OPINION: Nigeria’s Centre Of Excellence Isn’t Working!

October 1, 2020
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“Centre of excellence” is the tagline selected to capture the essence of Lagos State and this was not by accident.

The tagline does not say trying to be excellent neither does it say close to excellent.

It implies that Lagos is fully settled in the midst of excellence, right at the very heart of excellence regardless of its peers. Since Victorian Lagos, Lagos has been a very unique paradox unlike most states that welcome you, Lagos notifies you – ‘This is Lagos’

In the famous words of Fela “OJO MONDAY..EKO O NI GBA IGBAKUGBA O.”

The state is the most populated in the nation and is simultaneously one of the smallest.  Way too often, in response to complaints that highlight the hardship and poor quality of life that faces residents of Lagos, A myopic chorus taunts back with responses like this; ‘All the people complaining are Igbos and should go back to their own state’ and ‘Can their state compare to Lagos?’ They have no right to complain or criticize’.

These cheerleaders expect, NO..They demand we swallow the sickening taste of mediocrity and close our eyes to the very fraudulent, mercantilist state capture that has been our governance for 21 years. Fortunately, I am exempt from taunts like that.

“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism ownership of government by an individual, or a group.” – Roosevelt

Roosevelt sums up most appropriately the present tragedy that is the lot of Lagosians.

It is from its massive population that Lagos extracts its huge IGR based on its taxation system. Whilst we commend the successive administrations that have increasingly and more efficiently extracted taxes from residents and companies domiciled in Lagos, we can only celebrate a mercantilist government for so long without asking;

What about the accompanying social contract, thebenefits of political order

No other state in the South West has been ruled from the Local government level to the state government and Federal government by one power hegemony for over 20 years. So not only has this social contract been written by this power hegemony, they have had 20 years to deliver on it.

They chant LAGOS IS WORKING but expect us to turn a blind eye to the states inability to supply pipe Bourne water and then even worse its lack of empathy to facilitate access but would rather try to tax people in their attempt to provide water for themselves.  A state In the midst of so much water in over 20years the APC political class has failed to effectively channel such huge resources for consumption. Almost every household continues to be the creator of their own water supply through piped water, boreholes, etc.

What part of the social contract says it is okay to take huge loans from the world bank to supply water, Yet the moribund Lagos Water Corporation claims to cover 35% of Lagos population within the metropolis with a shortfall of 65% .

Where is the excellence in that? Where is the empathy for the citizenry?

Under the Fashola administration, $200M was earmarked by the World Bank to revitalize slums in Lagos State. Instead, the state chose to apply brute force to evict residents of places like Badia that fell under the slum renovation plan. Till date, no substantial urban development has taken place and the practice of evicting slum dwellers without providing a sustainable housing system for the poor continues to persist with respect to forceful eviction of OtodoGbame and Tarkwa Bay. During the Fashola administration, accountability of the World Bank fund cannot be traced because the Lagos state government runs a very Opaque financial system without an iota of transparency or accountability.

This article was written by Gbadebo Vivour Rhodes

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