MY VISION FOR LAGOS STATE BY JIMMY AGBAJE“The responsibility of leadership is one that is humbling. I’m humbled by the chance to share in the vision, hopes and prayers for a better Lagos but I’m even more confident – confident that my ideas can create the enabling environment for the visions of our people to be realized. In the end, that’s what really counts.” — Jimi Agbaje

The reason I’m in this race is simple: We can do better as a people. I’m confident that we can do much more than the current status quo might suggest – not because it is expedient to do so, but, on the contrary, because it is imperative – if we are to secure the future of Lagos and give the next generation a fighting chance in a highly competitive global economy. The question remains: how do we accomplish this when our current policies confine the resources of the state to the hands of a few while benefiting their interests over interest of the greater good? If we are to move Lagos higher and make it work for everyone, it will have to be done through a concerted effort that is fostered by good leadership based primarily on inclusiveness. This will only happen when Lagosians demand a change in the way government works for the people. A change that would focus not just physical infrastructure but human capital; a change that would foster not just the inflow of large enterprise investment but will also stimulate small business opportunities; a change where merit trumps access and the dreams of our people and their families can be realized – whether rich or poor; indigene or non-indigene; male or female; young or old.

Friends and fellow compatriots, the issues that are at stake in this election will go on to shape our lives and those of our children for the forseeable future. The challenges that we face have only intensified. Take housing for example: Today we have an affordable-housing crisis in Lagos. At the current rate of population growth in Lagos, we’ll need nothing less than an astonishing 170,000 housing units built annually to cater to the needs of low-middle income households. Our universities and polytechnics – institutions that we rely on to train and develop the brightest minds who we depend on to keep us globally competitive – are grossly underfunded. If we are to move higher, we’ll need a healthcare system that not only works but offers doctors, nurses and other health practitioners the support and dignity that they deserve in order to support our young and teeming population.

Our challenges have intensified and the only way solve them is to fundamentally move in a new direction by taking big bets that are in the interest of the people. We must begin to think in more inclusive, more diverse and more innovative ways. This is no time to succumb to the greed of a few at the expense of the greater good. This is the time for transformative action, transparency and inclusiveness. While my opponents will argue that Lagos is working, the fact remains that it is not working for everyone. We still have a lot of work to do – not just for the people of Ikoyi, Lekki, Ikeja and Yaba but for all Lagosians whether they reside Badagry, Akute, Iju, Ojo, Epe or Ifako. To succeed, we need a clear vision, a powerful message and ground-breaking policies.
This is my vision for Lagos and my contract with Lagosians:

To lead Lagos in a fundamentally new direction where the growth and future of this state is not just dependent on government intervention but driven by policies that encourage rapid growth of the private sector. My vision of a truly world-class Mega-City is hinged on a renewed focus on infrastructure, social services, transparency in government, human and enterprise development, security and inclusiveness. And by this:

We aim for a Lagos that embraces its position as a global mega-city state populated by well-educated, skilled, healthy people living in a secure prosperous environment.
We strive for a Lagos that enables ‘Lagosians’ to achieve the personal, entrepreneurial and professional aspirations, regardless of origin, socio-economic background and gender.
We will work towards a Lagos that confirms its place as a regional hub for financial and professional services and commercial enterprise through genuinely business-friendly reforms and initiatives.
Our government will be inclusive and will foster partnerships with the private sector, other tiers of government, non-governmental interest and community groups to improve access and delivery of economic goods and services.

My policy philosophy is based on aspiration and prosperity with clear roles and responsibilities for residents and the government.

Every resident of Lagos has aspirations regardless of socio-economic background, educational-level, profession or status and it is important that residents are enabled to achieve their aspirations as the state government helps them to:
IDENTIFY opportunities
ACCESS the identified opportunities
BENEFIT from or take advantage of opportunities
Residents, who have expectations of the government, must also embrace their responsibilities to the government and fellow residents.
The government will partner with diverse, appropriate stakeholders to deliver economic goods, service and infrastructure.
Partners will include:
Local government and wards
Non-governmental organisations and professional interest groups
Community and neighbourhood groups
The Private sector
International agencies and non-government organisations
The government will:
Ensure efficient and cost-effective provision/delivery of facilities and services.
Regulate, monitor and evaluate the quality of services and facilities provided


IS POLICE STILL ENFORCING OKADA BANS ON LAGOS HIGHWAYS?..Now, okada riders enjoy free ride in Lagos

Less than two years into the implementation of the Lagos Road Traffic Law 2012, commercial motorcyclists (popularly known as okada riders) have returned to some of the roads the law prevents them from plying.

Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, Agege Motor Road, Lagos-Ikorodu Expressway, Iba-LASU Road and Isolo-Ikotun Road are among the routes okada riders have resumed their business uninterrupted.

When the law became fully operational about two years ago, the busy routes and other hundreds of inner city ones regained sanity, while motorcycle-related accidents reduced by over 50 per cent, according to statistics by the Lagos State Government.

But with the exception of the Third Mainland Bridge and a few other roads, especially on the Island, findings show that okadas, with their associated oddities, have returned to the expressways where they compete with other road users.

Some people have viewed the comeback as a response to an obvious need. For instance, those who commute between Apapa and Mile 2 said the perpetual gridlock on the route had left them with no option but to shuttle the places via motorbikes.

“If they insist okada should not ply the road, what options do commuters have? If you spend a whole day on the road, you may not still get to Wharf, unless you navigate through Surulere, which is also not predictable,” Dotun Adefarasin, a clearing agent, lamented.

With the worsening traffic jam on the Apapa road comes hundreds of okada riders to lessen (and also ironically compound) the pains of those who ply it regularly. What other motorists have done in the past months is to learn to tolerate okadas that move in droves on the busy way. Yet, they expect the riders to be more discrete in choosing where to park.

Our correspondent observed on Monday that they (okada riders) have converted some parts of the highway in Mile 2 to a park, not minding threats from fast-moving vehicles. Also, there are indiscriminately-located parks on every kilometre between Cele and Tincan Island for okada riders who also freely violate helmet, passenger limit and other traffic laws.

One of the riders, Ahmed Musa, a native of Yobe State, explained that some of his colleagues shuttled between Mile 2 and Apapa till midnight during which they doubled the fare, increasing from N500 to N1000. He boasted that nobody could stop okada on Apapa road. His argument is that people will always patronise the motorcyclists as long as the road construction lasts.

Cornelius Akuri, an Ijesha, Lagos-based real estate broker, predicted that more and more jobless youths would continue to add to what he called the okada nuisance on the road especially as commuters were ready to pay exorbitant charges – as much as 400 per cent above the fare charged by commercial buses – to be ferried to Apapa in minutes.

“With properly-constructed road and stoppage of indiscriminate parking of trucks, it is possible to stop motorcyclists. Otherwise, I don’t see how anybody can discourage people from patronising them. It is a simple economic principle: when there is no market, they will find something else to do. The last time I drove on the road, I spent five hours whereas I could have spent less than 20 minutes if I took an okada,” he explained.

At the popular Mile 2 Bus Stop, there is no discrimination in the classes of people who seek solution in the commercial bikes daily as the gridlock continues. The young and the elderly, the rich and the poor as well as pregnant women take to okadas as they meander their ways to and fro the seaport town.

Residents of Ejigbo, a bustling community whose link road has been taken over by the same menace, also attributed the popularity of the transport system to traffic congestion. Like other parts of Lagos where commercial motorcyclists have become such indispensable pests, many Ejigbo residents spend much more commuting but are able to save several hours that those who opt for commercial vehicles waste in traffic jams.

“I love to drive or, at least, take a cab. But the roads are terribly bad, causing unnecessary congestion almost on every spot. I am sure many more people will quit okada for a more descent mode if the traffic congestion reduces,” noted Ndu Nweke, a financial/investment consultant whose office is at Ilupeju.

Okada riders who ply the Lagos-Badagry Expressway said they had also become very important to the people in the area due to the gridlock caused by the ongoing construction work on the axis. One of them said officials of the Lagos State Transport Management Agency and other traffic controllers initially insisted on full implementation of the law on the route but lowered their resistance as gridlock worsened.

