In the last one year, especially since the inception of the Babatunde Raji Fashola-led second term of government in Lagos State, there has been a worrisome disquiet among Lagosians, who fear that the government, hitherto widely applauded for its high-level performance and efficiency in the first tenure, may have relaxed on its sucess story.
As things stand now in Lagos, not many projects are being executed as was in the first tenure, between 2007 and 2011. Many more roads have gone bad and the people are lost about the plan of government on the repair of the roads, especially as the rainy season begins. Appropriation of funds is embargoed at the various ministries. Not much is being heard of government, except that they are scanty reports about government taking stock of what is to be done and how much it needs to do them.
Indeed the governor himself confirmed such stock-taking activities by members of his government and a huge pile of ideas on how to execute them when he received a delegation of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in his office recently. The messages spelt by the governor’s expositions, point to the fact that the government has not gone to bed, but thinking its head out for a better Lagos.
The MAN delegation made up of CEOs of both indigenous and multinational manufacturing companies in Lagos and led by the Ikeja chapter chairman, Rev. Isaac Agoye, visited the governor to seek greater support in areas of roads infrastructure and power supply in the state’s numerous industrial estates, curbing excesses of local governments in tax collections, maintaining and instilling free flow of traffic on seaport road, as well as establishment of committees to be visiting manufacturers on a more regular basis to appreciate their challenges.
Disclosing that some roads in the industrial estates have been mapped out for rehabilitation, the governor, who received the manufacturers in the company of selected commissioners said, “In the last three months, we have been going round the state quietly and reports have started coming in. We will put our costs together and go to the state assembly; but we can’t tell you whether we are starting from Ikorodu or Ikeja. Work is already going on at the Ogba Industrial Estate. As for Apapa, we are coming there and we will solve the problem.
“In the last 12 to 15 months, we have become even more concerned about the situation at the industrial estates, especially in the areas of road and power supply. We understand that Lagos having over 50 per cent of manufacturing activities in this country holds the key to the country’s growth”.
Aided by the commissioner for works, Dr. Femi Hamzat, Governor Fashola said further disclosed that 178 road rehabilitation contracts had already been awarded since the beginning of the year, some of whose execution had begun.
Noting the ingenuity of the colonial masters and the government of the old Western Region, which created a multi-modal system of transportation even in the early days of the country and when the roads were yearning for more pressure, the governor threw light on the indispensability of the rail system in the bid to kick start the country’s true industrialisation processes.
He added, “We cannot industrialise without rail. Keeping Lagos roads in good shape without rail is a miracle because of the huge tonnage of goods coming from the seaports. Containers and petro products should be on rail. Power, transport, agriculture and housing are important to accelerate growth at both micro and macro levels.
“I don’t see how we can industrialise if we don’t have an agro base. Even when we talk about technology transfer, we do know that it is common sense that if your garri is going bad, you will find ways to preserve it”.
A unique dimension of actions coming from the governor’s brain is the new Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), which he said would be extremely difficult to forge. “The new C of O will be extremely difficult, if not impossible to forge. As soon as we are ready, we will announce for landowners to apply for renewal,” he said, adding, “Everywhere in Lagos has been mapped and every street identified and computerised. Once we finish, we will come back to inform you about the flag-off date”.
Fashola’s government has also engaged the private sector in a PPP model to generate 10 megawatts of electricity at the Lekki Free Trade Zone as disclosed by the commissioner for commerce and industry, Mrs. Olusola Oworu.
“Similar projects are being planned for the Isolo, Matori (near Oshodi), and Ikorodu industrial clusters,” the commissioner added.
The governor also told the manufacturers about the Lagos Corporate Assembly, which he enjoined them to leave their contact details with the commissioner for commerce and industry, so that they could be incorporated into the business solution assembly, which meets twice a year.
The governor talked about a subcommittee to comprise heads of economic-oriented ministries critical to stir growth of the state’s economy. “We are to form sub-committee so that we can detail things we agree to do and assess our performance to see what difficulties we face and how we can overcome them. The service industry, physical planning and taxation are to serve in the committee,” he directed.
Intimating the delegation of the state’s economic summit coming up in May, themed, “From BRINC to BRINCS: Lagos Holds the Key,” the governor let off his payoff at the meeting which lasted for one hour and 47 minutes. “Let’s do the work and be sure that God will bless our efforts. Even the Bible talks about work first and follow it up with faith. Nigeria will become a key driver of the economic landscape of this planet if we work hard.”