A fortnight ago in this column, I declared with justificatory and unassailable aplomb that the All Progressives Congress (APC) will present exceptionally brilliant Akinwunmi Ambode (Double ‘A’), an accounting and financial management wizard, as its governorship candidate in Lagos State in next year’s polls. On Thursday, December 3, 2014, to the glory of God, this fiscal engineer-cum-administration technocrat was elected to represent Lagosians in the forthcoming elections on the platform of the APC.
Going by the electoral chemistry of Lagos—and without prejudice to the mandate and authority of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and its Lagos offshoot—the voting pattern in a predominantly, more appropriately exclusive, APC state is such that I can confidently and unimpeachably assert that the next governor of Lagos State is this chartered accountant. Pursuant to that extrapolative success paradigm, I vehemently go ahead to set the agenda for him. I am sure the kwashiorkor opposition in this Centre of Excellence symbolized by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will find this declarative prognosis annihilative and awry!
Now my agenda for the urban renewal and transformation of Lagos: a blueprint that espouses the modernization and remodeling of the city as envisaged by its founding patriots.
AREA BOYS: Your Prospective Excellency, the nuisance level of these street urchins is becoming toxic to residents and visitors. At any available space they constitute an unbearable menace. I hear the social miscreants are employed by some unscrupulous politicians during elections to commit all manner of electoral frauds and therefore are emboldened thereafter to carry on lawlessly in the erroneous belief that they are above the law having immeasurably guaranteed the election of past and perhaps present governors in the state. Please find a way of checkmating these boys. Their violent conduct in all parts of the city amplifies lawlessness to say the least. Luckily in your own case, you will soon be governor-elect by popular acclamation devoid of any intervention by area boys in which case you will not be obligated to them.
MOTORBIKE (OKADA) RIDERS/TRICYCLISTS: Not long ago, Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) banned and restricted, as the case may be, okada riders from some major roads in the state. The compliance level was quite significant after the initial brouhaha that ensued immediately after the issuance of the law. The only aspect of the policy that has died down is the compulsory wearing of crash helmets. This is observed now more in the breach. Tricycles that now almost outnumber their patrons are becoming worse than their much-maligned okada counterparts. The irresponsible way they meander by roadsides leaves me gasping for breath anytime I am driving or being chuffer-driven: they dent vehicles at will and prostrate remorsefully like drunken fishermen when apprehended! There is urgent need to regulate the highway activities of these chaps. For me, this mode of transport is even retrogressive in this age. If I had my way, both the okada and its slightly elevated version (just with an encasing) should be outlawed and replaced with affordable metro-cabs and township shuttle buses, supported by functional train services. Is it possible to revive the metro-line project if not in your first term maybe second tenure—I hope I am not being too futuristic?
POLICE AND POLICING: Fellow Great Akokite, this may not be your direct responsibility but to the extent that you are constitutionally the chief security officer of the state, you owe Lagos residents and passers-by the onerous duty of ensuring effective and efficient policing that ensures the security of life and property. Right now, our security is in our own hands and spiritual belief systems. In Lagos, if you rely on the Nigeria Police for protection you will be toying with your life! Therefore, we depend on self-efforts through the instrumentality of neighbourhood watch mechanisms and vigilance initiatives. It would be appreciated if you could liaise with the new Commissioner of Police for his men to deemphasize road users’ extortion, harassment and intimidation of law-abiding residents, among other innumerable atrocities, while fleeing at the mere sight of bandits! Their greatest victims these days statewide are okada riders who they callously extract money from amid issuance of PINs in unrestricted and unabashed shamelessness! The era of colonial adversary police is gone for good—policing at this time should be friendly, strategic and community related with the deployment of more intelligence than brawn as if we were in a state of war!ROADS: My dear governor-in-waiting (I almost wrote governor-elect!), the interiority of Lagos roads is probably the worst in the country. I say this with a good measure of responsibility because I have visited almost all the major cities in Nigeria in the course of my official commitments. I tell you, sir, most roads up North are like beds of roses. You could sleep on them. If you doubt me, go to Katsina and Jigawa states for random investigations of the rural and urban roads and other social infrastructures in tow. Apart from a few roads in Lagos, the entirety of the other roads is nothing to write home about. It is worst in the Aguda and Ijeshatedo suburbs of Surulere.
LGs & CDCs: The 57 local governments and community development centres, which are supposed to bring governance and democracy benefits to the grassroots, are not doing anything—all of them—except sharing monthly allocations and collecting levies and taxes which are not used for any development whatsoever. You cannot feel their presence except when they drive round to forcefully collect payments with the connivance of policemen for such extortive duties. Can’t these third-tier governmental operatives marginally, at least, enhance the quality of living of people? Double ‘A’, you imperatively need to synergize with these functionaries to make them, especially their leaderships, accountable and responsible to the people whose mandate they are frittering away in obscene and reckless lifestyles nurtured by public funds.
Mr. Ambode, the foregoing itemization is inexhaustibly short. By the time you take the oath of office on May 29, 2015, the challenges that lie ahead would be clearer to you. What I have done here is just a prefatory (due to space constraint) to the outstanding bottlenecks that Gov. Fashola skirted around insurmountably in the past seven years-plus. I have the conviction that Ambode will better his potential predecessor. With him, as I did introductorily affirm last month on this page, I can reassuringly, in consolidation of my subsisting position on Ambode’s illuminative candidacy, declare that Eko ti dara!
My dear reader, shout it in the streets of Nigeria and quote me anywhere thus: Eko oni baje lo mo (Lagos will not worsen anymore) with the advent of Ambode! May God be with us in this epochal and restorative journey. A promise: I will quit Lagos if Ambode does not reposition the mega-polis in his first three years in office as the executive governor!