By Mercy Iyene Etim
It is all too common for critics of Lagos State to attribute the developmental strides experienced by the mega city to its high population and high revenue that is being generated within the state.
The natural consequence of this, they argue, is that anyone, no matter how incompetent and ill equipped for leadership, can govern Lagos state.
This kind of thought does not only defy common sense, it is also antithetical to every principle of corporate governance and leadership known to man. In recent times, supporters of political neophytes, Olajide Adediran, popularly known as Jandor and Gbadebo Chinedu Rhodes-Vivour both of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party respectively, have trumpeted these views in one form or the other.
These views, in its entirety, are simply spurious politicking that are concocted to dismiss Lagosians’ laser focus abilities to choose their representatives. In reality, the choice of progressive, experienced and qualified leaders like Tinubu, Fashola, Ambode and the current governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu by Lagosians have been the real coup de maître.
Statistically and historically, no city flourishes just because a lot of people accidentally converge in one place. If anything, a high population like the one we have in Lagos State can be a serious disadvantage in the absence of strategic leadership. This is because untapped, explosive population growth places a heavy burden on social infrastructure and could overrun the healthcare systems, deteriorate public education, cause shortage of housing, water supply, sanitation, power, roads, etc. Many states and even countries would break from pressure if faced with one tenth of the enormous population challenges Lagos State has had to deal with, revenues or not.
Additionally, while it is true that there is strength in numbers, Lagos still plays host and caters to the health, security, and wellbeing of citizens who are not captured within the tax net. To assume that every Lagosian and visitor contributes to the revenue of Lagos State is simply incorrect.
Furthermore, it is imperative to note that until 2016, Lagos State was not regarded as an oil producer and compared to PDP states like Rivers, Delta, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa etc. Its revenues from oil are minimal. These traditional oil states despite huge revenues cannot boast of corresponding infrastructural development.
At least the kind Lagos State is reputed for. One can only imagine what would be the expectations from Lagos if she had that massive advantage. Hence, it is indeed a lazy man’s analysis to point at the revenues generated in Lagos State without first taking into account the enormous work done to create and sustain them. The forward leaps in terms of revenues have only happened because of the economic masterful strategy, vision and continuous strive for excellence by her leaders.In summary, what has worked for Lagos has been the “can do”, undaunted spirit of Lagos leaders. They have accepted that this city, home of over 25 million 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.
Leadership is Lagos State’s magic wane. Over the years, we have chosen the bests and that is why her true people can not afford to be derailed to vote for an untested mediocre. Vote Sanwo-Olu.