Lagos Counts its Blessings @ 50

 Lagos Counts its Blessings @ 50

Lagos is in a celebration mood. The state government has lined up a 50-day programme to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The state, which was created on May 27, 1967, by the military administration of General Yakubu Gowon, when Nigeria was carved into a federation of 12 states, has remained intact 50 years after. It was formally part of the defunct Western Region, one of the four regions then.
Lagos was annexed as a British Colony in 1861. When the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria were established in 1914, Lagos was declared its capital and it continued to serve in that capacity until December 12, 1991, when it was moved to Abuja.
Justifying the golden jubilee celebration, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, said it is a milestone that should to be documented for prosperity. He said: “Indeed, it has to be big because Lagos does not do things half measures. Three key reasons should explain why Lagos deserves a ball. One, it is a landmark anniversary. The golden jubilee anniversary of a person or an institution should not go unnoticed ordinarily. For Lagos, the need for celebration is even more pertinent. Of all the 12 states created in 1967 by General Yakubu Gowon, only Lagos State has remained indivisible. Nothing has touched it; no state has been carved out of it. It has never been severed. Its map has remained the same as it was 50 years ago.
“Secondly, Lagos State deserves to count its blessings. This is a blessed state. Politically, and economically, it has proven to be the power house and nerve centre of the country. Other states come here to learn the art of modern and accountable governance and many are humble enough to admit and acknowledge it. Continuity is a word that finds home in Lagos.
Ayorinde added: “Each time the Federal Government wishes to get it right, it usually relies on the ideas, support and manpower from Lagos. On the business and economy front, Lagos also holds the ace. This is a state that does not rely on oil to prosper; yet the Creator finds her worthy to be counted among the oil-producing states. The internally generated revenue (IGR) in Lagos alone is bigger than those of 32 states of the federation put together, while its gross domestic product (GDP) is bigger than those of Kenya and Ghana combined. If it were to be a country, Lagos would be Africa’s fifth largest economy.
“This is Nigeria’s and West Africa’s commercial and creative hub. And equally important, if you look at the giant strides that the state has made in the last two years under Governor Akinwumi Ambode, with all the legacy and iconic projects that are lined up for commissioning throughout April and May, the need to have a grand ball becomes very evident.”
Indeed, Lagos has become a pace setter in public sector financial management, rapid infrastructure development and good governance. Successive civilian administrations have continued to increase its IGR base. When the first civilian governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, assumed office in October 1979 the first thing he did was to review the state’s revenue generation. This is because he knew that the government’s programmes cannot be executed without money. Jakande examined the area of ground rents for government lands in Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Ebute-Meta, Ikeja and other key areas of the state.
Since then, Lagos has remained one of the richest states in the country. His successors have continued to deepen the sources of revenue for the state. During the administration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the state called the buff of the Federal Government, when former President Olusegun Obasanjo seized part of the allocation of the state on the pretext that the state government created additional local councils. For more than a year that the Obasanjo administration withheld the allocation, Lagos State government was able to fund the 20 local governments, as well as the 37 newly-created Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), to pay staff salaries and to execute capital projects.
Through creative and innovative financial re-engineering, Tinubu took Lagos from a yearly IGR of N14.6 billion in 1999 to N60.31 billion in 2006. By March 2007, the state had achieved a monthly IGR of N8.2 billion. Under Tinubu, Lagos had become financially viable and autonomous of the federal government. Lives and properties had become more secure; public infrastructure was being aggressively expanded and modernised; there was dramatic improvement in the quality and efficiency public healthcare, education, the environment, water supply and public transportation. Lagos was attracting new investment in diverse sectors on a daily basis despite the depressing national economic climate.
The Tinubu administration grew the budget size of Lagos State from N14.2 billion in 1999 to N240.8 billion in 2007. It is significant to mention that at no time under Tinubu that budget performance fell below 60 per cent. His administration had consistently maintained an annual budgetary ratio of at least 60-40 per cent in favour of capital over recurrent expenditure, to ensure rapid infrastructure development.
In September 2002, Lagos was the first government in Nigeria to raise funds from the capital market for infrastructure development. This was in recognition of the fact that long-term funds were necessary for long-term projects. As a result, the state raised a N15 billion Floating Rate Redeemable to prosecute such development projects such as roads construction, millennium housing estates for the people, water works, construction and rehabilitation of courts, waste management projects and millennium classrooms among other things. The bond has since been fully redeemed and other states and even the Federal Government has copied the Lagos State model.
In 2007, Tinubu handed over power to Mr. Babatunde Fashola to continue from where he stopped. Under Fashola, the state’s IGR leaped from N20 billion 2013 to N23 billion in 2014. The increase in revenue generation was one of the things that has kept the state working. The former Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning under Fashola, Mr Ben Akabueze, premised the administration’s achievements on the foundation laid by Tinubu. He recalled that Tinubu had, as a governor embarked on several socio-political strategies and policy initiatives that had ensured the transformation of Lagos from a cluster of slums to a model mega city. But, for the solid socio-economic foundation laid by Tinubu, the successes recorded by Fashola would have been impossible.
Akabueze added: “There were many challenges that the government had to confront in its bid to make Lagos work. These include poor resource profiles, huge infrastructural gap, high crime rate, growing unemployment, inadequate infrastructural capacity, influx of immigrants from neighbouring states, prevalent poverty and socio-economic problems. All of these constituted disincentives to investments and threat to perceived opportunities.
“Lagos State government under Fashola made a budget projection of about $50 billion to be spent within a period of 10 years. A breakdown indicated that water development would gulp $3 billion; road and drainage $20 billion; power $10 billion; information and communication technology (ICT) $5 billion; transportation, $9.3 billion and water and sewage $2.7 billion. In order to achieve all these, the government had to promptly deploy certain strategies.
“These include: revenue diversification and deepening; enhanced transparency and accountability; efficient allocation of resources across sectors; tighter operating expenditure control; quarterly review of budget performance; more effective project monitoring; as well as pegging of capital and recurrent expenditure ratio at 60:40.”
Akabueze said the success of the budgets had always been in the all sectors. For instance, in the ‘public order and safety’ sector, Fashola administration contributed immensely to the decline in crime rates in the state. He recalled that the state government established the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), purchased two helicopters for security and emergency management, embarked on central security surveillance (CSS), purchased 500 patrol vehicles, 18 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) as well as arms and ammunition for the police command.”
So far, the two-year old administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has changed the face of Lagos. The performance of the governor was put this way by Ayorinde: “The governor’s sterling first two years in office has become a demonstrable evidence of what to expect in the next two years and beyond. It is a very bright future for the state and we are grateful that we have a cerebral accountant who understands how to manage men and resources as governor of these trying times. He has been 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.”
Ayorinde said Lagos is now blessed as an oil-producing state, but the state is not distracted by it. He added: “The aim of the governor is to ensure that in the next two to three years, the state’s IGR will account for 100 per cent of its revenue, so that we will hardly depend on the allocations from Abuja. In our strategic plan, this feat will provide the basis for our desire to grow the economy of the state to become Africa’s third largest in about three to four years. That’s our own Vision: 2020.
“This is an administration that is running a government of inclusiveness, making sure no aspect of the state is neglected in its developmental strides. This is an administration that is convinced that the arts, entertainment and tourism as well as sports are veritable areas for job creation and youth engagement and is investing heavily in those sectors. This is an administration that pays high premium on security and is not only supporting the federal security apparatus but has blazed the trail in community security through the recently launched Neighbourhood Safety Corps,
“This is an administration that is moving from a mega city to a smart city where technology will drive development, innovations and security. So when you hear the governor speaks about channelising the water ways and expanding the jetties and our capacity for more ferries; opening a new BRT corridor along Abule-Egba and Marina; proposing a 10-lane super highway from Oshodi to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport; working towards 3,000 mega watts of electricity through an embedded power generation and distribution programme for the state and approving the creation of a smart city project within the Ibeju-Lekki area with a new airport, because a state with 21 million people desires to be a tourism hub cannot run only on one international airport, you know that he is speaking about Lagos of the future.”
Ayorinde is of the view that the future that Governor Ambode, like the founding fathers of modern Lagos desires is here already.
Analysts say Lagos has cause to celebrate 50 years of excellence in pragmatic planning and execution, prudent management of resources, transparency in governance and the visionary leaders that have worked tirelessly to make Lagos a referral point point of good governance in the country.


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