A simmering crisis among leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) blew into the open on Wednesday as the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, alleged that his administration’s plan to carry out a total reconstruction of the International Airport Road from Oshodi was being frustrated by the Federal Ministry of Works, headed by his predecessor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola.
There has been no love lost between Fashola and APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, since 2011. Tinubu almost stopped Fashola from running for a second term in office, until he was prevailed upon by party leaders among others. The crisis worsened towards the 2015 elections as Fashola also opposed the gubernatorial ambition of Ambode, who is Tinubu’s protege.
Ambode, who spoke to Government House Correspondents at the Lagos House, shortly after carrying out an extensive inspection of some critical projects in the State, said the present state of the Muritala Muhammed International Airport Road was a national disgrace and required immediate attention to salvage the nation’s image.
He said the State Government presently has a design for the reconstruction of the road as well as the funds to embark on the project but the Federal Government was yet to grant approval.
The Governor said: “The road linking Oshodi to the International Airport, you would all agree with me is a national embarrassment. In the spirit of the regeneration and urbanisation that this administration has set out to achieve, we believe strongly that the image that is exhumed by the decadence of that road must be repaired and we took it upon ourselves to appropriate the 2017 budget that the House of Assembly should approve the total reconstruction of the Airport Road from Oshodi to the International Airport.
“The State currently has a design of 10 lanes to come from Oshodi to the International Airport with interchange and flyover that would drop you towards the Local Airport. The contractor is already set to go and everything as I said has been completed and we already have the cash, but alas we are having challenges with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing. This is a Federal and not a State road. The Federal Ministry of Works believes that they should do the road, but they have not been able to do it all these years past.”
He lamented that despite the fact that the Federal Government was indebted to the State to the tune of N51billion, which was spent on repairing Federal roads over the years, the State Government’s effort to immediately transform the Airport Road to world class standard was being frustrated.
Governor Ambode said if given the approval, his administration was ready to hit the ground running and begin construction of the Airport Road within two weeks and finish same within a period of six months.
Besides, the Governor also implored the Federal Government to avail the State of the N2billion appropriated for the Airport Road in the 2017 National Budget to carry out the project.
“I just want to remind Lagosians that prior to my becoming Governor, the Federal Ministry of Works has been owing Lagos State a total of N51billion as reimbursement for reconstruction that was carried out by the State Government on federal roads in the State.
“So obviously, what we are asking for is that whatever it is that we are asking for, it can never be up to the N51billion that they are owing us.
“I just want to appeal to the Federal Ministry of Works, to let go or reimburse us with whatever it is that they are owing us and even if they are not willing to pay us now, we have the money to do it. It is a national disgrace and we would not be part of it. We would like to do it as part of the celebration of Lagos at 50,” Governor Ambode said.
The Governor also expressed frustration that six months after President Muhammadu Buhari approved the handover of the Presidential Lodge, Marina, the State Government was yet to gain access into the premises.
He said that the inability of the State Government to access the Lodge was seriously frustrating the programmes outlined for the Lagos @ 50 celebrations.
“One of the key venues that we need to celebrate the real essence of Lagos, the historic place that we refer to as Presidential Lodge is still more or less being tossed about in terms of being handed over to us. We believe strongly that by May 27, 2017, we should be able to invite Mr. President and other people who have actually made Lagos what is it today to that Presidential Lodge for the final Banquet and Dinner to mark Lagos at 50.
“As we speak, we are yet gain entrance into that place and this is frustrating our programme. So I want to use this medium to appeal and say that the approval of Mr. President should be rightly honoured and the agencies concerned, that is the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and the Security Services should honour that promise by Mr. President. We just believe strongly that we must proceed to gain access into that place so that we can roll out our programmes for Lagos at 50,” Governor Ambode said.
On the projects inspected, the Governor expressed satisfaction with the pace of work by the contractors, saying that they would be commissioned as part of the State’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.
While noting that his administration has fully paid compensation to owners of properties that had to give way for the Oshodi and Ojodu Berger regeneration projects, the State Government has concluded plans to pay property owners at Abule Egba within the next four weeks.
Among projects inspected include the Ojodu Berger regeneration project, Abule Egba Flyover Project and also the Aboru Abesan Link Road and Bridge Project.