Governor Akinwumi Ambode

Those perceptive enough are quick to say that Ambode’s second year will even be greater. Their prophetic summation is apt and not just because a grand ceremony awaits the state through the Lagos@50 celebration. Yes, Lagos will have a ball to celebrate her golden jubilee but it will also witness unprecedented developments because the seeds of greatness have been planted already.


At the height of the electioneering campaign early last year, no one was in doubt that what Lagos State needed was continuity.

After 16 years of progressive governance that saw Nigeria’s most populous and prosperous state growing in leaps and bounds and emerging as Africa’s fifth largest economy, the prayer on everyone’s lips was for the state to be blessed with a governor that would continue with the good works of his predecessors.

Lagosians wanted, and deservedly so, a helmsman that would consolidate on the solid structures erected since 1999 and add more concrete blocks to the pillars of the past few years that appeared to be more glossy than solid.

Considering that 2015 was going to be challenging as oil prices dipped and 2016 was expected to be even more dire, people’s expectations were somewhat moderated – maintain the gear on drive mode and keep the wheels balanced for the expected turbulence of the first few years was their expectation of the new Lagos governor.

But Akinwunmi Ambode, the son of a teacher who was trained to manage money and create resources with entrepreneurial assurance, was convinced Lagos deserved more than an exchange of baton by political marathoners from the same house. And so he promised continuity with improvement and a state that would work for everyone, irrespective of gender, creed or faith.

But a multitude familiar with a certain formula practically grew impatient after first encounter with turbulence. The point of inner cleansing and the introduction of an enduring reform that the governor embarked on to strengthen the system in his first few months were almost lost on them. The people had gotten continuity they voted for but were unaccustomed to the change component of improvement until the owner of the mandate proved that issues of gridlock, recalcitrant traffic officers and opportunistic thieves were mere irritants that could never disrupt his focus and well thought-out plans to take Lagos to the next level.

With a near clinical precision, the Ambo magic suddenly seized the land with one wondrous accomplishment after the other, in quick succession, leaving nobody in doubt that not only did the people make the right choice in voting this Epe-born chartered accountant to continue the good works associated with the state, but also that a lot more could in fact be achieved stealthily within such a short time.

Those who see a magic wand may not be totally wrong. Strategy that appears to be self re-inventing can seem magical to eyes fixated on an old manual. But the magic in Governor Ambode’s style is actually in staying focused, on his own lane and maintaining strict fidelity to his campaign promises. A deeper look into his first 12 months will most certainly reveal a well-coordinated governance approach guided by the needs of the people.

He promised a safer Lagos:

With Lagos as the clear front-runner among the few states in the federation still fulfilling their obligations to workers, it was no surprise that an influx of internal economic migrants was inevitable. Pressure on roads and social infrastructure would shake the system. A serious government would have to add to the security apparatus and this is precisely what Ambode did, first in November 2015 with assets donation of about N4.8 billion to the Police and re-branding of the Rapid Response Squad and another contribution last month of about N1.8 billion worth of equipment to security agencies.

We see how Lagos in the last nine months in particular has been turned into a grand construction site where roads upon roads are being commissioned in all the nooks and crannies of the state. Every Local Council Development Area has two inner roads being reconstructed simultaneously. Yet, big projects are ceaseless…


In Ambode’s Lagos, consequently, no single police station is now left without a functional brand new patrol vehicle and two patrol power bikes. There is a Command and Control Centre that is turning the state into a ‘smart city’, security wise; and the newly commissioned Rescue Unit of the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority with one of the best arrays of rescue equipment in Africa simply reveals the new Lagos as a state that is ready to announce its arrival as a 21st century global player.

Traffic robbers have largely disappeared; armed gangs are being hounded down on a daily basis; kidnappers have fled and cultists, like criminal groups, have since seen that the new sheriff in town prefers to wield the big stick than play on rhetoric.

Look deeply and the conscientious analyst will see that those massive investments were not products of a desperate attempt to impress. In identifying those items, ordering them and planning the logistics of shipping and arrangements, training and deployments, several months must have been invested in getting all those sorted. Could it therefore not be that in those first few months of painstaking planning, when he had to carry out a budget reordering just to create funds without going through the route of supplementary budget, Ambode was simply building a foundation for a new fortress upon which all the spectacular achievements we now see would rest?

He promised a government of inclusion:

We see how Lagos in the last nine months in particular has been turned into a grand construction site where roads upon roads are being commissioned in all the nooks and crannies of the state. Every Local Council Development Area has two inner roads being reconstructed simultaneously. Yet, big projects are ceaseless, from Ago Palace Way in Okota to Brown Street in Oshodi and Ajasa Command Road in Alimoso, and Lagosians are saying they have never had the joy so widespread.

And there are the AmboLights…the impressive Light-Up Lagos project that has adorned the state with a bright new look through street lights. Communities hitherto abandoned are being hooked up to the national grid through the rural electrification component of the project. His’ is a ceaseless impact that leaves no one behind, and every quarterly the governor moves with his entire team from one senatorial district to the other, rendering account of his stewardship while also feeling the pulse of the people.

And when he chose to do the Lagos dance, the state being as much the centre of excellence as it is the vaunted centre of attraction, Ambode simply decentralised the concept of fun by transforming the one-day Lagos Countdown on December 31st to a five-day, five-venue One Lagos Fiesta. Who would have thought that Epe, Badagry and Ikorodu could rock with such verve and fervour as Ikeja and Victoria Island?

He promised a lean and prudent government:

It must be something of a magic that the Lagos Internal Revenue Service would record an astounding performance at the beginning of a year that the world felt would be scary – its best in the last 10 years; so much so that the first quarter budget performance of 2016 would be recording a surplus.

At the close of his campaign in March 2015, ‘Let my experience work for you’ was Ambode’s final clincher in asking for the votes of Lagosians. By that same time one year after, the unspoken reality the people have heard clearly was ‘Let my work speak for me.’


It’s no magic, but evidence of the ingenuity of a governor that has been saving the state about N3bn that would have gone into debt servicing every month. It is the genius that could have a government pay more than N11bn to pensioners in one year, including arrears of the five previous years, while keeping civil servants happy with regular salaries and emoluments without having to borrow a dime from any bank.

It must be evident without an iota of doubt that tax payers money is at work in Lagos.

Those perceptive enough are quick to say that Ambode’s second year will even be greater. Their prophetic summation is apt and not just because a grand ceremony awaits the state through the Lagos@50 celebration. Yes, Lagos will have a ball to celebrate her golden jubilee but it will also witness unprecedented developments because the seeds of greatness have been planted already.

Through the commencement of the Fourth Mainland Bridge; the Lagos Medical Park in Ikoyi; the Oshodi multi-dimensional bus terminal and regeneration; the completion of the two fly-over bridges in Ajah and Abule Egba and commissioning of the Blue Line light rail from Marina to Mile 2 as well as the construction of new Ibile schools and tablets for pupils that will redefine education in the state, Lagos is set to better appreciate the wisdom in putting a cerebral manager of resources to govern the state at a time like this.

At the close of his campaign in March 2015, ‘Let my experience work for you’ was Ambode’s final clincher in asking for the votes of Lagosians. By that same time one year after, the unspoken reality the people have heard clearly was ‘Let my work speak for me.’ The scorecard in his first year in office, undoubtedly, has been a resounding A-Plus for this son of a teacher whose style is now something of a masterclass in effective governance.

Steve Ayorinde is the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy.