Lagos Business Community got a message of reassurance from the Number One citizen of the State on Monday. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu reiterated the commitment of his administration to sustain strategic investment in infrastructure to bolster productivity, energise business growth and protect private investments.
The Governor had an interactive meeting with the Organised Private Sector at Oriental Hotels, where he spoke of the State’s economic redistribution plans aimed at expanding the Lagos business district to suburbs in the western and eastern parts of the State.
The dialogue was part of the strategic stakeholder engagements initiated to keep business leaders and captains of industry in the loop of the comprehensive economic policies of All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and Sanwo-Olu.
Minister for Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, Deputy Governor Obafemi Hamzat, Director-General of Budget Office of the Federation, Mr Ben Akabueze, and Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, joined the Governor at the meeting with members of the State’s business community.
Sanwo-Olu said the steady growth rate recorded by the State economy testified to the efficient supervision and accountability process instituted in the management of the public finances.
Lagos, the Governor said, had been led by a political philosophy that transformed its GDP from deficit to promising growth, accounting for 30 per cent of the nation’s GDP. Given the size and revenue projection of the State, Sanwo-Olu said the State was willing to raise the level of investment in climate-resilient infrastructure to ensure sustainability and more growth.
In promoting rapid economic growth, the Governor said his administration had embarked on improving mobility by injecting funds to deliver an integrated mass transit system. Aside from comprehensive road rehabilitation across the State, Sanwo-Olu said the State Government had also boosted productivity by expanding transport infrastructure, investing in rail and opening waterways.
He said: “Our economic blueprint captured in the six-pillar THEMES Agenda has been rolled out and implemented in a manner to fix the immediate needs of our citizens and the business community. In Transportation and Traffic Management, we have intervened in almost a thousand roads across the State and built new roads with a total length of 125 kilometres. We activated ferry services to quickly move people during business hours. We have injected ferries of different capacities, just as we open new jetties.
“We have also shored up capacity in public transportation by providing 3,000 vehicles to service our mass transit network and taxi scheme. Lagos is about to have two fully operational rail lines to encourage mass movement. We embarked on all of this to give commuters mobility options, thereby reducing man-hours spent by people in traffic and raising productivity to support business growth.
“We have seen the completion of Lekki Deep Sea Port which Lagos is a major facilitator. In the next two months, the logistics infrastructure will be fully operational and this will have a good revenue projection for the State. Our inaction or attempt not to invest in this infrastructure would have a lot of consequences and cost us more in terms of numbers. Now, we are beginning to see a city that is a lot more efficient and this gives an understanding of the role businesses play in the economy.”
Sanwo-Olu said the ongoing construction of the Lagos-Badagry Highway was being done strategically to open the west flank of the State to more investment and physical development, adding the economic redistribution plan was being supported by the extension of the Lagos Blue Line to Okokomaiko – a densely populated suburb along Badagry.
He said the Federal Government’s granting of approval for the development of the Badagry Sea Port would fully catalyse economic growth and create a new economic zone in the State.
The Governor allayed the fear of the business community about skilled manpower shortages, stressing that his administration’s investment in education and technology is already yielding positive outcomes.
Sanwo-Olu said upgrading the two State-owned schools to specialised universities would help raise skilled manpower for local businesses and bridge the gap knowledge gapashola said the complex nature of governance in Lagos had thrown up a system that usually produced administrators who are problem solvers, rather than politicians giving excuses.
The Minister appealed to members of the business community to be dispassionate in making their choices to back presidential and governorship candidates in the general election, stressing that the sustainability of the governance model in Lagos should remain the paradigm for the nation to adopt.
He said: “Voters should be observant because electing people to positions of authority is not about Reality TV shows. It is about real-life problems. The choice we have to make is between the political party which denies the problems and the one that has confronted the problems and trying to solve them.”
Akabueze urged private sector stakeholders to take interest in the candidates’ public finance management, noting that the needs of the Government had grown significantly, with few resources available.
He said: “Seven years ago, Nigeria’s infrastructure stock was about 20 per cent of our GDP. Today, with the level of infrastructure delivery, we have raised the number to 35 out of the 70 per cent required to keep us in good standing. We must double the GDP growth of infrastructure to be able to sustain services to the people. Only serious candidates with experience can do this.”
In a panel discussion, Sanwo-Olu had a one-on-one engagement with the participants, where the Governor explained various interventions taken by the State Government to improve security, healthcare and food sustainability.
The Governor said: “We can all see the success story of Lagos and we believe we can still do more to keep Lagos on the path of prosperity. The question we need to ask ourselves as we make vital decisions in the coming weeks is, what are the best alternatives we have? Nigeria cannot be on an experimental trajectory. We cannot afford to have people without experience at the highest level of leadership in our country.
“We cannot trust people who cannot show us those they have trained when they had the opportunity to lead. We feel extremely passionate and committed to the process that will determine who will run the country. We have been part of a political philosophy where we have learnt and developed. We have the energy and capacity to double what we have right now. As stakeholders, we urge you to see Renewed Hope for Nigeria tied to the rising Greater Lagos and join us to take our country to the level we will be proud of.”