By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Since Governor Akinwunmi Ambode assumed office on May 29, 2015, efforts have been geared towards creating a friendly environment for investors and for businesses to thrive.
In recognition of this, Ambode, penultimate week, at the 2016 International Forum on African Leadership, received an award for the Best Performing Governor in Nigeria, organised by the African Leadership Magazine, and held at the Regis Hotel, New York, United States.
This came as the state administration, through the Public Works Corporation, LSPWC, was awarded the Africa’s best agency in quality road maintenance and management.
At the US event, the governor reassured investors of his government’s commitment to not only become a shining example for Africans in Diaspora but also retain the status of the state as investors’ haven.
Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Mr. Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti, led a high-level delegation which include his counterpart in the state Ministry of Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde; Special Adviser on Overseas Affairs and Investment to the overnor, Professor Ademola Abass; and Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Habib Aruna, to receive the award.
“Lagos as the fifth largest economy in Africa is like a country and, with the momentum with which the state is moving, it might soon emerge as the biggest economy in Africa. It is home to almost every religion, tribe and colour and accommodates the largest pool of black people all over the world, including Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who is from Nigeria and has a home in Lagos”.
On the best agency in quality road maintenance and management, Lagos beat other African countries to clinch the African Quality Achievement Award 2016.
Representing Ambode at the award ceremony, tagged, “African Quality Achievement Award 2016,” Special Adviser/Chief Executive Officer, CEO, LSPWC, Ayotunde Sodeinde, noted that the feat was achieved through God and the resilient spirit of the governor.
Meanwhile, the governor says the current economic situation offered an opportunity for the country to re-order economic priorities and develop other revenue generating channels.
He spoke at the National Tourism Conference, held at Eko Atlantic City, EAC, in Lagos to commemorate the World Tourism Day.
While alluding to a recent study by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which projected that the travel and tourism industry in Nigeria would contribute 1.6 percent directly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country by 2024 which in absolute terms represented N1.366billion, and 1,194,000 direct employment, Ambode advocated the development of a framework for the industry, especially the creation of incentives for investors.
Lagos, being a coastal location is blessed with unbroken 283 kilometers of coastline apart from other tourism potentials.
Apart from taking the opportunity of events and celebrations to showcase the rich culture and heritage of Lagos to the world, the state administration also adopted Project THESE, meaning Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment and Sports for Excellence, all geared towards harnessing the potentials of the tourism sector for the benefit of the people.
“I would like to express the total support of this government to this project because at the end of the day we need to grow the economy of Lagos and this obviously is going to have multiplier effect on our IGR”, the governor said.
“We promise that we are going to grow our IGR to N30bn by 2017 and N50bn by 2018 and this project is a sure outlet in achieving that goal”.
EAC is a multi-billion dollar project sitting on over 10million square metres and is expected to accommodate over 150,000 people who would reside there and another 250,000 who would work and commute within the city on a daily basis.
The governor, while also inspecting the 8.5km long shoreline wall, otherwise known as the ‘Great Wall of Lagos’, built to protect the EAC, said the project will not only protect the new city, but also protect the whole of Victoria Island against ocean surge.
“This is a new and a bigger version of Victoria Island. We are going to have an Energy City here, a financial hub that is more or less going to run under a Free Trade Zone and so on”, Ambode said.
“I just want to encourage other investors and other people who had taken one step or the other in respect of the Eko Atlantic City that the time is now because in another one and half years, this place will be something else”.
So far, out of the over 10 million square meters of the project, about six million square meters had been reclaimed, while there are 15 bridges and two tunnels designed with the project.
The first two residential buildings in the new city had been completed in August, the second is slated to be ready before the end of the year, while the first office block is also expected to be ready by October, 2016, said the Chairman of EAC, Mr. Ronald Chagoury.
Chagoury described the project as an impressive financial district which upon completion, would compare with the financial district in Paris, France and the 5th Avenue in New York, United States.
The “Great Wall” of Lagos was scientifically designed to withstand any ocean surge and built to last for 1, 000 years.
Also, Managing Director of Access Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, whose bank is the major partner with the promoters of EAC and Lagos State government, said aside the fact that adequate arrangement had been made to protect the city, the project was all about saving the state and creating a new tomorrow for people to live in Lagos.
However, Ojukwu had been under tremendous pressure for quite some time: he tried his best to calm separatist agitations in his region which became more stringent and vociferous since the pogroms of May, 1966. He was also struggling with the huge task of resettling about one million eight hundred thousand refugees that poured into the east from different parts of the country, especially from northern Nigeria. The issue of payment of salaries to workers displaced because of the disturbances was also pending. Overall, it seemed that Lieutenant-Colonel Gowon and his advisers in Lagos were not interested in assisting Ojukwu to resolve the myriads of problems facing the east. To be continued.