Though a tender foot in real politick, Gov. Akinwumi Ambode, according to his information commissioner, Steve Ayorinde is playing the Lagos politics in a way that ensures the state and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) are doing well, and are in good stead.
That there is some apparent rift between the governor and his predecessor Babatunde Fashola, as many observe, is nothing strange either. “It happens all over the world,” Steve Ayorinde told the National Daily Wednesday, citing Barack Obama’s run-in with Hillary Clinton the fight many believed would have cost Obama his second shot at the U.S. presidency.
“But Obama won the second term, and Hillary became his secretary of state, the No. 3 citizen in America.”
The commissioner told the newspaper his boss doesn’t need to go into overt politicking to succeed in blending politics with administering the state, especially in tackling the security and traffic management challenges that always buffet Lagos.
Explaining how Gov. Ambode has been able to continue and improve on the security measures the last administration put in place, Ayorinde said the N4.5 billion of the State Security Trust Fund given to the police to manage the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) is the biggest any state has ever contributed to security.
“Don’t forget that policing is the responsibility of the Federal Government,” he said, “But Governor Ambode did that because the security requirement in Lagos of about 21 million people is more than any other state in Nigeria.”
According to him, Lagos now boasts of three surveillance choppers, two gunboats for the inland waterways, 15 Amoured Personnel Carriers, and other security equipments.
On traffic, the commissioner said the governor has rehabilitated no fewer than 214 roads which used to slow down traffic across the state. “We have pumped out about 540 new BRT buses to the Ikorodu-Mile 12 corridor.”
He noted that research confirms 15 percent of the 600,000 private car owners in Lagos now use the improved public transport system.
Although the governor had relied on technology alone to ease the traffic problem, and reduce the LASTMA dehumanizing approach, many Lagosians, Steve explained, abused the compassionate gesture of the governor.
He said a series of painstaking stakeholders meeting eventually resulted in a summit last year when the government had to bring back the enforcement regime – and that within the ambit of the law.
“On a daily basis, you need to see the number of motorcycles the RRS now seizes on the highways where the riders are not supposed to ply,” he said.
Asked if the governor has now shut his bowels of compassion as he tightens traffic laws in Lagos, Ayorinde said, “Governor Ambode remains the compassionate gentleman and a good administrator he has always been without neglecting to wield the big stick.”
According to him, the governor is doing well, and has been able to rally Lagosians behind him in the last seven months of his administration.
“In spite of the tough election that produced Ambode, the APC in Lagos did not lose any of its members to the opposition,” he added.