, April 11.

Last Wednesday and Thursday were particularly impressive in his busy schedules. Those were the days the campaign train reached Seme border/ Badagry and Ibeju-Lekki. Observers have described last Wednesday’s road-show, which mesmerised the whole stretch of the Mile 2 – Badagry
Expressway, as arguably the first by any candidate to reach the border town of Seme. They said it was a great spectacle!

An observer said: “From Topa road and its environs, people – young, old and the physically challenged – trooped out to welcome Ambode, who had worked for three years in the late 1980s at the Badagry Local Government. Chants of ‘Sai Buhari, Sai Ambode’ rented the air.” The APC standard-bearer was said to have promised his hosts that not only will his administration complete the multi-billion naira Mile 2 – Badagry Expressway and the light rail project, but will also ensure that the Badagry division, which is one of the five divisions that make up the Lagos State, will be empowered to witness rapid development, especially in the areas of infrastructure development and job creation.

According to Ambode, “The future of tourism in Lagos State is here. This is also an important base for agro-economic development. Our administration will place a lot of attention in these areas to ensure that Badagry Local Government and every area around here experience a new layer in the type of developments they are already witnessing.” Each promise by the APC gubernatorial candidate drew a sustaining applause from the crowd.

On hand to welcome Ambode and his team, which included Oluranti Adebule, his running mate, to the ancient city of Badagry was Sunny Ajose, a former Head of Service in the state, who led other party stalwarts. While meandering through the nooks and crannies of the local government on a door-to -door campaign, a good number of the indigenes and residents adjudged the former Accountant General as the preferred candidate in the state. As if the Badagry/Seme border crowd was not huge enough, several thousands more welcomed the APC candidate the next day, Thursday, at
Ibeju-Lekki, where he had yet another opportunity to urge the people of Lagos State to allow the “progressive governance that APC is known for”
continue in the state.

For Ambode, who had a 27-year meritorious career as a civil servant in the state before venturing into the private sector as an entrepreneur
and management consultant, the reason why continuity is
sought for the ruling party in Lagos State and change at the federal level is simple. “While the whole world acknowledges the giant strides
of the last 16 years in Lagos, due to the people-oriented programmes and creating management of resources, which are succeeding in making Lagos a
true mega-city state, the international community, like most Nigerians at home and abroad, are unanimous in rejecting the current maladministration that is going on in Abuja,” Ambode said.

For this Fulbright scholar, therefore, while Lagos is working and deserves continuity, the government at the centre needs the type of change that a Buhari-Osinbajo ticket promises, in order to redirect the affairs of the nation that is rapidly falling apart. According to Ambode, with the freefall that the Nigerian economy is witnessing, Nigeria would be said to have failed, if it were a company. Lagos State, he stated, could not afford to let a candidate of the party that has failed Nigerians at the centre to inflict the state with the same type of incompetence and inexperience. His good news
for the people of Ibeju-Lekki was that his administration will provide a new airport and seaport in Epe, in order to bring development and prosperity to more people in the state.

Unlike the Badagry-Seme border road-show, the Ibeju- Lekki event was a mega rally, where Babatunde Fashola, the Lagos State governor, simply asked the people to allow Ambode’s impeccable profile and rich experience work for them as the next governor of the state. Earlier that week, precisely Monday and Tuesday, it was Surulere that first welcomed the University of Lagos-trained accountant, with a town hall meeting at Aguda, where Ambode reiterated his promise to establish an Office of Civic Engagement when elected. Borne out of the conviction that artisans and people in the lower middle class constitute the majority in the state, the office, he explained, would serve as an effective liaison between the governor’s office and the people. He added that just the way indigent students are rewarded with scholarships when they display excellence, skillful artisans should also be able to benefit from the state government in the area of honing their skills, either at home or abroad, in addition to having access to the proposed N25billion Employment Trust Fund (ETF).

The previous week had seen Ambode’s campaign train stop at Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Apapa, Ifako-Ijaye and Epe. Each townhall meeting entertained more
than 20 questions because Ambode believes that it is the people’s needs that will shape his programmes and policies, when elected, hence the need to give as many people as possible the opportunity to air their views. And at each local government and towns visited, there were royal blessings in abundance for the Ambode-Adebule team that has demonstrated its firm belief in consultations and government of inclusion.

Rather than slow down, Ambode’s campaign has regained momentum, totally refusing to lose steam, in spite of the six-week postponement of the general elections from the original February 14 and 28 to March 28 and April 11, for the Presidential and Gubernatorial elections, respectively. “It
is about the message and the method,” says Steve Ayorinde, director of Media and Communications for the Ambode campaign. According to him, “24 hours sometimes, is not enough to further push out the message of continuity and Ambode’s thought-out plans that aim at empowering the 20 million citizens of the state in the next four years.”

The busy campaign schedule, he says, simply shows the strength and popularity of the APC and the candidate and the team’s position not to take
anything for granted. The renewed campaign, he explains, is an everyday affair that is broken down to mega rallies, town hall meetings, road-shows and door-to-door campaigns and strategic consultations. According to Ayorinde, “Mr. Ambode is on a familiar ground; he was the only person as an aspirant last year that toured every local government in the run-up to the primary election. And his promise then was that he would knock on every door and campaign on every street. This is why the party’s rallies took him round all the five divisions and local governments before the elections were postponed.

“With these additional six weeks due to the postponement, he is back on the road getting acquainted with the people all over again and the massive turn-out and acceptance confirm the obvious that this is the man of the people who is destined to serve.” He further said the rallies and town hall meetings, which will run till April 9, perfectly complement the world-class communication campaign by the APC candidate that is widely acknowledged as arguably the most impactful in this electioneering process.