Why no state can catch up with Lagos economically, By Gbenga Adeoye

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I read a book in 2022 with the title, “Success is not an accident.” Indeed, the author has a clear understanding of the impact of deliberate decisions. One of the reasons I like one young man I am providing mentorship for is that his words of prayer read every time as follows, “God will intentionally bless you sir.”

The word that attracted me most in this prayer is ‘intentionally.’Lagos is a state that has been so deliberate and intentional in what they do. The development in Lagos is not an accident. Recently, I got an SMS in Lagos stating that I have been penalised for driving with an expired vehicle license and the vehicle papers were actually renewed that same day after it was brought from a workshop where repairs and upgrades were carried out. How they get to know this was the first question I asked. Through traffic camera, probably at Ikoyi, was the answer from a brother who understands auto database management.

Of course the only error was that the system has a time lag between the renewal of papers and the database to which camera pictures were synchronised.They understand that they may not be right at all times and so there is room for you to contest or object to the bill if you can prove the basis was wrong, and they will delete the fine. A payment option was also there with the card. I objected because my papers were renewed that same day when the car was brought out of the workshop.What a wonderful state moving towards the United States and United Kingdom in billing and traffic offence management.

Beyond this experience, there are two major factors, and one of the factors had many other reasons no other state in Nigeria can catch up with Lagos State. Factors like Lagos being the Capital of Nigeria in the past, and intentional and deliberate development programmes. The fact that Lagos was a former Capital of Nigeria is an advantage that will continue to work for the state. That has made it the commercial capital of the country to the extent that even when the nation’s capital was moved to Abuja, Lagos remains a centre of excellence.

Apapa Seaport and the airport at Ikeja could be regarded as part of key projects that put Lagos at an advantage, which is as a result of being the nation’s capital when most of such projects were developed.Regardless of the capital advantage of Lagos, there are deliberate and intentional projects that set Lagos apart. Since the time of Baba Jakande, Lagos has been so deliberate in its development programmes. From of beginning of 1999, the list of deliberate projects(completed, ongoing, or about to start) includes the Lekki Free Trade Zone. Most manufacturing aimed at solving our import dependence problems is at the Lekki Free Trade Zone. No state can stand shoulder to shoulder with Lagos on this.Lekki Deep Seaport is another project.

One major asset that any nation requires for international business is the sea but the sea can only be useful if the port is well-developed. The newly completed Lekki Deep Seaport is a Lagos State idea and that is one key project that is unique in Africa. Another one is the Dangote Refinery. If anyone is in doubt about the impact of the Dangote Refinery in the country, the person just needs to wait a little and see how Nigeria will stop the importation of finished petroleum products. In addition to that, fuel scarcity and heavy demand for Forex to import fuel will end with the Dangote Refinery. About the Lekki airport, there is no doubt about the fact that the population of Lagos State requires more than one airport.

When the airport at Lekki is fully completed by Lagos State since there is Federal Government approval to do the same, the economic impact will be so huge that it will be difficult to project the positive impact now. No state can match that as well.The new Blue Rail Line project, which will be moving around Lagos, will become so easy that most cars will be off the road. Once traffic is reduced productivity will increase. Rail transportation is one thing that sets London apart from any city in the world. China is doing all that can be done to have rail lines and stations that beat the western designs.The tax collection system in Lagos is super. If you pay tax in any bank in Lagos, they will issue you the coloured receipt instantly. In some states, you may not get a receipt for one month.

But in Lagos, there are some dedicated staff called taxpayers, and they are so pleasant on the phone while reminding taxpayers to pay within a particular time. The system is really working in Lagos. Other states should go and learn from Lagos.The BRT lanes and buses is one project that is unique and it will complement the metro rail. No state can match it. Speaking of the Lagos judicial system, the state has fast track courts, small claims courts, and a lot of uncommon innovations in the administration of justice in the state. Lagos can also be regarded as the capital of commercial legal practice. Most of the law firms that are of international standard are located in Lagos. Even the Lagos campus of the Nigerian Law School is said to be the most tedious in the country for students.

I can testify to that, having passed through that campus. But for me, I will say it is positively tedious.In entertainment and social gatherings, there is no state in Nigeria that has the kind of social life that Lagos has. We call it Eko for show, may be because the Ijebu and Egba people are many in Lagos. When it comes to social gatherings in the country you cannot beat the Egba and Ijebu people.Even though a lot of people argued that churches should have been factories, the God factor in history has been instrumental to the greatness of Israel and some other countries founded on the foundation of righteousness. America started like that. Till today you still hear, God bless America.The Redeemed Christain Church of God model parishes in Lagos are unique places of worship; the same with House on the Rock, Winners Chapel, CMS Church, Ikoyi Baptist, Methodist, Foursquare, Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries, Trinity Church in VI, Deeper life, Apostolic Church, Covenant Christian Centre, Day Star Christian Centre, The Shepherds Flock among many others are wonderful places of worship. The fact that Pastor William Kumuyi and Pastor Enoch Adeboye (who are exceptionally holy men of God) are touching the soil of Lagos regularly is like Elisha & Elijah dwelling in a given land.On the Eko Atlantic City in Victoria Island, the United States Embassy has laid the foundation of their embassy which has the office and residence of staff.

The project is one unique one that attracted investors from all over the world. The giant of it all is the Fourth Mainland Bridge which has a four-year completion time. The kind of business impact along that bridge is beyond explanation and imagination.The bridge will traverse Abraham Adesanya to Badore and then on the Lagoon to Ikorodu, and it will burst out on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway around Sparklight. This is more than a miracle because it means that anyone going to Lekki from Abeokuta or Sagamu has no business driving to Berger and Alapere or Iyana Oworo, but to just join the Fourth Mainland Bridge from the express.If any state wants development, they should attend a school in Lagos to learn about strategic development. I recommend that all governors in Nigeria should send five directors and five commissioners from their key ministries as students for this course.The practical nexus between development, increase in internally generated revenue and those projects will show clearly why no state can catch up with Lagos. Some will even say that Lagos can stand as a country, and they may not be wrong.

Adeoye, a chartered accountant, writes via dga@gbengaadeoye.com

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