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On Lagos’ 377 grassroots projects

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“This administration’s development agenda is driven by the spirit to build a Greater Lagos that is livable, and conducive for the growth and development of enterprise. The dream of a ‘Greater Lagos’ is not exclusive; it is predicated on the principle of inclusiveness by which development is not considered as satisfactory until it has addressed the yearnings of the greatest number of the people who contribute to the commonwealth.”– Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu

Unknown to many, approximately 12% of the people in Lagos State dwell and earn their living in non-urban neighbourhoods, countrysides and remote villages!

In its efforts and commitment to transform the city of Lagos to an enviable model megacity, the State government has been initiating and implementing integrated policies, programmes and projects intended to improve the standard of people living in the rural areas with the aim of reversing the rural-urban migration problem. These initiatives have the propensity to decongest high-density areas and subsequently bring a reduction to the pressure on infrastructures in the urban areas.

The latest of such initiatives is the construction of 377 projects across the State, recently flagged-off by the State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu. The projects include the construction of 257 community roads and drainages; rehabilitation of 86 public buildings and the installation of two jetties, nine water projects and 23 power projects across all the wards in the State.

The commencement of these projects underscores the commitment of the Sanwo-Olu administration toward ensuring that the Greater Lagos vision is well on course. These massive projects beget new dawn in governance in the State, as no ward was exempted from the implementations of the projects. In fact, it was dictated by local needs, which are not universal but diverse and reflects the needs of each ward across the State.

These projects were initiated in response to the series of requests by the various communities across the State to address specific challenges. Thus, the execution of the projects would ultimately change the narrative about grassroots development and the government’s responsibilities.

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The commencement of these projects underlines the inclusive nature of Governor Sanwo-Olu administration, as he promised during his campaign last year to run an all-inclusive government where all the yearning of the citizenry will be taken into consideration.

The projects’ selection followed a meeting between Mr. Governor and all 377 councillors in the State, including consultations with community leaders, residents and stakeholders, during which the Governor requested them to nominate specific projects that could be executed in their wards and these projects were all based on consensus.

The intervention, according to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was initiated in response to the series of requests by the various communities to address specific infrastructural challenges.

The process of identifying the needs and the design of the projects were in line with the concept of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and participatory governance in which the people were considered as key stakeholders.

According to Dr. Benjamin Odekunle, a grassroots development expert, from a broader perspective, the execution of these projects will go a long way in changing the perception about the linkage between government’s responsibilities and grassroots development.

 “The argument has always been that infrastructure developments don’t really get to the grassroots where they need them and where the majority of voters reside”, he noted.

Reiterating the motivation and significance of the projects, Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, who also doubles as the Chairman of the Projects’ Implementation Committee, shed light on the number, spread and implementation strategies, noting that the projects’ selection followed a process of extensive consultations.

“After identifying the projects, the Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget and professionals from various Ministries evaluated the cost of the projects. After the internal evaluation, it was also subjected to re-evaluation by an independent consultant. This shows the rigorous transparency method in which the projects were made to pass true”, Hamzat declared.

According to the Deputy Governor, the distribution of the projects also reflects equity, balance and principle of inclusion, although certain projects may have been dictated by population. The breakdown by Districts shows that Lagos Central has 94 projects, Lagos East has 99 and the vast Lagos West has 184 projects.

Execution and implementation of the projects will include contractors, Ministry experts, councillors, local party and community leaders, the chairman of the Implementation Committee said.

Hamzat said: “The projects will be implemented by contractors in collaboration with Government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies, including the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs, Directorate of Technical Service, Lagos State Electricity Board and Public Works Corporation. Supervision and monitoring of the projects will be done in collaboration with the Ward Councilors and Party executives.”

This, he said, is to allow the ultimate beneficiaries of the projects to take ownership by monitoring the implementation process and ensuring that the job conforms to quality and standard specified in the project design.

The commencement of these projects isn’t a one-off, as the State government has been investing in the provision of infrastructure to make the State’s economy stronger and give people a new lease of life. This is evident in the various infrastructural renewal projects being executed across the State, despite the distraction of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recall that Mr. Governor recently declared that in-spite of the disruption occasioned by the pandemic and other challenges that were not envisaged, his administration is resolute in fulfilling his electoral commitment, stressing that no excuse will be tenable to the people.

With the initiative to transform local communities, the Sanwo-Olu administration has proved that it is a government for all classes of people. As it is busy renewing urban Lagos, it is equally making frantic efforts to ensure a better life for the rural dwellers.

Otuyemi is of the Features Unit, Lagos State Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.

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