With the exception of lkeja, Lagos Island, Lekki and Victoria Island, the sanity that enveloped various parts of the city, following the traffic law that debarred okada from specific roads and streets, might have expired. In the Lagos Mainland, the nuisance caused by the riders is fully back.

On the Island, where the implementation is believed to be most successful, a number of operators have also started testing the enforcer’s resistance. Some of them have started picking commuters from Falomo to different streets within old Ikoyi.

Last Saturday, two of the operators said they were in the business on a part-time basis. A source, which has monitored the trend for some time, said more cyclists joined the rebels at nights. He said some had even started shuttling between Ikoyi and Oworonshoki during late hours.”

Another source claimed that most of the okadas operating there (Falomo), are operated by military and police officers.

The source said, “If their colleagues don’t arrest them, who will? That is the privilege they abuse.”

Sources noticed a similar “abuse” by security officers living around the Murtala Mohammed Airport. It was gathered that most of the okadas that ply Ajao Estate and the airport are run on esprit de coup arrangement.

Our correspondent gathered that the motorcycles were either operated by officials of the Nigerian security agencies, particularly the police, or owned by them.

In reference to the rise of the menace, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Raji, recently said there were no plans to reverse the law, which, he said, was in public interest.

Also, last Monday, LATMA’s Public Relations Officer, Bola Ajao, said she could not comment on the issue, insisting the Nigerian Police Force was responsible for the implementation of the law.

The Lagos Police Public Relations Officer, Kenneth Nwosu, however, told our correspondent that the force had not relaxed the enforcement. He warned against violation, saying the police would continue to clamp down on those who violated the law.

Copyright PUNCH.




Apapa-Oshodi chaotic traffic: No end in sight despite assurances

‘WHAT kind of country is this”! An exasperated Bidemi yelled at nobody in particular. Bidemi who has his forwarding and clearing business in Apapa, was trapped in the traffic gridlock that stretched from Sanya Bus Stop to Apapa for over five hours last Tuesday.

At the end of the day’s business, Bidemi who lives in Shogunle, ran into another horrible traffic jam between Berliet Bus Stop and Ilasamaja, also on the ever-busy Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.
Traffic gridlock on the Oshodi Apapa expressway…but when will this nightmare end?

He is not alone in this desperation. Indeed, motorists and commuters plying the Lagos – Badagry and Oshodi/Apapa expressways, have on several occasions, been subjected to untold hardship occasioned by perennial traffic gridlocks that have become the recurring decimal along these roads.

Last week in particular, users of the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway literally went through hell as a result of the traffic snarl allegedly caused by the last minute efforts by petrol tanker drivers to load petroleum products from the farm tanks before the long Sallah holidays. The indiscriminate parking of these trucks worsened the already chaotic traffic situation in the area.

Those who attributed the traffic logjam to the last minute rush for the Sallah may not be altogether correct, going by the fact that the gridlock returned shortly after the long holiday. Yesterday, (Wednesday) the traffic along the axis assumed a rather frightening dimension as motorists spent several hours without accessing their destinations. A middle-aged man who simply identified himself as Lamidi told Vanguard that he spent more than five hours from Orile Iganmu to Kirikiri. “The traffic from Orile to Mile Two started before Orile Bus Stop. After spending more than two hours to reach Mile Two, I discovered that Julius Berger had blocked the interchange that leads motorists to Apapa. I had to drive to Festac Town before coming out at 2nd Rainbow to continue my journey to Kirikiri,” he said.

On the other side of the expressway, precisely between Cele Bus Stop and Ilasamaja, commuters went through another traffic nightmare. This time, the “go-slow” was caused by the deep craters that had taken over several portions of the ever-busy dual carriageway. The traffic gridlock on this axis usually starts after Cele Bus Stop where the second phase of the reconstruction of the expressway stopped and terminates around Iyana Isolo. The worst affected area is between Berliet and Ilasamaja which have developed deep gullies and craters.

The scenario becomes very terrible whenever it rains. On such days, traffic will stretch from Ijesha to Ilasamaja. A classic example was what transpired during the just concluded Sallah festival when the road became very busy because of the last minute business closures.

