Governor Babatunde Fashola last week flagged off public dissemination of the Lagos State Development Plan (LSDP) covering 2012-2025, a period of 13 years. The event marked an important phase in the state’s journey not only to institutionalise planning in the public sector but also to promote public participation in governance.
We strongly believe that the Lagos State government (LASG) deserves kudos for its monumental achievements in re-inventing government processes for enhanced service delivery since the return to civilian democracy in Nigeria 16 years ago. We further urge other state governments in the country and, indeed, the incoming All Progressives Congress (APC) government at the centre to leverage on the path-breaking achievements of LASG in development planning and administration to fast-track sustainable improvements in service delivery across the country.
Official accounts trace the antecedents of public sector reforms in Lagos State to the two-term tenure of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as governor from 1999-2007. Tinubu and his team, according to the accounts, invited the World Bank to conduct state public procurement and public financial management assessments which reports identified gaps in governance and opportunities for enhanced service delivery. Through his deft moves at succession planning, Tinubu mentored and helped Fashola to succeed him with a view to continuing with the governance reforms he (Tinubu) initiated. Eight years after, LASG has a comprehensive development plan that it is seeking to disseminate to citizens from all walks of life.
Anambra, Kaduna, Kano and Jigawa are among states that, like Lagos, have development plans but the LSDP is remarkable for its scope and comprehensiveness. The document presents a baseline picture of the state in its manifold aspects: economic, infrastructure, social services/protection and sustainable environment. It also provides the overall strategic framework and direction for achieving the state’s “Vision”, which is to be “Africa’s model megacity and global, economic and financial hub that is safe, secure, functional and productive by 2025”. The state seeks to achieve its vision through poverty eradication and sustainable economic growth, infrastructural renewal and development.
A remarkable feature of the LSDP is the existence of two complimentary documents. The first is an abridged LSDP that allows for a full overview of the contents and scope of the LSDP designed to promote a rapid grasp of its essentials. The second is an Implementation Programme (IP) which provides more detail on the way the LSDP is phased, priorities adopted and linkages made to existing plans such as the Medium-Term Sector Strategies (MTSSs) and Annual Budgets. The IP also sets out high level outcomes and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as well as provides sector PKIs that mesh with existing indicators and approaches developed for the MTSSs.
Yet another remarkable feature of the LSDP is a strong commitment to good governance by the LASG. Government assures that there will always be “a planning, budgeting and coordination system that allows the policies and programmes in the LSDP to be implemented”.
Lastly, LASG has articulated a set of principles that could be described as core values. These include sound planning, budgeting and coordination systems, delivery of relevant and appropriate services and an environment conducive for business and external support. Others are recognition of civil society as equal partners in development and decision-making, bringing development and governance closer to the citizens through decentralisation and defining clearly the development objectives of each main sector.
The significance of commitment to the foregoing core values comes out in bold relief when we recall that in some states of the country, civil society organisations are denied access to budget data and other high-level policy documents. Similarly, some states view with disdain the idea of developing MTSSs to guide service delivery. Also we know of states that failed to access external support from the diplomatic community in the last eight years because of the way they mismanaged state resources.
The key lesson of the sweet music from LASG is that the daunting task of managing the affairs of a sub-national unit can be simplified by crafting a development plan to provide overall direction for long-term growth and development. We believe that it is not by accident that the governor-elect of Lagos State is looking forward to the future with confidence.