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Dear Governor Ambode: Open Letter To The Governor Of Lagos State

lagos state

Opinion

Dear Governor Ambode: Open Letter To The Governor Of Lagos State

lagos state

Governor Akinwumi Ambode in his office

Dear Governor Ambode,

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I hope this letter meets you well. I guess that is a dumb question when Mummy Patience is in charge of the home front. Seeing your smile and increasing midriff, Mummy Patience is certainly doing a good job of keeping you healthy as she has been doing since you married her in 1991. I think that was the best decision you ever made. Greet her for us.

I normally don’t write letters to busy people. But certain happenings in our dear Lagos State have made it necessary to do this. I hope you understand that calling you is not such a good option.

Your aides could decide I’m not important enough to have a chat with you. I won’t feel insulted because they are right. You shouldn’t be distracted by ordinary calls when there are so many problems to resolve in Lagos State.

Besides, even if I get through to you, you could easily forget the conversation as you go about dealing with important state matters. I understand all that. That is why I haven’t even bothered to write you since you became governor.

So a letter serves two functions: you’d read it unhurriedly when there is the time in your busy schedule to do so. Also, you are likely to read it again if you feel the need to recall something.

Sir, the first issue is about the refuse piling up in the suburbs of Lagos State. It is so serious that it is likely to undermine all the good things you have done in Lagos State. And to be sure, you have done so much in just 3 years many people swear by their ancestors that you’ve already eclipsed Fashola’s eight years in government.

I remember when you were sworn-in three years ago. Many people felt you couldn’t possibly do much since, apparently, you were the anointed candidate of Bola Tinubu. They felt you would do Tinubu’s bidding only. They forgot that Tinubu’s bidding is not even the devil’s alternative.

But you have shown that you are a visionary leader with ideas that are novel. This might be why you decided to upgrade the management of waste products in Lagos State.

When you ended the former arrangements with Indigenous Private Contractors under the supervision of LAWMA, the people of Lagos believed completely in you. It didn’t matter that you brought in a foreign company, Visionscape, to handle the wastes. You made us understand that these people were experts and they would take waste management to another level.

Just a couple of months later, it seems Visionscape underestimated the task at hand. In several communities in Lagos State, people are complaining of mounting refuse on the streets. To put it mildly, Visionscape have dragged Lagos backward as far as refuse management in the state is concerned.

Perhaps you have no idea about the waste disposal crisis because Alausa and the Marina where your offices are are always kept clean by Visionscape. But the truth is, in other parts of Lagos, the refuse heaps are undermining the vision of making Lagos State a world-class megacity.

And there are mutterings from people who claim to know that Visionscape are not experts in inner-city waste management as your handlers made us believe. What we hear is that their area of expertise is managing central waste dumps where they have the personnel and facilities to recycle waste.

But then again, why was it impossible for them work with the former contractors. Did they think they could do it alone? Or was it that the financial terms on the table were not favorable to the home-based waste management contractors?

My Governor, I believe that it’s not too late to find a solution to the problem. Lagos State is big enough to accommodate more than one contractor. How hard can it be to renegotiate the contract with Visionscape? Whatever it takes, make these wastes on our streets disappear. You don’t want something so dirty to rubbish your achievements.

The second issue is the new Land Use Charge (LUC) that everybody including Nigeria News is talking about. As a certified chartered accountant, I believe you know what is going on; though the House of Assembly is yet to send the bill to your office to be signed into law

I’m not going to questions your superior wisdom in matters of finance. It is not for nothing that you graduated from the world famous Wharton Business School in America with distinction.

And your experiences as an accountant at all levels of government including a stint as the Accountant General of Lagos State means you know a thing or two about managing resources. Heck, compared to you, I don’t know anything about complex finances especially when we are talking about the biggest economy in Nigeria.

But Your Excellency, the collective noise from your people cannot be ignored. They are all saying the latest tax on properties in Lagos is not sustainable. A 4000% increase in property tax seems like a straight trip to hell for the common man.

I feel reluctant to believe them for two reasons: first, because you have not signed the bill yet. And, as a typical Lagos man, you won’t want to heap more financial burden on the people you consider family.

Secondly, nobody from your end has bothered to explain in terms of real money what that new law means to Baba Iyabo (remember him) in Ebutte Meta. His house is just behind your old secondary school.

The money he gets from his tenants yearly is his only means of sustenance. He told me he is not going to pay a single extra kobo to anybody. That he’d rather die first and besides, he doesn’t have the heart to pass on the increased tax to his tenants in rents. Most of them are in the lower income bracket who barely manage to pay rent every year.

I know you want the best for Lagos. That is why I’m sure this new taxes can’t be true and even if it is real, you won’t sign it into law the way it is.

Personally, I blame those over-zealous lawmakers in the House of Assembly. I guess this is their own misguided idea of matching your achievements. You are an accountant, please help us tell them that raising the revenue profile of the state does not equate to impoverishing the masses

Sorry, I didn’t plan to take up too much of your time. Keep doing your best and thanks for taking the time to read this letter. We are all rooting for you in the next election as usual.

I remain loyal,
Austin.

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