Controller directs Julius Berger to carry out palliative repairs

Commenting on the poor state of the road and the resultant traffic snarl, the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Mr. Godwin Eke, an engineer, admitted that the Berliet axis of the road has become very bad, thereby impeding free flow of vehicular movement. Eke said he has directed the construction company handling the reconstruction of the Oshodi-Apapa expressway, Messrs Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, to move into the area to carry out palliative repairs. Hopefully, he said, the company will undertake the assignment this weekend.

The Controller explained that the contract for the reconstruction of the expressway from Cele Bus Stop to Oshodi which falls under the third phase of the reconstruction, has not been awarded to any contractor. According to him, Phase Two of the reconstruction being handled by Julius Berger terminates at Cele Bus Stop. Eke noted that inadequate budgetary allocation to the road sector is hampering the fixing of some federal roads, not only in Lagos state, but other parts of the country.

Routine maintenance

Also reacting to the poor state of the road, officials of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency FERMA, denied neglecting this side of the expressway. According to them, routine maintenance is carried out generally on the dual carriageway whenever the need arises.

FERMA Engineer in charge of Lagos 2 West which comprises Oshodi/Apapa Expressway, Mr. Afolabi Oladele, said that portion of the road is under the third phase of the reconstruction of the entire expressway which begins from Cele down to the end of Oshodi.

The FERMA official noted that his Agency has been intervening on the expressway even before the idea of reconstructing the entire stretch of the Oshodi/Apapa Expressway was muted. According to him, the Agency in a bid to make the road useable, has carried boulders and stone base materials to the bad spots for palliative repairs. He gave reasons why the bad portions have not been worked on. According to him, the water that percolated on the the bad spots have not dried up and whatever is done now that the rain is still falling, will be washed away. Oladele said as soon as the water that percolated on the road dries off, palliative work will commence immediately.

“FERMA has been carrying out routine maintenance on those spots by applying boulders and stone base materials as well as cleaning of drainage channels and culverts around Berliet and Ilasamaja. This is still ongoing before permanent reinstatement of the expressway by the Federal Ministry of Works . The problem with that part of the road is that it is the low point of the road. This explains why that part of the dual carriageway is usually flooded whenever it rains”, the FERMA official noted.

Strategic nature of Apapa

There is no disputing the fact that the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway is one road that is very strategic as a major gateway to the country’s sea ports. The major share of government’s revenues come from both the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports.

The expressway is noted for endless traffic jams that keep motorists for hours as they try to navigate through the tankers and trailers mindlessly parked on the expressway by their drivers.

Apart from this menace of tanker drivers, the reconstruction of the Oshodi-Apapa expressway by Messrs Julius Nigeria Plc is believed to be progressing at a rather snail’s speed. The parlous state of the link roads have also aggravated the already bad situation.

But perhaps, the greatest problem of Apapa which directly and indirectly impacts on the traffic situation in the area, is the location of tank farms and seaports in the neighbourhood. Apapa is the home of two major sea ports -Apapa and Tin-Can Ports and no fewer than 20 tank farms.

The plethora of tank farms in Apapa became necessary following the collapse of the refineries and the massive importation of refined petroleum products through the seaports. Lagos which enjoys a near monopoly of fuel importation in the country, thus became the preferred destination for fuel dealers who send their tankers from all parts of the country to lift the product. Functional refineries at Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Warri would have lessened the quantity of fuel imported into the country and the number of tankers that come to Lagos to lift the product.

NUPENG’s role

The Lagos Zonal Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Comrade Tokunbo Korodo told Vanguard in an earlier interview that the union, in collaboration with the Lagos State government, is doing everything within its power to ensure free flow of traffic in the Apapa axis.

“If you go there now, you will see our officials on ground controlling the traffic and ensuring that tankers no longer park indiscriminately on the road. We are also working in partnership with LASTMA officials in that area to ensure less traffic congestion. Our monitoring officials are working on shift basis: morning, afternoon and night to ensure orderliness and ensure that Nigerians and Lagosians, in particular, get fuel. If we fail to handle the situation with caution, it may affect fuel distribution in the country. This is what we are trying to avoid. For your information, most of the tankers you see are not Lagos- based. But that is not an excuse and like I said, our officials are on ground to ensure there is order. We are not hooligans; we are not lawless and we are law-abiding and a disciplined organisation,” he said.