By Tayo Ogunjobi
In Lagos State, the challenge of development is faced in the context of global economic impact as well as its status as a mega city. The current administration in the State is evidently focused on the implementation of several job creation and wealth generation programmes as well as the development of physical and social infrastructure and improvement of the State’s economy through implementation of proactive policies and programmes.
The passion and determination of the state’s leadership is to truly make Lagos the Centre of Excellence and African socio-economic development hub. The policy thrust, therefore, is focused on poverty alleviation and sustainable economic growth through infrastructural upgrade and development to emphasize fiscal responsibility.
The current government in the State is aware of the reality of the development indexdaily staring the State in the face, against the background of available human and material resources. For instance, despite the relocation of the Federal Capital to Abuja, Lagos continues to exhibit immense economic attributes. It attracts an enormous human population that occupies a land area of about 3577 square kilometers, thereby making the State the most densely populated and smallest in land size in the country.
Available records show that Lagos State contributes about 12% of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which is comparable, only, to Rivers and Delta States which are Oil-Producing States; and we are the leading contributor in the Non-Oil Sector with average contribution of 19% which is equal to the contribution of 13 States put together. Moreover, Lagos State hosts over 60% of the manufacturing/industrial sector, which, if properly harnessed will be a major driving impetus for national growth.
In Lagos, the journey towards 2020 will, no doubt, be marked by economic reforms which are necessary and reflective of desirable social–economic progression. Available demographic indices and macro–economic policies indicate that development will be propelled by the manufacturing and financial services sectors, tourism, agricultural and allied industries, construction, telecommunications and information technology, as well as, trade and commerce.
Of course, it is obvious that all of these, small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) hold the key towards achieving accelerated socio-economic growth. At the launch of the first Lagos State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Fair, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode affirmed that the best way to revive the national economy was to evolve a conscious development of its micro, small and medium enterprises sub-sector. According to the Governor, there was the need to put in place policies and programmes that would boost local production, encourage consumption of same and stimulate exports, to diversify sources of earnings and conserve the nation’s foreign exchange.
In order to create the conducive environment that will actually stimulate the encouragement of made-in-Nigeria products, the Lagos state government has domesticated the Federal Government’s policy on MSMEs. Similarly, the Ambode administration recently inaugurated the state Council on MSMEs for proper coordination of the MSMEs in the state. The Council would identify MSMEs operating in the state to help enhance their productivity and enable them to serve as the bedrock for the economic development of the state. With a sound MSME base, the seven critical sectors pointed out above, no doubt, have the potential of growing the state’s economy in double digits which will impact on the attainment of speedy economic growth, not only for the State but the country at large.
The cornerstone of growth and development in the State has been the continuity by which subsequent governments have engendered smooth transition in governance and the vision of the leadership in government. Currently, it has been discovered that the instrumentality of the all inclusive governance philosophy of the Ambode Administration has been very profound in the re-tooling of vision, projects, policies and programmes to transform the lives and wellbeing of the people.
An integral part of the State development’s agenda is infrastructure upgrade which is anchored on road rehabilitation and construction of new roads, creation of an integrated mass transit programme with emphasis on road, rail and water transportation, improvement in environment through physical planning with the intention of making Lagos State a model City-State as well as a shelter agenda that aims for the provision of affordable mass housing schemes through facilitation of liberalized mortgage system and the development of new satellite towns.
Its health programme is premised on the expansion of wards, development of primary healthcare programme, deepening of blindness prevention programme, strengthening of emergency medical services and the enhancement of medical personnel welfare. The educational agenda include the establishment of millennium schools in all local government/local council development areas, rehabilitation and maintenance of existing schools and libraries, curriculum review, the enhancement of teachers’ welfare and the development of skills acquisition, vocational and technical education.
With regards to food security, the State is poised to facilitate sustainable food production and processing, empowerment of farmers/fishermen cooperative societies, support for strategic food preservation and farm settlement development. Of course, all this can only be made feasible through a revenue enhancement policy that is based on diversification of revenue sources, widening of tax net, effective revenue collection mechanisms and development of database.
Currently, efforts are geared towards transforming the State Civil Service for effective service delivery. This is being done by the Office of Transformation, Creativity and Innovation (OTCI), a platform for the reform of the public sector to serve the people of the State better. There are also plans to provide a platform for sustainable economic growth by working towards an integrated transport system that will include efficient public road transport, including its critical mass infrastructure development, enhanced healthcare service delivery, achievement of universal basic education by ensuring that school-age children are registered in schools and the overall attainment of targets under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
However, it is important to state that the State’s revenue profile will have to grow to accommodate several of her increased commitments. This, indeed, is why government is determined to ensure that there are no tax leakages in the State and bringing in more people into the tax net by encouraging voluntary self assessment and payment of taxes.
As Lagos State marches towards the ‘magic’ Year 2020, the State government is poised to build a society whose commitment to law and order is unmistakable and unequivocal. But then, it will require an even greater commitment to law and order not only to sustain what have been achieved but also to develop upon it. Therefore, more investment in security and safety to further reduce crime is quite essential. This is where the active involvement of the private sector and other well meaning stakeholders in the Lagos project is quite indispensable.
Ogunbiyi is of the Lagos State Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos