Saturday, July 18, 2020

Lagos is the Most Resilient Megacity in Africa

Sabo area in Yaba, Lagos. From my "Lagos in Motion" documentary film on one of the most resilient mega cities in the world. “

"A Resilient City is one that has developed capacities to help absorb future shocks and stresses to its social, economic, and technical systems and infrastructures so as to still be able to maintain essentially the same functions, structures, systems, and identity." › ...

The first interactive documentary film on the resilience of Lagos was "Lagos Wide and Close: an Interactive Journey into an Exploding City" produced in 2002 by Rem Koolhaas and The Harvard Project on the City. It was directed by Bregtje van der Haak.

How can one describe Lagos in one sentence to an upwardly mobile entrepreneur or tourist? Lagos is like a combination of New York and California; for booming business and entertainment. But Lagos is among the 100 Resilient Cities in the world with enormous socioeconomic challenges of being Africa's largest megacity. The informal sector is the economic power of Lagos state which is twice the combined economies of both Kenya and Côte d'Ivoire.

According to a report by AfrAsia Bank and New World Wealth, Lagos is the fourth wealthiest city in Africa. It is home to $120bn worth of wealth, four US-dollar billionaires and 360 multimillionaires.

I have already published the photo book of the documentary film; "LAGOS in MOTION: A Photo Album of Africa's Largest Megacity", distributed by Amazon,
It is a colourful travelogue on Lagos, called Ìlú Èkó in Yorùbá. The photo book from a new tourist documentary film, "LAGOS in MOTION: Sights and Sounds of Africa's Largest Megacity" shows different locations visited by a group of young men and women touring the city from the mainland to the island.
They started from the Magodo axis where there is a monument of the statues of three "Idejo" white cap chiefs. The statues are 21 feet by 14 feet and standing on a 7 feet pedestal welcoming visitors to Lagos.

The tourists drive on to Ojota; Maryland Bus Stop to Ikeja Bus Stop and Oshodi Bus Stop; passing every bus stop along the long Ikorodu Road to Yaba with the famous Presbyterian Church; University of Lagos in Akoka; Onike with the popular Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries Church and the Ayodele Awojobi Memorial Park; Sabo with Yaba Baptist Church near the Ozone Cinemas on Tos Benson Avenue and the Herbert Macaulay Memorial statue near the Union Bank facing the Sabo Market and Police Station; Ojuelegba Bus Stop; Barracks Bus Stop and National Stadium in Surulere on the Western Avenue to Costain with the Funso Williams Memorial statue; National Theatre; Eko Bridge to the Marina; CMS Bus Stop with the famous Lagos Cathedral; Tinubu Square with the famous Madam Tinubu statue at the fountain; Oluwole and Balogun Market near the imposing Central Mosque. They moved on to Tafawa Balewa Square; Kings College with the nearby skyscrapers of the Independence Building, NITEL Building and Western House opposite the General Hospital; the National Museum beside the City Mall in Onikan leading to Obalende Bus Stop to Keffi in South West Ikoyi along the Awolowo Road to Falomo roundabout and the Bourdillon Road leading to the popular Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge; Ahmadu Bello Way to the Bar Beach and Ajose Adeogun roundabout on Victoria Island, location of the Eko Atlantic City under construction; The Palms Shopping Mall and ended their tour at the Elegushi beach.
Lagos is a port which originated on islands separated by creeks, such as Lagos Island, fringing the southwest mouth of Lagos Lagoon while protected from the Atlantic Ocean by barrier islands and long sand spits such as Bar Beach, which stretch up to 100 kilometres (62 miles) east and west of the mouth. The Metropolitan towns of Lagos include: Ikeja (which is the capital of Lagos State) , Agege and Mushin.

Ikeja Bus Stop of the popular Computer Village in Lagos.

The earliest incarnation of Lagos was an Awori Yoruba fishing community located on the islands and peninsula that form the modern state. The area was inhabited by families who claimed a semi-mythical ancestry from a figure called Olofin. The modern descendants of this figure are the contemporary nobility known as the Idejo or "white cap chiefs" of Lagos. Lagos was declared a colony on March 5, 1862 by the British Empire The colony and protectorate of Nigeria were incorporated into Southern Nigeria in February 1906, and Lagos became the capital of the protectorate of Nigeria in January 1914.

Olumo Street Market in Onike,Yaba.

2017 was the Golden Jubilee year of Lagos state, because May 27, 2017  was the 50th anniversary of the establishment by the Federal Government of Nigeria on May 27, 1967 under the Creation and Transitional Provisions Decree No. 14 of 1967. Lagos State is divided into five Administrative Divisions, which are further divided into twenty Local Government Areas, or LGAs. Agege Alimosho with Ikotun Ifako-Ijaye Ikeja Kosofe Mushin Oshodi-Isolo Shomolu Ikeja Division Apapa Eti-Osa with Ikoyi Lagos Island with Isale Eko. Lagos Mainland Maryland Surulere Lagos Division Ajeromi-Ifelodun Amuwo-Odofin with Festac Town Ojo Badagry Division Ikorodu Division. Ibeju-Lekki with Akodo Epe Division . The current Governor is Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode of the national ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC).

The state which is the smallest of the 36 states in Nigeria by land mass has become the most populous and the most prosperous. Lagos was the federal capital of Nigeria before losing the status to Abuja in 1991, but has become one of the fastest growing cities in the world as the commercial capital of Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa and the continent's largest economy boosted by the rapid development of Lagos state with a population of more than 21 million people attracting both local and global investors to become the richest state in Nigeria and fifth biggest economy in Africa as the largest megacity with the highest GDP.

Lagos is also the heartbeat of the continent for entertainment with the phenomenal Nollywood, the second largest video film industry in the world after Bollywood of India and ahead of Hollywood in production of home videos. The GDP of Lagos alone exceeds that of Kenya, East Africa’s biggest economy. Lagos has more international five star hotels and multinational corporations than other countries in West Africa.


There have been 14 state governors since the creation of Lagos State in May, 1967. And three of them can be called the founding fathers of modern Lagos, because of their historical milestones in the accelerated growth of Lagos state in the nation building of a New Nigeria in the leadership of Africa in the world. These outstanding leaders are in the following order. Retired Brigadier-General Mobolaji Johnson is the first of the three founding fathers of modern Lagos. He was a young man of 31 years when he became the first Governor of Lagos State in May 1967 when the state was created by the military regime of General Yakubu Gowon. He was a charismatic and popular state governor and an examplary role model for the youths.

I can still remember the first verse of the marching song we sang in his praise as primary school children in Lagos from 1970-1975. "Governor Mobolaji Johnson, show the light That we may see the way."
His outstanding achievements included the establishment of Lagos state civil service with some of most competent commissioners in Nigeria who supported him in the administration of Lagos state with the best systems of education, public health care, social welfare services and good roads. His administration constructed the 60.7-kilometre international express road (Lagos–Badagry Expressway) linking Nigeria with the neighbouring countries of Republics of Benin,Togo and Ghana;Toikin Bridge to link Epe to Ikorodu; Eko Bridge; Third Mainland Bridge and the other network of roads and bridges of what is modern day Lagos.

Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande was the Governor of Lagos State from October 1979 – December 1983, during the Second Republic of the Federal Government of Nigeria. He was a socialist state governor following the footsteps of his political godfather, the great Obafemi Awolowo, Patriarch of modern Yoruba nation. Jakande focused on free education from primary to secondary school levels and affordable housing for low income workers. He introduced housing and educational programs targeting the poor, building new neighbourhood primary and secondary schools and providing free primary and secondary education. He established the Lagos State University. Jakande's government constructed over 30,000 housing units. The schools and housing units were built cheaply, but were of great value. Some of the housing units include low cost estates in Amuwo-Odofin, Ijaiye, Dolphin, Oke-Afa, Ije, Abesan, Iponri, Ipaja, Abule Nla, Epe, Anikantamo, Surulere, Iba, Ikorodu, Badagry. To fund some of the projects, Jakande increased the tenement rates and price of plots of land in affluent areas of Victoria Island and Lekki Peninsula and the processing fees for lottery, pools and gaming licenses. He also completed the construction of the General Hospital in Gbagada and Ikorodu and built about 20 health centres within the state. As a governor, he established 23 local government councils which were later disbanded by the military. He also started a metroline project to facilitate mass transit.

