Tinubunomics and modern Lagos
SIR: On August 7, 1975, the administration of General Murtala Muhammed inaugurated a committee on a new Federal Capital, for the country. The committee, headed by the foremost jurist and former Chief Justice of Botswana, Justice Akinola Aguda, in its report observed that “Lagos has become overcongested,” and recommended that the Federal Capital should be moved out of the city, for administrative purposes. The committee, however, proposed a phased movement with an eventual target of 2025.
The Federal Government accepted the report and enacted Decree 6 of 1976, thus, paving the way for the nation to join a legion of countries, including China, India, Brazil, Tanzania, Venezuela, Poland, Argentina, and others that had previously changed capitals. Contrary to the recommendations of the committee, the complete movement of the nation’s capital was effected with military alacrity by the General Ibrahim Babangida’s administration, on December 12, 1991.
Unlike Nigeria, most central governments that moved their national capitals continued to nurture and assist the former capitals. The global norm is for sovereign states to provide special annual grants to their former capital cities, to maintain their infrastructure. Abandoned to its fate, the Lagos State inherited by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration in 1999, was bedeviled with unprecedented challenges, including resource inadequacy, prevalent poverty and socio-economic problems, huge infrastructural gap, high crime rate, high unemployment rate, inadequate institutional capabilities and bourgeoning population.
On the infrastructure angle, the last major project embarked upon by the Federal Government was the 11.8 kilometre Third Mainland Bridge. Not only was no single block added to the Lagos infrastructure landscape, the existing federal roads and bridges were also left unmaintained.
Back in 1999, while Tinubu’s contemporaries were still relishing their electoral victories, he immediately put in place a Transition Working Group (TWG), made up of eminent personalities and eggheads, including Prof. Pat Utomi. The TWG made far reaching recommendations, which enabled the administration to hit the ground running, including the establishment of Lagos Economic Summit, (Ehingbeti); reaffirmation of Private-Public Sector Partnership, revenue enhancement for effective management of existing infrastructure, and creation of a Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget.
His government embarked on financial engineering that led to improved financial resources and also made the budget size to skyrocket from a paltry N14.2 billion in 1999 to N274.8 billion in 2007, representing an unprecedented 1,857 per cent increase, mostly driven by Internally Generated Revenue, thus leading to one of the most rapid socioeconomic transformations ever witnessed in Nigeria. A permanent solution was also found to the incursion of Bar Beach into Ahmadu Bello Way, by constructing an enduring shoreline defensive barrier.
Adebayo Sodade is the special adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Economic Planning and Budget.