Pen Cinema bridge and fair credit

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In 2016, very early in the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency, it was time to open the Okota Palace Way-Mile 2-Amuwo Odofin-Festac link road, in Lagos State.  Lagos had a brand new governor in Akinwunmi Ambode, successor to Babatunde Raji Fashola, his high flying predecessor.

In fact, Fashola did most of the work to make that vital artery a reality.  At the opening, to be done by the President but delegated to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Fashola was there as newly minted “triple” minister of Power, Works and Housing, as part of the presidential delegation.

Aside from being immediate past Lagos governor,  Fashola was there by virtue of being sitting Works minister, and executive superintendent of all federal roads.  But despite all of that, Ambode, in his speech, never acknowledged Fashola’s role in the works being inaugurated, thus denying Fashola due and decent credit.

Well, what goes around comes around, the English love to say — and so, it is with Ambode.

On March 6, the Pen Cinema flyover, Agege and adjoining works, were inaugurated, with all of that community virtually rising, as one, to toast a good, massive and impactful public works, which should bring folks, out there, traffic comfort.

Now, this was one of the signature projects — visionary or selfish? — Ambode staked his political future on.  Others were the Oshodi travel, transport and commerce hub and the Lagos Airport-Ajao Estate/Mafoluku-Oshodi free way.

Not a few thought Ambode’s choice was rather self-centred — to corral personal glory, when collective credit could have been better assured, by completing the Fashola-era massive rail-and-road works at the Orile Iganmu-Mile 2-Badagry corridor.

He probably hoped those projects he initiated, all bearing his legacy signatures, would deliver him a second term; and cement his own gubernatorial legacy — as Ambode, and not necessarily a Fashola-Ambode continuum.  Still, project and programme continuity, especially from the same political party in power, is how a sane government should roll.

Well, second term blew up in Ambode’s face though, credit to him, he remained in his party and never defected, on the spur of the moment.  To his credit again, he just re-validated his party membership.  Such level-headedness can’t be tied to the present gubernatorial clan, that flit from one party to another — even at half-provocation!

By faithfully completing the Pen Cinema flyover project, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu learned big from Ambode’s mistake — continuity is it!  He said, at theinauguration, that the project was around 30 per cent completion when he took office.  He did well to complete the project — and in good time too.

He did well too, to complete the Oshodi-Abule Egba Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) track, as well as putting final touches to the Oshodi transport, travel and commerce hub, which appears still work-in-progress.

But on both projects, the governor should have publicly acknowledged Ambode’s role; and given him his due at the opening.  That would have been the logical way to put closure to Ambode-era mistakes, truncate that uncivil cycle, and secure Sanwo-Olu’s own running legacy as focused citizen governor.

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