Lagos, the nation’s ‘Center of Excellence, is unique in many perspectives. It is the most populous state in Nigeria as well as the leading non-oil sector contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic product (GDP). It contributes over 30% of the nation’s GDP, consumes more than 60% of its energy, pays 65% of its value Added Tax (VAT), and accounts for 90% of the country’s foreign trade and 70% of all industrial investments.
Aside its massive geographical, economic and commercial potential, Lagos equally holds sway as a pacesetter in the area of good governance in the country. Presently, in Nigeria, better narratives of how government should function are mostly coming from Lagos State. Virtually all aspects of societal enterprise in Lagos are the products of well-articulated and properly researched blueprint through which government handles emerging challenges of the megacity. This has been made possible by visionary leadership the state has been blessed with, especially since 1999.
Confronted with this dire situation and a bourgeoning population, together with additional unfunded burden of being a former federal capital, the enigmatic pathfinder of modern Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, demonstrated uncommon trait of leaders in Nigeria. Just like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt did in the United States of America in 1932, when the US was then in the throes of a great economic depression, Asiwaju thought out of the box by boldly and publicly committing himself to a goal of a quantum leap (five-fold increase) in monthly Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, of the state, which then stood at N600 million.
As it is usually said in a Yoruba popular adage, Owo ni keke ihin rere (money is the vehicle for all good things), the financial engineer subsequently initiated far-reaching policies in all sectors of the socio-economic spectrum such as transportation, education, judiciary, health, environment, commerce and industry (as symbolized by the Lekki Free Zone) and other initiatives.
Asiwaju’s successor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, was popularly referred to as “The Best Man for The Job” and he actually proved it. Fashola’s dream of a new Lagos transcended his tenure. His government worked with the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to realise the $1.5 billion Lagos Energy City Project as well as the audacious $3.5 billion Atlantic City project.
The Fashola administration made the state a leading hub in the delivery of embedded power and energy solutions with four completed power plants which made it possible for the state to enjoy over 300 KW of public lighting by street lights. It also improved agricultural outputs in the area of poultry, vegetable and agro-processing such as rice and cassava milling. Available records also show that the BRF administration recorded giant strides in its infrastructure agenda and one major project one cannot forget in a hurry is the Lekki-Ikoyi suspended Bridge.
Public health equally received a boost with nine Maternal and Child Care Centres, numerous flagship Primary Health Centers (all operating 24 hours full service), Eko Health Mission, Eye Care Health System Development Initiative, “Eko Free Malaria Programme, Limb Deformity Corrective Surgery Programme, a well-positioned Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Ikeja and functional General Hospitals among several legacy projects initiated and completed during his eight years tenure in office..
Mr. Fashola was succeeded by Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, who equally took governance to another height in the state. His administration operated on a policy of ‘inclusiveness’ which was anchored on the principle that no part of the state ‘would be left behind’ or neglected in its developmental agenda. His economic transformation blue print creatively leveraged on arts, entertainment and tourism as well as sports to create a buoyant economy for the state. The administration also paid high premium on public security which it not only funded and supported, but also blazed the trail in community policing through the recently launched Neighborhood Safety Corps.
The administration came up with numerous creative and laudable initiatives such as Lagos State Empowerment Trust Fund, Disability Trust Fund, Bus Reform Initiative, Junctions Improvement Projects, Light up Lagos, massive Infrastructure Renewal Projects, Justice Sector Reforms, Revenue Enhancement Scheme, Satellite Cities Initiative, and several urban renewal programmes.
Without a doubt, Lagos is on the clear path of greatness, with assurances that greater successes lie ahead. But then, has Lagos arrived at her Eldorado? Most certainly not! No polity ever does. The truth, however, is that Lagos is a work in progress. Over the last 20 years, Lagos remains the most successful state model of developmental democracy, economic emancipation and social progress in Nigeria.
From all indications, Lagos has a very bright future. With their experience in public service, the duo of Mr. Babajide Sanwo- Olu and Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, will, no doubt, steer the ship of the of the state to higher heights and greatness. It has, no doubt, been a dream start in office for the pair. With the speed of light, Governor Sanwo-Olu and his Deputy, Dr. Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat have hit the ground running at the nation’s ‘Center of Excellence’.
Fola Adeyemi, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja