Former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Friday congratulated the Governor of Osun State, Gboyega Oyetola on his affirmation by the Supreme Court as the duly elected Governor of the State.
Ambode, in a statement signed by his media aide, Habib Aruna, said it was a well-deserved victory and an affirmation of the mandate given to Oyetola by the people of Osun State on September 22, 2018.
“I congratulate my brother, Governor Gboyega Oyetola on this resounding victory at the apex court. It is not only a victory for the All Progressives Congress (APC), but also an attestation to the fact that the judiciary remains the last hope for the common man.”
“With this victory, I strongly believe that it would enable the Governor to focus on delivering on his campaign promises and implementing policies that would make life more comfortable for the people of Osun State,” Ambode said.
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode on Tuesday said all the decisions, plans, programmes and policies of his administration in the last four years were taken with the best interest of Lagos in mind and for common good of all residents of the State.
Governor Ambode, in a farewell State broadcast to officially mark the end of his administration, said the driving force with respect to programmes executed was to lift more people out of poverty and make every part of the State economically viable and livable.
“For this administration, policies, programmes and projects aimed at lifting more of our people out of poverty and making every part of the State safe, accessible and economically viable were always the priority; the driving force behind all our decisions and plans.
“A few of our policies might have been unpopular but these were decisions taken with the best interest of our State in mind. With the benefit of hindsight, maybe we could have done some things differently but our intention was always clear, for the good of Lagos,” Governor Ambode said.
He particularly commended the people for the constructive feedback to some of the policies of his administration which, according to him, helped to surmount challenges, saying it had been a remarkable journey to serve the State.
“With a heart full of gratitude, I address you today for the last time as your governor. It has been an honour and a privilege of a lifetime to serve you for the last four years.
“It has been a remarkable journey which has had a lasting impact in my life and I want to thank all Lagosians for the experience of these last four years.
“As in the beginning when we visited every single corner of this state listening to you and asking for your votes, I have felt the power of your support, your collective energy and the endless goodwill that has propelled us to achieve many things,” he said.
Describing Lagos as a place where dreams come true and a home for everyone, Governor Ambode said it was the duty of all residents to continue to ensure that the State remained the true centre of opportunities and growth for all.
“From being just a commercial centre, our State has now become a prime destination for tourism, sports, entertainment and culture. And the future is even brighter with more exciting prospects and possibilities. In the near future, with God on our side, Lagos will take its rightful place in the comity of major city-States of the world.
“Fellow Lagosians, it has been a remarkable journey. One in which we have pushed boundaries and moved our State to another level. A journey in which we have transformed many aspects of our State and set the ball rolling in other sectors. But there is still a lot more to be done.
“But it is a job not for only the government; it is a responsibility for us all. In Lagos everyone counts and we all have a part to play,” he said.
While appreciating the people for the support given to successive administrations in the State, Governor Ambode also urged all stakeholders to support the incoming administration of Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, saying such would be in the best interest of all.
“By tomorrow, there will be a change of guard in our State. I will be stepping down and a new Governor will be sworn in. We will have a new Governor and a new administration with the same objective; achieving a better Lagos.
“Those who have had the privilege of serving our dear State in different capacities especially as Governors owe their successes to your prayers, understanding and support. The same courtesy and cooperation that you gave to my predecessors from the first elected Governor of the State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande to our national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) to my humble self, I urge you to extend same to the next administration of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and ensure that he succeeds. It is in our best interest to do so,” he said.
Besides, Governor Ambode thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the executive, the legislature, the judiciary; leadership, elders and members of All Progressives Congress (APC); Local Government Councils and community leaders, all our security agencies, civil society groups and religious leaders, among others for their immense support throughout the tenure of his administration.
“To my wife, Bolanle and the children, who have had to endure many days and nights without me; I thank you for your love and steadfastness. You will continue to be my pillar of strength.
“To all Lagosians; for your love, compassion, cooperation and support, I am eternally grateful. My love always,” Governor Ambode concluded.
As Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode finalises preparations to leave office on May 29, his uncommon legacy as an institution builder, technocrat, visionary and lover of the arts have been captured in three new publications, which succinctly document his remarkable achievements in the last four years.
The books – Mad Fun: Inside Nigeria’s Biggest Musicfest; Akinwunmi Ambode: Indelible Marks of a Cultured Mind and The Coolest City of Earth…Lagos, a contemporary bio, all produced by the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, Art and Culture, combine to sum the landmark transformation Lagos has seen in the Ambode years.
Commenting on the publications, Ambode stressed that significant transformation must take place to prepare Lagos residents and visitors for the realities and challenges of the 21 century.
“Under our watch, Lagos has seen huge expansion and improvements in the quality of living, work and leisure spaces.
“We ramped up investments to ensure a more efficient transportation and waste management, modernising our traffic management, security, social services as well as shopping, recreation and tourism facilities.
“Our leisure and tourism sector is practically booming with new hotels, restaurants, bars springing up as more investors see the huge opportunities available here.
Explaining the rationale behind the publications, Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Art and Culture, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, points out that Lagos residents and visitors need to appreciate the important role tourism plays in any economy and that Lagos was in a vantage position to maximise its tourism potential with relevant policy initiatives – the Lagos State Tourism Master plan, and creation of the Lagos State Tourism Promotions Agency; development of physical infrastructure and arts and culture programmes that could attract more tourists to the city and which residents themselves could enjoy all year round.
The commissioner said that the governor, in recognition of these facts, had created a full ministry to address arts and tourism issues, laid down solid policy initiatives to develop tourism, which the incoming administration could easily build upon, and invested massively in infrastructure such as the J.K Randle Arts and Culture Centre and four 400-seater theatres in Oregun, Igando, Badagry and Epe; the restoration of Glover Memorial Hall among others.
For example, he said that Mad Fun documents all the activities surrounding the One Lagos Fiesta, the popular weeklong programme of music concerts held in different parts of Lagos during the yuletide period since 2015, which has provided free but quality entertainment for Lagosians and also provides a platform for both established and upcoming artistes to showcase their talents in a secure and fun-filled environment.
According to Ayorinde, the book captures each edition in the last four years neatly and pictorially, and celebrates the creative idea borne out of Governor Ambode’s Project THESE (Tourism Hospitality Entertainment and Sports for Excellence) to give a sense of belonging to every part of the state.
Indelible Marks, according to Ayorinde takes a deep look at the collective efforts from 2015 when a full-fledged ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture was created for the first time in the state as against what obtained in the past when Tourism was subsumed under Intergovernmental Affairs or Waterfront Infrastructure Development while Culture co-habited with the Home Affairs Ministry and traces the landmark upliftment of that sector to the centre stage, positioning Lagos as a true tourist destination and exposing her potential for more investments in tourism and many other sectors.
It gives further insight into Ambode’s personality as an art lover not just it’s own sake but as someone who realises the huge investments needed to boost the arts, leisure and tourism economy in Lagos State.
Perhaps, the most objective assessment of the huge transformation Lagos has witnessed during the Ambode years can be found in the testimonies of well-travelled foreigners, working, living or just visting the megacity as captured in a third publocation – The Coolest City on Earth – an anthology of essays on their thoughts about the unique Lagos life.
Providing an outside view of the eclectic nature of the whole of Lagos socioeconomic and cultural architecture, the contributors are in agreement that the energy, vibrant colours, liberal disposition and entrepreneurial spirit found in all nooks and crannies of the city make each visit worthwhile and creates and appetite for more.
As Governor Ambode puts it, “Our vibrancy and uncommon energy is borne out that welcoming spirit imbued in the everyday Lagosian and attracts talents and skills to create that economic force, united in its commitment to excellence and leadership, that we are today.
“We are proud to be providing the template for growth and transformation for the rest of our country with prudent resource management and exploring innovative ideas in public services.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor-elect of Lagos state, has disclosed the kind of people that will make it into his cabinet.
Speaking with select journalists in Lagos on Thursday, the incoming governor said only those who have shared vision with him and Obafemi Hamzat, his deputy, will make it into his government.
He promised to hit the ground running, promising to run an inclusive government.
“There are so many intelligent people in Lagos. It’s just for us to identify them. Some could work full time, some part time, others could be technocrats or politicians but the bottom line is for us to identify square pegs into square holes and round pegs into round holes. That’s number one” he said.
“Number two, those who would work with Dr Hamzat and I must share our vision. They have to be on the same page with us from day one. The moment a politician or technocrat is appointed, he or she should see himself as a commissioner or staff adviser of Lagos, not for a sect or an area or jurisdiction.
Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat
We are out to empower the people of Lagos state… These are the basic things, we will not compromise. Femi and I have been on this journey for the past eight or nine months. So, immediately we come on board, we will organise a crash course for them (cabinet members) to see where we are going. The moment we all see a common vision, it will be easier for us to drive a common agenda. But I can say Lagosians will be happy with us when we finally bring out those names.”
The governor-elect said he would make all the major appointments of his government within three months.
He also spoke about his plans to tackle traffic which is a major problem in the state.
“In the first 90 days or so, we are hoping that we would have a working government in all the cabinets, all of the major appointments that we need to have, we would have them running very quickly,” he said.
“We should begin to see huge solutions in our traffic management. I mean there will be some that we would have solved, there would be some that would still be working on because we are going into a rainy season and when it’s raining, for instance, you can’t pour concrete.
“So, some of those issues will come up. But in terms of the design, identifying those corridors that would need traffic improvement, we would have done all of that. In terms of places where we need to improve and increase waste management solution, we would have done all that.
“Like I have also said, the solution of Apapa gridlock. I am believing that we would have solved it as promised but the sustenance of it is another issue. So, sustaining what we solved is key. It’s going to cost us some money to ensure that people are on ground to ensure that the situation doesn’t get bad again but those are the things we need to do.
“In terms of infrastructure, before the end of the year, you will see our road plan in terms of which road, which bridges we would need to complete in the next two or three years.”
Asked what he plans to do differently in government, Sanwo-Olu said: “I really don’t know if a man in his 50s would change how he dresses but my style would be to be very humble, transparent, accessible and to be very engaging.
“Let people have a voice, let them have a say. You might not necessarily have your way, but you can have your say. Everybody has a role… it is only if you don’t have any business here and you creating a security challenge for us that you won’t be guided by the style. Other than that, the style would remain to be the governor of everybody.”
On the resources of the state, Sanwo-Olu said no matter how much is in the treasury, it cannot be enough because the challenges are numerous.
COMPLETING INHERITTED PROJECTS
The outgoing governor exchanging pleasantries with the man who will succeed him on Wednesday
However, he promised that his 1administration would find a creative way to get revenue for its projects.
The governor-elect also promised to put finishing touches to some of the projects which Akinwunmi Ambode, the outgoing governor, is yet to complete.
“No matter how the situation is, money will never be enough but we cannot continue to give money as an excuse not to work,” he said.
“There are creative ways by which you can finance, manage all of the things you want to do, for as long as you are right and people can see the charge out, money will look for you. Money will move to people who need it the most.
“In terms of completion of projects of the outgoing government, oh yes, we will complete them because what doesn’t get completed, wasn’t done in the first place. So, we will ensure that we do that and there shouldn’t be any problem.
“Given my sense of understanding of government, it is a continuum, anyhow it is, we really cannot begin to give excuses. Just go out there go fix it, that is the way it is. Wherever it is that things are wrong, we can make it better, quicker, that is what we have promised.”
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Tuesday commissioned the Bariga Waterfront Jetty, Five Transport Ferries and the Ilaje Road, saying that the development was a testament to the fact that the State’s integrated transport management system was firmly on track.
Governor Ambode, who spoke at the unveiling of the projects, said the development would greatly lessen pressure on road transportation, reduce travel time as well as enhance connectivity within the State.
“With these projects, our State is firmly on track with our goal of establishing an integrated transport management system. These facilities will continue to impact positively on the lives of Lagosians as we strive to address traffic gridlock, reduce travel time, improve road connectivity and abate flooding,” Governor Ambode said.
He said like other projects delivered by his administration, the projects were inspired to open up the Bariga community for more commercial activities and make residents feel the impact of government, recalling that his administration since inception set out on a mission to make every community economically viable and livable.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the thinking behind these projects is inclusion; an inclusion where every resident of our State has a say, feels the impact of government in their lives and is given the opportunity to realise their dreams.
“When we assumed office four years ago, we set out on a mission to make every community economically livable. This has been the guiding principle behind spreading our different projects across the State,” he said.
Explaining how the jetty and Ilaje Road came about, Governor Ambode said the projects were basically in response to the security challenges of late 2015 as investigations then revealed that the cultists terrorizing the people and threatening peace of the State were getting funds from sand dredging activities in the area, adding that the projects were a clear example of urban regeneration inspired by creating solution to challenges.
The Governor said that the initial plan was to upgrade the roads in the community but that a proper assessment of the community revealed a greater need to improve the lives of the people and make Bariga a transport hub that would connect the community to other parts of the State through water transportation.
“The delivery of this road, the jetty and our new ferries signifies our commitment to the people of Lagos State to continuously provide the critical infrastructure that will improve their standard of living and also be an impetus to increase the socio-economic activities of this axis.
“The provision of comfortable, safe and reliable ferry services for the residents of Bariga and environs will no doubt bring about an improvement in journey times that would lead to greater productivity,” he said.
The Governor explained that the new Ilaje Road would serve as a very good access road to the jetty as well as opening up the community, while the Bariga Jetty would serve as a terminal where residents in the area can access ferry services and easily get to other jetties at Ikorodu, Marina, Falomo and Badore in Ajah, among others.
He said the jetty has a 150-car parking lot that would provide an avenue for people to park their cars comfortably and get on a ferry taking them to other parts of the State, adding that residents of the area can also make use of the ample space for social events.
Besides, the Governor said that of the five new ferries, four are passenger ferries that can accommodate between 40 to 60 passengers, while the fifth ferry – a Car Barge has the capacity to take between 16 and 20 cars at a time on water.
He said the projects were also in line with his administration’s policy to develop an efficient integrated transport model to decongest roads in the State by getting more people to utilise water transportation as a viable alternative.
Earlier, Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr Ade Akinsanya said aside the jetty, road and ferries, the State Government was also constructing 12 other roads within Ilaje and Bariga, just as he urged the people to take ownership of the projects.
On his part, Baale of Ilaje, High Chief Kayode Ajetiwa, who spoke on behalf of the community, thanked Governor Ambode, saying the people of the area would forever appreciate and remember him for transforming their neighborhood and making life comfortable for them through the projects.
“The good people of Ilaje-Bariga Community and Bariga Local Council Development Area (LCDA) and Shomolu Local Government and all Lagosians will ever remember your Excellency (Governor Ambode) for the construction of this ultra-modern jetty at Ilaje-Bariga Community for the sole purpose of easing water transportation in Lagos.
“We salute your courage for providing the funds for this project within four years of your administration to which no other Governor has ever done. We are grateful that you have taken us to the next level,” Ajetiwa said.
Akinwunmi Ambode, governor of Lagos state, says he has been describing himself as techno-politician but having spent four years on the saddle, he is wiser.
Speaking with state house correspondents during what he referred to as a “thank you visit” to President Muhammadu Buhari for inaugurating some of projects in the state, Ambode said politicians learn everyday.
Asked to state what lesson he has learnt as a politician in Lagos and in a very unpredictable terrain as Nigeria, the governor said: “You see, every politician learns every day. The fact remains that I came in as a technocrat, so I use to call myself a techno-politician but I think I am wiser now. I am more of a politician than a technocrat.”
Since the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999, Ambode goes into history as the first Lagos governor not to serve two terms.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor-elect of Lagos, beat him to the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) last year.
APC leaders in the state, including Bola Tinubu, a former governor, supported Sanwo-Olu over Ambode.
On what he wants to be remembered for after bowing out of office in two weeks, the governor said: “Well, in another 16 days or so we will be leaving office but what is important is that I was able to have that opportunity to be elected as governor of Lagos State and to touch humanity in a way that I deem it fit.
“We did our best and most importantly the projects we did were people friendly and people central. I just think a lot more people have enjoyed the benefits and dividends of democracy than we actually met it. And that gives me joy that we were able to touch lives.
“Wherever you find yourself just make positive difference to people and Nigerians, that is the whole essence of service. I’m grateful that I had that opportunity.”
The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), diocese of Lagos, has presented a special episcopal award to Akinwunmi Ambode, governor of Lagos state, for his “monumental achievements” in all sectors and sections of the state in the last four years.
The church also tipped the governor for federal appointment in the President Muhammad Buhari incoming team, after his four-year term as Lagos governor.
The award presentation held at Our Saviours Church, Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Onikan, on Monday.
Speaking during the presentation, Humphrey Olumakaiye, the diocesan bishop, described Ambode as an administrator with a patriotic drive who, through hard work and grace, rose to become distinguished among his peers.
He said the governor deserved to be appreciated for excellent performance and selfless service to God and humanity. He commended Ambode for always identifying with the church, saying it was an eloquent indication of his love and undying passion for God and humanity.
“We are very proud of you for taking Lagos state much higher. You have proved beyond doubts that there is great hope for a better Nigeria through your transformational touch in this state,” Olumakaiye said.
“You are a man of courage who believes in possibilities against all odds; a man of focus and dignity. We are indeed very proud of you and we pray that God will grant your heart desires and take you to the next level of your political career.
“Today, we have decided to honour you in due recognition of your exceptional achievements as our governor.”
On his part, Adebola Ademowo, immediate past bishop of the diocese, said Ambode’s name was already written in gold.
“I want to congratulate our Governor for a very successful tenure. Your name has been written in gold and I do hope that Abuja will do something,” Ademowo said.
Responding, Ambode thanked residents and faith-based organizations for cooperating with his administration to maintain law and order, saying it is on record that there was no single religious conflict in the state in the last four years.
The governor said he was particularly proud of the relationship and massive support extended to him by religious leaders which, according to him, resulted in peaceful co-existence and progress of the State.
“To our Fathers in the Lord and clergymen, I thank you for all you have done to move Lagos forward in the past four years of my administration. I am proud of the relationship and support that has yielded the peaceful co-existence and atmosphere of love and brotherhood. For me, this is the strongest plank upon which the progress we have achieved rests,” Ambode said.
“It is also on record that no single religious conflict was recorded in the last four years. The peaceful co-existence of all religious sects is a testimony of our collective heritage in the state.
“As our administration makes way for another, I ask for your continued support and prayers for the incoming government, the governor-elect, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his team.”
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday unveiled the newly reconstructed Institute of Maternal And Child Health popularly known as Ayinke House located within the premises of Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) in Ikeja, describing it as a critical and timely intervention by the State Government in the health sector.
Ayinke House, which is Nigeria’s biggest Maternity Hospital, was upgraded from an 80-bed facility to a 170-bed healthcare centre with state-of-the-art medical equipment, as well as information technology services.
Aside the entourage of the President which included Ministers and Special Advisers, Governors of Ogun (Ibikunle Amosu ), Oyo (Abiola Ajimobi), Ondo (Oluwarotimi Akeredolu), Ekiti (Kayode Fayemi), Jubrila Bindow, Adamawa, Acting Governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu; Lagos State Governor-Elect, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat; Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, among others were in attendance.
The President, who landed at the Presidential Wing of Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja at about 10: 45am, arrived at Ayinke House about 15 minutes later, after which he unveiled the project, and also embarked on comprehensive tour of the facility.
Speaking at the event, the State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode described the development as historic, expressing optimism that the facility would provide world class childbirth and maternal care services to Lagosians and Nigerians at large.
Recalling how the journey began, Governor Ambode said the facility was commissioned exactly 29 years ago, with the late businessman and philanthropist, Sir Mobolaji Bank-Anthony donating the first dedicated maternal and child care facility to the State Government, in memory of his mother; hence the christened name “Ayinke House”.
He said the hospital, which started with just one surgical theatre soon assumed a life of its own as a first-class childbirth and maternal care centre in the health sector of Nigeria as well as first choice for expectant mothers.
However, the Governor said the hospital later became over-stretched beyond capacity and somehow obsolete, while in recognition of the need to sustain Bank-Anthony’s philanthropy, the State Government, during the administration of former Governor Babatunde Fashola who is now the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, awarded the contract for the expansion and reconstruction of the facility.
“Today, seven years after the closure of the facility, the new edifice is now a 170-bed facility with 5 surgical theatres. It has a 16-bed emergency care units with 3 organ support facilities, 30 bed special baby care unit, 5 neo-natal intensive care units, a fully equipped laboratory with support services, laboratories and a blood bank.
“Beyond the significance for the health sector, this institute is a major contribution to our education sector also; as it becomes a veritable platform for our medical students in the State University to enhance their exposure and experience with the top-class medical equipment provided,” Governor Ambode said, just as he revealed that Ayinke House had also been completely digitalised with state-of-the-art medical equipment as well as information technology services supported by the State Ministry of Science and Technology.
He said in view of President Buhari’s determination of making universal and basic primary healthcare as one of the cardinal priorities of his administration, the State Government, under him, had consciously worked to bring quality, affordable and modern healthcare to all our citizenry, among other initiatives in the health sector.
“Just last year, we launched the Lagos State Health Insurance scheme to allow residents access top quality medical care with a little contribution and support from the State government.
“These and other efforts are directed at improving the lives of our people, especially the women and children; and by extension the productivity of our nation,” he said.
While congratulating President Buhari on his resounding victory at the recent presidential election, Governor Ambode thanked him for finding time to personally commission Ayinke House and other projects in the State, adding that the completion of the projects would not have been possible without the President’s support, administrative direction and encouragement.
Besides, Governor Ambode commended the Management and Staff of the State’s Ministry of Health, Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, LASUTH as well as contractors for working round the clock and their enthusiasm in getting the project completed.
Similarly, the President also commissioned the 500-seater Lagos Theatre in Oregun, Ikeja. The ultra modern theatre is one of the four simultaneously constructed by the Ambode administration to increase arts spaces and create standard platforms for talented citizens of the State to showcase their skills.
The President who arrived the venue at exactly 11:30am was treated to a live dance performance by a young group of talented artist before taking his leave.
The Governor said the three other theatres with the same specifications are also ready for commissioning in Igando, Badagry and Epe.
Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on Wednesday received the UEFA Champions League Trophy alongside its Ambassador and former captain of Barcelona FC of Spain, Carles Puyol in Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja.
Puyol, a three-time Champions League winner is in Nigeria on a three-day visit to lead the UEFA Champions League Tour connecting with consumers and football lovers.
Governor Ambode, who was represented by the Chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission, Dr Kweku Tandoh, also received Nigerian football legend, Austin JayJay Okocha, who was part of the delegation.
Speaking while receiving the trophy, Governor Ambode expressed excitement with the fact that the organisers of the tour considered Lagos as one of the states to visit, adding that the development was particularly gratifying more so that the synergy between sports and entertainment as well as tourism had been massively played up in the last four years.
The Governor also lauded the contribution of Puyol and Okocha to the development of the round leather game in Nigeria and worldwide, saying they deserved to be appreciated and celebrated.
“I must say I am very pleased with the organisers of this Trophy Tour for deeming it fit to take the UEFA Champions League Cup to Lagos. We are particularly excited because our administration has focused on the synergy between sports, tourism, entertainment and the arts, among others and the people can see the positive effects of our efforts in that regard.
