Fifhty years after its creation in 1967, Lagos remains Nigeria’s pride, leading other federating states not only in commerce and governance, but in many other
jurisdictions. Writes JOSHUA BASSEY.
Lagos, Nigeria’s former capital city and commercial nerve centre means different things to different people. To some, it is a land of opportunities, to others, it is home away from home, yet others see it as a city of all possibilities. Several others see Lagos as Nigeria’s path finder especially within the e c o n o m i c s p a c e . Wi t h G r o s s Domestic Product (GPD) of over $100 billion, Lagos in the world of business and commerce stands heads and shoulders above its peers, contributing 30 percent to the country’s overall GDP. The state also accounts for 65 p e r c e n t o f t h e c o u n t r y ‘ s manufacturing activity and about 90 percent of its foreign trade flow. In terms of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), Lagos stands out from the pack, setting for itself achievable new revenue targets of N30 billion monthly in 2017, and N50 billion in 2018, from a paltry N600 million in 1999. But this incremental IGR does not come cheap. It’s been and still a product of deep thinking, financial reengineering, professionalisation of the Lagos Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), and intense hunger by successive administrations in the state to improve on performance of the previous. Thus, Akinyemi Ashade, the state commissioner for finance says the new IGR target for 2017 and 2018 is realisable, as the government is set to deploy technology, bring additional 5,000 taxable adults into the tax net and continue to judiciously apply tax revenues to improve the welfare of
t h e c i t i z e n s a n d b u i l d n e w infrastructure that will attract new investments. Within the religious circle, Lagos remains a force. It is perhaps the only state where 12 to 15 religious worship centres- churches and mosques found on the same street. Amid the expansive influence of Christianity and Islam, traditional religious p r a c t i c e s s t i l l f i n d a s p a c e . Notwithstanding the state’s rapid urbanisation and modernisation, it does not require a long search to see in the street corners, signs of recognition of the African indigenous gods. In actual fact, Lagos is reputed for religious tolerance among and between believers and practitioners of the various faiths. This is unlike in some states where lives and unquantifiable properties are intermittently destroyed in religious conflicts. A b d u l – H a k e e m A b d u l – L a t e e f , commissioner for Home Affairs, attributes this co-existence and peaceful religious ambience to regular interactions of government with religious leaders and the ‘accommodating spirit’ of Lagos dating back centuries when the early settlers, Aworis, according to history, welcomed a Bini prince, sent by the Oba of Bini. In politics and governance, Lagos has recorded giant strides especially since the return to democracy in 1999. Asides investment in infrastructure development; the state has attracted some of the most expansive and affluent private investments in property, one of which is the $6 billion ‘Eko Atlantic City’ rising out of the reclaimed Atlantic Ocean, in Victoria Island. Perhaps the most unique element of the Lagos’ politics is the capacity to accommodate tongues and tribes. In its fifty years of existence, persons other than indigenes have held political positions in Lagos and represented constituents in the state House of Assembly as well as in the Senate and House of Representatives, contributing their ideas towards the continued development of the state. This unique political ingredient speaks to the sophistication of Lagos. Recently, Governor Akinwunmi A m b o d e o b s e r v e d t h a t t h e greatness of Lagos lies in its ability to be the melting pot for all cultures and in making others feel home away from home. “Our greatness is in our ability to be the melting pot for all cultures and as at today, there is no tribe in Nigeria that is not represented in Lagos. From the Hausa/Fulani to the Igbo to the Kanuri to the Ibibio, the Nupe, the Berom, the Igala and so on and so
forth all have spaces to live and live well in our dear State. “Lagos is not just national in outlook. It is international. The Americans are here; the British are here; South Africans are in their thousands; the Chinese are not in short supply; and
the Indians even have a community in Lagos. “With all sense of modesty, there is no other State like Lagos in Nigeria.
Some may say we owe this to the fact that Lagos used to be a Federal Capital Territory. But I really do not think so. While that may have contributed to our greatness, we are also a unique people ready to make fellow human-beings from other
lands feel home away from home,” said Ambode at a lecture to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the state with the theme, “Lagos: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” Lagos became a state on May 27, 1967 in accordance with the Transitional Provisions Decree No. 14 of 1967, which restructured Nigeria into a federation of 12 states. Before the issuance of the Decree, Lagos was administered directly by the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Lagos Affairs.
Nevertheless, Ikeja, Agege, Mushin, Ikorodu, Epe and Badagry were administered by the then Western Region Government. Lagos, (referring majorly to the island area) along with these other towns were captured to create the state of Lagos, with the state becoming fully recognised as a semi-autonomous administrative division on April 11, 1968. Lagos served the dual role of being a state and Nigeria’s capital until 1976, when the capital of the state was moved to Ikeja. After the full establishment of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the seat of the federal government was also formally relocated to Abuja on 12 December 1991. Nonetheless, Lagos still remains the financial centre of the country, arguably as the most populous state, with estimated 21 million people.
Geographically, the state is located in the South-Western geopolitical zone. On the North and East it is bounded by Ogun State. In the West, Lagos shares boundaries with the Republic of Benin. Behind its southern borders lies the Atlantic Ocean, with 22 percent of its 3,577 square kilometer being lagoons and creeks, earning it the status of state of ‘aquatic splendour’.
Since its creation in 1967, the state has been administered by military and civilian administrators. They include Mobolaji Johnson, 1967-1975; Adekunle Lawal, 1975-1977; Ndubuisi Kanu, 1977- 1978; Ebitu Ukiwe, 1978-1979, all military. Others are Lateef Jakande, 1979-1983 (elected governor); Gbolahan Mudasiru, 1984-1986 (military); Mike Akhigbe, 1986-1988 (military); Raji Rasaki, 1988-1992 (military); Michael Otedola, 1992-1993 (elected governor); Olagunsoye Oyinlola, 1993-1996 (military); Mohammed Buba Marwa, 1996-1999 (military); Bola Tinubu, 1999-2007 (elected governor); Babatunde Fashola, 2007-2015 (elected governor ), and Akinwunmi Ambode, 2015 till date (elected governor). In 2003, many of the existing 20 local government areas of Lagos were split for administrative purposes into Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) by Bola Ahmed Tinubu amid controversy which further worsened the relationship between Lagos and the then federal authorities presided over by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, leading to the withholding of statutory allocations to the local governments in Lagos for several months.. With the creation of the LCDAs as lower-tier administrative units, the number of local councils in the state today stands at 57. These include Agbado/Oke-Odo, Agboyi/Ketu, Agege, Ajeromi,
Alimosho , Apapa, Apapa-Iganmu, Ayobo/Ipaja, Badagry West, Badagry, Bariga, Coker – Aguda, Egbe Idimu, Ejigbo, Epe, Eredo, Eti Osa East, Eti Osa West, Iba, Isolo, Imota, Ikoyi, Ibeju, Ifako-Ijaiye, Ifelodun, Igando/Ikotun, Igbogbo/Bayeku, Ijede, Ikeja, Ikorodu North, Ikorodu West, Ikosi Ejinrin, Ikorodu, Ikorodu West, Iru/Victoria Island, Itire Ikate, Kosofe, Lagos Island West, Lagos Island East, Lagos Mainland, Lekki, Mosan/Okunola, Mushin, Odi Olowo/Ojuwoye, Ojo, Ojodu,
Ojokoro, Olorunda, Onigbongbo, Oriade, Orile Agege, Oshodi, Oto-Awori, Shomolu, Surulere and Yaba, all operating with full structure of local government administration.