ESSAY #7: Come, Let’s make lagos great again!!!

This essay was submitted was submitted by Israel Nwazue

It is the power of potential leadership to see in the extremity, opportunity and I hold that for Lagos, such times in my administration are here! Lagos, the Nigerian center of excellence has seen its fame and name rise with varied connotations in the minds of its hearers. From the avant-garde metropolitan, to a seismic pool of decrepit slums, the perception of Lagos varies. Somewhere in between lies the truth. Yet in terms of its socioeconomic importance, Lagos is no fiddle. With a population of 21 million and growing at an estimated 1200 people migrating per day,

Lagos has risen to be the largest city in Africa and its 7th largest economy. This hub of Nigerian commerce, industry and entrepreneurial opportunities, has since become the focal point of urbanization. Sadly the aftermath of such population explosion, with infantile organization in terms of basic living conditions, has generated a backlash of such horrendous proportions that the Global Liveability Index published by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked Lagos as one of the bottom three worst cities to live in. A position we share with war torn Karachi and Bangladesh. Lagos now displaces India with the highest population to live in poverty.

The value of health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure, are perniciously low in Lagos. Aptly, Lagos has been described as “a city on a uncertain trajectory which differs from recognized patterns of capitalist urbanization because the city is growing rapidly context of economic stagnation”.

The slums in Lagos have seen an increase from 42 in 1985 to over 100in 2006, with latest statistics putting it at 135. A whooping 70% of Lagosians find these places as their home. Much to their credit, previous administrations have tried to solve the Ekò enigma. The ‘Master plan for metropolitan Lagos’, a UN initiative (UN 1980), came to a halt during the military regime, and though many other notable attempts like the Lagos Mega City Project (LMCP) highlight efforts to reform Lagos to the ideal city, most have not been consistent enough to pass visionary ideas to incoming and in most cases rival administrations, with others flawed from the beginning. The model of an ideal city imported from Western metropolitans, has also failed to underscore peculiarities that Lagos presents on its journey to ‘ideal’. In the case of occupancy, the issuing certificate often has such rigorous conditions to be met that it is placed out of the reach of her average residents.

The institutional, inherent physical and social characteristics that determine Lagos future have seldom been given the holistic answers they deserve. The key to fixing Lagos will not be done by patch temporal adjustments that are as spasmodic and conditional as electoral years, often short lived and inconsequential. Lagos needs not just strong leaders, but most importantly strong institutions. It is in this prospect, that I submit to you what my administration hopes to initiate in terms of systems to address four fundamental issues:

1. Internal Migration: This is a pertinent issue Lagos must address. There has been a sweeping rise in internal migration in Nigeria. 60% of which live in Urban areas, with Lagos taking a 40.1% proportion of that index. With no laws to regulate internal migration and settlement, Lagos runs the perpetual risk of a population overflow and an exploitation of her human capital, vis-à-vis the consequences of limited resources to buffer. My administration will therefore be committed first to state laws that stipulate migration policies that should govern such process. If we are going to ensure Lagos is decent, we must be willing first to know how much we can and are willing to account for. The failure of the implementation of the draft national policy on migration necessitates this need, a need my administration promises to address.

2. Transportation: Far from an organized sector, this industry remains one that is suspect to less scrutiny or organization. The Lagos state government, in its official website page says, some 1.6million vehicles, taxi its routes, providing some 10,000 persons daily transport, with the number of commercial ‘danfo’ buses about 75,000. With such large unorganized, unregulated system, Lagos also ails from disorganized traffic to unnecessary gridlocks and a fast rising index of fatal accidents. At present, there is almost no regulation to ensure that this public sector of trust is under the watchful surveillance of the government. Save intermediary and most times ineffective unions, there is nothing that represents the interest of its members and by extension our commuters. My administration is committed to ensuring that an accountable regularized system of transport is established. We promise to guarantee not just safety but ease in commuting our roads. With incentivized insurance plans for the primary providers of these services it is our aim to restore the appropriate dignity of our transportation system and most prominent, its confidence.

3. Health care: The health care service of Lagos, continues to be a sad sting of reality. While the NHIS scheme may have helped middle class Lagosians in their access to tertiary health care, it is grossly lacking in access to primary health care; a dire need in the lower middle class of Lagos. For the over 80.3% that have to travel 6 to 10km in search of a primary center, where the ideal should have been in a 5km radius; for the 97.9% of Lagosians with no health insurance, and the77.8% of residents living in the slums of Mushin-idi-Araba, Ajegunle, and Ijora Badia slums, the quality of health care Lagos provides is deplorable. With an overcrowded Lagos, many Infested areas and the possibility of rapid transmission in the outbreak of an epidemic, Lagos’ health care system represents not just a sorry state, but a potential threat. My administration will continue to emphasize, build and restructure the health care system in Lagos to match the needs. The efforts of previous governance, has truly be strident, but as much as improvement can be afforded, we intend to scale the output of quality health to as many Lagosians as possible. We have marked out 5 LGA’s where the need is direst for a primary health center, and we look forward to ensuring they are erected before the first 100 days in office.4. Housing and Occupancy: The pathetic state of homeless residents of Lagos is a multifaceted problem. While the migration policy will greatly curb the growth of such numbers, my administration remains solely committed to the urban restructuring of Lagos to meet its unsheltered residents. A committee already has been mandated to look into the bureaucracy that surrounds the acquisition of the government permit and a certificate of occupancy with a view to making it more accessible to prospective builders. Also regulatory bodies will be established, to check the cost of lease renting and accommodation acquiring. Outrageous billing that help to foster the index of homeless residents, will not be encouraged. While we will not stifle economic interests on the part of the providers, economic mandates will be implemented to curb the tendency of exploitation by the providers. Grants will also be available to promising house owners. Part of this will include, a viable road network (an aspect of Lagos civil infrastructure that we will aggressively address) with economic incentives for local and multi-national companies to provide cheaper housing projects. Our goal is that by a term’s duration, we should have cut the homeless index by half.

Needless to say, our administration will also seek to ensure all that pertains to Lagos being a safe and prosperous city. Her security, culture and education are also key features that we seek to improve. It is our commitment to see that Lagos has a sustainable urban economy, society, shelter environment, access and most certainly, democracy. We look forward to re-writing the narrative, and transforming Lagos to indeed be the citadel of excellence. How much we can achieve is dependent on your support for my elite team during the polls. We are confident that here, you have not just the reckless promise of a utopian Lagos, but one where the growth, though gradual is consistent, but most importantly, permanent. The mark we promise to leave in Lagos will stand the test of posterity, the scrutiny of examination and the animosity of rival contentions. The Lagos we hope to shape is one that will be safe, for you and your family. A Lagos not just of opportunities, and possibilities but a Lagos of success. Though the circumstances look grim for her, remember it is the visionary leader that sees in the extremity, opportunity, and in me you have such leader.

Come then, as we unite to make Lagos great again!

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