During the campaign for the 2015 Lagos Governorship election, the PDP candidate did a thorough research on issues bothering civil servants in the State and embarked on a well-articulated campaign addressing the issues and targeting civil servants with innovative posters and banners around the Alausa enviro.
Seeing the effectiveness of this move, Ambode had to hold several town hall meetings with civil servants playing the parochial card of being one of them.
The BRF administration, he was later to vilify, allowed him to use both the Alausa auditorium and Lagos State Public Service Club, GRA, Ikeja where he promised heaven and earth to improve the lot of civil servants and the citizenry generally. That same favour was not extended to his co-contestants. The one hundred and twenty thousand strong Lagos State staff rallied around their own in his narrow win over a more suave and eloquent Jimi Agbaje.
On assumption of office, Ambode decimated the civil service by the retirement of 30 Permanent Secretaries, among whom are the best brains in the service, including the only civil servant Senior Advocate of Nigeria in the country on the altar of ego and vindictiveness. He thereafter replaced them with minnows and cronies that he could easily bully.
A Civil Service renowned to be the best in the country providing institutional backbone for successive administrations’ sterling performance and producing the Governor and Deputy Governor of Lagos and Ogun States respectively became a lame duck.
While paying lip service to fiscal federalism advocacy at the Federal level, Ambode withdrew expenditure approval authority hitherto decentralised for ease of administration and became sole approving authority for pedestrian matters like staff training and workshop, road and traffic light maintenance, repair and maintenance of vehicles and payment of contractors. After reluctantly granting very limited approval authority to the Deputy Governor, all other Executive Council members have to go cap in hand to the Governor for approval to implement approved programmes and projects leading to unprecedented bureaucracy never experienced in Alausa.
This Local Government mentality approach to managing a megacity state with a trillion Naira budget has complicated governance with deleterious effects on service delivery across all sectors. Hospitals, Schools, Roads, Traffic Infrastructure, Waste Disposal, and Water Supply are starved of fund waiting endlessly for implementation approvals while Ambode is only interested in awarding mega contracts to his friends and cronies. In the previous administration, vital Agencies like Public Works Corporation were funded without a glitch and worked round the clock to maintain roads and drainages.
Not anymore, as this does not represent the Governor’s priority, thus taking the State back to the inglorious past of crater-like potholes all over the state. His erstwhile Commissioner for Works, Engineer Ganiu Johnson, an experienced and versatile civil engineer with encyclopedic knowledge of Lagos terrain, who rose through the ranks to become a Permanent Secretary and latter a Special Adviser was virtually humiliated out of the post because the governor wanted a minnow who could facilitate easier access to the state’s treasury via shoddy and substandard works.
Like most dictators, Akin Ambode is highly insecure and does not tolerate alternative views. Lagos State Executive Council renowned for robust discussion during its weekly meeting lasting far into the night became a shadow of itself with the governor just coming to shove down their esophagi half-baked proposals, mostly from his friends outside the system.
Accountability under Ambode has taken a backseat as contracts are awarded mostly to cronies without regard to the Procurement Law. The General Manager of the State Public Procurement Agency, Engr. Akin Onimole, had to resign his appointment to save his professional integrity because of prevalence of abuses including award of contracts without the mandatory advertisement, padding of contracts and prior award of contract and backward perfection of paperwork.
For the first time in the history of Lagos State, in recent times, the State Budget is yet to be presented to the House of Assembly almost at the end of January breaking a ten year record. This however did not stop Ambode from satisfying his rapacious appetite for public fund as humongous sums of money meant for public impacting programmes and projects are diverted and spent directly from the governor’s office using the Permanent Secretary in that office in connivance with the Budget Ministry, where he conveniently planted his childhood friend, Abayomi Kadri as Permanent secretary.
The rank and file of the All Progressives Congress in Lagos State, knowing the duplicitous nature of Ambode and his tendency never to forget an insult or forgive an injury are certain that he is alleged to be secretly funding the PDP, where he already has a front in the form of Dr. Wale Oluwo, his former Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources.
This is however a no-brainer, as Ambode is already making it easy for PDP by tactfully abandoning governance, leaving Lagos on auto-drive, with terrible roads, dirty and stinking environment, unprecedented traffic gridlock, unpaid student bursary, the Apapa debacle, unhappy and disgruntled workforce, and numerous, otherwise public impacting abandoned projects while concentrating on construction of worthless bus-stops for a harebrained bus system which he promised will commence, conveniently, after the 2019 election.