Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has granted permission to Lagos State Government to embark on a total reconstruction of the International Airport Road from Oshodi.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, in a statement issued Wednesday by Secretary to the State Government, Mr Tunji Bello, disclosed this, adding that the approval was a 50th birthday gift to the state.
Ambode commended Osinbajo’s “statesman-like approach” to issues and for fast-tracking the process.
“We are very appreciative of the good gesture of His Excellency, Acting President for acceding to our request which is not only very timely but a very heartwarming one. Posterity will never forget this genuine developmental action”, Ambode said
He also described the approval as a further demonstration of the determination of the present administration to ensure the effectiveness of the Executive Order on improving the Ease of Doing Business recently signed by the Acting President.
Governor Ambode gave kudos to President Muhammadu Buhari for providing the enabling environment to attract Foreign Direct Investment into the nation, adding that with the upgrading of the International Airport Road which is the gateway to the nation’s commercial nerve centre, the country will attract new investments.
The governor had in March this year, raised an alarm about the present state of the Muritala Muhammed International Airport Road, describing it as a national disgrace that required immediate attention to salvage the nation’s image.
He stated then that the state has a design for the reconstruction of the road as well as the funds to embark on the project but was being frustrated by the Federal Ministry of Works headed by his predecessor, Babatunde Fashola.
“The road linking Oshodi to the International Airport, you would all agree with me is a national embarrassment,” Ambode had said.
“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.”
Governor Ambode had 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 N2 billion appropriated for the Airport Road in the 2017 national budget to carry out the project.
“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 had said then.
But Mr. Fashola had responded to the governor’s claims of being delayed by his ministry, accusing him of misleading Nigerians.
The Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing said the delay in granting the request was because the memorandum conveying the request of Lagos State which was already before the Federal Executive Council has not reached completion stage.
“The allegations of lack of cooperation from the Ministry and frustration of Lagos State Government development initiatives are simply not true and the facts do not bear them out,” Mr. Fashola had said in a statement by his spokesperon, Hakeem Bello.
“The Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing Ministry has presented the Memorandum conveying the request of the Lagos State Government to the Federal Executive Council as was done with a similar request by the Kaduna State Government in 2016”.
“Due to the fact that TWO of the roads also connect Ogun State, the Federal Executive Council could not reach an immediate decision on them because it requested the input of the other State Government affected.”