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Lagos Already Implementing Key Policies To Ensure Inclusion, Prosperity


75th Anniversary Lecture At Island Club

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Thursday said if
Nigeria must get out of the woods, it must begin now to take concrete steps
towards empowering every group in the society and give ears to their views and
aspirations, saying it is only in such situation that the country can truly end
extreme poverty.

Governor Ambode, who said this while delivering a paper to
commemorate the 75th Anniversary Business Lecture of the Island
Club, said Nigeria must aggressively pursue strong social inclusion policies in
order to build a virile nation where every member of the society, regardless of
their status or creed is catered for.

Speaking on the topic ‘Nation Building: Communities, Inclusion
and Prosperity’, the Governor said presently there were various indices that
present a worrying picture, stressing that the country must address it by
taking actions that would change the narrative and engender prosperity.

“A sustainable path towards ending extreme poverty and promoting
shared prosperity also involves creating an inclusive society, not only in
terms of economic welfare but also in terms of the voice and empowerment of all

“We must begin to realise that every strata of the society
counts, we must listen and accommodate all views, whether they are poor,
whether they are Igbos, Hausas, whether they are Muslims or Christians. An
inclusive society must have the institutions, structures and processes that
empower local communities, professional associations, artisans, CDAs so they
can hold government accountable.

“It also requires the participation of all groups in society,
including traditionally marginalised groups such as ethnic minorities and
indigenous populations in decision making processes,” he said.

Highlighting the Lagos example of inclusion and prosperity,
Governor Ambode said his administration in the last three years, despite the
population and migration challenges vis-a-vis pressure on physical and social
infrastructure, has continued to carry out massive upgrade of its infrastructure,
which according to him would have improve the lives of all residents and
ultimately the economy.

“We believe that every Lagosian must have the opportunity to
grow, develop their own skills and contribute to their families and communities
in a meaningful way.

“If they are healthy, well educated and trained to enter the
workforce and are able to make a decent wage, they are better equipped to meet
their basic needs and be successful. Their families will also do well and the
whole society will benefit. The aggregate sum of family well-being is the meat
for nation building,” he said.

The Governor said that his administration has concentrated on
creating an environment for investments to thrive, saying that deliberate steps
were also taken to encourage the private sector to take the front seat and grow
the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the State.

He listed development of Tourism, Hospitality, Arts, Sports and
Entertainment sectors, development of an integrated and modern inter-modal
transportation system, Employment Trust Fund, CodeLagos and Ready-Set-Work as
some of the strategies evolved over the last three years that has recorded huge
impact in the State’s economy.

“Our Employment Trust Fund has disbursed N5.84billion to 7, 880
Lagosians out of which 1,123 have fully repaid their loans. This is a revolving
fund that targets inclusion and prosperity.

“Over 25,000 jobs were created through the loans and
employability programmes and to ensure inclusion, 3,613 women
recievedN2.29billion while N1.44billion was disbursed to individuals less than
35 years and at least N100million in each local government of the State,”
Governor Ambode said.

“In terms of inclusion and prosperity, our vision to make Lagos
safer and more prosperous is driven by the need to foster and build an
inclusive society, a Lagos that works for all of us. This has been our primary
focus in the last three and half years.

“This vision of making Lagos Africa’s model mega city and global
economic and financial hub is reflected in everything that we have been doing,
bringing our communities together to ensure the future prosperity of Lagos
State is non negotiable. I am convinced that we are on the right trajectory and
that’s the way to go if Lagos is going to show a very good example to the rest
of the country,” he said.

Recommending the way forward, Governor Ambode said to ensure
inclusion and evolve prosperous communities; social policy needs to move beyond
conventional social service approaches towards development’s goals of equitable
opportunity and social justice.

Expressing optimism that the Nigeria economy was showing
positive indices of recovery and encouraging outlook for the future, the
Governor, however, said economists had posited that for Nigeria to attain its
potential, the economy needs to move at a growth rate of six to seven per cent
per year as the population growth was above three per cent.

“To meet our growth ambition, we need jobs and we need to
increase productivity too. Nigeria has the advantage of a large population, but
the majority are under-skilled. It is imperative to equip workers with the
skills needed to keep pace with an economy in transition like Nigeria,” he

“We need to close that in economic and political gap between
women and men in this country. Providing both girls and boys with education is
going to be our first step. Quality education is the basis for job and income,
a modern competitive economy needs the best heads and hands regardless of
gender. This is just sound economics and simple common sense.

“Government needs to implement structural reforms to enhance
efficiency, making valued long term investment in technology and science to
support research and development. In addition, government also needs to support
the economy to provide jobs for their fast growing job population,” Governor
Ambode said.

Earlier, Chairman of Island Club in his welcome address thanked
Governor Ambode for his support to the Club since he assumed office, saying
that he had not only followed the footsteps of his predecessors as Patron of
the Club, but had on some occasions, moved a notch further than they did.

Also speaking, a former chairman of the Club, Chief Olumuyiwa
Falomo lauded the Governor for his developmental strides in the last three and
half years, assuring him that history would be kind to him.

“Only God knows the future, just carry on regardless, the reward
of being very conscientious with what you do will come sooner than later and my
prayer for you is that God will guide you and the sky will be your limit,”
Falomo said.

Highlight of the lecture was the launch of the anniversary
brochure and the commissioning of the car park project initiated by the club.

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