By Tayo Ogunbiyi
A crucial phase for Lagos State in the past year was the change in political leadership that ushered in Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu and Dr. Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat as governor and deputy governor respectively. Central in the mission of the dynamic duo is the vision to achieve a ‘Greater Lagos’. The vehicle to realize this is T.H.E.M.E.S, and acronym for six strategic development agenda namely, Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy, Entertainment and Tourism as well as Security and Governance
As it is usual with skilled professionals, upon inauguration, the duo spent quality time to diagnose the state’s various challenges in order to determine what will work so as to eliminate what will not work. The result, of course, is the several landmark attainments that characterized various sectors of the state in the previous year.
For instance, amazing improvement was recorded in the health sector with the inauguration of the 149- Bed Igando Mother and Child Center (MCC) in the Alimosho area. This further affirms the determination of the current administration to ease access to medical care by residents.
Recall that the 110-Bed Eti-Osa Maternal and Child Centre (MCC) was also commissioned for public use in the preceding year. The Eti-Osa MCC was specially designed to provide integrated healthcare services for women of child bearing age and children. It has modern equipment and furniture that would enhance the achievement of better maternal and child health indices in Eti-Osa Local Government Area and adjoining environs.
Similarly, the state’s infrastructure renewal plan received a major boost in 2019 as major roads and highways were rehabilitated to ensure smooth commuting. Work also commenced on the long abandoned Lagos-Badagry Expressway as well as the Pen-Cinema Bridge. Equally, 31 networks of roads were commissioned by the governor in Ojokoro Local Council Development Authority (LCDA).
The reconstruction and upgrading of strategic roads such as the 6.05 kilometer Phase 1 Road from Itamaga to Ewu Elepe town, the 7.8 kilometers Owutu-Agric-Ishawo Road Phase One and Bola Tinubu-Igbogbo-Imota Road in Ikorodu also began in earnest. Similarly, the Victoria Island, Lekki Traffic Circulation project on Oniru axis received a major attention. Preliminary plans for the construction of the 4th Mainland Bridge also got a key boost last year, thus raising hope that the bold project will at last become a possibility.
Intermodal multimodal transport system was also significantly strengthened with the recommencement of work on the discarded Lagos light rail project. Also, Uber Boat service, a partnership between the global ride-hailing company and Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA, commenced operation.
The education sector was not left out in the ‘Greater Lagos’ movement. A committee was set up to evaluate the state of public schools in the state and come up with plans for their rehabilitation. At the first phase, 350 schools are already slated for total overhauling.
Similarly, towards the end of last year, some public school teachers were sent on capacity building training to enhance their skill. New teachers were also recruited to increase the number of teaching personnel, especially in some core subjects, in our public schools. History was also made as a major deal that will see the Lagos State University, LASU, becoming a residential institution was sealed with some private developers.
In order to actualize its mission of ‘Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy’, the state government signed the $629 million financing facility aimed at completing the completion of the Lekki Deep Seaport project with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).
According to the agreement, in 30 months, Nigeria’s first deep seaport will be delivered in Lekki. Upon completion, the project has enormous capacity not only to stimulate the Lagos economy, but equally to push it up in the index of largest economies in the world. The Lekki Port would become the first deep seaport in Nigeria and the container transportation hub in Africa.
In the area of Security and Governance, a foundation for the evolvement of critical reforms geared at giving the people greater access to justice was laid. An integral part of this is a holistic plan to clamp down on criminals, land grabbers and other trouble makers to reduce crime and all forms of security threat to the barest minimum.
In a democratic dispensation, the people determine the performance of a government partly via the quality of service render by the Public Servants. In realization of this reality, concerted efforts were made to reposition the state Public Service. Thus, training and retraining of staff was accorded an utmost priority.
Also, the resolve of government to improve staff welfare was amply demonstrated by the swiftness with which it reached agreement with the organized labour to ensure the payment of the new minimum wage. Lagos, thus, remains among the very few states in the country that have commenced payment of the new wage. This is quite instructive because the present administration’s vision of making Lagos a 21st Century Economy cannot be achieved without a well motivated workforce.
There was also a noticeable improvement in the area of environmental regeneration as two major agencies of the state government, the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), became livelier and more focused in the discharge of their statutory responsibilities. Consequently, the filthy and chaotic environmental situation of the old order is fast giving way to a more reliable and organized system. Refuse heaps are fast disappearing from the Lagos landscape while other forms of environmental nuisance are being frontally curtailed.
The tourism sector also received a major momentum, especially with the success of the ‘Greater Lagos Extravaganza’. The highly entertaining event held across five locations began on Christmas Day and ended on New Year day. Without a doubt, it clearly lived up to its billing as a major entertainment event of the just concluded year.
The five locations where the event took place are Eko Atlantic City, Victoria Island, Badagry Grammar School, Badagry, Agege Stadium, Agege, Ikorodu Town Hall, Ikorodu and Epe Youth Center, Epe.
Perhaps, the crowning moment for Lagos in 2019 was the signing of the N1.168 Tr. 2020 appropriation bill into law by Governor Sanwo-Olu. The budget, christened ‘Awakening to a Greater Lagos’, is higher than the previous one by 34 percent and it is expected to be funded by a projected total revenue of N1.071 Tr. and a deficit amounting to N97.53 billion. That the audacious financial plan has a capital expenditure of N723.75 billion and a recurrent expenditure of N444.81 billion is a reflection of the determination of the Sanwo-Olu administration to truly achieve a ‘Greater Lagos’
Without a doubt, 2020 offers even better prospects for Lagosians, especially in terms of infrastructure development, job creation and economic development. Possibilities such as renewed attempt to develop intermodal transportation, the prospect of 4th Mainland Bridge as well as the Lekki Deep Sea Port are some of the schemes that are bound to significantly alter the State’s landscape in 2020.
-Ogunbiyi is of the Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja