Lagos State was, Thursday, described as an example of the strategic thinking and action needed for Nigeria to achieve her developmental and growth potentials, especially in the area of infrastructural renewal and transformation.
National Planning Minister, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman who made the remark at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island venue of a Special Breakfast Meeting hosted by Business Day, declared, â€œLagos State has set the example of a kind of action that will take Nigeria into improving the overall competitiveness in the countryâ€.
The Minister who represented the Vice President, Dr. Jonathan Goodluck at the occasion, said the Business Day Breakfast Meeting was, in terms of subject and timing, the kind of strategic thinking and action Nigeria needed to achieve her developmental goals, adding that the public private partnership strategy was a momentum thatÂ Â Â Â Â was catching on across the country.
Earlier in his remarks, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), had reviewed the gains of the Public Private Partnership by his administration and vowed to continue to deepen the platform for such collaboration in the State.
Governor Fashola said in achieving its primary responsibilities as a Government, the Public Private Partnership approach has proved most rewarding to his administration.
The Governor declared, â€œIn achieving our primary responsibilities as a Government, a collaborative approach with the Private Sector has been beneficial. We will, therefore, continue to deepen the platform for such collaboration or our competitiveness as a service provider for our peopleâ€.
Speaking on the theme, â€œEnhancing Nigeriaâ€™s Competitiveness via Public â€“ Private Partnershipâ€ Governor Fashola, who described PPP as a win-win venture, said for the Private Sector, the partnershipÂ represents business opportunities in areas in which the sector was previously excluded while it allows Government to focusÂ on providing services that may not be financially attractive for the Private Sector.
According to the Governor, the relationship between the Private and the Public Sectors should not be seen as an â€œUs and them thing or Private Sector versus Public Sectorâ€, adding, â€œWe take the view that the reason the Public Sector exists is to ensure competitiveness, sustainability and growth of the Private Sector and for us, the Private Sector means everybody, whether employed or unemployedâ€.
The Governor, however, said in order for the two sectors to work together, there is need for them to speak the same language, by bringing down the walls of distrust and apprehension to make them understand that they work for the same goals, pointing out that â€œthe PPP has been known particularly as novel ways of funding and discharging governmental responsibilities aimed at enabling the Private Sector take control and manage assets which it can do in a manner not only economically rewarding but also socially sustainable.
â€œIt might surprise you to know that crossing over from any of the major corporations to lead government parastatalÂ in itself has a language problem. A language of the parastatals is different, its abbreviations and orientation are different and its mentality is differentâ€, the Governor said.
Citing the Lekki Road Concession as an example of such economically rewarding partnership to the Private Sector, Governor Fashola declared, â€œAs a Government, we think this can only be done by way of radical renewal of the way we do business, reform of the processes with the view to eradicating poverty and promoting sustainable economic growthâ€.
He said the attributes of Lagos as the dynamo of the Nigerian economy and her industrial driver as well as the commercial hub of West Africa, has led to persistent mass migration into the city over the years â€œthus turning the smallest of the states within the Federation by land mass into its most populousâ€.
â€œFrom about five million in the early and mid- 1970s, the population has increased to 18 millionÂ andÂ no new roads have been built, water supply has not increased, no new markets have been built, very few hospitals have been built to take care of the people. This calls for mass investment andÂ need for creativity in the management of public expenditureâ€ the Governor said.
According to Governor Fashola, â€œThe attraction of Lagos has ironically become her biggest challenges. How does Lagos make life sustainable for all of those who happily make her their proud home? We can only liberate the potentials of this State and transform her into a model Mega-city by turning these challenges into opportunities and this must start through massive investment in infrastructure renewal and expansionâ€.
â€œWe believe that a partnership between Government and the Private Sector is the best way to achieve the infrastructure reforms we are required to execute in order to make Lagos a destination of choice for businesses and we are committed to facilitating this partnership by providing the institutional platform for efficient implementationâ€.
Noting that this has made the idea of PPP most enamoring, Governor Fashola said this is because if the venture is successful, it reduces how much would ordinarily have been spent on infrastructures like roads, healthcare and education infrastructures and others thereby marking more money available for some other invisible projects like Health Insurance Schemes, Scholarships and so on.
â€œIt can reduce how much we spend on university campus complexes, school halls and facilities and we can begin to spend some of the money in scholarships, to ensure that nobody is left behind and everybody can access the infrastructureâ€, he said.
On the gains the Government has derived from the partnership, Governor Fashola said, â€œIn the area of transportation, which in our view is key to business and economic growth, our engagement has allowed us to deploy over 250 articulated buses for our Bus Rapid Transit Scheme, add 1, 255 cars to the fleet of taxis in the State thereby creating a total of 1, 255 direct jobs. It has enabled us to start pilot projects for jetties and it has enabled us to make our State more secure than it was in the pastâ€.