Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Friday said that Nigeria’s present economic situation urgently requires its elected leaders to rise above their personal differences and interests with a common unity of purpose and deliver good governance to the people who they represent.
Governor Ambode, who spoke at the opening ceremony of the maiden edition of the Executive/Legislative Retreat held at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, said the recession taking its toll on Nigerians is a wakeup call for the country’s leaders to come together for the purpose of rescuing the nation.
Harping on the central theme of the retreat, “Good Governance in a Recession”, Ambode said the economic downturn was no respecter of tribe or religion, neither does it discriminate along political party lines, hence, every Nigerian was feeling the impact.
He said the retreat, which had brought together members of the executive and the legislature from the state and federal level from both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), was a statement of fact that the people come first in Lagos.
Mr Ambode said “Our people demand, and request from us, good governance, leadership and hope at a critical time like this in our nation. We must therefore rise above our personal differences and interests, with a common unity of purpose; staying focused on our promises and manifesto at all times.
“If our economy must grow, it must also have the mindset and culture to want to grow. It is therefore left for all of us to learn to emphasise the people and de-emphasise the power to get good results. Getting good results requires that we abide by the principles of good governance; whether we are in or out of any economic recession. It is very clear, and I also make bold to say that our concern is, and should be, about our people, Lagosians and Nigerians in general.
“One common feature of most of us gathered here today is the social contract we have with our people; having elected us to serve them. The executive-legislative collaboration is strongly required and desirous in order for us to deliver and create dividends of democracy.”
Ambode, who also dwelt on the need to entrench good governance, listed fairness, equity and obedience to rule of law and inclusion as key ingredients, adding that the last 16 months of his administration has focused on these principles.
“Allowing everyone to participate to reach consensus is good governance. There must be direction as to where our government is going. Strategic vision, performance, responsiveness in getting the needed results in the most cost-reduced efforts possible is good governance,” he said.
Ambode also stressed that there was no better time for the six states in the southwest region under the Odu’a Investments Group to activate the partnership for economic growth.
“As you may recall, Lagos joined the Odu’a Investments Group last year to become the sixth state in the southwest with Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo State as founders. This historic move is not only strategic, but deeply falls in line with our vision of reawakening the political economy and socio-economic hegemony of member States.
“As we proceed to extract the greater opportunities of inclusion, it is, of necessity to call on other state governments, irrespective of our political leanings that the Odu’a Investment initiative is a veritable economic vehicle for us to take our people out of recession,” the governor said.
In his goodwill message, Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, commended Ambode for the retreat and his purposeful leadership, saying that it was a good thing that the state is championing a platform for elected and appointed officials to deliberate on matters of paramount interest to the people.
He said for good governance to be feasible in an economic recession, sound anti-corruption policies devoid of mere speeches and lip service must be put in place, as well as cordial relationship between executive, legislature and judiciary.
According to the speaker, all arms of government must be up and doing on their duties, focusing more on governance that is accountable, transparent, responsive, equitable and all inclusive.
On his part, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, representing Lagos East Senatorial District, commended Ambode for how he has been handling affairs of the state, especially the issue of kidnapping, saying that Lagos remains the only state that usually respond swiftly to such issues with the governor leading the security operatives from the front.
Ashafa also commended the governor for the retreat, saying that such platform should be organised periodically to foster cohesion and unity of purpose among elected and appointed representatives of the people.
In the same vein, Senator Adeola Olamilekan Solomon, representing Lagos West at the Senate, said the retreat was a confirmation of unity among people’s representatives, which according to him, was important for development.
The retreat also had in attendance members of the State Executive Council, party chieftains including former Deputy Governor of Lagos, Prince Abiodun Ogunleye; Chairman of APC in Lagos, Otunba Henry Ajomale; his deputy, Cardinal James Odunbaku, and Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, among others.