This essay was submitted by John Kennedy Igbozurike, a 400 level student of faculty of law, University of Lagos
It is trite saying that so many things are possible as long as we don’t think they are impossible. In essence, possibility is a creation of the mindset. To create a Lagos of our dreams, we need to eliminate misconceptions, identify challenges and proffer workable solutions to these challenges. Taking into consideration, Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy particularly “government for the people”, a popular misconception which thrives among many policymakers happens to be the fact that Gross Domestic Profit (GDP) is an efficacious yardstick for ascertaining development and societal-wellbeing within a state (Amit. K & Bibek. D, 2019). In contradistinction to what has been the status quo since time immemorial, this paper maintains that GDP accounts for the state’s economy and does not totally reflect the welfarism of the citizens and residents within the state.
Human capital development encapsulates the concept of welfarism. Indeed, some basic tenets of welfarism include: access to quality education by the largest amount of people (a utilitarian approach), provision of employment opportunities as well as access to health care. While this paper acknowledges the importance of GDP to the progress of a state, there is need to borrow leaf from India by developing an Ease of Living Index in order to measure the quality of life and economic ability of citizens within the State and in turn, address the concomitant identified challenges.
It is no news that the novel coronavirus has altered our way of life in manifold facets. The economic and social impacts of the pandemic are reverberating in all the countries globally (World Bank, 2020). In order not to be grounded or remain stagnated, an avant-garde approach needs to be introduced. In this case, digital strategy is the solution to a lot of challenges emanating from poor welfarism. Digital strategy which is the new normal, is not just an app building exercise nor simply a cost-cutting strategy to stay afloat, but a silver lining to rethink operations within the state’s sectorial ecosystems.
A recent teledensity study reveals that Nigeria recorded 184 million GSM subscribers. The only populace accounting for an insignificant numeric out of that figure are the rural areas (Nigeria Communications Commission, 2019). Realizing that Lagos State has not attained 100% connectivity owing to the fact that not everyone can afford and access the requisite technological aids, an ideal policy response would be to utilize tax holiday as an incentive policy tool (Mehmet Nar, 2019) to lure private tech-oriented firms and internet service providers with presence within the state in order to collaborate with us so as to get them to provide services to indigent residents at subsidized rates and in return, the state government would offer tax holidays to the selected firms.
It is acknowledged that an investment in education pays the best interest. Measured by what education and labor contribute to output, the productive capacity of human beings is now vastly enormous than all other forms of wealth taken together. At the moment, Lagos State has a population of over 14 million people (World Population review, 2020) with children and youth constituting an ample section of that number. The amount of facilities however are constrained with public educational institutions amounting to just over 1600 units (Lagos State Ministry of Education, 2020). This is a far cry from where we intend to be. In view of this, while a physical infrastructural facelift in the form of renovations would be considered, virtual infrastructure would also be on the cards.
The fusion of Information and Communication Technology and education can play a vital role in the provision of support to teachers and students (World Bank, 2020) while cutting cost simultaneously. Being forced to undertake remote learning as a result of Covid-19 has opened our eyes to the limitless potential that technology wields. Flowing from the aforementioned, the establishment of virtual schools that enroll students on a full-time basis would be high priority in the State’s scale of preference. This would afford indigent students who might have dropped out for one or more peculiar reasons, an opportunity to access free lectures and obtain certifications at the end of their virtual educational stint (U.S Department of Education, 2020). In recognition of the World Bank’s commitment to the re-imagination of education and its status as the largest financier of education in the developing world (World Bank, 2020), a collaboration with the institution will be initiated in order to realize this revolutionary goal.
To advance the educational goal of the state, another policy response would be to solicit support from Nigerians in diaspora by asking them to include education into their business models by issuing diaspora bonds (Africa-USA Now, 2019). They may innovate an educational bond program with the aim of granting tax free bonds to students in order to enable them pay their tuition fees among other things and repay at a later date.
According to the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, 66% of Lagosians cannot access quality healthcare as they live under the poverty threshold and an estimate of 60 billion is required in order to grant the indigent access into the current health scheme (The Guardian, 2019). Veritably, financial resources would have to be expended to get healthcare to the grassroot level however,
we do not need to expend exorbitant pecuniary resources. As an alternative, while relying on technology as an infrastructural pillar, the introduction of telemedicine will serve as a cost cutting strategy aimed at increasing accessibility to healthcare services to everyone within the state. This will expand our healthcare reach while providing such services to residents at subsidized rates (eVisit, 2020).
By all counts and with proven results, there is need to improve healthcare delivery within Lagos State. The current plight may be owing to the fact that the state currently measures GDP to improve health care delivery instead of Sustainable Development Goals (Business Day, 2020). There will certainly be need for a paradigm shift alongside the incorporation of the Internet of Things (IoT) in order to improve healthcare within the state. The core of technology is to solve problems and the inclusion of IoT in our healthcare system will impact technology-driven health service and nudge the state closer to the international benchmark for health. IoT collects patient’s data and helps health experts predict health maintenance challenges before they even occur (Stryker, 2019).
On the facet of creation of employment opportunities, technology will create more jobs and this would culminate in an exponential growth of not just the state’s treasury but also the income of residents within the state (Investopedia, 2018). Contrary to conventional wisdom that IoT will make humans redundant, more jobs will be created as residents adapt to new purposes (The Guardian, 2019). Digitalization will be the most sought after exit door which we need to escape underemployment within the state.
On the overall, a sustainable Lagos Golden Age is not impossible. Technological advancement which has been described as the fourth industrial revolution, is one of the indices for measuring a territory’s growth. Therefore, it must be utilized in a manner that makes its value unquestionable. Only then will it have huge disruptive effects on all socioeconomic facets within the state.
John can reached on Igbozurike@gmail.com