By Joshua Olalekan, Lagos
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has received the Certificate of Admission of the state as one of the 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) in the world.
At the award pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, the governor stated that it was a starting point and a positive partnership that would help the state address the challenges of urban planning, transport gridlock, environment and modern infrastructure plaguing it.
Governor Ambode, who spoke at the presentation of the certificate in Ikeja, Lagos on Tuesday, said the development was not only historic but a confirmation that efforts to build a globally competitive State had received international recognition.
The Governor noted that despite the challenges faced by the state in many areas including transportation, security, ocean surge, flooding, high unemployment rate, pressure on physical and social infrastructure, growth of slums and a huge housing deficit, Lagos remained resilient and ever progressive.
While alluding to the objective of his administration to make every community in the state economically liveable and stem rural-urban flight, Ambode said deliberate initiatives have been put in place to address the housing deficit, transport challenges and economic development, among others.
He said: “We acknowledge these challenges and needs; and now as a member of the 100 resilient Cities of the World, we have a platform to compare notes with cities who have similar experiences and create innovative and mitigating strategies.
“Lagos is currently home to about 23 million inhabitants with an estimated 86 people moving into Lagos every hour. This creates challenges of managing a daily increase in human and vehicular movement,” he said.
The Governor, who said that resilience had always been part of the Lagos story, said despite the fact that the State remained the smallest state in Nigeria by geographical size, it is the largest by population and economic power.
He particularly recalled the manner with which Lagos contained the outbreak of the Ebola virus in 2015 and secured residents from a terrible epidemic.
While speaking on the plans for the State, Governor Ambode said his administration was currently in partnership with the Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) to upgrade 2 blighted settlements in Bariga and Amukoko.
“We have initiated many interventions all over the State to shorten road travel time and we are in talks with the Japanese International Corporation Agency (JICA) to introduce rail transportation in the Ikoyi-Lekki corridor. We have also engaged in massive road construction and opening-up of our rural communities, continuous clearance of drainages and the upgrade and construction of Primary Health Care Centers (PHCs). Our objective is to make every community in Lags economically liveable and stem rural-urban flight.
“In response to the high unemployment figures, we created the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund to provide cheap source of funding to our young entrepreneurs and SME’s. The Fund started disbursement to beneficiaries in December 2016 and more funds will be made available to in the coming months to stimulate economic activity and get more of our young people employed.
“The ocean surge is a huge challenge and the Lagos State Government in partnership with notable investors have invested in the development of Eko Atlantic City to not only contain the ocean surge but to deliver a new city which will be a future financial, commercial and tourism centre,” he said.
In his opening remarks, Lagos State Commissioner for Finance, Economic Planning and Budget, Mr Akinyemi Ashade said the selection of Lagos among the 100 Resilient Cities was sign post of a new dawn for the State in terms of ability to adapt to some of the risks and shocks it may be exposed to and how to effectively treat and overcome them.
He recalled how Governor Ambode issued a directive in August 2016 for commencement of process for Lagos to be selected, adding that the feat, apart from taking the delivery of electoral promises a notch higher in terms of concrete and measurable deliverables to the citizenry, would also compliment the vision of the present administration to make Lagos Africa’s model mega city of choice.
Earlier, President of 100 Resilient Cities, Mr Michael Berkowitz said out of the over 1,000 applications received and three rounds of selection process, Lagos was chosen for its innovative leadership, infrastructural strides and influential status not just in Africa but in the world.
He said the organization, by the initiative, was hoping to help cities change the way they think about their resilient opportunities and to see an integration between challenges.
“Sometimes cities think about transport, just about moving people; housing, just about housing people; economic development, just about creating jobs but cities get better when they think about those things in an inter-related way.
“We are trying to inspire a movement across the world to change the way cities approach their risks and opportunities and so Lagos is not just the most influential city in West Africa or the continent but around the world and that was very appealing to us,” Berkowitz said.
The Governor later signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Mayor of Paynesville, Liberia, Mrs Cyvette Gibson, which would facilitate information sharing around resilience in the two cities with the view to bring about economic development.
Ambode excited as Rockefeller Foundation lists Lagos amongst 100 resilient cities
By Joshua Olalekan, Lagos