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​​Lagos initiates civic engagement programme

To deepen its inclusive policy, the Ambode administration recently organised a two-day sensitisation programme, to seek the support and cooperation of stakeholders from the 377 wards in the state in its developmental efforts. Deputy Political Editor RAYMOND MORDI was at the event.  
AS part of its quest to run an inclusive government, the administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State has initiated moves to build a relationship with stakeholders at the grassroots level. This was the idea behind the recent gathering of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) ward chairmen, women leaders and youths from the 377 wards in the state to rob minds with officials of the government.
This is based on the philosophy that the active involvement of the people is needed for democracy to truly remain the government of the people, by the people and for the people. As a result, the two-day sensitization programme, which is the first of its kind since the return to civil rule in 1999, was to present a scorecard of the administration in the last 28 months, get the stakeholders to buy into its policies and programmes, so that they can assist in protecting the projects in their domain.
Some of the party leaders who graced the event are: the National Women Leader (Southwest), Chief (Mrs) Kemi Nelson; Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf; Senior Special Adviser, Civic Engagement, Hon. Taiwo Aiyedun; Special Adviser, Central Business District (CBD), Hon. Agboola Dabiri; Special Adviser, Environment, Mr. Babatunde Humpe; Women Leader (Lagos Central), Mrs Fadeke Otitonaiye; Women Leader (Lagos East), Chief (Mrs.) Fausat Gbadebo and former Sole Administrator, Ojodu Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Hon. Olusola Kokumo.
Special Adviser, Office of Civic Engagement, Hon. Kehinde Joseph, said the meeting was a clear demonstration of the administration’s desire to deepen its inclusive policy, by providing the stakeholders the opportunity to know more about the activities of the government as members of the ruling party in the state.
He said: “You will recall that His Excellency, right from the inception of this administration, promised not to leave anybody behind in the scheme of things in the state and today he has not deviated. His promise to make Lagos better for all was not an empty one, as we can see various people-oriented projects executed by this administration.”
The Special Adviser said Governor Ambode has justified the confidence reposed in him by party, when he secured the ticket to contest for the position before the last general elections. He said given the developmental stride witnessed in the state so far that Ambode has remained focused on his objective of running a government that puts people first; a government that makes progressive improvements in the living conditions and quality of life of the people.
Joseph enjoined the stakeholders to cooperate with the government to do more for the people. His words: “As stakeholders in this administration, you owe it a duty not only to monitor ongoing projects in your locality, but to ensure that such projects are executed without any disturbance from any quarter.
“In addition, you should protect protect such projects. Pedestrian bridges must not turn to markets in your area; illegal refuse dump site must be reported to the appropriate authority and the protection of the newly-introduced waste bins must be taken seriously. It is by doing this that we can assist the governor to sustain the tempo of development in the state.”
He listed some of the achievements of the administration. For instance, he said the governor has also put smiles on the faces of the residents of the hitherto forgotten Alimosho axis. To the delight of the people, the governor has changed the face of Alimosho by carrying out massive upgrade of the network of roads within the axis. He said residents of Aboru, a rustic community in the old Alimosho Local Government Area, heaved a sigh of relief recently, as the newly constructed Aboru Link Bridge, aimed at easing the perennial traffic gridlock along the ever busy Lagos-Abeokuta Road, was officially commissioned for public use. The bridge which ordinarily could have taken about three or four years to complete was constructed within nine months.
Joseph said the governor’s effort to solve the problem of the perennial traffic gridlock in the state has started yielding fruit. He said Governor Ambode had an idea what he wants to do to tackle the problem from the outset. Following a tour of the areas affected, the administration started with the construction of a lay-by at Iyana-Oworo Bus Stop. Following the success recorded at Iyana Oworo, which greatly reduced traffic faced by motorists descending the ever busy Third Mainland Bridge, the governor decided to replicate it across the road and at other locations.
Indeed, as part of the activities marking 50 years of the creation of the state, the administration delivered some landmark projects, between May 15 and 19, 2017. Two flyovers, one in Ajah, along the Lekki corridor, and the other at Abule-Egba, were among the landmark projects commissioned. The flyovers, the Special Adviser said, were conceived and executed within a record time of about one year.
The Special Adviser said the sleepy and semi-urban communities of Epe and Badagry have been transformed into modern cities, to tap into their tourism potentials. Over the years, Epe and Badagry, which are two of the oldest six divisions that the state is comprised of, had been neglected by successive administrations. The Epe-Marina Lagoon reclamation project is a complete redevelopment of project site to facilitate development of the area and promote tourism. It comes with sand filling to the lagoon of up to about 200 meters and dualisation of the network of roads in the axis with functional walkways.
Joseph said the Ambode administration launched its “Light Up Lagos” project immediately the governor assumed office in 2015, powering many major roads across the state, in fulfillment of his campaign promise. Indeed, it’s a project that fits well into his effort at making Lagos a tourist’s Mecca. This is aimed at diversifying the state’s economy, take a visible number of youths off the unemployment market and brighten, as a result, the state’s security profile.
The project is conceived to light up major highways and streets in the metropolis with the ultimate goal of boosting commercial activities, enhancing security, improving the citizenry’s standard of living, as well as boost the aesthetics of the city-state. The state government also has plans to attain 24-hour power supply through generation of 3000 megawatts of electricity by 2022.
In the area of social infrastructure, Joseph said most public schools in the state have been renovated and that some have been upgraded to model college status, with more classrooms provided where necessary, so that children could continue to learn in a conducive environment.
Similarly, he said health facilities are being upgraded to meet international standard. In spite of the huge challenges occasioned by the influx of people from other states and neighbouring countries, the administration has continued to enhance the capacities of the hospitals and primary health centres in the state to cope with the growing demand for their services.
On housing, the Special Adviser said the government has introduced the Rent-to-Own scheme, to make home ownership easy for Lagosians. He said “a good number of people have benefitted from the exercise.”
He added: “In the area of job creation, the state has done much to promote entrepreneurship among our youths, so they could be self=sufficient. For instance, a N25 billion employment trust fund was put in place and a lot of people have benefitted from the disbursement of the first tranche of the fund. He government did npot leave the physically-challenged individuals out of the scheme of things. The government has set up a trust fund for the disabled and only recently they were given mobility aid equipment and financial assistance to enhance their personal businesses.
The Special Adviser, Environment, Humpe, said the newly-introduced Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI) is an improvement on the former system that revolves round street sweepers and private waste operators (popularly known as Private Sector Participants, PSP), because it is focused on improving the environment to make it cleaner, safer and healthier for all Lagosians. He said the initiative is geared towards addressing, enforcing and regulating the challenges in the solid waste management systems within the state, while also aiming to protect the environment, human health and social living standards of Lagos State residents.Compared to the old system where government employed about 5,000 street sweepers, the Special Adviser said the scheme would generate about 27,500 jobs within the 377 wards in the state. He said may be complaining that with the introduction of the new system that the environment is getting from bad to worse, because at the moment government is trying to rejig the system.
With the new arrangement, he said there would no more dumpsites, engineering landfill, because the waste would eventually be used to generate power or gas, under the embedded power generation scheme.
In his response to the Special Adviser’s plea, a spokesman of the ward chairmen, Alhaji Ola Shehu, assured the government that the Lagos State Conference APC Ward Chairmen is solidly behind Governor Ambode for term. Indeed, at the climax of the meeting, which took place on the first day, Shehu unveiled a billboard that the group is going to use to campaign for the governor’s second term, saying: “On the behalf of the Lagos State Conference APC Ward Chairmen, I would like to state categorically that we are solidly behind Governor Akinwunmi Ambode who has done very well in the last 28 months so far and that there is no vacancy in Lagos House in 2019.”
Shehu said he and his colleagues were not too enthusiastic with the emergence of the former civil servant as the governorship flag bearer of the party prior to the last general elections. He added: “But we have since realized that he is the best man for the job. More than two years down the line, the verdict is that he has not only acquitted himself well, but has also raised the bar in governance.  His achievements are there for everyone to see.”


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