20th December, 2010
By Tayo Ogunbiyi
The major goal of the Lagos State Government is to create strategic ways to evolve ideas that will alleviate the suffering of the people, improve the quality of life and boost economic development.
This was what informed some of the several stakeholdersâ€™ forums, town hall meetings, seminars and conferences which it has held especially with the aim of adopting and adapting some of the best practices in the advanced nations.
Similarly, the state government has successfully found solutions to the different challenges and issues confronting public governance in Lagos, as well as prioritising key areas where action is needed that would enable the towns in the state to combine competitiveness with quality of life and institutionalised sustainability.
In order to sustain good governance through prudent management, the state government has overcome the financial complexities involved in building, operating and maintaining public infrastructure, capable of meeting the needs of a rapidly expanding urban population.
Additionally, it has secured ways and means of harmonizing responsibilities at the State and Local Government levels regarding the multiplicity of agencies with overlapping and-related functions, particularly as it relates to policies, regulations, revenue generation, planning, and maintenance of public infrastructure.
One of the areas where the state has distinguished itself is provision of effective public transportation system which has resulted in huge economic gains and prudent management of valuable man-hours and quality life hitherto denied by perennial traffic congestion and environmental degradation.
With regards to environmental issues, which play a central role in urban and transport planning, the state government decided that, for the purpose of effective service delivery in all sectors of the state, the environment requires a great deal of attention in solving other problems.
According to estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution kills approximately 130,000 urbanites a year in industrializing countries.
It is a fact that a well -planned transportation system determines a cityâ€™s economic attractiveness. Also, its rehabilitation programmes has made road infrastructure strong enough to withstand the disproportionate pressure and burden it is bearing in the absence of strong water and rail transportation systems.
In order to complement the road rehabilitation programme and construction efforts, the state government is investing enormous resources in the sector as it has committed itself to developing several water commuter routes such as Ojo-Marina, Ijede/Badore-Osborne, Ikorodu-Osborne and Lekki 1- Osborne.
Recently, when the state government held the 4th Lagos Economic Summit (Ehingbeti 2008) in Lagos, it explored the theme: â€œTransforming Lagos into Africaâ€™s Model Mega-City.â€
One of the areas critically examined by professionals and experts drawn from across the world was the way to achieve set plan for an effective service delivery mechanism in major sectors of the state, especially in the area of multi-modal transport system.
Also, the state government has changed the paradigm not only on budgeting, but also on budget implementation in the country.
In the last three years, the government has not only effectively monitored budget implementation, but has consistently delivered a budget performance in excess of 70%, which is the highest in any part of the country and even in Africa for some time now.
The state government is able to achieve this through the creativity of the men and women, in the State Executive Council, the State House of Assembly and the Public Service, who are committed to an effective and successful budget implementation which has impacted positively on Lagosians.
The result of what Lagosians are seeing today is the commitment with which the state government has implemented its budget through a paradigm change of quarteterly review as well as the stakeholdersâ€™ town hall meetings, anchored by the State House of Assembly.
To meet the growing demand for integrated service delivery in the state, there must be constructive engagement and collaboration between the public and private sectors.
The state government is already working in this direction as the concept of Public-Private Partnerships [PPPs] is at the centre of the Lagos State Governmentâ€™s drive to attract Foreign Direct Investment [FDI].
A further reflection of this new drive is the Lekki Free Trade Zone which [LFTZ] comprises 16,500 hectares to the East of the city of Lagos. Another of such Public Private Initiatives in the state is the ambitious Eko Atlantic City project which is a Public Private Partnership driven project aimed at transforming the Lagos beachfront into an attractive tourism and commercial settlement.
Alexis de Tocqueville, in his immortal classic Democracy in America (1835), insists that building the people is more necessary than creating wealth, for the value of the latter is tied to the existence of the earlier.
As it is often said, great minds think alike, there is definitely no doubt Governor Fashola was having Tocqueville in mind when he declared recently at a public function that â€œif this investment matures (the investment in the various sectors ), Lagos will be a better place because we believe clearly, without any doubt, that the greatest resource this country has is not oil, but its people.â€