• Sunday, July 21, 2024
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Lagos and the defining moments of 2014


Though 2014 has come and gone, its memories continue to linger on. To some, it was a year full of sweet memories while to others it was a year to be forgotten in a hurry. In Lagos State, the year was, undoubtedly, a crucial one with daunting challenges. It was a year that the state had to engage in a fierce battle to contain the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). Containing EVD was a tough task for the state government in many perspectives. For one, containing such a frightful disease was not something that was planned or budgeted for. Second, the disease was berthing in the country for the first time. Thus, Lagos had on its hand a volatile situation that needed to be tackled with utmost care, especially considering the havoc the disease was already causing in neighbouring West African countries. But, in its characteristic methodical style of handling such knotty issues, the state government carefully and systematically went to work to confront the dreaded disease. That Nigeria was eventually certified Ebola-free by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is an affirmation of the untiring efforts of the state government in providing the needed leadership that became a rallying point in the onslaught against EVD. In order to ensure that those that survived EVD do not in any way become victims of stigmatization, the state governor, Babatunde Fashola, publicly met and fraternized with them.

The trail-blazing trend of the state government in the health sector was equally sustained in 2014 as the seventh Maternal and Child Healthcare Centre (MCC) and a School of Nursing Complex at the Alimosho General Hospital in Igando were handed over for public use. The Alimosho MCC, seventh in the series of 10 such, was delivered less than a month after the Amuwo-Odofin MCC was commissioned. Other MCCs already handed over include the ones at Ikorodu, Isolo, Ifako-Ijaiye, Gbaja in Surulere, and Ajegunle. The eighth one in Lekki is being equipped while the ninth and tenth ones are to be located in Epe and Badagry, respectively.

The state government was equally able to stabilize the state’s economy in 2014. In a year when the national economy was threatened by global slump in oil prices, it is remarkable that the Lagos economy fared better. While some states groan under financial difficulties due to the continuing fall in oil prices resulting in salary arrears being owed workers, it is noteworthy that the state economy remains robust and capable of discharging its responsibilities to contractors, workers and the people at large.

In terms of budget performance, the state government was able to sustain the tradition of admirable budget implementation. It was able to achieve 106 percent performance in the second quarter implementation of its 2014 budget. The second quarter result added to the performances of the preceding 86 percent performances of the first quarters to give the state an aggregate of 106 percent budget implementation for 2014. Between April and June 2014, the state budget performed at 106 percent. If added to the 86 percent performance in the first quarter, the result will be a cumulative half-year performance of 86 percent. The impact of the performance can be seen in some of the housing and road projects that were completed within the period.

To affirm the stable financial position of the state government in 2014, global leader in credit ratings and research, Fitch Ratings, upgraded Lagos State’s national long-term rating to ‘AA+ (nga)’ from ‘AA (nga)’, thus giving the state a stable outlook. Fitch believes that Lagos management is becoming progressively more sophisticated. Fitch equally rates the state high on debt management, which has improved with longer bond tenures and more loans from development banks. The Fitch upgrade is a further testimony to the state’s continued firm operating performance, enhanced transparency and renewed efforts towards an increasingly urbane and transparent administration, which is favourable to increasing private sector investments. With a local GDP accounting for 20-25 percent of the national GDP, Lagos is a critical driver of Nigeria’s economy. Domestic production is fuelled by its diversified economy as a commercial hub in the country, with service, construction, transport and industry making up 80 percent of the local economy. Fitch believes that Lagos’ socio-economic indicators will further improve as local GDP growth is expected to outperform the estimated national GDP growth of 7-8 percent in 2014.

Another essential moment for Lagos in 2014 was the handing over of the Transfer Loading Station at Agege which has been embedded with a medical waste treatment facility. The station, the third of its kind by the Fashola administration, will provide hospitals and clinics that are close by with an efficient depository for treatment and disposal of medical waste in a safe and healthy manner. Unlike the first one at Simpson, which was simply about solid waste, the Agege Transfer Loading Station is set to do more as it will address the danger of medical waste, syringes and all of the end products of surgery which were often just dumped in the refuse where children can play around with them, resulting in possible epidemic.

In order to sustain current pace of development in the state, the state held the 2014 Ehingbeti Summit with the theme ‘Powering the Lagos Economy: Real Opportunities, Endless Possibilities’. The essence of the summit’s focus on power is for the private sector to draw the attention of the government to places where its activities would enable the private sector achieve its potential in terms of delivering of service, provision of opportunities and growth of the economy. On its part, the state government has been working tirelessly in pursuit of a new power agenda for the state. Presently, government is working on a plan to set up a one-stop shop to fast-track the handling of all issues relating to right of way and power infrastructure development in the state. Similarly, apart from the three functional power plants in Akute, Lagos Island and Alausa, efforts are being made to install two other plants in strategic locations of the state.

Other significant moments for Lagos in 2014 include presentation of Lagos State Development Plan (2012-2025), commissioning of 34 new fire trucks, reversal of the Lagos State University (LASU) fee from N350,000 to the old rate of N25,000, observance of a Horn-free Day, introduction of a 10-day paternity leave for male employees of the state government, extension of maternity leave for female employees of government to 12 weeks, the listing of Governor Fashola among the 100 Top Global Thinkers for 2013 by a global personality assessment organization, Lo Spazio della Politica, among others.

With the continued support of Lagosians, the state government is poised to take the state to new heights in 2015. Fortunately; Governor Fashola has vowed to continue working for the people until the very last minute of his mandate. This is what the people want. This is what they deserve.

Tayo Ogunbiyi