“The leader is one who, out of the clutter, brings simplicity … out of discord, harmony … and out of difficulty, opportunity.”– Albert Einstein
History has its unique ways of vindicating the visionary, the pacesetters, the courageous and of course, all those propelled by the will to win against all odds. Indeed, history is always kind to those willing to put in their best when it comes to leadership and leave lasting legacies worthy of emulation. And this is precisely so, for the outgoing Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos state, as history will certainly judge him kindly in several areas of the fast-paced economic development, over the past four years. Not the least of these laudable achievements are the giant strides taken, notably in massive, solid, stable and sustainable infrastructural development.
Truth be told, by the time the chaff of the shenanigans of politicking are separated from the grain of what people-oriented governance is all about, mention will be made of his futuristic approach to project prioritization and performance. He knows that for Lagos,as one the world’s fastest growing cities, with huge influx of people on daily basis, a modern seamless transport system would mitigate the challenges commuters face in the conduct of their businesses.
Should we talk about the city roads with the lay by, the first-of-a kind 10-lane Airport Road, ultramodern bridges at Abule-Egba, Ajah and the ever busy Pen Cinema commercial hub? What about the largest rice mill in Sub-Saharan Africa currently ongoing in Imota Local Council Development Area of the State? Or, should we add the Oworonshoki Lagoon reclamation which is designed to transform the blighted area to major tourism, transportation and entertainment hubs? The high rising, empirical evidences are there in telling spectacle to dumb-found his traducers.
And what about the on-going, talk- of –the- town Oshodi Transport Interchange? It is a sprawling, urban edifice at the bustling Oshodi traffic nerve-centre. Precisely, it is meant to drastically reduce congestion on the highways right from the eastern flanks of Ikorodu-Maryland and stretching all the way to western part of Mile 2 and Apapa.
It should be noted that the Oshodi Transport Interchange Project (OTIP) forms part of the Bus Reform Initiative of the State Government, as an iconic infrastructure designed to transform the axis forever and enhance connectivity.
According to the goal-getting Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, the project, in a nutshell, seeks to “transform Oshodi into a world-class Central Business District (CBD) with business, travel and leisure activities conducted in a serene, secure, clean, orderly and hygienic environment, comparable with other transport terminals around the world including Stratford and Victoria Bus Station in the United Kingdom”.
Ultimately, on completion, it would consolidate all the 13 city and interstate bus parks into three multi-storey terminals. This will provide standard facilities including waiting area, loading bays, ticketing stands and drivers lounge. Others are the parking areas, rest rooms, accessible walkways and pedestrian sky-walks linking all the terminals.
According to the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr Adebowale Akinsanya while on extensive inspection tour of ongoing projects months back,the government was rising to reduce the difficulties being experienced by motorists, virtually on daily basis.He also gave the assurance that the State Governor, MrAkinwunmiAmbode was seriously committed to the delivery of the projects before his exit.
Listed amongst these are the Airport Road, Pen Cinema Flyover, Oshodi Transport Interchange, Onikan Stadium, Oshodi-Abule-Egba Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project and JK Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History all work-in -progress.
And still in tandem with the foresight to ease transportation within the Lagos metropolis, the BRT mass transit system came in during Gov. Ambode’s predecessor, Babatunde Raji Fashola’s era to deliver fast, comfortable and cost-effective service in a densely populated city. It has created jobs for many, guaranteed safety and comfort as against the dare-devil danfos and bolekajas.
To up the ante, Ambode as at March 2018 rolled out 820 high and medium capacity buses, as an initiative to redefine public transportation and make the State to be globally competitive. The reformation is basically designed to inject 5,000 buses, modern terminals, facilitate ease of mobility for residents and also rev up Lagos economy. It began with the assembling plant at Awoyaya in Ibeju Lekki area of the State which also served as the temporary holding bay for 500 out of the 820 buses.
Said he: “This is an assembling plant. The dream is that beyond the procurement of 820 buses by government, the next set of buses in the vision should be assembled in Lagos in this assembling plant and another one in Epe.”
“By the time you put these buses on the road, it will create jobs for drivers, engineers, technicians, and so on, thereby growing the economy of Lagos coming from the transport sector in addition to 100 bus stops being constructed simultaneously across the State with attendant positive impact on the economy. So, the idea is create jobs, grow the economy, make the city to be globally competitive and then make life comfortable for the people.”That is pragmatic job creation strategy for you.
One other area that has exhibited Governor Ambode’s foresightedness is the reclamation of the coastal area at Oworonsoki. The project is not a housing scheme but part of the overall programme for Lagos to emerge as the entertainment hub for Africa.
The plan is to reclaim 50 hectares of land while upon completion the project would end the perennial flooding in the area. It would also accommodate boutique hotel, event centres, cinema, clubs, bars, bus terminal, parking space with capacity for about 1000 vehicles.
The concept and execution of all these landmark projects takes uncommon vision, sheer political will and the courage to do the right thing when it matters most. In fact, they were deliberately embarked upon to align the state with the league of cities with world class infrastructures thus making Lagos to be globally competitive. Good enough, all these people-oriented projects are on the verge of commissioning. Great kudos to him!
All said, history will definitely smile on Governor Akinwunmi Ambode as he bows out on May 29, 2019 for leaving worthy and noble legacies for his successor to build on.
By Ayo Oyoze Baje