Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, has recently been listed as the third worst city to live in 2018 among 140 cities assessed on some liveability parameters by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the research arm of the highly prestigious Economist newsmagazine. Lagos scored 38.5 percent to come 138th out of 140 cities ranked by the group, bettering only Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital in 139th place, and Damascus, Syria’s war- ravaged capital, which brought up the rear. The two cities have been embroiled in massive devastation due to long running war and violence. Lagos’ current position is an improvement on last year when it was last but one, passing only Damascus. This year, the Austrian capital, Vienna (99.1 percent) was rated the best city to reside in, overtaking the Australian capital, Melbourne, which led for seven years in a row. Vienna’s march to the top was attributed to improvements in security scores due to a return to relative stability across much of Europe after high-profile terrorist attacks in recent years. Other cities which did well this year include Japan’s Osaka and Tokyo which came in third and seventh places respectively, due largely to significant decline in crime rates and improvements in public transportation. Copenhagen in Denmark, and the Canadian cities of Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary were also rated highly in the survey. The five broad parameters for judging liveability by the EIU include stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure. Each factor in each city is rated as acceptable, tolerable, uncomfortable, undesirable or intolerable.
The report also disclosed that liveability generally improved for the second year in a row, from 74.8 per cent last year to 75.7 per cent in 2018. As a newspaper, we are constrained to remark that this report placing Lagos at such a dismal position next to violence-prone cities, has to be viewed in context. The first thing to note is that it did not place Lagos as the third worst city to live in, but among 140 cities – out of hundreds of thousands of cities across the world – selected because of their importance in global business circles. In an explanation, Roxanna Slavcheva, the head of the City Practices Unit of the EIU, who put together the research, said: “The inclusion of Lagos in the survey was motivated by client demand. The ranking is globally focused on business centres around the world.” So, calling it a world report when only a small fraction of the world’s cities was surveyed can be misleading. The EIU report is advisory in nature and is geared towards giving multinational companies a guide on the emolument to pay workers they intend to post to such locations, a kind of annual research product for sale to their clients, which comprise governments, companies and business. It quantifies the challenges that might impact an individual’s lifestyle in any given location and allows for direct comparison among the study locations.
Notably, the group that conducted the survey is a private research consultancy and, according to its explanation, depended, in some part, on the views of its ‘in-house analysts and in-city contributors.’ While the objectivity of the analysts and contributors is not a subject of contention, however, it is not unlikely to find some level of inaccuracy and subjectivity in their submissions, especially as it concerns Lagos. However, that Lagos is considered for this study is a testament to the successes recorded by its past and present leaders in upgrading and modernising its formerly decrepit infrastructure such that it is now regarded as a veritable international destination for trade and tourism and a measure of the city’s present significance in the global community. It has to be stated that Lagos has come in leaps and bounds in recent years with massive investments in infrastructure, just as it has been reforming its processes digitally and humanly to make it a destination of choice for businessmen and tourists, some of which include the modernising of public health institutions, the development of waterways and rail infrastructure, the10-lane Murtala Muhammed Airport Road to ease traffic gridlock and the deployment of massive security personnel and equipment, including closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras and street lights to stretch business activities into the early hours, among others. It is not surprising, in view of the above, that Third World thinkers like Samir Amir, Bade Onimode and Femi Falana have criticised the report. Nevertheless, Lagos does need to improve its liveability credentials. As a city hosting 22 million people and an hourly influx of 186 people, its authorities need to take a critical look at the report and see areas it can improve on in order to make life more liveable for residents.
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