AMBODE: 100 Days Of Strategic, Purposeful Governance
“Lagosians must be able to speak about the kind of government they want. The bottom line has always been that we should carry out programmes that will be of benefit to the people of Lagos. We must also be accountable to them.”
– Governor Akinwunmi Ambode (Speaking with a delegation of the U.K.’s DFID)
LEADERSHIP styles come in different shades and colours; from the autocratic (the dictators and despots who call all the shots, make all policies), through the Laissez-Faire (those with ‘let them alone’ attitude), to the democratic (people-friendly, all-inclusive). The aim, according to Morreale et al is to exhibit the ability of the leader to influence and inspire the followers towards set objectives and goals.
Every government therefore, needs a set of competent and committed helmsmen to succeed in meeting the aspirations of the led majority. The global perception is that, of the three main types, democracy provides the most viable platform for these to be achieved.
For the good people of Lagos State, another defining moment in the evolving democratic dispensation came with the swearing of the amiable, people-loving top technocrat as the governor on May 29, 2015. He may not have cut the picture of a famed politician until in recent years, but they remember him with fond memories. He was the man who as the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance/Accountant General, deployed his creative ingenuity that kept the state afloat above the troubled economic waters, when the allocations for local government were withheld by the then federal government led by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. In addition, under him the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) experienced exponential rise. The youths have been motivated by a man who rose up the ladder of the Civil Service, from being a treasurer of several local government councils, to becoming an Accountant General, within a short span of 27 years.
They have been waiting, with mounting curiosity to find out just how he would wave the magic wand again. So far, residents of Lagos State have been watching with a keen interest what unique attributes the new governor is bringing to the table. With the new All Progressives Congress (APC)-led party in place in most states of the federation, people’s expectations are high that the ‘change’ mantra would become a reality. They need an Ambode, especially now that revenue from oil has plummeted and with his promise to institute infrastructural development and create jobs for the teeming youths.
And so far he has started keeping faith with his electoral promises. Said he: “As we collectively face the challenge to make Lagos a better place to live in, we must recognise our strength in diversity. A common national identity where everybody counts. I shall run an open government of inclusion that will not leave anyone behind. No matter your age, sex, tribe or any other status, as long as you reside in Lagos, we will make Lagos work for you.” This is inspiring.
Good enough, Ambode has kick-started this with the full implementation of the state developmental agenda, which the permanent secretaries were working on. He has re-jiggered the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to infuse a great dose of dynamism, pragmatism and cost-effectiveness in running state affairs, for the first time in 22 years. Gone with the wind is the Ministry of Rural Development; in comes the more people-oriented Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment Generation. The new office of Civic Engagement is saddled with assuming the responsibilities of the erstwhile Office of Political and Legislative Powers Bureau. That is not all.
The former Office of Transformation has its scope expanded and rechristened the Office of Transformation, Creativity and Innovation to engage and unleash the mental capacity of our talented youths. Now also, the Ministry of Finance takes over the mandates of the former Debt Management Office DMO, and Special Adviser on Taxation. The Former Ministry of Home Affairs and Culture, no longer undertakes cultural affairs, hence the rechristening to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
In a bid to make his government more people-oriented, the former Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs has since been expanded with the additional mandate of community affairs. Its focus on Tourism, Arts and Culture falls in line with his campaign promise to make the Centre of Excellence the haven of Tourism on the African continent, nay the world. All these are geared towards improving the internal management of the state government and reasonably so.
Similarly, recognising the strategic significance of good road network in enhancing socio-economic activities in the state, creating jobs and boosting productivity, the new government has commenced work on the rehabilitation of some 90 roads by the Public Works Corporation. Interestingly, 70 per cent of these are in the rural areas. Some of these places include Ikotun, Ejigbo, Ayobo, Ijegun, Badagry; in fact cutting across the entire state.
That is notwithstanding the fact that this is the rainy season, with flooding still a persisting challenge, no thanks to the sandy nature of the coastal state. And some unpatriotic citizens dumping refuse right into the gutters. What with a tough topography of an average of 2 metres below sea level. Notably, the past government left over 9,000 roads paved in Lagos, spent some N5 billion on federal roads.
Still, Ambode’s administration is already building on this. But he recognizes that there must be a workable marriage between infrastructural development and the people’s welfare. There comes his humane and compassionate nature, which has started unfolding to the great admiration of millions of residents in Lagos State.
By directing the officials in charge of traffic laws, environmental sanitation and tax collection to handle people with the courtesy they deserve and demonstrating same, they have being inspired to see themselves as part and parcel of government.
For instance, his speedy response to distress calls from victims of fuel tanker explosions in Iyana-Ipaja and Ikotun soon after mounting the pedestal of political power was instructive. Next came the heart-rending, true-life tale of Mrs. Uche Ruth. She was abandoned by her husband, soon after she gave birth to the last set of three set of twins. The piece of good news however, is that she has been placed on welfare by the Lagos State Government under the directive of Mr. Ambode the ever-caring and compassionate Lagos State Governor. His desire is to see that the children grow up comfortably to become responsible citizens. Said he: “It is only when such children are properly taken care of that they can achieve their full potential in life and become responsible citizens in the future.”
Adedeji writes from Lagos.