Labour Party Governorship candidate for Lagos, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour (centre), flanked by party chieftains, Kola Ayeye (left) and Emeka Ogbonna (right) during Rhodes-Vivour’s “State of Lagos” address in Ikeja, Lagos.
*Lists what to achieve in first 100 days in office
By Emeka Ugwuanyi
It is no news that the Labour Party (LP) is on the journey to actualize a new Nigeria where the laws work for everyone and no single individual strangleholds a state or the nation.
The Governorship candidate of Labour Party, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, in a town hall meeting where he made a presentation on the “State of Lagos” held in Ikeja, Lagos, revealed some unknown but factual actualities unbefitting of an aspiring mega city such as Lagos.
He unveiled his transformative agenda which will see the education, health, transportation, housing, power, environment, agriculture sectors and the entire quality of life, living and safety meeting the expectation of Lagosians. Indeed, I will reverse the japa syndrome where people leave the country in their numbers to various countries of the world in search for better life. We have all it takes to make to make them come back and even citizens of other countries to migrate to Lagos and Nigeria in their numbers too, Rhodes-Vivour said.
He highlighted what should be expected from him in his first 100 days in office if voted as the governor of Lagos State. These include increasing minimum wage to N60,000; cancellation of Alpha Beta’s contract which costs the state N5billion monthly and use the savings to set up loan scheme for MSMEs and ensuring at 10,000 beneficiaries in the first 100 days. He will also set up a portal for publishing costs of all government’s projects and comparing them to World Bank’s standards to eliminate waste and corruption.
Others include issuing 10-year order for 10,000 vehicles to an auto manufacturer that commits to building an auto assembly in Lagos with credible plan to achieve 50 per cent value added within 5 years; pull down all toll gates in Lekki-Ajah axis and Ikoyi link bridge; build monument in memory of slain sons and daughters at the Lekki Toll Gate; repositioning of teaching as middle class career; implementation of rehabilitation and retraining programme and taking off the roads agberos (street urchins and touts) through execution of MoU with all road transport unions.
Others are design and construction of 100km rail across Lagos, education summit to get buy-in for upscaling public schools standard in partnership with Lagos State government and applying same to primary health service, among others.
In his presentation entitled “Eko E Dide: Lagos Arise! Enough is Enough,” the governorship aspirant said: “Sadly, painfully, but needlessly, Lagos is not working. Lagos is not working because there are 2 million children out of school; which is more than the entire population of Nassarawa, Bayelsa and Abuja/FCT at the last census in 2006. Yes, what could be the population of a whole State is out of school in Lagos. Eko, E Dide! (literally meaning that Lagos is not sleeping).
“In 2019, a bolt driver named Tomi Waziri was attacked and shot in the face at Apongbon bridge around 8:30pm. He is currently visually impaired, till today the shooter was never found and LASUTH attended to appointment which was slated for 1 week, 3 weeks later, eventually he had to get treated in a private hospital, Lagos happened to him, His story is all over the internet, you can go and verify. It could have happened to you or me. Eko, E Dide!
“A week ago I was surrounded by agberos, who once I engaged, narrated how some were graduates of UniLag and Nsukka. These are vulnerable youth that their state has failed and only succeeded in bringing out the worst in them not the best in them. Eko E dide!
“A street sweeper told us that she has four children and spends N20,000 monthly on transport from Otto to her sweeping duty post in Ikoyi. Her salary is N30,000 per month. She is barely able to survive, even though she works hard. Sadly, painfully, but needlessly, Lagos is not working for her and her family. Eko E Dide. Parents have passed Vote of no Confidence in public education. Only 17% of primary school students and 25% of secondary school students are in public schools. Most parents in their determination to give their children a decent education have opted for private education. Government not only fails to provide public education, but it also fails to adequately supervise and enforce standards in private schools. Only 5,000 out of the 20,000 private schools are registered. Eko E Dide!
“Lagos is not working for that teacher who in frustration blurted out; “I cannot kill myself. How many scripts will I mark when I’m not a machine? I have more than 85 students in one class, and we have 8 arms, which means I have about 680 students to attend to everyday. In most cases, I ask students to exchange their scripts among themselves and mark, or I don’t bother at all.” Eko E Dide!
‘Lagos is not working as it is ranked as the second worst city to live in the world just after war-torn Damascus. In El Rufai’s words people that have lived in Lagos should have an automatic pass to heaven, Living in Lagos is only better than living in war. Little wonder Kaduna State, a State dealing with Boko Haram, is ranked better than Lagos for ease of doing business. Eko E Dide!
“Lagos is not working for the over 2 million jobless people. Your Lagos, Our Lagos, collects the highest internally generated revenue (IGR) in Nigeria , but – has an unemployment rate of 37.1%, worse than the national average of 33.3%. Eko E Dide!
Sadly, painfully, but needlessly, Lagos is not working because the average commuter spends over 3hours in traffic daily after Government borrowed $1.2bn for a rail project on which they have only completed 13 km after more than a decade. Even the 13km they claim to have completed is not in use by Lagosians yesterday and will not be used by lagosians tomorrow. Eko E Dide!
“Sadly, painfully, but needlessly, Lagos is not working with only 10% having access to water from the Lagos Water Corporation; the only water works functioning is the one on Alexander Road Ikoyi and it rarely pumps water for more than 8 hours per week. The people that claim to have built Lagos , could drink water from their taps, could treated in our hospitals and drive around Lagos without fear of harassment. Eko E Dide! Dear Lagosians, sadly, painfully, but needlessly, Lagos is not working. Eko E Dide!”
Rhodes-Vivour said he would reverse all these anomalies by “Substantial Poverty Reduction Through Inclusivity, Shared Prosperity and Growth of The Middle Class; Employment Creation Through Industrialisation and Digital-Intensive Transformation; Substantial Transformation of Health and Education Targeted at African Leadership Aspirations; creation of a First World Environment Through First Class Infrastructure and Security; Strong Local Government Administration to Move Excellent Governance Closer to The People; Strong Regional Economic Integration to Advance the Journey Towards True Federalism; and Ethical Reform.
He said: “While seemingly championing true Federalism, Lagos sticks to the minimum wage of N30,000 set by the Federal Government, an amount which in the context of the uniquely high cost of living in Lagos amounts to a starvation wage, besides the fact that it is far less than the payment capacity of Lagos. Lagos ought to lead the nation in becoming a community where a significant majority belong to the middle class. In addition to a living wage, the other important defining characteristic of the middle class is home ownership. Eko E Dide!”
“With this background, I solemnly covenant to achieve the following landmarks if you graciously appoint me as your Servant and Governor: 1. Wage Policy: Implementation of a Living Wage Policy for Both The State Civil Service and The Private Sector: On my first working day in office, I will issue an Executive Order directing the Head of Service to prepare a framework for increasing the minimum monthly salary of the Lagos Civil Service by 100% from N30,000 to N60,000. Our objective, subject to resource constraints, will be to reach N100,000 before the end of our first term. I will also direct that all contract workers, including those diligent women and men who sweep our streets, to be converted to permanent staff so that they benefit from this directive.
“Please don’t tell me we can’t afford it. For the entire 150,000 workforce of Lagos State and the significant number of new hires we need to reduce teacher:pupil ratio and plug other productivity gaps, the increased cost will be between N100bn and N200bn annually.
“The unaccounted road levies appropriated by NURTW without account is over N120 billion; only God knows how much we pay the real first family through Alpha Betta , Iyaloja dues, LASSA commissions etc. We can afford it; it hasn’t been done because it has never been priority. Civil Servants, I promise you that with me as Governor, you will earn a living wage starting with an 100% increase.
“Wage Policy – Private Sector: We will incentivize the Private Sector, particularly the Organised Private Sector, to abolish casualization and to increase their minimum wage well above the new public sector minimum, the indicative figure being N100,000. A situation where graduates remain on contract for decades on meagre wages and without benefits such as health and pensions need to be discontinued. Our reviews shows that this is as much in the interest of the employers as the employees. Increase of low-level wages has a significant domestic multiplier, leading to economic growth and improved performance by these companies. We will incentivize companies by allowing them to retain PAYE taxes incidental to the wage increases as a tax relief over a period of a few years as Government’s practical contribution. If you are working as a contract staff in the Organised Private Sector, count on me to engage your employers until casualization and meagre wages become history. I am committed to a good quality of life for you.
