Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure of attending a town hall meeting with some of the members of Governor Ambode’s team. Ambode is the Lagos State governor and as we all know, he had big shoes to fill when he entered office. He was taking over from Fashola who was formerly community boo on account of the huge strides Lagos took under his leadership, but now widely recognised as the Prince of Darkness on account of no single light since he took over the portfolio of power, works and housing. But that is a story for another day.
Ayo Shonaiya (L) and DJ Abass (R) flanking Steve Ayorinde, Commissioner for Information and Strategy
Governor Ambode was eager to hit the ground running in transforming Lagos and he’s not hanging about at all. The ‘Light Lagos‘ scheme has seen streetlights adorn the entire city – from the better known streets of Ikeja and VI to the more obscure areas of Ajangbadi and Okokomaiko. This lighting project has already seen crime fall significantly in the state. One can only pray for maintenance and perpetuity. As it is, I hear agbero boys sometimes vandalise the streetlights to facilitate their nefarious activities. Awon eleriibuu.
With so much work going on, the governor decided, and quite rightly too, to create a brand for Lagos State. One Lagos is that brand. Joining the five strands of the state together, One Lagos aims to present Lagos as the place where things happen. Where things get done.
One Lagos and Project T.H.E.S.E
The governor wants to elevate the state with features that he considers important to him. These are:
- Entertainment and the Arts
- Sport – all to bring
- Excellence to Lagos State
There is no disputing the fact that he is driving this ahead. Olamide, my Bariga boo, my favourite omo Wobe, is a steadfast ally of the administration. Five star hotels are everywhere in Lagos now. The stadium is enjoying a rejuvenation. And you’re nobody if you do not jog along that Lekki bridge – either for the sake of keeping fit or because you’re in search of a ring and a Bella Naija wedding. But I digress.
Lagos to London: the Ambode Way
With all these achievements, what next? It makes sense to connect with the outside world. And London has long been the very definition of “going to the abroad” for many Nigerians. So, it was common sense for the One Lagos team to come to London.
It would seem that this team did their homework and tried their best to speak to the ills that worry Nigerians in diaspora the most. In attendance were the following:
- The Commissioner for Information and Strategy – Mr. Steve Ayorinde
- Special Adviser to the Governor for Arts and Culture – Hon. Adebimpe Akinsola
- Special Adviser to the Governor for the office of Overseas Affairs and Investments (Lagos Global) – Professor Ademola Abass
- Executive Secretary Employment Trust Fund – Akin Oyebode
Every single speaker brought the kind of feel-good news that people want to hear about their home. From the issue of progress to that of intellectual property. From security of life to the security of assets. The speakers talked about the strides made in arts and culture, they discussed the progress in hospitality and entertainment.
Prof Abass in particular was keen to drive home the work that Lagos Global did. With the theme “Lagos is open for business”, this newly formed department exists specifically to facilitate investment. From ensuring the confidentiality of your project to easing the path for the acquisition of the right permits, legal status and even land (if necessary) for your project, the office seeks to entice potential investors with the promise of a new ease in doing business with Lagos State.
A Brief Affair or a Long Lasting Relationship?
There is no doubt whatsoever that many of those in the room yesterday were very sceptical about this ‘new dawn’. We have all of us attended meetings of lofty promises. Admittedly, these meetings are much scantier once the politician has actually assumed the position of power. But the general attitude remains one of doubt that these politicians will actually work towards the betterment of their jurisdiction.
Certainly, the speakers yesterday did their best to present a front of transparency and well-meaning. It remains to see if this holds to be true.
For now, I will say that there have been changes for the better. I personally travel to Lagos frequently. I have been three times already this year. There are still infrastructural ills that plague the city. Light (electricity) and water remain bastards that the citizens have to deal with. The daily commute through traffic (especially now that there are no Gala sellers) has a very negative effect on the health of workers. But Governor Ambode is trying. One can only hope that these changes increase, improve and remain.
One Lagos. Love Lagos. Eko o ni baje; o baje ti! (Lagos will not spoil; it can never happen!)
Itesiwaju ipinle Eko, lo je wa l’ogun! (The progress of Lagos is what is of utmost importance to us!)
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