Peterclaver Egbochue reports on the pledge to Lagos residents made by Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode during his swearing-in ceremony as the new governor of Lagos State.
The change of baton that took place on Friday, the 29th of May, 2015 across many states of the federation did not elude Lagos state as Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, took over from Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, (SAN) who has been on the saddle for eight years. Mr. Ambode was elected in the last governorship election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He was sworn-in by the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Oluwafunmilayo Atilade.
In his inaugural speech at the colourful occasion which took place at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos, Mr. Ambode, an Accountant by Profession, expressed gratitude to Chieftains of the party and to Lagosians for the confidence reposed in him, promising not to disappoint them.
Mr. Ambode, who is now the 14th governor of the state enumerated the enormous challenges facing his new administration and expressed the enthusiasms to tackle them headlong and appealed to residents of the state to support his administration to be able to deliver on his promises particularly in the area of taxation. Specifically, Mr. Ambode promised to run an open government where everybody regardless of tribe, religion or political ideology would count.
His speech reads in part, “As we collectively face the challenge to make Lagos a better place to live in, we must recognize our strength in diversity: A common national identity where everybody counts. I shall run an open government of inclusion that will not leave anyone behind. No matter your age, sex, tribe or any other Status, as long as you reside in Lagos, we will make Lagos work for you.
“Lagosians are hardworking people. Lagos is striving because of its undying entrepreneurial spirit. However, we must realise that there are no short-cuts to success. To our youths, we must nurture good family values to succeed in any endeavour. I want our younger ones and children to draw some lessons from my story. Anyone of you can rise up to be the best you want to be. Your background and circumstances cannot be an obstacle to your dreams.
In our country, particularly in Lagos, you can always succeed. This is the Nigerian dream where hard-work, courage, perseverance, persistence, merit and rewards pay. We must therefore embrace new thinking and be determined to succeed at all times. I am ready to encourage and nurture that dream in our children, youths and every hard-working Lagosian. We would reward merit, hard-work and loyalty to the State. The future is for those who dare to dream and find courage to pursue their dreams.
“We are all witnesses to the economic downturn and dwindling revenues at the national and state levels. The present economic situation has affected the financial profile of most states in the country. The state is blessed that the foundation of its financial autonomy was designed and implemented by that visioner and our leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Thus, the state has been partially shielded from the negative trend flowing from the federal level.
“For us to sustain the progressive and radical transformation on-going in the state, we have to redouble our efforts on all fronts for our commitment to excellence. While we must be creative and innovative; we are not citizens until we become responsible tax payers. I want to assure all of us that I will make your taxes work for you. You will surely get a transparent and incorruptible government that will give you good value for your taxes paid.
“Creativity is the most valuable asset in any public institution. Progressive governments must reward contributors of good ideas. Therefore, wherever practicable, we shall practise government by incentives and not government by enforcement. We shall implement creative ideas and concepts that reduce the cost of running government; ideas that make life simpler and happier for our people. I, therefore, invite you all, to join hands with me, to offer new ideas that will pull more resources to cater for the poor and needy amongst us. This will be a compassionate government.”
On the plan of his administration to further develop the state, the newly inaugurated governor disclosed that he was committed to the State Development Plan (2012 – 2025). The plan, he observed was structured under four pillars; Social Development and Security, Infrastructural Development, Economic Development and Sustainable Environment.
He maintained that the challenges faced by the state today were good enough ingredients to bring out the best of all residents, adding that together, “we shall push forward and not look back, with our hands firmly on the plough. We would work hard to tackle poverty, ignorance and social decadence in our State.”
He further said, “As we all know, the best practices of yesterday may not be good enough for the products of today. In this sense, we shall embark on continuous reforms in the public service. I am determined to demonstrate that the government belongs to the citizens. You have put us here as servants to serve you and not you serving us. Today we are committed to that creed. Moving forward, the Civil Service will be strengthened and made to respond to the needs of all citizens in the same manner, quality services are rendered in the private sector.
“My administration is prepared to take the decisions needed to promote merit and professionalism. To restructure where required, eliminate poor Human Resource practices and accelerate the pace of reforms in the spirit of good governance. I want to assure the business community and corporate Lagos that the ease of doing business in Lagos will be improved upon earnestly. Lagos is open for greater business; To this end, a new office of Overseas Affairs and Investment (LAGOS GLOBAL) shall be created under the Governor’s Office.
“We want you to fly into Lagos, start your business, find your way; live, work and enjoy in Lagos. As part of our reforms, a new Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment shall be established. This would specifically address the promise I made during the campaign on employment trust fund, labour exchange and entrepreneurship. This goal, we shall pursue vigorously. Also, the Office of Civic Engagement shall be created under the Deputy Governor’s Office to strengthen and enhance our promise on government of inclusion. Everyone must have a voice in my administration. I have the political will to engage investors and stakeholders in creating the enabling environment for tourism, entertainment and arts; and iconic infrastructure for the benefit of all.”
On his part, the occasion provided an opportunity for the out-going governor, Mr. Fashola to publicly acknowledge the support of Lagosians while his administration lasted. In an emotion- laden speech, Mr. Fashola pleaded for forgiveness from those he would have wronged in the course of implementing his administration’s policies and programmes and urged them to give maximum support to the in-coming government. The occasion was not lacking in pumps and pageantry as various groups adorned in different uniforms cheered as Mr. Ambode reeled out his administration’s plans for the people of the state. Present at the occasion were the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, former governors of the state including Alhaji Lateef Jakonde.
Others were, Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu 1, the Chief Judge of State, Justice Oluwafunmilayo Atilade, Chief Imam of Lagos, Alhaji Garba Akinola, former deputy governors Mrs. Serah Adebisi Sosan and Mr. Femi Pedro, Commissioner of Police, Mr. Kayode Aderanti among others.