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was the 12th Governor of Lagos State from May 29, 1999 – May 29, 2007.
On his assumption of office as Governor of Lagos State in 1999, Asiwaju Tinubu inherited a state that was practically bankrupt. The country’s commercial nerve centre was one of the worst victims of the previous one and a half decades of military dictatorship and neglect.
Public infrastructure had disintegrated abysmally. Delivery of social services had collapsed in virtually all sectors. The environment was in chaos as Lagos was routinely described as one of the dirtiest cities in the world. The state was largely dependent on insufficient financial allocations from the centre as she lacked the capacity to generate adequate revenue internally to meet her numerous challenges.
The public sector was demoralized and ill-equipped, psychologically and logistically, to effectively perform its functions and achieve set objectives. While the citizenry was alienated from the state and thus demotivated from paying taxes or the ones they paid being stolen making the state technically bankrupt, the organized private sector had little or no incentive to partner with the government in meeting the immense developmental challenges of the Mega City.
Assembling a team of accomplished technocrats, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Administration drew up a Ten-Point Agenda, which it began to systematically implement for the re-vitalization and re-invention of the state. The total budget size of Lagos State at the inception of the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu Administration in 1999 was a little over N14 billion, while the state’s Internally Generated Revenue was approximately N600 million monthly. Yet, the monthly public sector wage bill was N800 million. The implication was that Lagos state was entirely dependent on allocation from the Federal Government, which was grossly insufficient to meet the huge challenges of re-building a state that had been neglected and allowed to decay for over two decades since the federal capital was moved to Abuja in 1991.
Eight years later under Asiwaju’s astute guidance, Lagos had become financially viable and autonomous of the federal government; lives and property had become more secure; public infrastructure was being aggressively modernized and expanded; there had been a dramatic improvement in the quality and efficiency of public health care, education, the environment, water supply and public transportation; Lagos was attracting new investment in diverse sectors on a daily basis despite the depressing national economic climate.

Lagos, which sits in the southwestern corner of Nigeria, sprawled over a collection of islands and swampy coastlands, occupies the leading edge of this phenomenon. Today, its extraordinary growth is driving sweeping changes in a five-country region that stretches 500 miles westward along a band of palm-shaded seaboard all the way to Abidjan, capital of Cote d'Voire, a mushrooming city of perhaps six million people that has long been this region's other major economic and cultural pole. In between them, in one of the busiest staging areas of the historic Atlantic slave trade; West Africa is laying the foundations of one of the world's biggest megalopolises, and in Lagos itself, the start of a potentially powerful new city-state.

The biggest challenge posed by the growth of Lagos and the consolidation of an enormous, sub-regional economic zone around it, however, is not to the city's minuscule neighbors. Rather, it is to Nigeria's continued existence as a unitary nation. If present trends continue, in another decade or two, Lagos's economy will surpass the size of the rest of Nigeria. What has held the country together in the past, however tenuously, is the redistribution of money earned from the country's oil exports. But this is changing fast, as Lagos booms and its dependence on this ever more thinly sliced revenue -- what Nigerian politicians call the "national cake" -- dwindles.
The immediate former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji ­Fashola, SAN, once dropped the following bombshell so calmly it would have been easy to miss: he believes the city’s optimum population is 40 million. ~ Fashola, The Man Who Transformed Lagos - Matthew Green Of Financial Times - Politics - Nigeria

Former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the ex-Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi said: “As it stands today, Lagos’ role on the economic future of Nigeria is critical than what people think of the Niger Delta region. He said the Federal Government can learn from Lagos policies formulation that boost business and attract investors; adding that the Lagos example can bail the country out of its economic woes.

Lagos State is developing new cities with the Eko Atlantic City already in progress and Lagos Smart City project on the drawing board. Dangote Group is building the largest refinery in Africa in the state. A new international airport and new seaport are also in progress in Lagos.

Lagos has attracted global business leaders, including billionaires Bill Gates and Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, Cofounder and CEO of Facebook who visited the city in his first trip to sub Saharan Africa in August, 2016. He is investing in ICT startups in the technological ecosystem of Lagos.
The tourists will visit Ikorodu, Epe, Aja, Badagry, Festac Town, Apapa, Snake Island and the other towns in the outskirts of Lagos in the second and concluding part of their road tour.

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