Features Write-Ups

LAGOS, VISIONARY LEADERSHIP AND POLITICAL STABILITY  

Rasak Musbau     

 

 Poor performance of political leaders and governments in Nigeria is alarming. Leadership commitment and willpower to accelerate the progress of the country has time and again been blighted by politics without policies. Nigeria’s political landscapes have increasingly been dominated by rhetoric without willpower. This has prompted many to affirm “that our only or biggest problem in Nigeria is leadership”.

 ‘’Everything rises and falls on leadership’’, says John Maxwell, the renowned business and leadership coach. This explains why world leaders have shifted from a purely political orientation to an entrepreneurial and economic management approach, making them political cum economic managers.

Presently, in Nigeria, it is not strange that better narratives of how government should function are mostly coming from Lagos State.  Virtually all aspects of societal enterprise in Lagos are the object of policy, a dynamic and value-laden process through which government handles problems and challenges of the megacity.

The State has come up with such policy documents like Ehingheti Summit, Lagos State Economic Empowerment Development Strategy, Lagos State Development Plan 2012-2025 etc.  These are based on long-term visions of where successive governments since 1999 want the State to be. Unlike what obtains at the federal level and other States where every new administration comes up with new plans and policies, Lagos has a record of continuity in developmental plan implementation,

But then, with the impressive growth of Lagos comes challenges-including a lack of coordination between nearby States.  Development experts increasingly recognize that economies are more effective when States form clusters, coordinate their use of resources and share their risks. In Nigeria’s case, other States look obtuse and bland putting side by side with Lagos. Lack of coordination with other States and inclusive governance of Lagos State is what people without means of livelihood are exploiting by coming to the State in droves. This has made putting an end to influx of beggars, destitute and mentally challenged people into Lagos metropolis, an exercise yet to bring about desired result and for Lagos to continue bearing the cost. It is unlikely Lagos alone can really save Nigeria taking into cognizance that the country’s population is expected to hit 400 million by mid-century — but Lagos can be the model for transferring more authority to other States.

The Federal and other tiers of government could learn commitment to success of public policies from Lagos State. The failure of public policies in Nigeria is partly responsible for the failure of the citizens to contribute meaningfully to the progress of the country. Politics and policies though inseparable, Nigerians have been fed with overdose of politics in national affairs at the detriment of implementation developmental policies.

A key secret of Lagos’ economic growth is infrastructure development which has been the hallmarks of succeeding administrations since 1999. This is premised on the principle that the better the infrastructure the more the likelihood of tax compliance. This is in sharp contrast with what obtains at the federal level where a large proportion of revenue projection has little to do with government’s performance, since about 75 percent of the national budget is projected in anticipation of oil receipt.

 Lagos has a set budget designed to aid   implementation of its programmes and activities based on available resources. The commitment is obvious in the steady increase of funds allocated to the Lagos health sector which has risen to N92.6 billion in 2018. Lagos State indiscriminately provides health care services and drugs for Nigerians in Lagos from ages 0-12 and 60 and above. Free anti-natal care is also provided for pregnant women. These services are available at healthcare centres that transverse the state with additional Eko Free Health Mission which is carried out at intervals on a weekly basis with the Ministry of Health in taking care to the people in district offering test and treatments on eye care, blood pressure, diabetics and the dental care etc.

The LASTMA, LAGBUS, LAMATA, Traffic Radio, BRT system among others all came on board as part of efforts to ensure sanity and safety on Lagos roads. The current governor of the State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode understood everything about the public policy that birthed the agencies and other details contained in the Lagos Urban Transport Programme (LUTP). When he came on board and there were still traffic gridlock challenges, what the government did was to convene a traffic summit that evaluates the problems. He subsequently moves to the implementation of the phase 2 of the Lagos Urban Transport Programme (LUTP). It was this that led to the extension of the BRT corridor from Mile 12 to Ikorodu and the launch of 434 new Air Conditioned BRT buses in November 2015.

Flowing from what Ambode met on ground, Lagos is currently pursuing an integrated affordable multi-modal transport system that will ensure that citizens arrive their destinations in the least possible time frame. Again, from the BRT success story on other corridors of its operations, the State has shifted attention to the   Oshodi-Abule Egba corridor for the provision of high quality bus service for the teeming populace in the Alimosho Local Government Area, which arguably, is acknowledged as the most densely populated part of the State as well as being the largest Local Government Area in Africa.

There is no disagreement among public policy experts about the importance of road construction in improving businesses ability to provide goods and services and people’s ability to access education, employment and services. Development of good and motorable roads enhance public safety and increase the road capacity to ease traffic congestion, vehicle maintenance and transportation cost leading to improve economy and higher standard of living.

 No doubt, the State has done and still doing lots of right things that are generating excitement and expectations in different sector of the State’s economy.  A first time visitor to Lagos today may not appreciate the transformation that has taken place in the city, and its satellite towns in the last three years, as somebody who visited few years back. In fulfilling its promise to open up more inner roads across the State, the state government took delivery of the 114 roads in September 2016 while it has commenced construction of additional 181 roads across the 20 LGAs and 37 LCDAs. Between May 2017 and April 2018, a total of 55 road projects cumulating in 128.936 kilometer were completed.

 Progress in Lagos reflects in parts of the country, because people who live in Lagos make their money here and go to their states to invest same. All these point to Lagos as the economic nerve centre of the country. So, if Nigeria is to be rated as one of the major players in the emerging markets, Lagos, without doubt, holds the key. More States in the country need to embrace visionary leadership, developmental plan and investment on infrastructural development. This is the right way to go.

Musbau is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos

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