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Sanwo-Olu: Leading Lagos out of 2020 with strong leadership, bold vision

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LAGOS State governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu presents the 2021 budget documents to the state house of assembly on Wednesday, November 10, 2020.

Post #EndSARS events have no doubt raised the need to address critical social issues in the country, especially for a state like Lagos that took most of the heat, but also the need to re-ignite the spirit of Lagos.

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Unlike many other States, Lagos was the epicentre of the #EndSARS protests and equally took the beating when the peaceful action was hijacked by hoodlums and arsonists that destroyed and looted both public and private facilities. The loss to the state and to those living in the state has been described as immeasurable, especially at a time the economy is gradually re-opening for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

While the State government puts the cost of recovery at about N1 trillion, latest figures from the Organised Private Sector (OPS) showed that private interests might have lost at least N5 trillion to the looting. Indeed, the usual bubbly and energetic spirit of Lagos is presently at the lowest ebb while the much-touted Lagos dream remains a mirage for those that did suffer financial losses and the trauma on individuals living in the State.

Revisiting a greater Lagos vision
Promoted by the Lagos State Government, the vision of a greater Lagos campaign is aimed at  engendering a change in the attitude/behaviour of the people of Lagos and to encourage them to imbibe those values that will aid the improvement of the State.

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Upon his inauguration as the 15th Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu unfolded T.H.E.M.E.S (an acronym for his administration’s strategic development agenda namely; Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy, Entertainment and Tourism and Security and Governance) as a vehicle to achieve his administration’s ‘Greater Lagos’ vision.

The campaign also aims at highlighting the good in Lagos State and the very lifeline that connects its glorious past with its future. For many, Lagos remains a melting point for all, irrespective of ethnic and religious differences. Unlike other States, Lagos opens its doors to accommodate Nigerians across different walks of life.

Capital Importation by type of investment in the last five years showed that Foreign Direct Investment into the country and other forms of investment are largely concentrated in equity, other capital, bonds, money market instruments, trade credits, loans and currency deposits.

Lagos houses key financial institutions where these instruments are traded, and the State serves as the port of entry for major goods and investors. By Destination of Investment, Lagos state has remained the top destination for capital inflow into the country.

Reviving the spirit of Lagos will depend not only on the efforts embraced by the government but by the governed as highlighted in the four pillars of the campaign.

While the aftermath of the EndSARS protests might have negatively impacted the Lagos brand, the State Governor’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Lagos has been described as exemplary, considering what his administration has done in the last eight months to ensure that the Centre of Excellence remains on top of the situation.

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Looking at the success rate of the State in addressing the pandemic, there is no doubt that Governor Sanwo-Olu has become a shining light and a beacon of hope by providing exceptional leadership in public office in the management of COVID-19 pandemic, not only in Lagos but throughout Nigeria.

Lagos remains the epicenter of the pandemic in Nigeria but the methodical handling of the virus by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is exemplary. There seems to be a consensus among political pundits and public commentators that if not for Governor Sanwo-Olu’s leadership in managing the COVID-19 index case and several other earlier cases in Nigeria, the incident rates of the coronavirus may have overwhelmed the nation.

Road to recovery, rebuilding and healing
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu earlier in the month, signed an Executive Order to fast-track the rebuilding of the state that is home to over 20 million people after the EndSARS crisis.

The governor, joined by his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, and Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Moyosore Onigbanjo, at the signing of the Executive Order, said it was time the state put behind the recent challenges behind it to be able to face the ‘daunting task of collectively rebuilding our Lagos.’

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He said he is always happy and thrilled by the ability of ‘our Lagos’ to be the abode of several ethnic nationalities that cohabit peacefully and pursue their personal goals and ambitions.

“We believe that our culture, heritage, values and future are worth much more than the looting, arson and destruction, which we witnessed in Lagos State about two weeks ago. Instead of wallowing in our pain, we have chosen to positively move forward. We will embrace new standards of governance; we will build stronger partnerships, stronger people, stronger institutions, and a stronger state. Our strength lies in our uncanny ability to overcome the most complicated challenges because we have people who genuinely love Lagos State and will assiduously do all they can to preserve its peace and unity,” Sanwo-Olu said.

While disclosing that the state government has been inundated with local and global offers of assistance to rebuild the state and recover all that had been lost to arson and violence, the Governor said he feels further encouraged by the resilient spirit collectively displayed by all Lagosians and friends of Lagos after the needless destruction recently witnessed in the state.

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This, he added, has forced him to expedite rebuilding efforts so that all the wounds can be healed quickly, stressing that “we can no longer wait until the bill is passed. It is expedient that our enumeration, recovery, and rebuilding efforts start as soon as possible.”

Similarly, as part of Governor Sanwo-olu’s commitment to strengthening its already viable economy through entrepreneurship and advancing the projects laid out by previous administrations, the Lagos State Entrepreneurship Trust Fund (LSETF) launched an SME Recovery Fund, separate from its already established loan and empowerment programmes. While the fund already works extensively with the private sector in Lagos, it opened the recovery fund to all legal residents of the state with businesses affected by the carnage, extending economic and structural support for the rebuilding that lies ahead.

N1.15 trillion budget to the rescue
Tagged “Budget of Rekindled Hope”, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday, presented the state’s 2021 budget to the Lagos State House of Assembly. The budget is estimated at N1.155 trillion.

The 2021 budget is centered on advancing the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda of the State Government and expected to rekindle hope in the state on the implementation of its content.

Sanwo-Olu said that the budget reflected the state’s determination to rise above the challenges that had affected its development indices in the last 10 months. He said that the budget had a proposed Recurrent Expenditure of N451.75 billion and a Capital Expenditure of N703.27 billion. According to him, the General Public Services allocation is N136.28 billion, under which the Science and Technology Sector has N28.27 billion and Other General Public Services has N108.05 billion.

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Also, the Public Order and Safety allocation is N32.76 billion, while the Economic Affairs Sector has a proposed allocation of N381.86 billion. Under the Economic Affairs allocation are – Agriculture N18.31 billion; Commerce N41.99 billion; Tourism, Art & culture N6.12 billion; Energy and Mineral Resources N32.56 billion; Transportation N98.93; Infrastructure – Works Family N172.24 billion; and Waterfront N11.78 billion.

The Environment Sector has an allocation of N50.93 billion, comprising of Drainage N11.94 billion and Other Environmental Services N39 billion. Also, the Housing and Community Amenities Sector has N40.28 billion; Health Sector N118.36; Recreation, Culture and Religion N5.17 billion. The Education Sector has a budget allocation of N143.65 billion, the Social Protection Sector N9.16 billion, while the Contingency Reserve (Including Special Expenditure – Statewide and Special Expenditure -Others) has N20.55 billion allocation.

According to him, the 2021 budget will, among other things, provide for youth employment by focusing on sectors with job creating potential like agriculture, construction, technology and security.
“We are set to improve the economic conditions and social safety needed for our youth and all hardworking Lagosians to flourish. We are committing resources to sectors that need to grow for our people to become self-reliant and economically empowered.

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“Consequently, for the agricultural sector, our food security plan has a cumulative budget of N22.21billion, while we are committing a cumulative budgetary provision of N311.43billion to infrastructure.

“This will cover direct intervention through the Ministries of Works and Infrastructure, Water front, Transportation, the Judiciary, our Schools and Seed Capital of N15billion for The Rebuild Lagos Trust Fund.”

“To continue to drive our digitisation strategy, we have committed a total of N37.37billion investment in technology, while in the environment and health services, we have committed a total of N48.28billion and N111.94billion, respectively.”

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“In line with our urgent need to light up Lagos we will begin a set of initiatives in the energy sector to ensure the Lagos economy is supported by power, one community at a time. To this we have committed a total of N32.58billion in the 2021 budget,” Mr Sanwo-Olu said.

He said that the 2021 Appropriation Bill also aligned with the restoration of economic balance as the state navigated its way out of the negative impact of both the pandemic and the destruction of public assets following the #EndSARS protest hijack.

Notwithstanding the challenges in the State, Lagosians are hopeful that with the current leadership, Lagos is in for a great time ahead. When implemented, the budget will not only soothe the pains of citizens but also put the State back on track as the preferred destination for investment and renew hope for a Lagos dream.

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