“We are pleased to also welcome Barcelona FC and Champions League legend, Carles Puyol to Lagos, as well as our legend, JayJay Okocha to Lagos House. Many of us underrate this legend that we have and just yesterday, I understand Puyol had a very difficult time on the field of play in Uyo when JayJay had to give him a few tricks.
“Unfortunately, JayJay did not get to play for Barcelona; he would have lifted the Champions League but I must say we appreciate what Okocha has done for Nigerian football. If you have a player that is sometimes compared to Messi, Maradona and spoken about in the same breath, then we know we have a star in our midst and so I like to thank JayJay for his contribution to football,” Governor Ambode said.
He said in order to ensure a successful Trophy Tour, the relevant security and government agencies have been contacted, assuring that all the activities lined-up as part of the tour would be hugely successful.
While wishing the team a successful tour in Nigeria, Governor Ambode said the State Government would be glad to receive the trophy back in the State in the nearest future, just as he assured that the government remained committed to make Lagos the sports hub not just in Africa but the entire world.
L-R: Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Steve Ayorinde; Ex-Nigeria International, Austin JayJay Okocha; UEFA Champions League winner and former Barcelona FC Defender, Carles Puyol; representative of Lagos State Governor and Chairman, the State Sports Commission (LSSC), Dr. Kweku Tandoh; Managing Director, Nigerian Breweries PLC, Mr. Jordi Borrut Bel; Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Mr. Obafela Bank-Olemoh; Director-General, LSSC, Mr. Babatunde Bank-Anthony and Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Habib Aruna during the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour to the Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja, on Wednesday.
Speaking earlier, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Breweries Plc, organisers of the Trophy Tour, Mr Jordi Borrut Bel thanked Governor Ambode for warmly receiving the team, saying the Trophy Tour was specifically organised to bring the tournament closer to fans.
He said as part of the tour, there would be a road show from Maryland Bus Stop to Ikeja City Mall, among other activities.
Besides, he commended Governor Ambode for his well-though out policies and projects in all sectors and sections of the State, saying the Governor deserved to be appreciated for also creating enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the State.
“I will like to say that this visit is a great opportunity for the management team of Nigerian Breweries to appreciate Governor Ambode on the success that he has recorded in the last four years of administering the State which is a testament to the fact that well-thought policies have been implemented as has been witnessed in security, in transportation, in health, in welfare sectors in the State, and particularly in the continuous construction of impactful infrastructure as well as the Governor’s focused and dynamic leadership in the State.
“We also want to thank the Governor for sustaining a supportive business environment in the State,” he said.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State has denied suggestions that he is working with agents of Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar ahead of the March 9 gubernatorial elections.
Ambode is a statement issued by his spokesman, Habib Aruna, strongly debunked the accusations contained in a story carried by The Nation newspaper in its March 1 edition.
The governor insisted that he remained a commited member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, which is the choice of Parisians.
Below is the full statement:
The attention of the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, has been drawn to a report in today’s edition of The Nation newspaper, Friday March 1, 2019.
Specifically, the contentious report, which was published on the newspaper’s front page without any by-line, insinuated that Governor Ambode might be working with an opposition party through a former member of the Lagos State Executive Council and Commissioner for Energy & Mineral Resources, Mr. Wale Oluwo.
The report also attempted to hold the Governor responsible for the alleged activities of Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi because he supported the governor’s gubernatorial ambition during the primaries of the All Progressives Congress in October 2018.
The governor wishes to make it abundantly clear that, having declared publicly his acceptance of the decision of the party on the primaries, he has not and will never take any action to undermine the prospects of the party in the on-going elections.
It is human to aspire and the capacity of each individual to manage the negative outcomes of a legitimate aspiration differs.
But that should never be the basis to link His Excellency to whatever action of certain individuals who might have shared his vision in the past but have proceeded to pursue their own interests as adults and citizens without any influence from or recourse to the governor.
Governor Ambode’s decision to stand by the party that has given him the platform to serve Lagosians meritoriously is based on the principle of justice, responsibility and loyalty. He has everything to gain from the victory of the party’s candidate Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the Governor of Lagos State on March 9, 2019 and he looks forward to handing over the affairs of the state to the candidate of the APC come May 29th.
It is therefore disturbing, unfair and sad that a respected medium such as The Nation which enjoys the goodwill of members of our party and is appropriately positioned to verify the falsehood of these fictitious and sponsored hatchet job chose not to observe the journalistic dictum of “if in doubt, leave out” in the breach.
In this circumstance, His Excellency hereby makes use of his right to a rejoinder and demands an apology for the unjustifiable aspersions cast on his person by wrongly presenting him to right thinking members of the public as a disloyal saboteur trying to frustrate his party’s campaign and electoral victory.
Nothing can be farther from the truth.
Governor Ambode has consistently appealed to those who sympathize with him that the best way to express solidarity is to vote for the candidates of the All Progressives Congress on Saturday March 9, 2019 in order to ensure that his own legacy is preserved and the gains of the past four years are improved upon.
As we move towards next Saturday’s important election, Governor Ambode urges Lagosians and party faithful not to allow fifth columnists pretending to be overzealous crusaders frustrate our onerous efforts to take Lagos State to the next level.
The governor says as he did in the run-up to last Saturday’s presidential poll, he will leave no stone unturned and spare no effort in ensuring that the party’s flag-bearer in the governorship election, Mr. Sanwo-Olu and all the 40 APC candidates in the House of Assembly poll are duly elected on Saturday March 9.
But leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, including Bola Tinubu, had reconciled the governor and the aggrieved lawmakers on Sunday.
Two days after, Ambode presented a proposal of N852.316 billion before the assembly, saying it had been carefully prepared to be all-encompassing and dedicated to complete major ongoing projects in the state.
The governor said N462.757billion representing 54 percent of the total budget size had been earmarked for capital expenditure, while N389.560billion representing 46 percent had been dedicated to recurrent expenditure.
He said key projects such as the Oshodi-Murtala Muhammed International Airport Road and Oshodi Interchange Terminal, among others would be completed.
He said from inception of his administration, nine key areas were given priority after careful assessment of the needs of the citizens, adding that such had informed the massive investment in the said sectors which he listed to include security, transport / traffic management, economy -including tourism and agriculture, housing, education, health, infrastructure – social and physical, water, wealth creation – skill acquisition/microfinance, e-Governance and enhanced capacity building, sustainable environment and smart city projects.
Giving details of what informed the budget size, Ambode said the performance of the 2018 budget of N1.046trn as of November 2018 stood at 60 percent owing to reduction in revenue projections, while the total revenue stood at N530.192 billion.
According to him, “In the outgoing year, however, we experienced a reduction in our revenue projections, which affected our projected performance and our desired implementation of the Y2018 Budget. The overall Budget performance as at November 2018 stood at 60 per cent/N574,206billion with actual cumulative total revenue of N530,192billion/64 per cent, Capital Expenditure closed at N311,930billion/49 per cent and Recurrent Expenditure performed at N262,276billion/82 per cent.
“In preparing the Year 2019 Budget, therefore, we were very mindful of the out-going year performance, the yearnings of our people and the fact that we are going into an election year. Consequently, we are today presenting a Budget that will be all-encompassing, reflect the level of resources that will be available and with special consideration to the completion of major on-going projects in the state.”
The Lagos State House of Assembly on Monday frustrated the bid of Akinwunmi Ambode, governor of the state, to present the 2019 budget.
Unlike in the last three years when the exercise went smoothly, the governor met brick wall in his attempt to lay his last budget before the lawmakers.
Ambode had contacted the lawmakers that he was set to present the budget but he was not given the opportunity.
When around 3pm, there were signs that the appropriation bill would be presented, journalists trooped to the assembly.
But 20 minutes later, an official at the assembly briefed the reporters that the presentation would no longer hold.
“I know you are journalists and here for your job but the budget will not be presented today,” he said.
“The speaker and the lawmakers are having a private session and would not like to see people at the lobby.”
As of the time of filing this report, the advance team of the governor were still within the premises of the assembly while the parliamentary session is ongoing.
Ambode’s relationship with the lawmakers went cold after he fell out with the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
There had been reports of attempt to impeach the governor but Mudashiru Obasa, speaker of the assembly, has denied this consistently.
Shortly after he lost the governorship ticket of the ruling party to Babajide Sanwo-Olu who has the support of Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the party, and key APC members in Lagos, the assembly reviewed the waste evacuation policy of the state without consulting the governor.
Ambode had disengaged the PSP operators following the introduction of the Cleaner Lagos Initiative, through the Visionscape Sanitation Solution Limited but the assembly overruled the governorin October and directed the PSP operators back to work.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, on Monday, officially endorsed the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, saying that the duo were prepared for the campaign and ready to take on the task of moving the State to greater heights.
The Governor, who spoke at a stakeholders’ meeting held at the State secretariat of the party on Acme Road in Ogba, raised the hands of Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat before scores of party leaders and faithful and wished them well in the March 2, 2019 election.
“As we are looking forward to February 16, 2019, we know it is the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket that the whole of Lagos will vote for. As we proceed two weeks after on March 2, we also declare that it is the Sanwo-Olu/Hamzat ticket that will come to take over from me by the special grace of God.
“I pray for them and bless them that they will take over from me successfully in good health and in good spirit,” he said.
He urged those still aggrieved with the fallout of the primaries of the party to follow his example, and accept the party’s supremacy.
“The first thing I want to say is to appeal to all our party members who, in one way or the other, have been wronged or aggrieved that they should find a place in their hearts to let it just be the same way that I have accepted the greatness of the party.
“I want us to know that the party is supreme to all our individual interests because it has the common good for all of us and we must find a place in our hearts to let the party reign supreme,” he said.
The governor also appealed to the leadership of the party to go a step further by looking for avenues to compensate aggrieved aspirants, saying such was necessary to spur them to work for the party and also move the party forward.
According to him, “I want to further appeal to all our leaders and our party leaders also that when there is a platform for reconciliation, we should proceed also to continue to reconcile and when there is a platform for compensation, we should also make those promissory notes so that all our aspirants who are not candidates must be ready to sacrifice for the overall collective of our party.
“This is very important so that we can move this campaign forward because it is only when we win that we can compensate, it is only when we win that we can reconcile and so let us have that collective decision to move APC forward.
“We are one party and we are one family and if we are one family and one party, then we should proceed and make APC the reigning party at the centre and the reigning party in Lagos. So, all our stakeholders, all our elders I seek for your cooperation, your solidarity and your support for our candidate at the gubernatorial level, senatorial level, House of Representatives and Assembly and also Presidency,” Governor Ambode said.
The Governor, also urged Lagosians to vote massively for the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo come February 16, 2019 for continuation of the good works in the country.
National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on his part, commended the courage of Ambode and others for accepting the outcome of the primaries of the party, saying their act of sportsmanship deserved to be appreciated.
Tinubu said Ambode, his deputy, Dr. Idiat Adebule, and all the leaders and members of the party had done commendably well in respecting the supremacy of the party.
Addressing the gathering which was attended by key leaders of the party in the State, Tinubu said: “I want to say thank you to all of you and God bless you. I thank all of you for respecting the party, particularly the present Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode and his deputy, Idiat Adebule. May God continue to bless you and guide you and you will live long with everlasting progress.
“Thank you to all our leaders, the Government Advisory Council (GAC) of Lagos State and the membership of the party who had embarked on reconciliation efforts to appeal to all our members who are initially aggrieved. The party supremacy has been demonstrated; the party discipline has been demonstrated. You are our leaders and we respect all of you,” he said.
While recalling that the direct primary option adopted for the shadow election of the party was taken after a GAC meeting, Tinubu said it was gratifying that all members of the party accepted and endorsed the decision, adding: “I want to thank you for maintaining peace, harmony, unity and love.”
He said having crossed the hurdle of the primaries, it was now time for all members of the party to unite and maintain a strong outing for APC during the 2019 general elections, saying APC remains committed to Nigeria’s progress, development and economic transformation.
Other leaders at the meeting are the State’s Deputy Governor, Idiat Adebule; Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa; State APC Chairman, Alhaji Tunde Balogun; GAC members led by Prince Tajudeen Olusi; Chief Lanre Razak, Senator Ganiyu Solomon, Chief Kemi Nelson, Cardinal James Odumbaku, former Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Jokotola Pelumi, among others.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, on Saturday, urged voters in Epe Divison to vote en masse for candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the 2019 elections.
Ambode said that voting for the candidates across board would ensure the continuation of the good works of the party both in the state and the country at large.
Ambode, spoke in Epe during a meeting with leaders of APC in the division, which was called at his instance.
He said it was time for the people to put events before and after the APC governorship primaries in the state which produced Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the governorship candidate of the party behind them and truly unite for the party’s victory.
Ambode said it became imperative for him to meet with the leaders to let them know that all members must submit to the decision of the party.
He said: “All of us are brothers and sisters because this is a close-knit community. It is now time for us to work together for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari and election of Mr Sanwo-Olu because Epe cannot be left behind.
“I know that in view of what happened, some people are still aggrieved but what I want you to know is that there is no way PDP will work for the development of our division like APC.
“We are also all aware that for the past 16 years of PDP, they did not do anything in Epe division and it is only the APC that has been doing something for Lagos and for the country.
“I want to assure you that Epe will benefit more if we vote for APC.
“All my achievements in the last three and half years will be improved upon if Sanwo-Olu wins and so I want to urge you all to come out and vote for APC because that is how we can secure the future of our children and this division.’’
Also speaking at the meeting, the Deputy Governorship Candidate of APC in the state, Dr Obafemi Hamzat thanked Ambode and all the leaders in the division.
Hamzat said the governor displayed unusual maturity and character which eloquently confirmed that he was a man with a large heart.
“I want to thank Governor Ambode for being a man with a large and great heart.
“What you are doing is unusual and I want to assure you that you have a future and that future will be very soon. We will do everything to protect your interest and that of Epe division.
“Governor Ambode has done his best and we will do our best to continue his legacies and build on what he has done to further develop our dear state, ‘’ Hamzat said.
At the meeting were Senator representing Lagos East, Gbenga Ashafa; and a member of the House of Representatives representing Epe, Wale Raji.
Others were Chief Lanre Razaq, former House of Assembly Speakers, Adeyemi Ikuforiji and Jokotola Pelumi; Alhaji Akanni Bamu, among others.
Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on Thursday assured that the Governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the State for the 2019 general elections, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu will not abandon ongoing projects but rather complete and build on the enduring legacies already put in place by his administration.
Governor Ambode, who said this while inaugurating an ultra modern lecture theatre donated to the Lagos State University (LASU) by businessman and philanthropist, Mr Remi Makanjuola, said while efforts were on to complete all the major projects initiated by his administration, Sanwo-Olu would nonetheless complete those ones he is unable to deliver before the expiration of his tenure next year.
“I am so excited about the fact that Mr Sanwo-Olu has actually come out here and he has issued a promissory note and what that mean is that we are going to have a government of continuity.
“For whatever structures that we have in LASU right now, and I’m going to also convince our chief negotiator, Dr Wale Babalakin, we are already doing Senate building here, we are doing Students Arcade and we are also doing the Library, I hope I will be able to complete and finish them but if I am unable to complete them, I speak on behalf of Mr Sanwo-Olu that he will finish and also do the Staff School.
“We are not campaigning yet but truly that is the spirit of the kind of governance that we bring to Lagos; that is the spirit that we really want to see and then we should be able to show leadership in all spheres of life that we find ourselves,” Governor Ambode said.
Speaking on his administration’s intervention in the educational sector, he said in the last three and half years, at least N15billion has been invested in revamping infrastructure in schools across the State to ensure students can learn in a conducive environment, while 3,400 primary and secondary teachers were employed to improve the teacher to student ratio as well as quality of learning in schools.
The Governor said beyond the upgrade of infrastructure, the State Government developed innovative solutions to bridge gaps in education system, and to position Lagos State for a technology-driven future including the ReadySetWork and CodeLagos initiatives, noting that while 34,000 students have graduated from the former, the latter is geared towards teaching one million Lagos residents to code.
“At the grassroots level, faced with the realization that about 3 million Lagos residents could not read or write in any language, we commissioned Eko Nke Koo (Lagos Is Learning), an initiative aimed at raising the literacy rate in Lagos State from its current 87% to 95%.
“Through Eko Nke Koo, the Lagos State Agency for Mass Education increased the number of adult literacy centres across the State from 532 centres in 2016, to 782 as at January 2018.
“We have also recorded improvement in enrolment and retention rates of learners in the programme. In 2017, 98% of enrolled learners graduated from the programme,” Governor Ambode said.
He said in LASU, his administration had also carried out notable projects targeted at ensuring the institution remains academically competitive, financially viable, and most importantly, conducive for learning.
The Governor noted that last year, the State carried out major infrastructure development and road works to give the school a facelift befitting of its status as one of the top State Universities in the country, while it had also benefited from a significant increase in subvention to assist in ensuring smooth running of the school.
He disclosed that he had approved for the development of a 6,000 bed hostel which according to him, will increase accessibility and improve security for students in the institution, as the demand for higher education continues to grow.
“Reflecting on these investments, I must acknowledge it has been the privilege of this administration to build on the works of visionaries who came before us; and to be given the opportunity to raise the mark higher as we look ahead to a bright future for our State and Country,” Governor Ambode said.
The Governor also seized the occasion to commend the Makanjuola for donating the ultra-modern lecture hall to the institution, saying that the gesture would forever be remembered by generations.
“It has also been a true privilege and honour to work alongside collaborators – whether large scale organizations or well-meaning individuals in society – who recognize their role in State and Nation building, and have worked tirelessly to support the efforts of government.
