Friday, January 21, 2022

Gov. Ambode eats humble pie, says Fashola ‘more vast than me’

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Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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By Mustapha Usman

The animosity between Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode and his immediate-past predecessor and minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, may have come to an end as the latter, on Saturday, visited the former in his office.

There has been reported feud between the two political allies but the estrangement became manifest on March 7 when Mr Ambode fired the salvo by accusing Mr Fashola of frustrating the “total reconstruction of the International Airport Road from Oshodi”.

Mr Fashola however retorted two days after, saying it was the governor who frustrated the execution of federal government projects in the state by refusing to provide land for National Housing Programme.

The minister, in a statement by his spokesman, Hakeem Bello, also listed several requests his ministry approved for Lagos State government.

“The attention of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has been drawn to certain statements credited to the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode claiming that the “Federal Ministry of Works“ has been frustrating the efforts of his administration to carry out a “total reconstruction of the International Airport Road from Oshodi,” Mr Fashola’s spokesman said.

“The Governor also reportedly accused the “Federal Ministry of Works and Housing” and Security Services of denying the State Government access to the Presidential Lodge in Lagos six months after President Muhammadu Buhari approved it off for the State”.

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The duo only spoke once on phone since May 29, 2015.

But it appears the duo had settled differences as Mr Ambode on Saturday lauded Mr Fashola for his achievements during the eight years he spent as governor of the state.

Mr Ambode, who spoke when he received Mr Fashola and some top officials of the ministry on a courtesy visit at the Lagos House, Ikeja, described the visit as historic, adding that it was gratifying to receive the minister for the first time at the Lagos House, Ikeja since he left office on May 29, 2015.

“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,” Mr Ambode said.

“I want to say that this is a historic moment for us, notwithstanding that the Honourable Minister lives in Lagos, this is the first time he is stepping his feet into the Alausa premises and we need to honour him for that and say a big thank you for coming back home.”

Mr Ambode also extolled Fashola for serving the state meritoriously, saying his administration improved on the template already laid down during the previous administration.

“We want to say that whatever it is that we have done in the last 22 months is just more or less a fall out of the great achievements the former governor had already put in place.

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“We have decided that we would carry on with a sense of continuity in all the things that have been done. I had always said that what we wanted was this continuity of the last 18 years, but continuity with improvement and 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.

“We are happy that the sense of collaboration that we have expressed here is what we believe can carry whatever it is that Lagos stands for, moving 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,” the governor said.

The governor also pledged to expand the existing collaboration with the federal government, saying it would not only benefit Lagos people but Nigerians in general.

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He assured that the requests made by the minister in regard to housing projects of the federal government and other road construction would be accelerated, while also expressing optimism that the debts owed Lagos would be refunded.

“I continue to say that we would support the minister in every way that is possible, everything that we have actually talked about in terms of debt by the ministry as it relates to projects, the minister is actually more vast than me in these areas and in this agitations having done the same thing for eight years, obviously he is not somebody that we would want to convert to our passion or our request because he used to be part of what we have always asked for,” Mr Ambode said.

Earlier, Mr Fashola, who described the visit as home-coming for him, said he had come with his team to Lagos as part of a nationwide project monitoring exercise to inspect the job done so far on federal government projects.

He assured that the ministry had made representations to the Federal Executive Council on modalities to pay debts owed state governments including Lagos State for rehabilitation of federal roads over the years, saying that the debts would be paid through bond instrument.

The minister also expressed readiness to assist Lagos State power initiative, especially in the rural areas.

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