Recently, the government at the federal level and many states of the federation marked 100 days in office. A tradition that is largely supposed to give a clear blue print they intend to fully implement in the course of the next (almost) four years in office. While the average Nigerian can be said to be upbeat about definite strides at the federal level especially in areas such as power generation, the oil sector which has recorded a remarkable turnaround in the hitherto comatose refineries, and the fight against corruption, the same cannot be said of developments in Lagos State under the leadership of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
Even though it is still early days yet, and it may appear to be too early judge, by now Lagosians ought to have begun to feel the impact of a new administration. A Wolof proverb says “A dish which is going to be tasty will smell good when it boils.” Usually one can forecast the shape of things to come judging by the present. To submit that the Ambode led government’s performance has been lacklustre after his first few weeks of assuming office would be no gainsaying. In the past couple of months, the governor seems to have been overwhelmed by the huge task of running a complex state like Lagos. Nowadays, Lagos feels like it is running on auto-pilot. For one who was peddled as a seasoned civil servant with cognate experience in administration and a consummate mastery of the inner workings of the State having been a part of the work force for almost three decades before taking a bow; one would expect that the governor would hit the ground running and not appear to be testing the waters like a neophyte.
Ambode was elected mainly because he rode on the performance of the immediate past governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola who was the poster boy of the APC up until recently when he was enmeshed in controversy involving financial impropriety while he was governor. So far, there has been no clear direction or landmark achievement one can attribute to the new government. Yes, the governor has projected himself as an empathetic man with a large heart judging by his response to some individual’s plight – the case of Ruth Uche, the mother of three sets of twins who was abandoned by her husband readily comes to mind, as well as the new year baby with the heart disease whom the governor assisted with the required surgery in India as soon as he assumed office. It must be said unequivocally that these gestures are laudable, but Ambode needs to do more by formulating and implementing policies that will positively impact the lives of almost 20 million Lagosians and not just one or two people.
By this time in the last administration, Fashola had constructed a pedestrian bridge, purchased a hundred BRT buses to ease transportation in the metropolis, completed the second phase of the Adetokunbo Ademola road in Victoria Island, and commenced the dredging and rechannelling of drainages to ease water transportation among other achievements, a sharp contrast to the donation of security vehicles and signing of Certificates of Occupancy that is the present administrations legacy after 100 days.
Also, in a recent study tagged CIAPS Governors Performance Index (CGPI) conducted by the Lagos based Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies (CIAPS) to assess the performance of governors in Nigeria after 100 days based on variables such as; readiness for office, innovation in office, ability to be in tune with the mood of the nation and security and leadership by example; Governor Akinwunmi Ambode came 9th with a 50% passmark compared to his contemporaries in Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto and Rivers who were ranked first, second and third respectively. Lending credence to the observation that he has performed barely averagely since taking over the mantle of leadership. Coming 9th out of 36 can be argued as not being shabby until one remembers that Ambode runs a state that is the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria and would have been the fifth largest economy in Africa if it were a country.
Anyone who is resident in Lagos and is a regular commuter on the roads would have observed the apparent return of lawlessness around. The ubiquitous motorcycle riders are fully back on many highways where they have been banned, thugs are back and more brazen than ever before in Oshodi and a number of other suburbs in the metropolis where they damage vehicles and rob hapless motorists daily. Many roads are in a deplorable state, and the restriction of the movement of trailers and other long articulated vehicles are only being partially obeyed as if to dare the government of the day! In a nutshell, Lagos seems to be going back to the pre-Fashola days of lawlessness and impunity.
Those who doubted Ambode’s capability to govern a state like Lagos are beginning to have their fears confirmed. Indeed, many believed he didn’t just cut the picture of the kind of leader that Lagos needed, particularly because he is touted in many quarters as one loves to party and have fun thereby earning him the appellation “Yuppy Daddy.” The fact that he was practically foisted on the members of the APC by a godfather didn’t help matters also, as he was shielded from going through the proper scrutiny and competition that any intending candidate is expected to pass through. But for the general perception that he was the lesser of “two evils” when compared with his closest rival Jimi Agbaje at the polls, and a section of Lagos residents felt safer to pitch their tent with the “tried and trusted” Tinubu camp than the “little known and possibly out-for-revenge” Bode George camp, there might have been a different government at the helm of affairs in Lagos today.
This is a wake-up call for the Akinwunmi Ambode administration. The people of Lagos need to feel the presence of the government around them. As the days go by, more needs to be done in virtually all sectors of the economy. The governor must begin to fulfill his numerous campaign promises by providing adequate security, employment and basic infrastructure for the teeming population in Lagos.
Ambode always knew that Fashola’s shoes would be very difficult to fill. However, he must begin to make his own mark as soon as possible and not just replicate what is being done at the federal level without considering its suitability for Lagos State. If he needs to appoint commissioners to assist him in piloting the affairs of the state, then he should do so without further ado. The goodwill that the APC has enjoyed in Lagos for the past 16 years must not be frittered away especially now that the people are fully aware that the power to vote out a non-performing government lies solely in their hands. 2019 is not too far away! Ambode needs to prove the naysayers wrong and the time to start is now!