“The future belongs to those who believe in their dreams,” — Eleanor Roosevelt.
The Allure of Lagos is real. Awesome in its power; seductively magnetic. Lagos is a place where it is safe to dream, if you are determine to make it real. Lagos has variously been described, as “Land of Promise”, “Promiseland”, “Home for All”, “Commercial nerve centre”, “Land of Performance”, “Land of Aquatic Splendor and Tourism”, “Centre of Learning”. Some call it, Land of peace, of hope, of opportunity, of business, of legacies, of freedom etc.
Mere 0.4 per cent of Nigeria’s territorial landmass, Lagos harbors more than 21 million, or 18 per cent Nigerians of different ethnic and religious groups; it has over 62 per cent of industrial and commercial interest. Lagos Internally Generated Revenue of N287 billion in December 2016, (about 76 per cent of its total revenue) was more than that of 20 states of the Nation’s 36 States.
The promise of Lagos is alive and well! With over 54 per cent of the country’s manufacturing employment, Lagos is the second largest economy in Nigeria, third in Sub-Saharan Africa and about seventh or eighth in Africa.
It is the seventh fastest growing economy in the World, and even when it is already growing in leaps and bound, Lagos will surely experience a real exponential growth. Why? With the recent discovery of petroleum in the State, it is poised for special federal revenue allocation that other oil producing states enjoy.
What will be the largest refinery in Africa, or probably in the World, is projected for completion soon in Lagos. Lekki Free Trade Zone, massive infrastructural rehabilitation and construction and integrated mass transportation system are being commissioned at frenetic pace.
With dynamic, dedicated and visionary leadership, Lagos continue to promote and project best practices and reforms to ease administration, business and financial operations. The fact that internally generated revenue (IGR) has increased so dramatically to N436 billion in 2017, is a pointer to the fact that a sound, sustainable revenue mobilisation measures have taken root. Indeed, our collective vision of Lagos, as a functioning SMART CITY, is gradually being realised.
On viability of Lagos, the Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode said: “is a land of opportunities, offering all residents the chance to succeed in their vocations and endeavours, a place where you have a chance to make it if you work hard. Lagos provide the cohesion that keeps Nigeria together”.
In fact, there is a popular maxim among Lagosians that “if you come to Lagos and you are not smart (not able to make headway), you cannot be able to do that anywhere else on the planet, even in America!” How true, is contestable. Perhaps, the key word, is “hard work” and of course prayer.
Thus, the dream of most Nigerians is to experience Lagos first, even if they have to travel abroad in quest of more fortune. In fact, virtually all Nigerians who have made it to the top in all areas of life, have done so, directly or indirectly, with Lagos connections.
Lagos as a land of hope and of opportunity! Or where else in Nigeria could one be hawking bread in the street? In one moment, a nondescript and the next, a celebrity!! “Lagos a Home for All”, means Nigeria will not break because Lagos is the adhesive element, holding Nigerians together.
Certain significant occurrences testified this assertion. Have we pondered why, all civilian governors since the First Republic, Lateef Jakande, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Raji Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode – except the short three months period of Micheal Otedola in 1983 – have always been progressive, visionary, role models, achievers by far margin among their peers?
This is acclaimed, even by their adversaries. Have you examined why all these governors (except of course the incumbent) went on to assume greater national responsibilities and larger influence after their respective tenure?
Have we explored the reasons why Lagos was never conquered by ruling political party in 1983 and 2003? Recall, the malevolent “Landslide” (or was it Moonslide) election of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN).
At the tail ends of the Second Republic, Gov. Lateef Jakande of Lagos and Gov. Olabisi Onabanjo of Ogun States survived the “annexation” of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) States unscratched (of course late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was from Ogun State.
Late Pa Michael Adekunle Ajasin of Ondo State had to bitterly fight it to the Supreme Court, to reclaim his mandate from Akin Omoboriowo of the NPN, after much bloodlettings that culminated into December 1983 coup of General Muhammedu Buhari and Col. Tunde Idiagbon.
Fast-track to 2003, when the evil tsunami of 2003 Election, swallowed all progressive states, but was unable to consume Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Lagos, which remained the bulwark and rallying point for the Progressive till date. True, Jakande put Lagos in the sun, but it was Asiwaju Tinubu that really repaired and strengthened the foundation, deeply eroded since 1983.
Gov. Babatunde Fashola constructed solid structure on it, while Gov. Ambode propelled construction to astronomical height. IGR was N300 million in 1999. Today, it is N436 billion!
When Southern and Northern Protectorates were amalgamated into one Nigeria in 1914, Lagos was chosen over Calabar as Federal Capital. Was it by prayer, predestination, pure chance or divine intervention? Lagos is a centre of Unity and freedom; maybe the reason that state remains the only one with its boundary intact since 1967.
Have we pondered why Lagos has the full mix of variables that cause sustainable development, successions of visionary democratic leaders, who continue to transmit models for good governance, proactive civil service, dynamic and egalitarian population, appropriate climatic and environmental condition as well as peace and harmonious co-existence of diverse groups and interests!
Some would say FAITH, some would say DESTINY. But virtually all would agree that PRAYER and perseverance for excellence by Lagosians – the leaders and the led – is KEY, for Lagos Successes.
The reason for the establishment of Home Affairs Ministry is primarily to take care of the spiritual yearning of Lagosians, reinforce our faith in the destiny of Lagos, promote this state of concord, care and love, inspire us to work harder without fear and secure our sustainable growth.
By Lookman Seriki, Head Public Affairs, Lagos Ministry of Home Affairs