By Modestus Umenzekwe
Prominently known and described as the Centre of Excellence, Lagos State has acquired the sobriquet, symbol and an exemplification of peace and tranquil milieu where people of various ethnic nationalities, not just of Nigeria, but the world over can come, build and realise their dreams.
With over N1.9trillion in annual budget, and priding itself as the 5th largest economy in Africa, Lagos has every characteristic insignia as the number one state in the federation. With a burgeoning economy that is so formidable and sustainable, great infrastructural development, Lagos boasts of an economy that cannot be matched by the other 35 states of Nigeria combined. In 2020 alone Lagos recorded 32.1% out of the total Nigeria’s Internally Generated Revenue with N418.99billion out of a total of N1.33 trillion with Rivers State coming a distant N117.19 billion.
Its annual budget is indeed leveraged on Transport, Health, Education, Modern 21st century Economy, Education and Security (THEMES) agenda that encapsulate the broad socioeconomic goals of the present administration.
Lagos State over the years has played host to people with various socio-cultural backgrounds, and has developed such peace plan, surveillance system and strategies for achieving peace in the midst of people of different characteristics make-ups. Such peace masterstroke was in action during the General Elections of 2019 when a fracas nearly ensued between the Igbos and Yorubas in Okota area of Lagos, but that near catastrophic row was extinguished in the bud due to a peace methodology that was already in place.
How has the state become such a peaceful environment at a time when other parts of the country are burning? Realising the importance of peace in the economic and human capacity development, Lagos State ensured that co-habitation of different people does not jeopardize or destablise the state rather it became its strength as the contribute their quotas in development of the state. In doing this, Lagos partners with various leaderships, ranging from socio-cultural, market associations to religion. These groups which represent their wards collaborate with the state governments so that there will be peace among the various groups and between indigenes and non-indigenes in the state.
Politically the state is blessed with such leadership that understands the heartbeat of the people in the sense that transition from one administration to another is done in a seamless manner. Right from the time of AD, ACN and now the All Progressives Congress (APC), succession to the Alausa Government House has never pose any challenge basically because Lagos State political leadership is not just proactive but believes in fairness, equity and justice. The father figure and leadership role of Ashiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, all former governors of the state, have paid off, these great men and other stakeholders have ensured that the right things are done to enthrone peace, they ensure that no particular political zone is marginalised and that has obviously soothed frayed nerves and has made Lagos a role model to other states.
From the time of the great national leader of the All Progressives Congress, and former Governor of the State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, Mr Akinwumi Ambode and now the masterful administrative icon, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos has enjoyed responsible leaderships that stick to the state developmental master-plan that has resulted in huge and unquantifiable result.
Lagos has displayed a high profile name in infrastructural development. Whereas other states are still celebrating their first flyover or pedestrian bridges, Lagos is talking about 21st century modern rail and light rails. Her transport system is second to none. The 10 lanes modern road infrastructure from Orile to Badagry, the Lekki/Epe, Lekki/Ikoyi, Lagos Apapa, Expressways are just some Lagos roads that are comparable to what is seen abroad. With Flyovers, bridges, inland waterways, Bus Rapid Transport (BRT), Lagos spends billions of Naira in transportation, road construction and rehabilitation annually, making it the biggest spender on road infrastructure.
Building what can be regarded as the biggest one stop administrative and commercial depot, the Eko Atlantic City harboring entirely 50 storey skyscrapers in the coastal and serene vicinity of Victoria Island is one project that was mapped out to rival what is obtainable in United Arab Emirate where commercial and administrative activities go on 24/7 with 24 hours power supply. That project is second to none in the entire Sub Sahara Africa.
Lagos state, believe it or not, has become a center of refuge, the rock of Gibraltar in terms of security, residents of Lagos State sleep with their two eyes closed. All these come at a very huge cost which can only be undertaken by a government that is sensitive to the need and development of her people because the government realizes the fact that no state or nation can develop without security.
On Thursday June 10, President Muhammadu Buhari at the invitation of Governor Sanwo-Olu inaugurated security equipment for the police and other security agencies in Lagos State,
Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu used the opportunity to officially hand over the patrol vehicles and various security equipment to the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba.
The security equipment include 150 double cabin vehicles, 30 saloon patrol vehicles, 1000 ballistic vests, 1000 ballistic helmets, 1000 handheld police radios/walkie talkies and 100 security patrol bikes.
Others are two Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), four high capacity troop carriers, two anti-riot water cannon vehicles, office/command furniture and other ancillary support resources.
Sanwo-Olu said that the state, local governments and corporate organisations contributed to the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF) for the purchase of the equipment.
The LSSFT which was founded in 2007 under Former Governor Babatunde Fashola is an interventionist agency built on Public-Private-Partnership for funding security in the state.
Playing host to Apapa Port, the Tin Can Island Port and now Lekki Deep Seaport, Dangote Refinery and one international Airport Lagos is indeed an international destination with thousands of people coming and going out from Lagos on daily basis bringing foreign exchange to the state and nation and also coming with their different challenges, ranging from gridlock, criminality associated with different kinds of people, Lagos indeed has her hand full with several challenges, thank God for various administrations that are not just ready but proactive in tackling those challenges.
Described as a state of aquatic splendor; Lagos has beautiful coastal environment, which attracts tourists to the state, various beaches, rich cultural heritage, it is obvious Lagos is a great city sought after by the entire world.
With open arms Lagos welcomes anybody that has genuine interest in personal development, what it frowns at is criminal elements whose only intention is to destabilize the state, however such criminal elements are shown the way out by the ever formidable and ready security architecture of the state.
Lagos is not just an industrial hub with various manufacturing outfits scattered all over the state, it is a primus inter pares in commercial activities, with international and local markets, billions of naira worth of transactions are carried out which invariably enhance the IGR of the state. It also hosts all the Telecoms, banks and other financial sector headquarters; that is Lagos for you.
Yes Lagos has its challenges; mostly gridlock resulting in vehicular movements, over stretched infrastructural facilities due to over population, epileptic power supply, pockets of criminal activities by a few elements who would not change even if there is food on their table, Lagos is a state to be emulated.
Governor of the state, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu has shown great leadership qualities especially in the way he tackled the EndSARS protest which rocked the state, and the Covid-19 global pandemic which nearly crippled the world, Lagos being an epicenter of the disease, Sanwo-Olu was on top of his game, issuing guidelines which ensured that the pandemic did not overrun the state.
The call for special status for Lagos can no longer be over stressed. Lagos is no longer a state for Lagosians, Lagos is a state for all Nigerians. More than 90% of Nigerians, if they are not residing in Lagos would visit Lagos at least two or three times in their lifetime. This brings huge cost in the building or rehabilitation of overstretched infrastructure in the state.
The national Assembly must as a matter of fact, facilitate a legislative instrument that will give Lagos a special status position to enable it perform the responsibilities which both nature and the constitution have bestowed on it.
Chief Umenzekwe (Onwa Achina) wrote via firstname.lastname@example.org