I first met Akinwunmi Ambode at the Onikan Stadium when he declared his candidacy for the office of the governor of Lagos State. And I went away with the impression that he is meek, conversational, enthusiastic and spirited. It is also apt to add charming, engaging and razor-sharp.
One thing I know that he has brought into the administration of Lagos State is that milk of human kindness that has been lacking for so long. Ambode does not believe in elitist approach to governance. His actions as far have demonstrated that he is ideologically opposed to such an approach.
One of the actions he took upon becoming governor is to release N11 billion for the payment of arrears of pension owed to pensioners since 2010. To take care of the welfare of our senior citizens is about the best way to start governance. By doing that, he clearly demonstrates that the State appreciates their labour of love and their contribution towards the development of Lagos State.
A civil society organization, the Committee for the protection of Peoples Mandate(CPPM) has this to say: “we are quite aware of how Governor Ambode put smiles on the faces of state and local government retirees from ministries , parastatals and agencies early in August when he approved N11 billion to offset arrears owned since 2010. This is a clear departure from our history of shabby treatment of retirees in the public service.”
Efforts have been made towards stabilizing the financial status of the state. The Governor, through financial restructuring, has been able to stave off waste to the tune of N3 billion monthly. Nigeria’s creaking economy means that strict budgetary discipline and fewer splurges in spending will enhance growth.
Ambode will follow the example of the Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo, who, when he began working on his statue of David, took a block of marble and chipped away “whatever was in excess.” He wants to cut away all the things that are in excess bureaucratically and fiscally. He is determined to put Lagos on the path to sustainable growth. The economic well-being of Lagos is critical to the recovery of the nation’s economy.
This policy of stopping waste will help in making funds available to inject into capital projects. The bold and inspiring governor wants to promote business friendly policies that will unleash growth while, at the same time, taking steps to ensure that the benefits of that growth are spread more wisely and equitably.
The International Monetary Fund recently stated that nearly all economies in the world suffered a widening gap between the rich and poor in the past few decades. Nothing could be worse for an economy than inequality. It definitely slows the pace of growth and heightens economic instability.
As an Accountant, Ambode is clearly aware that the State needs to set in place market friendly policies to supercharge growth rate, thereby melting poverty away. The experience of the Asian Tigers has shown that there are two paramount ways to boost economic growth: create jobs and create jobs.
To boost economic growth is just about the best way to do that. There is honesty to his performance that is so accessible and for the most part, real. He just has it. His policies are true, already being felt and surprising in its eruption of intensity.
Currently, he is reviewing government loans with banks with the intent to restructure them and free up funds for further development. It is beginning to bear fruits in terms of job creation and infrastructural development. He has recently ordered the employment of 1,300 primary school teachers.
The new Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment is set up to check the alarming rate of unemployment in the state. Kamal Ayinde Bayewu, a Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, is of the view that the ministry will look into employment issue and investment opportunities.
“And the moment these investment opportunities are coming in, then the employment window will now be opened to the youths. There is a great hope with the programme he has stated with, I wish the people who will take care of these ministries will have the same kind of vision the governor has. With that, the implementation of these programmes will be easy and everybody will be able to key into the new Lagos we are talking about.”
Ambode has started so well by casting a harsh spotlight on unemployment in Lagos State. A sense of urgency has been successfully conveyed. The man is not loud, brash and uninhibited. He is quietly doing the job. And I just hope that stakeholders will come further along with him.
Ikechukwu Orji is a Journalist; 08023624097, email@example.com
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