By Deji Elumoye
The federal government has expressed its readiness to support more massive investments in the Centre of Excellence to boost its economic potential as one of the world’s fastest growing mega cities.
President Muhammadu Buhari made this known on Tuesday in a video goodwill message to the Ehingbeti Lagos Economic Summit, themed: ‘‘For a Greater Lagos: Setting the Tone for the Next Decade.’’
According to him, the present administration recognised Lagos as central to the economic fortunes of Nigeria and has in the last few years demonstrated commitment to supporting it unleash its full socio-economic potential.
The president, in a statement by his Media Adviser, Femi Adesina, stressed that the federal government approved special federal funding for Lagos in 2020 in acknowledgement of the state being an epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic.
Buhari said: ”The challenges of Lagos must therefore be very clearly seen as part of the challenges of Nigeria, and the federal government will support Lagos to overcome its challenges and to thrive socially and economically.”
He also mentioned that the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) is investing in the reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, while the Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki Expressway is a flagship project of Federal Government Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme, also known as Executive Order 7 of 2019.
Other economic interventions of the federal government in Lagos, according to Buhari, include the approval given to the Lagos State Government to rebuild the International Airport Road, a major road that links the busiest airport in sub-Saharan Africa to the continent’s fifth largest economy.
He said: ”The federal government is today completing the Standard Gauge Railway Line that will link Lagos to Ibadan in the first instance, and from there connect to Abuja and Kano, and bring ease and efficiency to what is Nigeria’s busiest transportation corridor.
”Just last month, this new rail line achieved a milestone extension into the Port Complex in Apapa, setting the stage for a long overdue decongestion in that area.”
On the investment plan to revamp the National Theatre, the president told the 8th Economic Summit that his government had granted approval for the temporary transfer of the iconic federal asset on the Lagos landscape, to the Bankers Committee, which will invest in upgrading it and developing it into a world-class creative hub.
He expressed optimism that enterprising young people in Lagos will be the biggest beneficiaries of the National Theatre, when fully upgraded into a world-class hub, saying: “Speaking of young people, we are aware of just how central they are to the Lagos economy, and to Nigeria as a whole.
”In the creative arts, culture and technology sectors, we are determined to continue to open up opportunities by which they can achieve their dreams and aspirations; as well as thrive in a safe, secure and increasingly prosperous country.”
The president highlighted various other initiatives of the federal government being implemented in Lagos, including the National Social Investment Programme, the Energizing Economies Programme, and the Economic Sustainability Plan, among others.
Commending the Lagos State Government for its partnership and collaboration with the federal government on the human development programmes, Buhari stressed the importance of understanding between national and subnational governments.
He further acknowledged the Lagos State Government for remaining focused on infrastructure and improving the ease of doing business and the overall quality of life of Lagosians.
According to the president, the theme of this year’s Lagos Economic Summit requires all participants to share their aspirations for a megacity that boldly occupies its place in the global standing of megacities.
He said: ”A Lagos that can keep up with its growing population in terms of housing, education, healthcare, security and jobs. A Lagos that is innovative and productive, and that ensures that its economic prosperity leaves no one behind.
”I enjoin all speakers and participants to go all out in the course of the next few days to think and contribute along these lines, and to come up with a practical masterplan for achieving this Lagos of our dreams.”