Events marking the golden jubilee anniversary of Lagos State have commenced and it will last till May 27. It recently began with a special Musical Play, â€œWakaaâ€, at the Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos.
No doubt, the anniversary, dubbed by the Co-chair of the Lagos @ 50 Planning Committee, Mr. Habeeb Fasinro as â€œa celebration of Lagosians, by Lagosians, for Lagosiansâ€ is a milestone event that ushers in a golden and unique opportunity to document and capture for posterity, in print and on audio-visual, different aspects of the history and progress of the state as well as the contributions of its icons and builders.
For Lagos, the need for celebration is pertinent. Of all the 12 states created in 1967 by General Yakubu Gowon, only Lagos State has remained indivisible. Aside this, from inception till date, Lagos has continued to show the way forward in its commitment to a Nigeria where no one is denied opportunities for self actualisation on mundane considerations. In fact, the poetic tag of Eko gbâ€™ole, ogbâ€™ole (Lagos harbours all manners of people)Â is a metaphor that quite defines the status of Lagos as a melting pot in Nigeria.
Lagosâ€™ cosmopolitan nature makes it a basket of paradox. The burgeoning mega city is home to all sorts of people. It is in Lagos that you get to meet some of the hardest working people on the face of the earth. But it is also here that you get to meet people who live on the fast lane and flaunt wealth without any visible source of livelihood. The former constitutes bulk of icons, administrators, business mogul, literary giants, legal luminaries, social and civil actors currently on display boards across the state.
The question might be asked, why the grand celebration? The state government has decided to make Lagos Golden Jubilee anniversary a grand one because the â€˜Centre of Excellenceâ€™ does not do things in half measures. Apart from this, all indicators point to the fact that the metropolis has good reasons to celebrate. Lagos is already a megacity of about 21 million people with a strong internal brand. If Lagos was a state in the United States, its GDP would be higher than the one of 14 other states, including New Mexico, Delaware, North Dakota. The GDP of Lagos State alone is already bigger than the GDP of Kenya, and bigger than the combined GDPs of 25 other African countries.
Â Inside the federated states of Nigeria, Lagos contributes 25% to the national GDP (or 32% to non-oil national GDP) while being the smallest of the 36 states. Lagos is 65% of Nigerian tourism, 50% of national port revenue, over 70% of international air traffic, and 50% of national energy consumption. Â In the upcoming year, Lagos is poised to become the third megacity in the world just after Tokyo and Mumbai. That’s a solid foundation to build on.
Fortunately, the state has a development plan and steadily but surely building a foundation for the progress of the state with varied futuristic public policies targeting development of stateâ€™s public infrastructure and utilities and at the same time focusing on putting an end to anything that could blight the development plan of the state.
Â In terms of branding, Lagos once had a reputation of being a dirty and disorganised city. That was prior to 1999 when heaps of refuse, bloated death bodies, abandoned broken down vehicles and decayed infrastructure among other negative narratives were common features in the state. Without doubt, succeeding administrations since 1999 have positively transformed the profile of Lagos State. Today, nobody is talking about heaps of refuse again.
Â One aspect of life that was also as interesting as it was dangerous in the state in the recent past was the menace of the â€˜Area Boysâ€™ (street urchins). At a point, these boys became a law unto themselves and military administrations from the era of Gbolahan Mudashiru to that of Mohammed Buba Marwa battled endlessly to rid Lagos of their menace. Â Oshodi, Charity, Mile 12, Ebute Ero and the likes used to be notorious flash points of nefarious activities of â€˜Area Boysâ€™. As of 1996, the number of â€˜Area Boysâ€™ operating on Lagos Island alone was around 1,000. Â
From 1999 till date, conducive policy environment that deals with youth unemployment and phasing out of notorious flash points were used to tackle the worrisome trend. Â Today, the â€˜Area Boysâ€™ menace has been systematically dealt with in the state.
The good thing is that, from all indications, Lagos has a very bright future. The present administration in the state is unrelentingly committed to the Lagos State Development Plan, paying great attention to all the four pillars of development as they affect the economy, security and the environment. Cheerfully, Lagos is now an oil-producing state, but in reality the government is not distracted by this. The focus of the current government is to ensure that in the next two to three years, the stateâ€™s IGR will account for 100% of its revenue, so that it will hardly depend on the allocations from Abuja.
Rasak Musbau, Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Lagos