As Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu gears up to mark his first year in office, the fight against Coronavirus has come to redefine the state’s resilience’s capacity, with experts insisting government must continue the state’s spirit of steadfastness, if it must achieve the dream of being a city that works for all, writes ADEYINKA ADERIBIGBE
Though these had not been the best of times in Lagos State, yet Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has not ceased to amaze Nigerians over the state’s capacity to think ahead and raise the bar of hope while other parts of the country flounder against the Coronavirus pandemic.
While many states in the country are yet to come to terms with the need for an isolation centre, 45 people, made up of 22 females and 23 males were discharged from its various isolation centres on Saturday, bringing the total of fully recovered patients to 707.
Though it remains the most burdened state in Nigeria, with latest case report putting the state’s figure at 3, 357, it also offered the best of hope in the circumstance with close to 1,000 patients already discharged.
Sanwo-Olu, (the state’s COVID-19 incident commander), has left none in doubt of the state’s determination to win the war against a disease which the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha, once described as “man’s greatest but unseen enemy.”
Since his assumption of office on May 29, last year, Sanwo-Olu has left none in doubt of his commitment to make the state work for all residents. His administration’s six pillar of focus –known as THEMES, are all tied to reinventing the state and make it a jewel beloved by all.
What seems to be working for the state is its capacity to think ahead of others. In the last 20 years, and indeed since its creation 53 years ago, Lagos has sought always to proffer solutions to issues of urbanisation, over-population and the burden of the first black man’s and Africa’s megacity.
Earlier in February, before the Coronavirus became a real thorn in the nation’s socio-economic fabric, Lagos had unveiled a Resilience Strategy Document, which documented in details three pillars, 10 goals and 31 associated initiatives that would lead to the state into a more resilient future.
Unveiling the document to a crème crowd at Adeyemi Bero Hall, on February 4, Sanwo-Olu had described the 127-page document as “the first of its kind in the country,” one that captures in bold relief, the challenges of unplanned population growth, rapid urbanisation and environmental challenges.
He had opined that the document offers “the clearest pathway for Lagos becoming Africa’s model megacity… “It positions us towards becoming a city that values and exemplifies data-driven policy development decision –making, a city that leverages the strengths we have transform our challenges to opportunities and most importantly a city that works for all Lagos residents.”
Vice-Chancellor of the Lagos State University Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun said the state came up with the document in order to put on the table detailed, well-researched and profound data-backed document which global funders, development agencies and multi-national partners could relate with the state and offer the needed shoulder upon which the state could stand tall.
He said the carefully selected team made up of scholars, civil society organisations, traditional leaders, community leaders selected by the government which began work on the document three years ago, had identified critical areas for improvements to further the city’s resilience.
Using what he called the Resilience Lens, Fagbohun said the experts came up with seven considerations; a considerable list of risks and vulnerabilities of Lagos, the impacts of multiple shocks and stresses of urban life on the people, short, medium to long-term as well as direct and indirect benefits of these shocks and stresses on the state and her people, and brought out the various resilient qualities among her residents.
Other considerations are; developing equitable outcomes among all socio-economic groups recognise and leverage on the capacity and abilities of all stakeholders for the development of the state as well as the transformational impacts of these on the state.
Fagbohun, the reviewer of the document taking a trip down memory lane said the journey to the document started in May, 2016, when the state was selected from over 400 applicant-city states from across the world to join the 100 Resilience Cities Network. The agenda-setting workshop which held in February, 2017 culminated in the setting up of the Lagos State Resilience Office (LASRO) in July 2018.
The journey to the Resilience Strategy, according to him, started in July, 2019.
The roadmap, according to him, developed three broad pillars – creation of an efficient city with clear drivers of this being development of a robust, intermodal and integrated transportation system, improved access to clean potable water and improved sanitation and public hygiene, enhance the provision of affordable and reliable energy and more effective land use planning.
The second pillar or mandate of the document, according to Fagbohun, is to create an enterprise city, which sets out to support individual and collective entrepreneurship as a driving force to position Lagos as an attractive and open city, valuing all cultural and environmental assets and preparing the youth population for a changing economy; while the third and most critical pillar is to build an inclusive city, which entails the building of an all-inclusive environment for all city residents, strengthen information management and, especially disaster preparedness and management to always improve on the health stock to support residents in times of shocks such as the one presented by the Coronavirus epidemic.
