For Lagos State, the past year was striking in diverse ways. For one, it was a year when the state government’s infrastructure renewal agenda continued on a better range across the state. Perhaps, the major highlight of this was the celebrated commissioning of 21 newly completed 21 roads and three bridges last Easter. The roads connecting the state with Ogun State were constructed with the intent of easing traffic movement and improving interconnectivity between the two states.
The roads commissioned are Ikola Road with Odo Obasanjo Bridge – 6.4km (from Ipaja/Command to Ilo River); Ogunseye Road – 1.75km (from Ajasa/Command to Ikola Road);Oko Filling Road – 1.5km (from AIT to Ilo River).Others include Osenatu Ilo road – 620m (from Ibari Road to Ilo River); Amikanle road – 3.1km (from AIT to Ogunseye Road); Aina Aladi road – 1.9km (from AIT to Ilo River) and Aiyetoro Road with a bridge– 1.4km (from New Market/Ishefun Road intersection to Ilo River). With the new roads, Lagos residents along the axis need not take the usual LASU-Iyana Iba course to Badagry. This has really helped in stabilizing traffic along the Lagos-Abeokuta Road as well as the Iyana-Ipaja/ LASU-Iyana Iba route.
Another equally defining event of 2018 in Lagos State was the feat accomplished by Bayode Treasures Olawunmi who broke existing record in world reading marathon. Before his record breaking feat, world record for marathon reading was set by Indian born Deepak Sharma Bajaan with113 hours 15 minutes in 2008. In setting this record, Bayode who was educated at the Osun State Polytechnic, Iree and Comprehensive High School, Ketu in Lagos, began reading at 1:30pm on Monday, February 26, 2018 and ended it 3:30pm on Saturday, March 3rd .
The record breaking exploit was used to promote African literature and reading culture in Nigeria. Without a doubt, there is a sharp decline in reading culture in Nigeria while the publishing sector in the country is almost none existing. The reasons for the decline in reading culture in our land are not far-fetched. For one, reading is a tasking exercise that involves full concentration and present day youth are not really willing to embark on such obviously strenuous exercise which they believe wont yield them much money at the end of the day.
One other significant event of 2018 in Lagos was the historic visit of French President, Emmanuel Macron, to the ‘iconic’ Afrika Shrine in Ikeja, Lagos on July 3, 2018. The French President, who trained in Nigeria as a Senior Civil Servant in 2004, was so captivated by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s Afrobeat music that he included a visit to the Shrine as part of his itinerary in a state visit to Nigeria. The visit was momentous in many ways. First, Macron is the first President to officially visit the Afrika Shrine. This is a massive approval for the club-house founded by Fela’s eldest son, Femi. Macron’s visit has placed the Shrine on the global map, considering the number of international media and dignitaries who accompanied the French President to the place. That visit also boosted the tourism potential of Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole. It is a huge thrust to the efforts of the current administration in the promotion of sports, entertainment, culture, music, dance and art.
In the area of economic development and growth, one of the significant moves towards boosting Lagos State economy by the state government was taken in 2018 with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the State and Kano State. It was an economic partnership aimed at jointly exploring investment opportunities that are needed to create jobs and facilitate growth and development.
According to the MoU, the two States agreed to expand the level of economic and cooperation between them especially in key areas of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), Agricultural Value Chain, Security, Skills Development, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Commerce, with a specific focus on ease of doing business, Urban Waste Management, Transportation and Power. Undoubtedly, this collaboration, cooperation and partnership between Lagos and Kano State is capable of bringing about economic sufficiency in both States and of course the entire nation.
Despite its modest achievements in opening up the Lagos economy for growth and development, the state government is not looking back in the onerous task of ensuring an economically secure Lagos where investors get adequate returns on their investments. There has been momentum for economic growth in the State courtesy high demand for related services and products including at weekends.
Also, sustenance of law and order was given a significant impetus in the past year with the signing of seven important bills into law. The Laws are Lagos State Electric Power Reform Law, Amended Land Use Charge Law, School of Nursing Law, Cooperative College Law, Cancer Research Institute Law, Amended Customary Court Law and the Yoruba Language Preservation and Promotion Law
Without a doubt, the signing of these laws signifies commencement of the journey to further advance the dividends of democracy to Lagos residents. It is also an indication that Lagos is not resting on its oars, in spite of recent giant strides recorded across all sectors in the state.
The implication of this is that Lagosians are in for a better deal in terms of socioeconomic growth and development in the state. For instance, the Lagos State Electric Power Reform Law allows the state government to intervene in major areas of the power value chain to the overall benefit of the people. The main objective of the law is to put Lagos in the league of societies that experience 24 hours uninterrupted power supply. The new law has many dimensions. The first is that it puts government in a position to be able to extend her guarantee to private sector participants to generate power. Thus, the State, through the law is assuring investors that getting involved in power generation is a profitable venture.
The second is that it helps power distribution companies to upgrade their infrastructure, thereby ensuring they possess the capacity for incremental power. The third is that it empowers government to open up the gas market in Lagos State so that the product can be consistently available. It is this availability that would eventually enhance the attainment of 24-hour power supply which is ultimate goal of the law. The law would also enable the state government to collaborate with the distribution companies to collect tariff from customers efficiently and also avert power theft.
Indeed, this is the first time that any government in Nigeria will institutionalise the power theft law as it criminalizes power infraction. Before now, those who get involved in all kinds of power theft related ventures are often left off the hook, but the new law provides for clear-cut punitive measures against power theft.
From the look things, 2019 offers better prospects for Lagosians, especially in terms of infrastructure development, job creation and economic development. Completion of Pen Cinema Bridge, Oshodi Transport Interchange and Lagos Airport Road are some of the initiatives that would no doubt transform the State’s landscape in 2019.
Ogunbiyi is of the Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja