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Ambode’s legacy and changing face of Lagos

IN roughly four weeks, Lagos State Governor Akinwumi Ambode will exit office. Determined to do so on a high, President Muhammadu Buhari was in town last Wednesday to commission five of the administration’s key projects in the health, transportation, road and social infrastructure sectors.

The projects include the 170-bed Institute of Maternal and Child Health, popularly called Ayinke House located within the premises of Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH); remodeled 10-lane Murtala Mohammed International Airport Road; 500-seater Lagos Theatre, Oregun; iconic Oshodi Transport Interchange; and 820 high and medium capacity public transportation buses, were all unveiled by an elated President Buhari who described the governor’s performance as ‘satisfactory and commendable.’

Specifically, the design of the Airport Road project include the reconstruction and expansion of the existing carriage to three-lane Expressway on both directions, construction of two-lane Service Road in both directions making a total of 10-lanes, construction of Ramp Bridge to provide a U-turn from Ajao Estate to Airport, construction of a flyover at NAHCO/Toll Gate and drainage works.

Others include the removal of existing pedestrian bridge at Ajao Estate and construction of pedestrian bridges at Ajao Estate and NAHCO/Hajj Camp, construction of slip road to provide access to Ajao Estate, construction of Lay-bys and installation of street lights, among others.

The Oshodi Transport Interchange, in a nutshell, seeks to transform the axis 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.

By the project, all the 13 city and interstate bus parks in Oshodi have transformed into three multi-storey terminals, providing standard facilities including waiting area, loading bays, ticketing stands, drivers lounge, parking areas, rest rooms, accessible walkways and pedestrian sky-walks linking all the terminals.

Specifically, the transport interchange was conceived by the Ambode administration to reduce travel time on Lagos roads, unlock gridlocks associated with the megacity and help people commute without stress. The interchange, like the previous ones before it such as Ikeja Bus Terminal, Berger Bus Terminal, Yaba Bus Terminal, Oyingbo Bus Terminal and Race Cross Bus Terminal, is designed to make Lagos function like other megacities in the developed world.

Other components of the terminal include 20 lifts and escalators, two sky-walks connecting the terminals to each other, Architectural LED Lights, passenger concourse, public address systems, bus depot, passenger drop-off areas, taxi and car parks, passenger lounge for intercity commuters, loading bays, passenger information systems, among others.

The interchange and the 820 buses also launched by the president are integral component of the Bus Reform Initiative of the Ambode administration through which government plans to inject 5,000 high and medium capacity buses into the public transportation architecture of the state. The buses are equipped with cameras, USB point, internet, television, and special spaces for physically challenged, pregnant women and the aged, among others.

After having first-hand knowledge of the projects and the positive impact they will have on the economy of the state, as well as the people, President Buhari declared: “Your Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has performed satisfactorily and we should all commend him for his contribution to the growth and development of Lagos State.”

For Ambode, the presidential commendation was a pleasant pat on the back for a job well-done in the state in the last four years. Indeed, all sectors and sections of the state have been positively impacted one way or the other by the outgoing government.

The president’s one-day working visit indeed started when his official jet landed at the Presidential Wing of Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja at about 10: 45am, he proceeded straight to commission the first project  Ayinke House, Nigeria’s biggest maternity hospital which was upgraded from an 80-bed facility to a 170-bed healthcare centre with state-of-the-art medical equipment, as well as information technology services.

Speaking at the event, Ambode described the opening of the hospital as historic and expressed optimism that the facility would provide world class childbirth and maternal care services to Lagosians and Nigerians at large.

Recalling how the journey began, Governor Ambode said the facility was commissioned exactly 29 years ago, with the late businessman and philanthropist, Sir Mobolaji Bank-Anthony donating the first dedicated maternal and child care facility to the Lagos State Government, in memory of his mother; hence the christened name “Ayinke House”.

He said the hospital, which started with just one surgical theatre soon assumed a life of its own as a first-class childbirth and maternal care centre in the health sector of Nigeria as well as first choice for expectant mothers.

However, the governor said the hospital later became over-stretched beyond capacity and somehow obsolete, while in recognition of the need to sustain Bank-Anthony’s philanthropy, the State Government, during the administration of former Governor Babatunde Fashola, who is now the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, awarded the contract for the expansion and reconstruction of the facility.

“Today, seven years after the closure of the facility, the new edifice is now a 170-bed facility with 5 surgical theatres. It has a 16-bed emergency care unit with 3 organ support facilities, 30 bed special baby care unit, 5 neo-natal intensive care units, a fully equipped laboratory with support services, laboratories and a blood bank.

“Beyond the significance for the health sector, this institute is a major contribution to our education sector also; as it becomes a veritable platform for our medical students in the State University to enhance their exposure and experience with the top-class medical equipment provided,” Governor Ambode said, just as he revealed that Ayinke House had also been completely digitalised with state-of-the-art medical equipment as well as information technology services supported by the State Ministry of Science and Technology.

Shortly after the unveiling and the subsequent comprehensive tour of the hospital, President Buhari proceeded to commission Lagos Theatre, Oregun in Ikeja, another landmark project of Governor Ambode conceived and implemented to increase arts spaces and create standard platforms for talented citizens of the state to showcase their skills.

The theatre, a 500-capacity edifice, is one of the four simultaneously constructed by the Ambode administration in Epe, Badagry, Igando, while land has just been provided for another one to be located in Ikorodu to make a total of five theatres.

At yet another commissioning, this time the Oshodi Transport Interchange and Airport Road, the governor thanked the President for his direct influence and support towards the projects which made it a reality, saying that it was on record that the state has never enjoyed such measure of support from the federal government as it had done in the last four years.

He “In our promise to deliver people-oriented projects and programmes, a closer look at all the projects indicate that nearly all the different pillars of our development plan as a state have been affected positively through these projects. The Institute of Maternal and Child Health at LASUTH contributes to our health and education sectors simultaneously.

“The Lagos Theatre, Ikeja is about our Social Development Sector while the Oshodi Transport Interchange and Buses come under our Transport, Infrastructure and Commerce sectors. The Murtala Mohammed International Airport Road is an Infrastructural Development project.

“All these projects together form the thrust of our vision as a government and the end result is to make life better for all our people, irrespective of gender, tribe or political leanings,” he said.

He said his administration invested the second tranche of the Paris Club refund, in addition to the refund by the Federal Government on Federal road projects executed by states to the construction of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Road and the Oshodi Transport Interchange, the first of its kind in Africa, while the first tranche of the Paris Club refund to states approved by the President was utilised to pay the 40 per cent down-payment for the 820 buses.

“This is our report card, Mr. President. We have used your approval and releases judiciously because we believe strongly in you, in your leadership and in your vision for our country. This is our modest contribution to the growth and development of our state and to the country in general.

“Mr. President, we believe strongly that the projects being commissioned today are our own modest contributions to the national development of Nigeria,” he said.

The governor added that he was fully optimistic that with the coming on board of the projects, the future prosperity of the state is secured, saying that the level of investment in the last four years in strengthening the social and physical infrastructure base of the state were becoming evident in all sectors of the economy.

“With the completion of these projects and given the level of commitment of the next administration as well as the continuous support of the federal government, I am assured that the immediate and future prospect of our state is very bright.

“Mr. President, Lagos State will continue to support your aspirations to move Nigeria to the Next Level. The business community in the state is desirous of partnering with your government in moving our economy forward,” he said.

Responding, President Buhari said he was delighted to unveil the projects as they aptly reflected the drive and success of government in pursuing policies and programmes that will positively impact on its citizen.

The president said the coming on board of the projects had clearly demonstrated the need to continue to provide high impact projects for the development of infrastructure and opportunities for job creation at all levels, just as he said that the development was in sync with the efforts of the federal government to improve infrastructure, especially in the transport sector.

“To complement Oshodi Transport Interchange, the Federal Government has recently approved the reconstruction of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway up to Oworonshoki and Old Toll Gate which was last attended to 40 years ago.

“We have recently commissioned the new International Airport Terminals in Port Harcourt and Abuja, as well as the rail lines from Abuja to Kaduna. The Lagos to Ibadan Rail Line is under construction. Our government will continue to prioritize high impact infrastructure which will vastly improve the lives of our people,” he said.

After commissioning the projects, the president went on a bus ride with dignitaries to tour the facility and also drove through the remodeled Murtala Mohammed International Airport Road.

Indeed, with the landmark projects, the future prosperity of the centre of excellence is truly bright and one can safely and confidently say that the state has been placed on sound pedestal of accelerated growth and development by the Ambode administration.

Just like Chief Teslim Adeola Almaroof, the Head of Arota/Ologun Family of Orile Oshodi in Oshodi Isolo Local Government Area of the State noted, Oshodi axis can never be the same again.

He said not only would the Oshodi Transport Interchange reduce traffic, attract and boost business opportunities, including tourists, the governor has successfully carved a niche for himself by prioritising people’s welfare.

As the governor takes a bow from office, the projects commissioned this week would forever alter the physical landscape of the state and etch his name in the ranks of Lagos succession of ‘action governors’.

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