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Lagos steps up security, infrastructure, others

Sir Molade Okoya-Thomas Indoor Sports Hall of the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere had perhaps never seen such over flowing crowd before. As early as 7 am, people from all walks of life started converging on the hal. They were there to listen to the account of stewardship of the Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
The event, which held on Tuesday, October 11, was the third Town Hall Meeting this year and fifth in the series of the programme.
Before the governor’s arrival, eminent personalities had converged on the venue.
Some of the eminent personalities include: Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr. Idiat Oluranti Adebule; members of the State Executive Council; Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu; Senator representing Lagos Central at the Senate, Chief Mrs Oluremi Tinubu; former Senator representing Lagos West, Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon; former Lagos State Deputy Governor, Abiodun Ogunleye; Elegushi of Ikate Land, Oba Saheed Ademola Elegushi; All Progressives Congress chieftain, Prince Tajudeen Olusi; Majority Leader of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; former Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji; Oniru of Iru Land, Oba Abiodun Oniru and former Secretary to the State Government, Princess Adenrele Ogunsanya.
Others include member of the House of Representatives from Lagos, Hon. Jide Jimoh; member of Lagos State House of Assembly from Surulere, Hon. Desmond Elliot; renowned economist, Professor Pat Utomi; Managing Director of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe; service chiefs and heads of security agencies, among many others.
Ambode disclosed plans to recruit at least 5,000 Neighbourhood Watchers to boost security across the State, with new recruits expected to earn at least N25, 000 monthly with other allowances, adding that the Neighbourhood Safety Agency Bill which he signed into Law on August 15, 2016, was part of efforts to institutionalise and deepen community policing in the State.
“There is a law that has just been passed which is the Lagos State Neighborhood Safety Corps Law, 2016 and in line with the resolution taken by the House of Assembly yesterday, we would go all out to make sure that this agency is activated and all our neighborhoods will be covered, and then centralize with the State Government with all the necessary equipment and resources to ensure that we establish what we call community policing and that is the way to go.
“We will rebrand Neighborhood Watchers and re-equip them to the level that each Neighborhood Watchers in all the Local Governments will have their vehicles and necessary equipment to complement security. We are also working on employing additional 5,000 Neighborhood Watchers in all our Local Governments and they will be paid by us, while the basic salary for the entrance level will be N25, 000 per month,” the Governor said.
The governor, who said the government would soon roll out all its empowerment programmes, said interventions targeted to assist youths, artisans and the needy to become self reliant have been provided, hence beneficiaries would start getting support from the last quarter of the year.
“We will roll out all our empowerment programmes immediately to assist all our youth, artisans and the needy. The funding for the N500m Lagos State Persons Living with Disability Fund has been provided and beneficiaries will start getting support from this quarter,” Governor Ambode said.
Speaking on the budget performance of the 2016 budget, Governor Ambode disclosed that the State’s budget performance for January to September performed at 69 per cent as against 65 per cent for the same period in 2015.
He said a total of N166.8billion has been spent on capital projects this year, a figure, he said, was more than double the N53.6billion spent for the same period last year.
Ambode said the state generated N97.3billion in the last quarter with an expenditure of N110.2billion, noting that the cash reserve of the State has remained positive.
The governor also disclosed that N55billion was expended on capital expenditure in the last quarter.
According to him, the last quarter witnessed a lot of activities from the delivery of massive road infrastructure across the Local Governments in the State as well as the promulgation of the anti-Land Grabbing Law, aimed at making life easier for property owners and a boost in investment activities that will enhance the growth and development potentials in the State.
He expressed optimism that despite the recession, the State’s economy would remain on a strong and sound footing if capital expenditure spending is increased.
“In this quarter, we will concentrate more resources on capital projects. We will put money in the hands of our local contractors and through them stimulate and reflate the economy. Immediate payments will be made to contractors handling health sector and education sector projects within the next two weeks,” Governor Ambode assured.
Speaking on some projects outlined for the next quarter, the Governor said that plans have been concluded to transform the Yaba Bus Park with the provision of modern bus shelters replica of the ones erected at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) in Lagos Island.
Governor Ambode also assured that the road rehabilitation projects ongoing at Adetola Street and Brown Road in Aguda, Surulere as well as Olajuwon and Biney Streets in Yaba would be completed before the end of the present quarter.
He said with the completion and delivery of the first phase of the 114 local government roads last month, the process of bid invitation for the construction of additional 114 roads across the 20 Local Governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas would commence within the next three weeks.
“We have commenced a multi-faceted development that will change the face of Lagos Island. We have installed new bus shelters at Tafawa Balewa Square and before the end of December, various projects will be commenced within the National Museum axis, Onikan to Tafawa Balewa Square, and from Lagos House Marina and Freedom Park. By the time we complete these projects, Lagos will become a major tourist destination in West Africa,” the Governor said.
Highpoint of the event was the interactive session where Governor Ambode took time to listen to the areas where the people would need the attention of government ranging from road rehabilitation, personal requests and critical interventions in general issues affecting the people.
For instance, one of the participants at the meeting who requested for coaching job with the Sports Ministry got an instant approval for her request. The governor ordered affected officials to go and inspect areas where issues were raised by the people, with the view to intervene as quickly as possible.
A resident of Dolphin Estate, Chief Mrs. Bewaji Kuku, raised the issue of flooding in the estate, saying that it has been a major concern for residents anytime it rained.
She also raised the issue of contract for indigenous contractors, saying that local people should be encouraged to grow the economy, especially through the construction industry.
However, Kuku recalled his encounter with Ambode during the electioneering campaign when she ‘bombarded’ him with questions on his preparedness to lead the State. She said: “I must confess that Governor Ambode has indeed performed very well and he is working hard to transform the state.”
The Association of Professional Women in APC, on their part, commended Governor Ambode for the good job he has been doing in the State, but asked for the consideration of their members for employment opportunities.
Responding, Governor Ambode took time to respond to all the issues raised, assuring that the concerns of the people would be addressed. He explained that the State Government has expended a lot of resources in combating flooding in the State, adding that the Flooding on Dolphin Estate was most times flash flood which would disappear few hours after the rain.
He also assured the residents of the estate of the commitment of his administration to continually improve on the issues of flooding, ditto for all the nooks and crannies of the state.
Oba of Lagos Oba Rilwan Akiolu lamented the suspension of a bill seeking special status for Lagos by the Senate, but expressed optimism that the bill would still become law in the nearest future.
He said: “The suspension of the bill sponsored by our amiable daughter and wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu is unfortunate but it is better and advisable to let these people know that this is not a matter of quarrel but a question of time. It will definitely happen.”
The monarch, who recalled the history of the agitation for special status for Lagos, urged the promoters of the bill to go back to drawing board and do their home work well before representing it for consideration and passage.
On the performance of Ambode’s administration, the monarch said with the monumental achievements recorded in the last 16 months, the eight years tenure of office of the Governor was certain.
Also speaking on the special status bill, another APC leader in the State, Prince Tajudeen Olusi urged the promoters of the bill to be circumspect when representing the bill for consideration. He said it must be made clear that the National Assembly should not, and must not attempt to legislate for Lagos as a result of the request for one percent empowerment for Lagos which the bill seeks to achieve.
The governor, who also spoke on the issue, commended Senator Tinubu for her courage to push for the bill, while also lauding the Senate President, Bukola Saraki for his magnanimity in allowing the bill to be presented on the floor of the Senate.
By the time the crowd started dispersing, there was almost an agreement that Ambode is just starting with Lagos and that when he is through with it, the sky will be its limit.

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