Nation building: Communities, inclusion and prosperity – Part 3
By 2050, Lagos is on track to be a city of 36million people or the 6th largest city in the world after Mumbai, Delhi, Dhaka, Kinshasa, and Kolkata and ahead of Tokyo, Karachi, NY, and Mexico City.
We have a migration rate of 86 people moving into Lagos every hour, higher than New York (7), London (9) or Mumbai (72) and they are not going back.
This is World Bank statistics of 2016. So, recession ended in 2016? Are the remaining 35 States working?
So when you compare the figures of 2016 and now, the remaining 35 States, they are moving to Lagos and that’s why you have traffic congestion.
There is nothing working economically in other States and we are coming towards the end of the year, people are going to find what to do for the remainder of the year, so when you count the number of cars on the road, you will observe that there is a challenge coming up.
We have a population density of 6,939 persons per Kilometre and an average of five persons per household.
With all these comes challenges and pressures on the physical and social infrastructure. So the truth is that investment in infrastructure can never be enough.
We believe that every Lagosian must have the opportunity to grow, develop their own skills and contribute to their families and communities in a meaningful way. The aggregate sum of family well being is the meat for nation building.
If they are healthy, well educated and trained to enter the workforce and are able to make a decent wage they are better equipped to meet their basic needs and be successful. Their families will also do well and the whole of society will benefit.
So, as a government, we are committed to providing a safe, secured and conducive environment for business to thrive.
In the last three and half years, Lagos has become the safest city in Africa. We are daily improving the ease of doing business in our State and we are hoping to ensure that all businesses have what they require to succeed.
Government does not have to participate in businesses. We do not have the requisite skills. All we need to do is to create the enabling environment for the private sector to own the economy and then the GDP will grow.
We have played a significant role in the improved ranking of our country’s ease of doing business index in 2017 and also in 2018.
We have empowered a lot of young people to participate more in the economy of this State and the process to reflate the Nigeria economy.
Our Employment Trust Fund has disbursed N5.84billion to 7,880 Lagosians out of which 1,123 have fully repaid their loans, a revolving fund that targets inclusion and prosperity.
Over 25,000 jobs were created through the loans and employability programmes.
To ensure inclusion, 3,613 women received N2.29billion while N1.44billion was disbursed to individuals less than 35 years and at least N100m disbursed in each local government of the State.
We are on course to attain the vision of a 24-hour economy that will make the state globally competitive.
Earlier this year, I signed the Lagos State Electric Power Reform Bill into law trying to challenge the status quo to see whether Lagos can actually provide power for itself and I think that is the right way to go if we are going to totally industrialize this State.
Education is high on the priority list of this administration, and a significant portion of the State budget every year is allocated to upgrading infrastructure and building capacity.
Through the novel “Code Lagos” and Ready-Set-Work programmes, we are promoting education as a development tool to boost employability of our students and improve the livelihood of Lagosians.
The idea is to match graduates from tertiary institutions with the employers needs because most times employers complain that they cannot employ our graduates so we created these programmes for our graduates as a skill set to be able to meet that need.
These programmes gives the youth opportunity to learn critical learning skills and reduce numeracy and analytical gaps and inculcating the entrepreneurship spirit in our school leavers.
On a more comprehensive scale, Lagos State is changing the approach to vocational training to make it a more integral part of the education system.
This idea of white collar job is gone forever, so we need to teach people vocational skills so that they can enter into the middle level class of the employment needs in this country. This is the gap that we need to fill up.
We have similarly made huge investments in healthcare – Ayinke House, the Lagos State Biobank in the Mainland General Hospital Yaba and other Mother and Child Care Centres across the State as well as our about to be launched Health Insurance Scheme. All these are to create a platform for those that we had actually left behind before.
We entered into a collaboration with Kebbi State to produce rice – LAKE Rice and this was the singular thing that crashed the price of Rice in Nigeria. We are trying to do more to ensure that food security in the State is secured.
We have gone further to establish a Rice Value chain with a 32 tonnes per hour Rice Mill to be located on 32 hectares of land in Imota, Ikorodu and early next year we should be able to finish it.
With our bulging population, you will agree with me that food security is critical to this State.
We have also realised that the Tourism, Hospitality, Arts, Sports and Entertainment are the new frontiers for job creation, hence our massive investments in these sectors. You can see that we are rebuilding the Onikan Stadium and several other recreational facilities around this axis.
The whole idea is to continue to create that enabling environment to encourage the private sector to take the front seat.
We have invested in the development of an integrated and modern inter-modal transportation system in the State and part of it is our Bus Reforms, the laybys and bus stops and we are channelizing some of these waterways and few months from now, you will be able to see some new ferry services coming up.
The rail project appears to be slow, but the truth is that it’s not the physical structure that has been committed.
So, to put a rail in place, you need communication, you need power and other things to make it work and those things are what is part of the delay and again because of the water challenge that we had, which was not part of what was designed, it looks like more work is being done under water than you can see physically, but more work is ongoing.
People living with disabilities have found a home in Lagos and we have done a lot to provide for their special needs because that’s what we talk about inclusion because they are part of the prosperity of this State.
Inclusion and prosperity: we are all involved
Often times, our people hold the view that the solution depend solely on government or politicians but that is not true.
Citizens, businesses, and groups such as the Island club will need to be more proactive in interrogating the issues and engaging with decision makers to influence decisions.
We need to go beyond looking at government to find ways to develop our most valuable resources, our people.
We need to share responsibility with community organizations, businesses, universities and municipalities in the task of improving the well-being of all Lagosians and preventing and reducing poverty.
My final message is that we all need to take the gauntlet and we must all be involved in this nation building.
It starts from the community and on the streets and then we need to improve every one and at that point we would be rest assured that the prosperity of this country is up north and going forward and then we can build the nation that we can all be proud of.
Ambode is Governor, Lagos State