The mere mention of the city of LAGOS, the commercial hub of Nigeria used to conjure nauseating feelings for the tourist and inhabitants alike. Disturbing images of slums, garbage dumps, notorious and seemingly endless traffic jams regular nuisance and pickpocketing by ‘area boys’,‘ drive or die’ mentality of Molue drivers defined the average experience in the state. Newbies in the state are often warned ‘This is Lagos.’ However, today the narrative is changing.
The transformation of the dreaded city of ‘Eko’ began in 1999 when Mr. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu shared his ambitious dream of a mega city. In fact, the BBC reporter noted, ‘the realities of Lagos may thwart Mr. Tinubu’s ambitious plans’ but after17 years of consistent efforts, the city has waxed stronger and is a model for several cities that want to create vibrant cities. Implementing policies to stimulate growth and attract investment, Tinubu contributed his efforts in laying the foundation for sustainable growth and development in Lagos. Taking advantage of this, his successor, BabatundeRajiFashola continued the transformation vision.
Running with a mantra ‘Eko O ni baje’, Mr. Fashola directed resources to the ailing transportation and sanitation system in the state and boosting internally generated revenue. From a meager $3.2million in 1999, Lagos recorded $115 million in 2015 (consider finding out the current internally generated revenue for Lagos State). It has become one of Africa’s largest and fastest growing cities. The Economist reports that ‘Lagos is Nigeria’s richest state, producing about $90billion a year in goods and services, making its economy bigger than that of most African countries.’
Under the Bus Rapid Transit scheme, a public-private partnership has provided luxurious buses for transportation across the state making transportation faster, cheaper safer and more predictable. The result is replacement of these Molues with healthier buses. In addition, ‘an efficient garbage collection service supports the cleaning efforts. More than one million tons of waste was deposited in landfillsin 2015, which is an increase from a prior, 71,000 tons in 2004. About 72% of Lagos residents currently use a government regulated waste disposal service; in 2005 only 42% used such service.’ Africa Renewal reports.
The government places relevance on developing improving infrastructure as well as capacity building for the people. The incumbent Governor, Mr. AkinwunmiAmbode pledges: ‘I promise to use tourism, hospitality and entertainment to create employment for the youths.’ In a visit to the Sabo Industrial Estate in Yaba area, he promised to transform the estate into Africa’s Silcon Valley. By using funds from the Employment Trust Fund he commits to assisting entrepreneurs overcome financial hurdles in a bid to develop the state.
As the city clocks the Big 50, the state looks to enhance the heritage and advance the future.