Opinion: Lagos @ 50: In Need Of A Yardstick | By: Olaniyan Olawale

This write up is sponsored by popular Lagos twitter handle @GidiweatherEko and the write up does not necessarily represent the opinion of the sponsor but that of the writer.
I believe by now it is no longer news that Lagos, the “New York of Nigeria” as Otunba Dele Momodu once described the largest city in Africa  in terms of population and one of the fastest growing cities on planet in his article clocks 50 this year. Every nook and cranny of Lagos you pass by bear images, signposts that inform you of the milestone. Similarly, different social media platforms without any element of exaggeration have been flooded in the past few weeks with different hashtags about this landmark.
The purpose of this write up is not to further market the anniversary or to pronounce this milestone as a success or otherwise but to look at facts that would help us deduce if Lagos at 50 is actually a success as it has been painted to be or if it is otherwise.
Now more than ever have I been forced to think more about the egg and chicken theory; asking myself which came into existence first, if it was the chicken or the egg. I am forced to ask if Lagos came into existence before Nigeria or Nigeria came into existence before Lagos because series of success stories about Lagos flying all over the internet in the past few weeks need some reviews if you ask me.  It might be too early to for us to conclude that the success stories of Lagos at 50 are exaggerated if it is a success at all or if the success is being under celebrated, that’s left for readers to decide at the end of this article. I do not have a perfect or well calibrated yardstick at the moment to determine this. For the purpose of this write up and for simplicity sake I would assume a stand that Lagos at 50 is a success.
One way to determine the extent of this success is by comparing Lagos as a state with other states in the Federation. For example, Ogun state a neighbouring state which is often referred to as New Jersey of Nigeria when Lagos is referred to as the New York of Nigeria. Ogun state celebrated 40 years of existence last year but when we try to compare the developmental gap between Lagos and Ogun state, you would agree with me that Ogun is far more than a decade behind Lagos and this goes for so many other states in Nigeria if not all. Ogun just happens to be the state of comparison here. When you talk of industrialization, civilization, commercialization and infrastructural development, Ogun is arguably like three decades behind Lagos. No intention to humiliate Ogun or the great people of Ogun. The prolific Ogun state known for producing national heroes, from sports where you can mention Muda Lawal of blessed memory, to academics where we have the Nobel laureate; Prof Wole Soyinka.
Another way we can determine if Lagos is a success at 50 or not is to look at the economy of the state. Presently, the state is the fifth largest economy in Africa with a GDP.of $30bn according to versus.com with internally generated revenue of about $600M annually. Reports say Lagos has the potential to be Africa’s second largest economy by 2030. These are figures we see all over the internet but the question we ask is, how does this reflect in the life of the average Lagosian?

Lagos is a city like none, with its unique history among other states in the country, the commercial hub of the federation. The adopted home of businessmen, politicians, musicians, celebrities and so on. The city of dream, hope and breakthrough. A state whose internally generated revenue is more than the remaining south-western states put together. A state that if it were to be a country would be among the top five economies in Africa. I can go on to write fascinating facts about Lagos but like I said earlier, the purpose of this write up is not market Lagos in any dimension but for readers to make some deduction after reading this. It may surprise us to know that Lagos with all these exciting facts houses Makoko; a place once referred to has the biggest floating city in the world. Off course not the type of floating city we have in the Arab emirates but a perfect opposite of it. Makoko, a complete slum spread out beneath the second longest bridge in Africa and the longest in West- Africa; the third mainland bridge has always been a nightmare for the Lagos state government. The state government have always wanted to demolish the slum and evacuate residents but always through the same approach; force. No one comes to Lagos and visits the Island for business, vacation or just any event without having a full view of the slum. No wonder Lagos is being described as the Ocean of poverty and Island of Wealth.
It is imperative for me to draw our minds to some facts about the state of Lagos today before I close, so we can make some quality deductions and conclude if Lagos at 50 is actually a success worth celebrating or not. Although unemployment is a global challenge but unemployment at rate as high as 21% according to versus.com for a state like Lagos that boasts of an IGR. of about 200 billion naira per annum might not be good enough. Education, healthcare and infrastructures are another area I would want us to ask questions about. Do we have the quality we expect for a state with such enormous IGR? Readers should answer these and decide accordingly if Lagos at 50 is a success, and if it is worth celebrating or perhaps if it is being under celebrated.

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