Rebuilding Lagos city is a task that must be done. That seems the central concern of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, after the destruction of lives and property that followed the #EndSARS protest in the state last month. The governor said about one trillion Naira is required to fix the damage.
Lagos State is the pride of Nigeria, home to leading lights of the public and private sectors; sea ports, number one airport, standard hotels and restaurants and mega worship centres. It is thus said that when Lagos sneezes, the nation catches cold, as the huge population is reflective of the Nigerian communities. In terms of revenue generation, a large proportion of the Value Added Tax and corporate taxes are raised in the state.
As gateway to Nigeria, the state plays host to many visitors. As former federal capital, it bears much of the country’s burden. Many of those who had settled in it while it was the focal point of the country are still around. It is therefore in the enlightened self interest of all Nigerians that Lagos should be speedily rebuilt. The international community that uses Lagos as the standard for assessing the country must be reassured that Nigeria is safe for them.
What we are saying is that the task of rebuilding Lagos devolves on all Nigerians. From the ashes of the destruction must emerge a new city, a modern Lagos well planned to deliver a more beautiful setting to residents. The Federal Government has a duty to lead the charge. It is worthy of note that no special fund was given the state when the capital was moved to Abuja in 1991. In other countries where the capital was so moved, the central government has always taken good care of the former capital city.
That was the case when Cote D’Ivoire moved its capital from Abidjan to Yamoussoukro; when Pakistan took the decision to make Islamabad capital in place of Karachi. Even in Brazil, when the decision was taken to shift the administrative capital from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia, the government accepted the task of keeping the former capital tidy and afloat. In Tanzania, the movement to Dodoma was not total. Many of the ministries and departments still have their offices in Dar es Salaam.
The current situation calls for a redress of the situation with Lagos. The mayhem in the city is a call to further tighten security there and ensure that the infrastructure deficit, including potable water, regular electricity supply and the taming of the traffic monster that holds people on the road for hours on end, and thus affects business, is given more attention.
It is gratifying that the state government took the first step by setting up a public-private partnership to ensure that the state regains its pride of place. Led by vastly experienced Mr. Yemi Cardoso, the team is expected to independently raise the needed funds and decide on deploying it. At the stakeholders’ forum where the team was unveiled, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was in attendance and pledged full support. The private sector, including bankers and other leading private sector players were well represented. The body, akin to the state’s security trust fund that has become a model for others, has raised hope that the move would be successful.
We support the motion passed by the Senate that the Federal Government should immediately commit funds for the rebuilding of the city, but giving it the same thing with other states that did not suffer commensurate loss will be a disservice. Beyond the #EndSARS rebuilding effort, a particular percentage of the annual federal budget should be committed to improving facilities in the country’s economic and commercial capital.