“Today’s occasion is symbolic of this citizen-partnership. Indeed, Mr. Makanjuola has sown a seed that would outlive him by bequeathing this Ultra-Modern lecture Theatre to the University. Sir, this is a gesture that will be remembered for generations and for that we are eternally grateful. And in the same vein, on behalf of the Government and people of Lagos State, and the entire Lagos State University community, I say a very happy birthday to you, Sir. In another 48 hours, our philanthropist will be 70 years old. Congratulations, Sir,” he said.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Saturday lauded the Federal Government for the commencement of the reconstruction of the Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki-Ojota Expressway, saying that the project would bring permanent relief to motorists and residents over the perennial gridlock in the axis and enhance movement within the State.
Governor Ambode, who spoke at the flag off ceremony in Apapa, held under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Works, said the development was a historic moment for residents in the State as it was the first time that any government would embark on a total reconstruction of the road since inception.
He said it was particularly gratifying that the project would be done using concrete, expressing optimism that it would ensure that the road would last for over forty years.
“Whatever it is that has been taking place in this particular project has always been rehabilitation and every Nigerian should be reminded that this road has been in place for more than 40 years.
“This is the first time the government at the centre is embarking on reconstruction, that means we are going to excavate everything all the way from Apapa, Oshodi to Oworonshoki and Ojota Expressway and actually reconstruct it, using concrete instead of asphalt because Lagos is below sea level, if you use asphalt, within seven to eight years, it would wash away because we are under water.
“So the concrete template is being used to give us a long lasting solution to this Apapa gridlock and this road will last for more than 40 years and we believe strongly that the PPP platform that has been given to this project to allow the private sector invest their money in it being driven by Alhaji Dangote is the best solution that we can use to develop public infrastructure right now and we must commend the Minister for that,” the Governor said.
He also thanked the Federal Government for approving the construction of the Agbara Seme Expressway, saying that while the State Government was committed to completing the ongoing works from Eric Moore to Okokomaiko, the decision to award the Agbara axis to Seme as a step in the right direction.
Besides, the Governor said beyond road reconstruction, emphasis must be placed on evolving a workable interconnectivity of rail, road and water transport systems, while commending the Federal Government for taking steps towards that effect.
“You would recall a few months ago that the Vice President was here in Lagos to activate the rail construction that is taking place between Apapa-Iddo-Agege-Abeokuta-Ibadan routes.
“What this means for us is that while we are constructing this and we are able to deliver on the rail project, goods can be carried out straight to the Ports from the rail. So by combining the rail and road solution that is being offered us by the Federal Ministry of Works and also Transport and totally by the Federal Government, Lagos State is proud to say that this is a major solution that would bring comfort to all the residents of Apapa,” Governor Ambode said.
He thanked the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola for facilitating the refund to the State Government for some of the Federal projects embarked upon, saying that his administration was already in the process of utilizing same to deliver other ongoing projects within the next few months.
The Governor, however, seized the occasion to appeal to residents for understanding, saying that though the commencement of the project might bring some inconvenience, the end result would be a permanent solution to the gridlock that has bedevilled the area over the years.
He assured that the State Government on its part would deploy more traffic and enforcement officers to ensure free flow of traffic in the course of the construction.
“The future of development and infrastructure actually lies in the present administration and the future of the prosperity of this country lies in the hands of President Buhari and we make no mistake about it that it is in our own interest that we continue to support the present government of APC at the centre and also at the State for continuity and greater deliverables of infrastructure, goods and services,” Governor Ambode said.
Sen. Anthony Adefuye, a member, Lagos State Governors Advisory Council (APC), on Thursday said party leaders in Lagos East Senatorial District fought to secure the second term ticket for Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode.
Adefuye spoke at a reconciliation meeting held at CMD Shangisha, Lagos, which brought together many stalwarts of the party in the district.
Ambode, who hails from Epe Zone in the senatorial district, lost the governorship ticket at the party primaries to Jide Sanwo-Olu, a former Commissioner in the state.
Adefuye, also the APC Lagos East Senatorial District Leader, said that leaders of the party in the district did their best to have a meeting with Ambode before the issue went out of hands.
“People accused us of removing Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode. We saw this crack four months ago and we decided to meet with our Lagos Central Senatorial Leader, Alhaji Tajudeen Olusi and we went to see Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
“We asked Tinubu if there was any problem, and he said that there was a problem and he narrated it. We prostrated and asked him to call Ambode and speak with him.
“We left the place and started calling Ambode to give him a hint of the meeting, but he did not pick our calls. Asiwaju Tinubu said that he was not picking his calls too. I actually tried my best,’’ Adefuye said.
The party leader said that he spoke with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during Sallah that Asiwaju Tinubu would not return Ambode and I urged Osinbajo to speak with Tinubu.
According to him, efforts were also made to visit the Epe home of the governor on the second day to see him which proved abortive.
“We rose up to defend Ambode. We didn’t just follow Asiwaju like sheep, we fought and we tried. Those of us in the East nearly burst into tears for the opportunity we lost in Lagos East.
“I fought tooth and nail to make sure that the position was not taken away from us. It was a great opportunity that we lost.
“Anyone that is not a party man should not be elected into positions. Take this advice and make sure you don’t make the same mistake,’’ Adefuye said.
According to him, politics is all about what you can get for your people and every politician must fight for the people.
He said political office holders must fight for the people to prevent them from revolting, saying that there were a lot of things leaders could do to gain the respect of the people and the party.
The party chieftain said that APC leaders in the district were committed to ensuring peace and unity among the members for the purpose of moving the party forward.
“I want to assure you that it is part of our responsibilities to ensure that we remain one.
“Politics is dynamic; it is not for uncontrolled display of anger. This life is also dynamics. Let us be together,’’ he added.
On the disunity in the district, Chief Lanre Rasak, another member of the GAC, said that the district had not been able to resolve its issues like those in the Lagos Central and West Districts.
According to Rasak, the major challenge Tinubu has with the district is lack of united voice and divisions.
Also, the Deputy Senatorial Leader of Lagos East, Alhaji Akanni Seriki, commended Tinubu for all his efforts to unite and project the party.