Charting a Path: Future Of Lagos State, By Adetayo Adegbemle
There have been lots of commentaries coming out of Lagos State following the recent result of the Ekiti Election. However, the narratives will not be seen to have ended if same searchlight is not beamed over Lagos State itself.
Going by the general agreement that Ekiti people has spoken, and taken their future into their hands, and comments coming out of Lagos, especially from the people governing the affairs of Lagos State, and APC, the party to which they belong, and taking into consideration the disdain these leaders of APC held the people Ekiti immediately after the elections, it is only fair to take a closer look at how they themselves have been governing the affairs in Lagos state, and to what particular extent they really feel they have done well.
Lagos State, the flagship of opposition in Nigeria, has remained in the opposition since the return to democracy in 1999, making it 15 straight years of opposition ruling. Lagos State is understandably a metropolitan state, seen as a melting pot of all that’s Nigeria, with a recent argument from some quaters about owners and settlers quickly quelled.
There are a number of issues that made Lagos State stands out, part of which is the thin line between Federal Government properties and the State Governments. The ports, major road networks, the waterways are all shared by both Federal and State governments.
On winning the elections in 1999 by Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the plans to turn Lagos into a MegaCity was laid, and it was followed with the introduction of ‘Ehingbeti’, an economic summit platform that was supposed to bring in investors, and to preach the visions of the MegaCity projects. Lagos is to be made into a MegaCity.
It was on this premise that Taxes were levied on almost everything breathing. Archaic taxes like the Land Use tax, Radio/TV licence, Personal Income Tax and other obscure service charges were levied on the people, making Lagos State effectively the most expensive State to live in Nigeria. Cost of rents almost doubled, cost of doing business increased due to multiple taxation.
The gradual and increasing degradation in the infrastructure in the state is becoming more glaring. Major roads has collapsed, and all roads promised to be fixed and constructed during election campaigns have all been abandoned.
All we see are cosmetic dressings and painting to give a picture that all is well. Lagos State’s condition presently can be likened to an uncompleted building that is being painted before it is roofed. Waste of Resources.
In further bids to extend the image of Lagos MegaCity, Lagos State Government has shown disdain to the segment of citizens living in slums like Makoko, while attacking these innocent and harmless dwellers on every excuse, to the extent of killing and maiming. This is the Lagos state we live in.
The much celebrated Bus Rapid Transportation system is in shambles. One wonders where the “Transportation Management” comes in “LAMATA”. You drive everyday on the roads with BRT buses in worse conditions than the Molues they are supposed to replace. The madness of the drivers is another story entirely. Have you not been drained by water when it is raining inside a BRT bus before? Ask around.
Lagos state has been courting Natural disaster for a while, and the least we have experienced in recent years is the blocking of every access road in Lagos once there’s a little shower of rain.
Going further from the infrasctructure decay, questions arose aplenty on the accountability and transparency of the State Government. Lagos State Government has refused vehemently to localise the Freedom of Information Act. One seem to ask if there is nothing to hide, how come this has become an issue?
Mention should also be made of the LG allocation sharing that goes on every Friday in Local Government offices in Lagos on Friday evenings.
Local Government Council officials go about extorting money from petty traders, for mundane and petty things as ‘Extensions in front of shops’. Crazy.
Has Lagos state fared much better on security of lives and properties? While available data has shown that Lagos is not different from other parts of the country, billions of public funds have been sunk into Security Trust Funds, which has not better the lives of Lagosians.
The questions then keep coming…
1) Is Lagos State not supposed to be the banner state for APC?
2) What alternative Governance mode are they promising, or have they practice?
3) Lagos State have an uninterrupted 14years of AD/ACN/APC metamorphosis, what benefit have they brought to the lives of an average man on the streets?
4) Can you, without prejudice, point to only one way they have made your live better personally?
5) Can Lagos State Government give account of how the Federal Allocation and Internally Generated Revenues have been spent to date?
Is it not time the people of Lagos State try some other party? Would Lagos State not being in Opposition serve any good?
APC, in its present metaform, is doing all it could to demonize the PDP and other parties, but visits to PDP controlled states has proved the stories to be different.
Major developments in the last 15years in most South West States of Nigeria has come significantly under the PDP led governments of Alao Akala, Ayo Fayose, barring Gbenga Daniel’s of Ogun State. And before you mention Lamidi Adedibu’s saga, please take a chill and slot Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s name everywhere you intend to mention Lamidi Adedibu. Their story is same.
It is time for Lagos State, at least this once, prepare not to be in opposition to the Government in the centre.
Yes, there are arguments, myriads against this, but ask yourself, what difference would it make? Change in Wealth distribution circle. Just that one reason is enough for me. Trust me, even if an unregistered party takes over Lagos State today, you have to realise that Lagos has taken its own life already.
The 2015 General Elections is round the corner, and it is obvious that the AD/ACN/APC metaform has not helped Lagos State any differently. It is time to try change.
Adetayo Adegbemle is a public opinion commentator/analyst, researcher, and the convener of PowerUpNigeria, a Power Consumer Advocacy Group, based in Lagos. (Twitter: @gbemle, @PowerUpNg)
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