By Teniola Popoola
Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode appears to be a man ahead of his time.
His revolutionary and forwarding-looking innovation in traffic management, road infrastructure, bus reform, education, security, staff welfare and training, justice sector reform, bold interventions in the environment and waste management as well as tourism promotions has set many thinking on how far he will go in transforming Lagos into the greatest city state in Africa.
His vision became more evident lately with his decision last year to retool and upgrade the MKO Abiola statue at Ojota Park into the monumental edifice that it has become today. A few people might have hastily criticised his motive just as they criticised the installation of the iconic “Abami Eda” and Awolowo statues. Both works (Awo and Fela) just like the Gani Fawehinmi statue have now redefined the landscape of the state, especially at night, giving residents and visitors a good reason to discard the obnoxious view that Lagos was a concrete jungle.
But did Ambode have a sneak preview of President Buhari’s decision to immortalise MKO with a posthumous award of GCFR and recognition of June 12 as the new Democracy Day? I do not think so.
I think Governor Akinwunmi Ambode was simply a man ahead of his time. A man on a divine mission to transform Lagos just like his predecessors. A man who saw tomorrow and took the quantum leap decision to recreate the MKO statue into an iconic public art installation.
I have no doubt that it is God that has guided Governor Ambode’s instinct and drive to the positive decision of the new MKO statue, whose unveiling on Tuesday is coming at such an appropriate time 25 years after the historic June 12, 1993 Presidential Election and on a day that the entire Abiola family has agreed to divide themselves between Lagos and Abuja where the greatest honours will be bestowed on MKO as the architect of Nigeria’s current democratic dispensation.
I dare say that Akinwunmi Ambode is also a hero for honouring this great Nigerian with this new and record-breaking statue which, at 37-feet (47-feet if you add the huge shiny base) is now the tallest statue in Lagos State and perhaps second tallest in Nigeria after the Moremi statue in Ile-Ife. And I join millions of Nigerians to thank the people’s governor for his service to God and humanity.
It will be a Super Tuesday, therefore, on June 12, 2018 when Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s forward-thinking divine inspiration will be consecrated with the unveiling of the new statue at the MKO Abiola Park in Ojota. Lagosians in particular and Nigerians in general will be grateful and can only wish him well and God’s speed in his quest for a second term in office to continue with his sterling performance in making Lagos an ideal mega city that is smart, clean, livable and prosperous where heroes and icons are made and celebrated.
Deacon Teniola Popoola wrote in from Lagos