Fagbohun held that for the first time, the state shifted away from fragmented and incoherent development roadmap to having a document that takes accounts of the smallest and minutest details synthesising them into overall and short, medium and long-term visions aimed at giving the state the capacity to respond to shocks and stresses that may buffet it.
“This is a document of immense value, a treasure trove for understanding not just the challenges and risks facing the state, or those conditions that constantly predisposes the state to risk, but also a clear functional pathway of what policy, legal, social, economic, environmental, political and institutional perspectives should be brought to bear to support governance and governance reforms,” he said.
Still on the document, the Deputy Chief Resilience Officer (DCRO) Dr Folayinka Dania, said all the initiatives outlined in the document were like providing new blocks for the building of a city befitting the dreams of residents of Lagos State.
She said: “By tracking the results that would attend all these initiatives if dutifully followed through, the city would learn not only what works well and what could be improved for specific initiatives, but also know how the different initiatives may combine to produce greater benefits and resilient outcomes.”
In her congratulatory letter, she said achieving the feat of formally presenting a strategy document, regarded as the 77th of such in the RC100 systems, Dana Omran, RC100 Managing Director for Africa said from its humble beginnings in the 60s, Lagos has grown into a formidable regional metropolis exemplified by rapid growth and urbanisation.
“Yet”, she said, “Lagos is prone to a variety of shocks such as flash flooding, storm surge and urban fire. These shocks exacerbate the deep underlying stresses that plague the city such as huge unemployment, traffic congestion and inadequate social and physical infrastructure. In all of these, the residents have demonstrated an uncommon capacity and drive to survive; adapt and thrive.”
Omran described the document as a critical step forward because it underscores and sets out a clear vision for an innovative, inclusive and prosperous Lagos, singling out such initiative as expansion of water transportation network and the promotion of waterfront tourism to improve livelihoods in coastal communities as a demonstration of the state’s innovative capacity to develop and create an industry around its huge coastal belt and to use same responsibly.
She said RC100 is “proud to have partnered with the government and the people of the state in coming up with the document,” even as she urged the government to be committed to implementing all the actions and initiatives contained in the document.
Estimated to be about 26 million people (as at 2018), Lagos is approximately 13 per cent of Nigeria’s population and it is growing at nearly 3,000 people per day. It is the fastest growing city in Africa with a youthful population approximated at 54 per cent of which about 95 per cent were literate.
Lagos has an economy of about $136.6 billion, making it the fourth largest economy in Africa and is expected to overtake Johannesburg as the second largest economy by 2035.
Lagos Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is equivalent to the fifth largest country’s GDP of which the formal sector contributes 66 per cent ($90 billion) and the informal sector 33 per cent ($46.6 billion). Over 60 per cent of industrial investment flows into Lagos and approximately 90 per cent of businesses have their headquarters in Lagos.
Lagos is a hub to over 3.2 million MSMEs mostly in the informal sector which create 94.5 per cent of new jobs and employs 67 per cent of working adults. Unemployment dropped from 18.3 per cent in 2017 to 14.6 per cent in 2018, while under employment rate fell from 15.4 per cent to 12.4 per cent within the same period.
Lagos has, since 2013, a masterplan known as Lagos Development Plan 2012-2025, with four key pillars – economic development, infrastructure development, security and lastly, environmental and sustainable development, domiciled with the Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget (MEPB).
For Dania, the bigger picture behind the document is to make the state attractive to big development agencies and multilateral partners for the purpose of bringing to fruition the initiatives clearly spelt out in the strategy document.
For her, RC100 holds a sacred duty to help Africa’s model megacity come to terms with its full potential with a view to becoming Africa’s real model city with working infrastructure that could accommodate the stresses and shocks of residents in the areas of intermodal transportation, functional housing, sustainable health care system and a flood-free environment.
Though the team might not have spelt out disasters such as Coronavirus or any other such health tragedies that may emerge much later, it is, according to her, clear that such disasters were well captured in the document with clear initiatives aimed at mitigating them.
She, therefore, urged global funders to “identify initiatives they would like to be part of, or in which they are already involved. We are constantly looking for new partners; new methods of implementation and new opportunities to source finance and improve capacities.”
Her position was echoed by the Chief Resilience Officer Gbolahan Owodunni Oki, who stated that the LRO is looking forward to facilitating greater partnership of development partners with the state government on all initiatives contained in the strategy document.
He urged interested partners to visit www.lagosresilience.net to be part of the new thinking to reinvent Lagos and make it globally competitive and adaptive to shocks and stresses that toughen the people and bring out their best possible.
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