Last week, the Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode and his predecessor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, now the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, engaged in a public spat over the request to take over the Presidential Lodge, Marina and the Oshodi-Airport Road in Lagos. While Ambode argued that Fashola was frustrating him, the latter insisted that due process must be followed before the takeover. Whatever may be their differences, this is obviously an unnecessary flexing of muscles over matters of state that affect the interest and welfare of the people. We therefore think both of them should set aside personal differences and resolve the issues without further delay.
Lagos State had applied to take over the Presidential Lodge, State House Annex, Marina because the historical monument had suffered neglect. President Muhammadu Buhari granted approval for the request. Six months after, the presidential directive had not been complied with. This, no doubt, is unfortunate. Despite the change mantra of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that is in power both in Lagos and at the centre, the inertial with which matters of state are handled remains an endemic part of the conduct and implementation of government policies.
If the Presidential Lodge matter is regarded as little and trivial because it is of no direct consequence on the welfare of the majority of the people, the request for the hand-over of the Oshodi-Airport Road to the state government is certainly not and must be considered serious enough for an immediate resolution. Obviously embarrassed by the dilapidated state of the road, a major entry point to Africa’s fifth largest economy, the state had applied to take over its rehabilitation along with three other strategic roads in its domain. To demonstrate its seriousness, it procured a 10-lane design and provided N12billion in its 2017 budget for the execution of the project.
According to Governor Ambode, the state is ready to mobilise its contractor to deliver the road within six months. Meanwhile, the federal government that owns the road has an eight-lane design with a paltry N2 billion earmarked for it in its yet to be passed 2017 budget without any certainty about when rehabilitation works would start.
Without a doubt, the Lagos State Government has a more realistic plan to fix the road and its helping hand to the federal government out of concerns for its suffering citizens ought to be enthusiastically embraced.
We agree, however, with Minister Fashola on the need to adhere to the processes laid down for such transactions. But we caution that the requirement for due process must not defeat the need to urgently alleviate the suffering of Lagos residents. After all, the goal of public policy is to achieve the greatest good for the mass of the people. We urge him, therefore, to speed up the process for the approval of the request for the takeover of the road as well as ensure the immediate perfection and release of the papers for the Presidential Lodge to the state.
Finally, we think it has become necessary to review the template for transactions between the federal and state governments on matters like this. There should be a uniform approach that would shorten the turnaround time. For only recently, the federal government handed over the National Theatre, Iganmu and the National Stadium, Surulere, both in Lagos to the state for rehabilitation without much ado. Perhaps the smoothness of those transactions was facilitated by the individual dispositions of the ministers of the agencies involved.
Going forward, we need to build a framework that de-emphasises the role of individuals and strengthens institutional approach to policy formulation and implementation.