Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State on Saturday extolled the virtues of his predecessor, Babatunde Fashola, as Mr. Fashola, now the Minister for Work, Power and Housing, made his first official to the seat of government since hand over in May 2015.
Mr. Ambode, who spoke when he received Mr. Fashola and some top officials of his Ministry on a courtesy visit at the Lagos House, Ikeja, attributed many of his achievements as governor to the “solid foundation” laid by Mr. Fashola.
“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 said.
It was the first time the two politicians met officially at the state government’s headquarters in Lagos.
It was also the first time Mr. Ambode would publicly acknowledge the achievements of his predecessor, whom he recently accused of frustrating some of his projects. Mr. Fashola denied the claims.
For nearly two years, both men seemed locked in a cold war. Less than six months into his administration, Mr. Ambode revoked a 50-year concession contract for the redevelopment of the highbrow Falomo Shopping Centre awarded by Mr. Fashola.
During the same period, details of some contracts awarded by Mr. Fashola, including one in which he spent N78 million to upgrade his personal website, leaked to the public.
At a town hall meeting late last year, Mr. Ambode spoke of how he was running his government N3 billion less than what his predecessor had been spending.
On Saturday, Mr. Ambode made a rare acknowledgement, attributing much of the success of his administration in the last 22 months to “more or less a fall out of the great achievements the former governor had already put in place.”
“We have decided that we would carry on with a sense of continuity in all the things that have been done,” Mr. Ambode continued.
“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 have 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,” Governor Ambode said.
Mr. Ambode also pledged to expand the existing collaboration with the Federal Government, saying that it would not only benefit Lagosians, but Nigerians in general.
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.
It would be recalled that Governor Ambode recently set machinery in motion to attain 24-hour power supply through generation of 3,000 megawatts of electricity by 2022.