On May 29, 2019, Lagos witnessed another democratic transition as former governor Akinwunmi Ambode handed over to the incoming helmsman, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Majority of Lagosians are divided over the impact of Ambode during the last four years, with some criticizing the National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu of being a pervasive presence in the state.
However, a section of the citizenry insist that the former governor performed woefully in all the major sectors, with areas such as health care and education suffering from gross neglect due to his fixation on infrastructural development.
Tinubu repudiated claims of being a meddling godfather by stating that Ambode became a bad party man who no longer deserved his support.
According to a 2018 interview granted to Punch, Tinubu said, “Who did I support in 2014? Ambode. Life is dynamic.
It’s those who made me the leader of the structure in Lagos who said it was what they want. It’s only if you have followers that you’re a leader in democracy.
“If I look back and I don’t find them again; if I don’t respond to them, if I fail to accede to their request, I would have failed the leadership test.
“This is not personal; it is beyond me as a person. Every democratic constitution is preceded by ‘We, the people’. So, I had to submit myself to the wishes and the yearnings of our party.
“This is an elixir for the general election. Ambode Akin, he’s doing well, yes; he hasn’t been a good party man; not only the glamour, not only about brick and mortar. A talent is determined by character.
“For you to become an influential person, you have to respond to the yearnings of the people. This is politics; democracy, one man, one vote.”
The President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Razak Jaiyeola, had criticized the situation then, explaining that godfatherism was one of the reasons corruption was thriving in the country.
He argued that those responsible for the high rate of corruption in the country were often products of godfatherism, adding that without first identifying the causes of corruption, it would be difficult to fight it.
“Corruption derives from two main sources – greed and need. Those who are corrupt due to greed are the high-profile thieves who need money to maintain their expensive lifestyle.
“These are usually found in political and public offices. And they are products of ‘godfatherism’ and nepotism. The other corrupt individuals can be found in the private sector.
“They are the ones who are not able to meet their daily obligations due to the lack of appropriate infrastructure.
“They will, therefore, need to be corrupt to pay their children’s school fees, buy cars, build houses, pay medical bills, and so on.
“But it must be emphasised that there is no condition under which corruption can be justified.
So, in order to mitigate against corruption, the environment must be enabling enough to create the needed impetus for right actions.”
The Ambode Scorecard
Nevertheless, Ambode did himself no favours with his perceived haughtiness which alienated him from a majority of the people who were already angry at his shoddy management of waste disposal during the first few months of his tenure.
For every progress Ambode made with road construction in inner-city Lagos, he undid with unpopular policies that targeted the very poor.
It was as if he was in a race to undo some of Fashola’s projects.
A popular maxim goes, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”.
However, Ambode was busy fixing projects that did not require fixing, from bus stops to remodelling roads: an utter waste of time and resources.
BRT buses were disappearing one after the other due to neglect.
Even Ambode’s newly constructed roads started developing potholes.
Nonetheless, some of the positives were the construction of inner-city roads and the improvement of security within the metropolis.
Ambode’s greatest sin was taking away the garbage clearing project which employed thousands of poor people in Lagos. Indeed, a huge number of party faithful employed as street cleaners and operators lost their means of livelihood.
He handed the task of cleaning Lagos over to a relatively unknown company called Visionscape Group which did a terrible job.
He was also accused of unleashing one punitive tax system after the other on the people of Lagos.
The most controversial was the land use tax which he vehemently refused to reverse despite entreaties by concerned stakeholders.
Even his admirable stride of fixing the inner-city roads was fraught with a lot of controversies.
It was alleged that the people of Otoggbame paid dearly for Ambode’s land grab schemes with over 200 structures belonging to poor people razed down in 2016.
The Egun and settler community around Lekki were seen by the government and elitist friends as an eyesore.
Even after injunctions from the courts, the government repeatedly flouted orders.
Sanwo-Olu to the rescue
During his inauguration on May 29, Sanwo-Olu said he will “awaken a Greater Lagos.”
Sanwo-Olu also pledged to continue the development process of the state by refining and perfecting the foundation laid by the preceding administrations.
The developmental agenda of Sanwo-Olu is encapsulated in this acronym: T.H.E.M.E.S
His speech continues:
“T – Traffic Management and Transportation
Here, we must act with urgency to execute a transport masterplan that will fully integrate road, rail and water transportation into a multi-modal transport system that makes commuting easy for Lagosians.
We must also ensure compliance with all traffic rules and regulations on our roads.
H – Health and Environment
Because we know the significance of a clean environment in preventive healthcare, we have a moral duty to provide basic health care for our people, especially those who cannot afford it. Under our comprehensive health program, we will place special emphasis on maternal healthcare, malaria and water-borne diseases.
We will also focus on sanitation and waste management, by ensuring that our drainage systems are functional and kept clean.
E – Education and Technology
We will invest in the education of our children and young adults. By increasing the budgetary allocation to education; this government will empower teachers in every local government and strengthen their capacity to deliver quality education to our children.
New educational infrastructure will cultivate a learning environment that prepares our children for a new world that demands creativity, intuition and critical thinking.
We will ensure technology is integrated into our school curriculum and empower our youths with the much-needed skills for the jobs of tomorrow.
M – Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy
By investing in critical infrastructure, we will accelerate the growth of our economy and empower the private sector who are the real engines of growth.
We must break the deadlock that shackles our power distribution, provide sustainable urban settlements that address the current deficit; while at the same time building a smart city that achieves urban harmony and sets a new bar in our nation.
E – Entertainment and Tourism
We will nurture and showcase our cultural heritage and unique hospitality; support our entertainment, visual arts and sports sectors, and inspire the kind of creativity from our most talented individuals that will enhance our reputation at home – and abroad.
S – Security and Governance
The last of these pillars of development is Security and Governance.
It is important to ensure that we set the right tone for good governance and accountability at the top.
To this end, my administration will ensure that we walk the talk as far as transparency; the rule of law and fiscal discipline are concerned.
We will make sure that we create the right environment in which security and safety of lives and property are guaranteed.
Our ultimate goal would be to ensure that Lagos state remains one of the top destinations on the African continent to live, work and invest in.
These six (6) Pillars of Development represent our response to the yearnings of the people. They constitute the foundations that must be restored for future generations.
And should we fulfil our promise and deliver on these pillars; we are most confident that we will have succeeded in setting Lagos on a new trajectory of economic growth and development that would be unprecedented in our entire history.”
These aforementioned points are self-explanatory and a holistic pursuit of these by Sanwo-Olu will ensure the repositioning of Lagos state as a top cosmopolitan city.
However, Sanwo-Olu will be inheriting a hell lot of problems and challenges from his predecessor, Ambode.
From a city prone to floodingg at the slightest hint of rainfall to a chaotic transport architecture, damaged road surfaces to collapsed roads, and demotivated traffic management personnel, among other ills.
Getting the job done will depend largely on the quality of his team.
Establishing a productive working relationship with his appointees and getting the best out of them is also paramount.
All these factors are the fillip needed to make Lagos a very vibrant economy, alluring to investors and yielding an improvement in the lives of the citizenry.