Reports reaching us from across Lagos is clear and unanimous: The honeymoon period between the people of Lagos State and our newly elected Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, is over.
The very many comments on Facebook and Disqus, critical tweets in the cyber world as well as frustrating remarks in bars, churches and PTA gatherings all confirm that the romance is over and the people of Lagos are not happy with the state of insecurity and that of traffic in their state.
In just a few months, the refrain in Lagos has gone from the old reassuring “Fashola is trying” to a new doubtful “Is this Ambode is up to it?
In his other life, our governor was an accountant so as a man of numbers, I doubt Ambode would argue with facts. I will be rather disappointed to hear him accommodate discussions from those that argue with fact and numbers.
It is however legitimate for those near the governor to ask themselves if there was ever really a honeymoon period. It will also be interesting for his strategy team to, with an open mind, find out if the most vociferous in condemning the governor were his supporters when he was a candidate.
As a man of numbers, the governor himself has to with open mind accept that he has a crisis of popularity and performance ratings to deal with. No matter how good his intentions are, the Governor needs to know that intentions are not good enough: he must be perceived to be doing well. Let us be very clear here, spinning things will not do it, the governor must do and his administration must be seen to be doing.
Reality check is now a must for the Governor; to get things right the Governor of Lagos State needs to sit back to review if anyone in his strategy team forecast that his first steps might lead to a dive in popularity. If no one warned him then Governor Ambode needs to make his team acknowledge that they got it wrong. If the team warned him but the Governor did not listen to advice then the Governor needs to acknowledge he got it wrong.
Whilst at it, the Governor also needs to go down the memory lane to check if anyone warned him that filling the shoes of the past Governor Fashola was not going to be easy. If no one did then Governor Ambode needs to evaluate his listening skills or his choice of friends and associates.
Given where we are, the governor and his team need to deal with what the people of Lagos are complaining about. The two most prominent issues Lagosians seem to have major concerns over at the moment are traffic and security.
It is legitimate for the Governor and his team to suspect someone in the traffic enforcement team of being lackadaisical or outright sabotage. Yes, any observer will readily note that recently there are a lot of officers not doing there jobs and hence allowing motorists, especially commercial drivers get away with breaking traffic laws that in turn leads to heavy traffic. It will however be wrong for Governor Ambode to explain that to Lagosians. The right thing to do is to investigate and prosecute anyone found guilty of such.
Doing is however not enough, Ambode needs to be seen doing. Lagosians like other Nigerians like the persona of an active leader, a man of action. Ambode needs to be seen on the road inspecting ongoing contruction projects and monitoring traffic enforcement agents. He needs to create the perception that he or someone for him can appear at any time and anywhere to check road users and those charged with managing traffic.
There is no point reinventing the wheels when it comes to security. Everywhere you go in the world, the observation is the same: Crime is low where police presence and intelligence are high. This formula can and should be repeated in Lagos. Given that crime rate was seen as low under his predecessor and now suffered as high under the new administration, the governor needs to find out what his predecessor, Governor Fashola, did to reduce crime and he needs to do better than that.
I hope Governor Ambode and his team are aware of people’s expectation. Just in case they are not, I have an information for the new administration: the only way Ambode’s government will get a pass mark is if they surpass not equal the past administration. Yes he needs to quickly craft his own legacy.
To regain the lost affection of his fellow Lagosians, part of what Governor Amode needs to do is to quickly find his own Oshodi. The governor needs to identify a notoriously annoying and seemingly overwhelming issue Lagosians have to deal with and he needs to tackle and resolve such issue.
Ambode’s Oshodi does not need to be a place, it could be a practice, an agency or even a sector but like the old Oshodi it has to be well known to Lagosians, tangible and infamous. In resolving it, Governor Ambode will prove to skeptical and disappointed residents of Lagos that Amobode has really arrived to make things better.
Anthony Kila is a Jean Monnet professor of Strategy and Development. He is currently Director of studies at CIAPS; the Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies. Follow him on Twitter: @anthonykila
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are strictly the author’s own and do not reflect the view of Happenings.com.ng in any way, whatsoever.