Less than three weeks after they both disagreed publicly over issues of interests, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, and his predecessor, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, yesterday made up with renewed commitments to collaborate for the growth and development of the state.
Ambode, who established the grounds for reconciliation admitted in his remarks that he was able to take off smoothly with the business of governance in the state in the last 22 months because of the achievements of Fashola during his eight years reign as governor of the state.
The governor said this at the Government House, Alausa, during a courtesy call by Fashola, who had been going round the geo-political zones in the country for project inspection.
Fashola too seized the occasion of the visit to pledge more support and collaboration with the state, even as he brought Ambode up to speed on the activities of his three-in-one ministry in the state.
Ambode said, “We want to say that whatever it is that we have done in the last 22 months is just more or less the fallout of the great achievements the former governor had already put in place. We have decided that we will carry on with a sense of continuity in all things that have been done.
“I had always said that what we wanted was this continuity of the last 18 years. But ours is continuity with improvement. We are happy that all that has been done in the last 22 months is just a continuation of the template the former governor left behind,” he said.
He therefore welcomed Fashola to the state. “On behalf of the people of Lagos State, I would like to wholeheartedly welcome Mr. Babatunde Fashola, my predecessor and now Minister for Works, Power and Housing and especially back to the Alausa office, where he actually left about 22 months ago.
“This is a historic moment for us, notwithstanding that the minister lives in Lagos. This is the first time he is stepping his feet into Lagos House since he left office in 2015. We need to honour him for his service to the state. We need to say a big thank you for coming back home.”
The governor commended Fashola for serving Lagos and his people meritoriously, noting that his administration “has improved on the template already laid down during the previous administration.
He explained that the sense of collaboration expressed by Fashola “is what we believe can take whatever it is that Lagos stands for forward. As you may be aware, Lagos is celebrating its 50 years of existence this year.
“The last 18 years has been so dramatic and historic in terms of the growth and development that we have seen in Lagos, commencing from 1999, when Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu came into office and the eight good years spent by you and the two years we have done. So, obviously, there is a remarkable change between 1999 and now.”
On his part, Fashola, now the Minister of Works, Power & Housing, pledged support and collaboration with the state, even as he give an insight into some of the things his ministry has been doing in the state. He disclosed, for instance, that Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) could only supply Lagos State about 100 megawatts of power.
He, however, said the power supply to the state was certainly not enough, noting that the federal government “is already expanding its transmission capacity to ensure the state had more power supply,” adding that most of the power assets in the country “are in private hands,” even though the federal government “has responsibility as regards the transmission.”
He, therefore, added that the federal government “is working with the generation companies (GENCOs) to improve service to Lagos State. Already, we are expanding the transmission capacity in Ayobo and Odonguyan, where a new contract was awarded by the Federal Government this year.
“We have completed work on transmission at Alagbon. Last week, a damaged transformer was also restored to boost availability of power supply in the state. While coming here, we stopped at the Omotosho and Olorunshogo power stations, to access the performance of the facility.
“The intention is to get more power in the country. As at this morning, the power supply coming into Lagos is about 100 MW. That is certainly not enough. But we hope to improve on it.”
The minister pledged support for the power initiative, which the Ambode administration had started, noting that the federal government “is ready to assist the state government especially towards the rural area. But we want it to happen in a regulated area.”
He disclosed that the works ministry had already made representations to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on modalities to pay debts owed state governments including Lagos State for rehabilitation of federal roads over the years, reiterating that “the debts will be paid.” He also gave an assurance that the federal government would refund the sum of N51 billion it owed the state government.
He asked the state government to help establish the right of way on federal roads across the state, lamenting that trucks, businessmen and women had turned the right of way to their business zones.
“We have right of way challenges across the length and breadth of the country. We have trucks, businessmen and women trading within the federal government right of way. In Lagos State, that right of way is equivalent to 25.7 meters. We appeal to the Lagos State Government to deploy its personnel to recover the right of way for the apex government. It is unfair for traders, truck and others to convert the right of way to venue for business.”
He said the major area he had written to the state government about and “I think we have received some acknowledgement, was to set up a joint taskforce to recover the right of way around the Ebute Ero, Lagos Island. I hope that the committee will get to work.”