No doubt, Lagos was and still remains the commercial nerves centre of the country. Apart from the fact that the State was the previous Federal Capital Territory, its aquatic splendor makes Lagos the point of import and export of goods and services to and from the country. With seaports, airport and its proximity to other neighbouring countries, Lagos is where the business is. No wonder 60 per cent of private sector companies in the country have their headquarters in Lagos.
Populated by a whopping 20 million people who engage in all kinds of trades and services, every business always wants to site its office in Lagos because the market is here.
To cater for this huge number of people who both work and mostly live in Lagos, require a huge infrastructure of which government alone may not have the financial muscle to drive. Hence, the need to call on the private sector to, apart from bringing in their expertise to governance of the state, can as well assist in fixing some of the infrastructural deficit in the state through a public private partnership arrangement.
Although, private players have always been part of the process of growing and developing the economy of the state, the upcoming 2020 Lagos Economic Summit tagged ‘Ehingbeti 2020’ intends to private sector can complement the effort of the state government towards improving the social and economic wellbeing of the state.
This year’s summit, according to the organisers, is meant to reconnect with the private sector, adding that, the quest to strengthen existing relationship between government and the private sector is one of the major goals of the summit since greater private sector participation in governance remains a prerequisite for a functional state.
With the summit expected to hold from November 10th to 12th, 2020, the organisers have refreshed the Ehingbeti logo to reflect the contemporary outlook of the annual summit.
Lagos Economic Summit
Since the inaugural summit in 2000, the summit has gained useful insights from innumerable business and political leaders, private sector players, renowned economists, notable development experts and outstanding scholars, who have participated from various parts of the world.
With the absence of the economic summit in the past four years, there seemed to be a decline in the rate of public-private collaboration in the state.
Hence, the Lagos Economic Summit Group (LESG) is charting the path for the sustainable socio-economic development of the state at the summit.
Although, the internally generated revenue (IGR) of Lagos state grew to about N212.5 billion in the first seven months of 2020, the group expects that the state can generate more with properly structured Public-Private Partnership(PPP) initiative.
With the theme, ‘For a Greater Lagos: Setting the Tone for the Next Decade,’ Ehingbeti 2020 will provide a platform for deliberations on pragmatic optimisation of the inherent opportunities in Africa’s fifth largest economy and offer perspectives on how to manage the peculiar socio-economic landscape of the state in the coming decade.
Acknowledged as the first institutionalised economic forum by any state in Nigeria, Ehingbeti is a public-private sector roundtable that started as a collaborative effort between the Lagos State Government and Business Club Ikeja.
Ehingbeti is an ingenuous socio-economic apparatus that has contributed significantly to the evolution of Lagos State into a major economy in sub-Saharan Africa and an admirable megacity, with expanding potentialities. The summit, hosted by successive administrations in Lagos State since the beginning of the 4th Republic, has consistently redefined the dynamics of public-private sector collaboration for development across social and economic indices in Lagos State.
The three-day summit, which would be a hybrid of virtual and live events, would draw participation from various sectors of the economy and across the globe.
Cementing Relationships Between Public, Private Sectors
The co-chair of the ‘Ehingbeti 2020’ steering committee and former Lagos State commissioner for economic planning & budget, Mr Olayemi Cardoso said the state continually outshines its peers in the country because of its continuous dialogue and collaboration with the private sector.
Cardoso, who is also the chairman, Citibank Nigeria, said: “It is timely that this is happening and I say that because COVID-19 and its aftermath has wreaked havoc in economies around the world and we are no exception to that and when it going to end nobody knows. All we know is that countries around the world, pay dearly from being on lockdown and for any lockdown, you have a corresponding loss in Gross Domestic Product(GDP).
With the challenges ahead and Lagos being the economic nerve centre of the country, he said, there is a large responsibility to ensure that they protect the citizens of the state and this is something that can’t happen unless it is planned for.
To him, “The bright star above the image of the iconic ‘Agba Meta’ is a depiction of the result of working together to deliver the stellar accomplishments that define the city state of Lagos and the pervasive atmosphere of economic stability in the State. I am happy to let you know that the image of the ‘Agba Meta’ is a representation of the sculpted white cap chiefs built to welcome people into Lagos. The logo is to emphasise our pride in culture as we welcome participants to Ehingbeti 2002 and beyond.”
Similarly, the commissioner for economic planning and budget, who is also a co-chair of the steering committee, Sam Egube, stated that, in the last two decades, Ehingbeti has played a pivotal role in the transformation of Lagos State, with useful inputs into Lagos State Development Plans (LSDP).
“Our realities from 2000 when the first Ehingbeti held, exactly 20 years ago, have significantly changed. As a state, we now have to cater for the infrastructural needs of more than 22 million population and ensure that Lagos remains on the path of continuous growth,” he pointed out.
“These considerations are the groundwork of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration’s THEMES Agenda, but translating the agenda to benefits for our people will require collaboration amongst stakeholders, and a determination to deepen the foundation for sustainable development and growth of our society. So, Ehingbeti 2020 offers us a platform to address all these,” Egube added.
Furthermore, he pointed out that the summit has a rich history and is firmly established as a credible forum for stimulating economic growth for Lagos state.
You cannot lead a place like Lagos with one mind, you have to bring together all the minds, he stressed.
“The first three editions were deliberately diagnostic, but by the fourth one, we had started to create a blueprint and we have started to implement it from the early decisions that had been made. So far about 119 resolutions were taken in the history of Ehingbeti, 109 of them have been implemented,: he said.
According to the Lagos Commissioner, the good thing about the summit is that the government is responsible for the decisions taken and is obliged to report back to the next Ehingbeti what it has done with the decisions that were taken at the previous one.
“To some it appears the ambitions are too high, because how do you put private sector in the lead and collaborate in that manner. They have wondered whether government can be trusted to follow through with this idea of collaboration, but the performance shows that yes, we follow through,” he stressed.
Speaking on the impact of the summit, Egube pointed out that the whole idea about the blue line, the red line, the rail master plan were initiatives that were conceived during past editions of the summit.
“Today we see the rail line is on its way those are big projects that sometimes it is difficult to take such decisions on your own but when the private sector comes together and say let’s do this, it increases confidence in taking such leap. I can tell you that we are on our way to deliver the red and blue line,” he added.
He further added that the entire Lekki-Ikoyi toll bridge project came out of Ehingbeti discussion.
“The fact that we are trying to expand our activities on the waterways is also Ehingbeti. Lagos homes ownership scheme rent to build scheme, all of these came out of Ehingbeti,” he added.
The Lagos State government recently assured residents of its commitment to fulfilling all its promises, in spite of disruption occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges not envisaged.
On his part, the Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said, fulfilling the promises was in line with the T.H.E.M.E.S development agenda for ‘Greater Lagos’.
He said, in spite of reduction in the budget as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government would fulfil its promises.
According to him, “the state government is determined to step up the tempo of governance through innovative and inclusive policies. I want to assure you that despite disruption occasioned by COVID-19 and other challenges that we did not envisage, we are still committed as a government to fulfilling the promises we made to people, knowing fully that no excuse will be tenable to our citizens.”
“We must be determined to step forward, heighten the tempo of governance and continue to create opportunities through innovative policies that are not only inclusive but provide sustainable solutions for this present administration and lay foundation for future administrations coming behind us,” he maintained.