Open Letter to Governor-elect of Lagos — Mr Babajide Sanwo-olu
Dear Mr Governor-elect,
Congratulations will be in order first for coming out as a relatively unknown person months ago to winning the number one seat in Lagos. Two, winning and gaining the goodwill of a vast majority of Lagosians so far. I do hope you enjoy this goodwill till the end of your tenure (is it 4/8 years? Time will tell).
I maintained a ‘siddon-look’ approach since your Primaries nomination till your winning of the main election because your predecessor also won our hearts (against all odds) as well. But then, we need to trust you to deliver as you promised.
I saw you went to Harvard Kennedy school on Government few weeks to inauguration, quite commendable sir. And I’m sure you will have had a draft presented by the think-tank inaugurated weeks after you won the election. However, I have a little to chip in that will form your Critical Success Factor. Based on Urgency and Importance.
1.Road Network and Transportation: Transportation and systems being the life-wire of commerce should be given a priority by your government. Your predecessor actually had a project aimed at the construction and repairs of inner roads. This was remarkable as little attention had been paid to this in the past. Residents enjoyed having better alternative routes that eased off traffic on Main roads. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a wise political move as he usurped the powers of the Local Government Areas. This project went on for 2 years but stopped thereafter. Incoming Governor, the roads — Trunk B and C need urgent attention. With the LGAs, setup a synergy to identify and repair roads. A monitoring and evaluation team should also continually review and improve these based on feedback from residents. I know there’s a plan of activating other transportation systems such as the waterways which in itself is commendable, however I feel a Private sector-lead arrangement will be best be what is needed to unlock it’s full potential.
2. Economy and Jobs: While we know the government cannot provide all jobs, there has been efforts in the past to improve job creation, resident employability and employment. To this the Governor Ambode government gets a pass mark. With initiatives like the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund and Ministry of Wealth creation, it was clear it was recognized that for a state like Lagos to thrive, commerce has to be at its peak. No wonder about 740,000 jobs were created between 2017 and 2018. More still needs to be done. Lagos state should be more friendly with existing businesses. While taxation is a very important source of government revenue, efforts should be made to ease the burden on SMEs — which constitutes over 80% of businesses existent in Lagos. Paying about 8 levies (usually heavy bills) to LGAs and State Government authorities reduces chances of hiring more staff. The LSETF should be unlocked to cover a wider variety of programs and skills. They should also be given deeper learning on running businesses, scaling and raising funds. The government in partnership with DFIDs can bring this to play without bring extra funding burden to the government. There’s this coding program supported by the outgoing government — this should be encouraged as well as others. Priority should be given to youth training and development.
3. Education — Have you see the deplorable state of our Government schools at Primary and High school level? The last known purposeful initiative to education in Lagos was the Eko project by Government Babatunde Fashola. Secondary school facilities were upgraded. A short story, my mother was transferred to a secondary school two years ago. She discovered the deplorable state it was in — leaking roofs, bad toilets, no water etc. After writing series of letters and getting no result, she had to privately fund raise via her friends and alumni — This is Lagos! This is the state of a lot of institutions in Lagos at the moment. The Primary schools being the responsibility of the Local Government Areas is worse off. With such in conducive state, learning can’t happen. I believe a task-force aimed at identifying, improving and maintaining this facilities should be in place for Primary and Secondary schools. This can further lead to a Public-Private Sector Participation arrangement. This should also be extended to the personnel of the schools — priority should be given to their training to ensure their effectiveness. Nothing stops Lagos from being leading other states at WAEC, NECO and other national and regional programs.
4. National integration: It is believed that Lagos doesn’t need other states, but rather the other way. Lagos needs to have partnerships with neighboring and other states in the areas of commerce and development. An integration with Ogun state will ensure decongestion and easy movement of goods produced by factories located in Ogun state to Lagos. Lagos can also explore production of commercially competitive items. Such was one initiated by the Government with Kebbi state in the production of LAKE rice. This feat can be replicated with other states and go on to create job opportunities, Revenue generation and others.
5. Health: We all agree that the Wealth of any society is hinged on her health status — more so, public health. While giving credit for intervention and improvement of facilities by the previous government, there is a lot to be done in public health delivery by the state. With 37 added LCDAs, there should be up to 57 fully-functional General hospitals by now to bring them closer to the people. While this might not be feasible, your government can set the path. Personnel should be adequately compensated and monitoring should be on ground to ensure seamless delivery.
Mr Sanwo-olu, while there are other subjects bothering on provision of water to electrification, I believe this require your urgent attention. I trust you have capable and reliable hands ready to deliver the Lagos you have envisioned. All the best.
Damilola Cole is a Proud son of Lagos. He is a Venture Consultant and Strategist. He regularly tweets on @dami_cole