Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola , SAN on Wednesday, 13th August, 2014, asserted that Lagos can indeed be the African Rising Story going by the progress being made along the lines of clear commitments and the initiatives being planned in the power, agriculture, transportation and housing sectors among others by the present administration.
The Governor who spoke at the Mail and Guardian Africa Meeting of Great Minds Breakfast Dialogue with the theme, “ Urban Migration and Renewal in Nigeria : Future Drivers of Economic Growth” and the sub-theme , “How African Cities will be the biggest drivers of the Rising Africa Story,” held at Four Points by Sheraton, Lekki, added that the progress made can only reinforce the capacity of Lagos to drive a rising Africa story.
He added that with steady power, the state can can energise its communities, the people and their businesses and provide employment and food through the agriculture value chain.
Continuining, the Governor said the successes recorded in the transportation sector simply means that the people can be moved from one end to the other in an intermodal way and also provide ideal homes through payment by mortgage in the Lagos Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme (LAGOSHOMS).
He explained that in Lagos before the world became more knowledge driven and as competitive as it is today, there had been the realization that the education of the people has remained the surest way to develop the nation and the administration has demonstrated commitment to education from cradle to the top.
“Our approach has been to improve all players in the public and private sector. We use competition and choice as drivers to increase productivity of our educational outputs. Our short term bias would be technological and science education to produce people who can do things with their hands rather than people who work with their minds alone.
“We need a generation of young men who can build our roads, our bridges, who can build our schools and hospitals, people who can fix MRI machine and CT scan and in that way we can create job opportunities,” he said.
Underscoring the need to embrace Information and Communication Technology, the Governor noted that people must be able to stand and use ICT to bridge the wider gulf of development that exists between Africa and the West.
“In a way that business which should have been transacted through ledgers are now done through small flash drives and in a way that commerce is now an increasing online business, delivery vehicles may soon yield way to drones for delivering goods at the peoples doorsteps,” he said.
Fashola added that from the various governmental institutions, to schools, to hospitals and the transport services, the ICT footprint is increasing in Lagos State, such that today, Lagos is one of the four African states where it is documented that there is presence of free WIFI in open spaces, stressing that steps are being taken to improve on that front.
He stressed that the approach of the present administration is to seek to reduce poverty by building infrastructure, adding that for some people, Lagos may have bitten more than it can chew.
The Lagos Governor noted, however, that the answer to such people lies in a close examination of the yearly budget of the state which is her article of faith, adding that whenever the administration said it wanted to address the infrastructure deficit, her budget also said the same.
“Our first two budgets showed how serious we are in terms of addressing infrastructure deficit. In 2008 we budgeted 60.05 percent for capital and 39.5 percent recurrent while in 2009 Capital was 63 percent while recurrent was 37 percent and by 2010 we bent to 59 to 41percent ratio.
“In 2011, things changed a little for us because in those two years there were no less than 2000 construction work going on from the smallest to the biggest and as many of them were coming to completion, what we were seeing was a necessity to maintain them and that was driving up again our recurrent expenditure and it was something we joyfully joke about at Council. It helped us issue out small contracts and commitments and up till 2014, the ratio is 58 percent to 42 percent”, he stressed.
The Governor reiterated that after the budget commitment, the State Government also recorded high performance in the budget, recording not less than 70 percent every year, saying in 2012 it was 89 percent, 85 percent in 2013 and as at half year of 2014, it had recorded 86 percent.
While shedding more light on the other successes recorded, Governor Fashola said work has been concluded on power plants as well as over 300 km of public lighting, adding that before now a satellite view of Lagos would bring about a dark view but that the state has succeeded in restoring night life through rapid street lighting.
“We are leading the delivery of embedded power and energy solutions with 3 completed power plants, and two more to come this year, over 300 KW of public lighting by street lights. In agriculture,we have multiplied increments in agricultural outputs in the area of poultry, vegetable, and agro-processing such as rice and cassava milling, transportation: We are implementing six simultaneous transport solutions: Mile 12–Ikorodu, Lekki-Epe, Lagos–Badagry, Lagos Light Rail, Lagos Ferry and Lagos Cable Car and in housing, we are now delivering 200 housing units every month with a 10-year mortgage and a maximum interest payment of 9.5 percent, ” he explained.
The Governor said the truth for him is that Nigeria’s leadership role in Africa still remains to be fully optimized because if one looks at the missed opportunities of the past, they must inspire the people to multiply the opportunities of today and the prospects of tomorrow.
In his words: “As for the ‘Rising Africa’ part of the topic, who would have thought that any rising in Africa was even within contemplation a little over a decade ago? The honest question is this: Are we rising? My answer for now, must regrettably be in the negative. How much of our food is produced here? How many of our airplanes, vehicles, construction equipment, cell phones and a host of household essentials are made here? What percentage of our workforce is employed at the leadership and management of Africa’s infrastructure projects?