The Quest for an Ultimate Smart City

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Tunde Braimoh makes a strong case for an urgent and holistic revamping of the economy and infrastructure of Lagos

That every society, whether in the developing or advanced economies of the world, faces all manners of challenges in their dynamics and evolution cannot be over emphasised.

However, the truth is many of these challenges have been overcome, even in the so–called Third World thus precipitating the changes in people’s form and standards of living.

Such feats were not accomplished by luck, magic, drama or wishful thinking but by focus, conscious and concerted efforts as well as the can-do spirit of both the leaders and the led to engender the desired change.

This is the major reason a country like Rwanda, which many used to refer to as ‘war torn’ is today receiving global acclaim.

Though, it is not yet Uhuru in that country, the fact that it has become a reference point in global politics and economy cannot be trivialized having risen from the abyss of a mindless war that threatened the very foundation of its existence.

To the eternal credit of Rwandans, the once crises-ridden country is now standing on its feet, a pointer to the fact that the black man can achieve whatever goal he sets for himself, not minding the odds.

For Lagos, the heartbeat of the economy of West Africa and the nation’s economic capital, that the state can do far better than it is currently doing in view of its potentials is a great possibility.

This was clearly manifested by the iconoclastic and trail blazing national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former governor of the Lagos, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who gave the state’s economy a quantum leap when he held sway as helmsman.

Leveraging on his extensive experience in the corporate world, Tinubu, it was who catapulted Lagos’ internally generated revenue from less than N300 million that he inherited to the billion-naira monthly benchmark. Ever since, the story of Lagos has never been the same. Successive administrations all being of common tendencies have had no choice than build on that redefining foundation.

The narrative needs to change, especially in the area of transportation, which is at the heart of economic development, but a major headache in Lagos. It is one of the major indices of a smart city. Surely, with functional and modern transportation systems, we can evenly distribute the populace and functions across the metropolis thus making life more abundant.

With a population of over 20 million, dependence on road transportation, which is the most common for movement of people and goods, needs to be reviewed for social and economic prosperity. This is in view of the fact that Lagos records the most visits from across the country averaging 5, 000 daily with not less than 600 of that number staying put and taking residence in spite of the state’s disadvantaged position in land mass.

It was therefore very thoughtful of the speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly Rt Hon Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa, when he suggested other means of mass transportation in the state, especially rail, at the presentation of 2020 budget by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu recently. Obasa said, “Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is worthy of note that Lagos state as it is today needs radical, aggressive and logistic revamping. It requires an urgent and holistic revamping. It requires an urgent, economic and infrastructural turn around.

“To move Lagos forward, there is the need to focus more attention on rail to connect the entire Lagos. A rail from Ogun state boundary down to Lekki, Epe, a rail from Ikorodu to the same area should be urgently considered. Those under construction must be speedily completed. No amount of road patching, rehabilitations and constructions will really solve our transportation problem judging by the influx of people into Lagos on a daily basis. With money or not, we have to start doing something.”

Obasa understands the minds of Lagosians and acknowledges the governor is not resting. He knows that the pace and tempo Mr Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has taken while hitting the ground running , will only lead the state somewhere in the next few years – advancement. The governor, only recently, urged the residents to be patient as his government will never bring suffering to them.

Obasa, has overtime, manifested genuine and sterling qualities of a populist and progressive politician with the welfare of the people always uppermost in his words and deeds. Under his speakership, the phenomenon of constituency stakeholders’ meeting which allows residents of the 40 constituencies across the state to have an input into state affairs annually and simultaneously has been on in the last five years.

The speaker, who is also the chairman of Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures, recently recorded another feat with the financial autonomy granted to state legislatures after many years of wrong constitutional arrangements. Living up to his popularly acclaimed democratic prowess and practice, Governor Sanwo-Olu manifested his leadership qualities by doffing his hat for the speaker when he remarked to his audience the benefits of the constituency stakeholders’ meeting enunciated by the speaker.

“Permit me at this point to highlight some unique things about this budget proposal. First, in putting it together, we held consultations across the three senatorial districts, in addition to taking memoranda and feedback from Stakeholders’ meetings organised by the Honorable members of the House within their constituencies, which were also attended by cabinet members. It is indeed true that when Lagos talks, this administration listens.” This observation is definitely apt and apposite

For Lagos to retain its leadership seat in the comity of states, it has to continually break new grounds. Upward mobility from a level of survival to the next level of comfort or abundance is somewhat strenuous, stressful, beleaguered and sometimes so excruciating that it is avoided as unnecessary. However, we roll backward when we fail to move forward.

As representatives of the people, this is the least we can do, in conjunction with the executive, based on our avowed commitment to make life more abundant for Lagosians. What is worth doing at all is worth doing very well in good time. With the redefined synergy and unity of purpose between the Lagos lawmakers and the executive, Lagosiams are definitely in for a better deal.

*Braimoh is the Chairman Lagos State House Committee on Information, Strategy and Security