It is all too usual for critics of Lagos State to say that the megacity’s development achievements are due to the state’s high population and high revenue generation.
They contend that this has the inevitable result of allowing anyone, regardless of skill or aptitude for leadership, to rule Lagos state. Not only does this kind of thinking go against common sense, but it also runs against to every rule of leadership and corporate governance that has ever existed.
Recent times have seen the promotion of similar ideas by fans of political novices Olajide Adediran, also known as Jandor and Chinedu Rhodes-Vivour, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party, respectively have bragged about these opinions in one way or another. These opinions are all phony political rhetoric designed to discredit Lagosians’ ability to choose their representatives with absolute clarity.
The actual coup de maître was Lagosians’ selection of progressive, seasoned, and qualified leaders like Tinubu, Fashola, Ambode, and the current governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
According to statistics and recorded history, no city grows simply because a large number of people happen to congregate in one location. In fact, in the lack of effective leadership, a large population like the one we have in Lagos State might be a significant disadvantage.
This is due to the fact that unchecked, unsustainable population expansion puts a significant strain on social infrastructure and might overwhelm healthcare systems, degrade public safety, and lack of education leads to problems with housing, power, water, sanitation, and other infrastructure. If faced with a tenth of the immense demographic issues Lagos State has encountered, whether or not there are revenues, many states and possibly entire nations would collapse under the strain.
Notwithstanding the fact that there is power in numbers, Lagos continues to host and provide for its residents’ health, safety, and general well-being even though they are not subject to taxes. It is absolutely untrue to think that each and every resident and visitor of Lagos makes a financial contribution to Lagos State.
Furthermore, it is crucial to remember that, until 2016, PDP states like Rivers, Delta, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, etc., rather than Lagos State, were considered to be oil producers. Iran makes very little money from oil.
Despite significant earnings from oil, many traditional oil states cannot claim of a comparable infrastructure development. Certainly the kind Lagos State is known for. If Lagos had that significant an advantage, one can only speculate about the expectations that would be placed on her.
So, pointing to the revenues produced in Lagos State without first considering the vast amount of labour required to build and maintain them is a lazy man’s analysis. Revenue growth has only accelerated due to her executives’ relentless pursuit of excellence, vision, and a smart economic strategy.
In conclusion, Lagos’ success has been attributed to its leaders’ “can do” attitude and lack of fear. They agreed that this city, which is home to more than 25 million people, is onemillion people, one of the choicest travel destinations in the world and 5th largest economy in Africa is not a state of mediocrity and should not be led as such. Take the first democratic governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu for instance.
He met Lagos at a meager 600 million Naira monthly Internally Generated Revenues, IGRs, in 1999. On top of that, he was faced with the draconian and spiteful PDP-led Federal government of Olusegun Obasanjo. Obasanjo, president for eight years in the new dispensation, maliciously withheld Lagos funds for years. However, Tinubu, who was the only governor who survived the political tsunami engineered by the then ruling party had to strategize like a sovereign state. Strengthened by sufficient state political backing , he established a technocratic enclave within the state bureaucracy that helped to professionalize the administration of business tax collection and bring both the formal and informal sectors into the tax net.
Not only did Lagos State rise above this grave period, the government funded her children’s education, improved on public healthcare, built roads and did not owe her workers. All done with income generated within the state. In fact, the tax mobilization formula and other policies deployed by Tinubu as a governor are what the Federal Government and many states have adopted in its efforts to revamp the states and national economy.
Thankfully, all Tinubu’s successors have not rested on the laurels of their former boss. From Babajide Fashola to Babajide Sanwo-Olu, they have gone ahead to enlarge Lagos’ largess. These leaders, especially the current governor, through his formidable leadership skills and policies continue to make Lagos the goto place for matchless economic opportunities, human development and the destination to grow wealth. So, no. Lagos’ achievements are not by accident. We must refuse any narrative that projects us as a thoughtless, anywhere belle face people.