“Payment of Unemployment Benefits of N10,000 Monthly To 1 Million Unemployed Graduates: We estimate that there are at least 1 million unemployed graduates in Lagos. We will immediately commence an Unemployment Benefits Register for unemployed graduates who are willing to retrain and acquire new skills that will either make them compelling hires or equip them for profitable self-employment. Every month, we will add 50,000 people to our Unemployment Benefits Register through a transparent evaluation and balloting system. The register will be limited to a maximum of 1 million. Each person on the Register will receive a monthly stipend of N10,000.
“People will be eligible to remain on the Register for a maximum of 36 months or the point at which they achieve monthly income of N50,000 through paid/self-employment, after which they cease to be on the Register. We expect these to be citizens who take their civic responsibilities, including voting, seriously, and are responsible members of society. Our planning has been painstaking. For 50,000 employees at N10,000 each will cost N500m per month or N6bn per annum. By the time we reach the limit of 1 million, it will cost us N10bn monthly and N120bn per annum. Our annual budget, currently N1.8 trillion can support it. Take my word, Lagos State will pay unemployment benefits under my watch, not to encourage indolence, but strictly for those determined to move onto self-reliance by acquiring needed skills.
“Home Ownership – One Million Owner-Occupier Homes: We will start a private-sector-led owner-occupier home scheme targeted at producing 1 million homeowners over 20 years. This is feasible because it will be private sector led. Government will provide the support and enabling environment to make mass adoption and mass delivery feasible. By the grace of God, it will be done. Hold me to it.
“Rail – Drastic Reduction of Traffic by Delivery of a Minimum of 100km of RaiI: In a transparent manner, we would deliver four (4) new rail routes in four (4) years to transform transportation for Lagosians. This would comprehensively solve the major traffic problems of Lagos and transform the State. This is to be the signature achievement of my administration and would serve as the catalyst for the industrialization of Lagos. My vision is a Lagos where no trip within the State requires more than an hour.
“Procurement Policies that are Business Friendly and Industrialisation-Focused, Government to pay all suppliers and counterparties within 90 days of invoice and enforce strictly. I am assuring our suppliers and contractors that their invoices will be approved seamlessly. We will digitise the approval process and minimize human interface to drastically reduce corruption. My Principal, His Excellency Peter Obi did this in Anambra. I will follow in his footsteps. We will use large multi-year orders to attract establishment of industries: Government expenditure will be transparent, and it will be used to promote industrialization, generate local value added and create middle-class employment. Specifically, before 100 days in office, I will issue a guarantee for a minimum purchase of 10,000 vehicles over 10-years fromany vehicle manufacturer who will set up a local assembly in Lagos together with component suppliers such that value added in Lagos must not be less than 50%.
“Post 100 days, we will facilitate the setting up of a rail, bus and ferry assembly plants within the State committing to a firm offtake of a minimum quantity annually, which would provide a base for the take-off of steel and machinery industries to the economic benefit of Lagos and the welfare and prosperity of Lagosians
“We will work with local and international banks to create a loan scheme to provide SMEs with access to capital, particularly those with potential for creating middle class jobs. We expect the cost of capital to be single digit. The scheme will be in tranches of N100bn until it reaches N1 trillion.
“Welcome to a New Lagos where public schools have a quality comparable to the best private schools. We will create a unique model for the transformation of public and private education whereby the best private sector education practitioners will collaborate with Government so that our public schools will achieve standards comparable to the best private schools. We will also strengthen supervision so that private schools will commit to best practice.
“The health sector requires fundamental reform because most households are income-constrained to the point that health emergencies or health insurance is not a priority. In the first two years, we will improve existing frameworks better to eliminate waste and achieve efficiencies. We will deliver significant reforms from the third year in collaboration with the private sector and donors. Lagos is host to some of the best private medical facilities in the country including Lagoon, St Nicholas, R. Jolad, Reddington etc. We will explore a new framework for joint management of all public health facilities (primary, secondary and tertiary) with these private sector institutions targeted at achieving the best private sector standards in public health. We will make prevention rather than cure the prime focus of the health system. We will make annual health check an integral part of Primary Health Care, perhaps the first such in the world. We will also make nutrition central to our health system.
“Welcome to a New Lagos where teachers in all schools, primary, secondary, vocational and tertiary, as well as doctors and eligible health workers, are middle class, owning their own homes. Expert consensus is that the quality and quantity of teachers is the most critical variable determining learning outcomes. We will not pay lip service to ensuring teachers are given their rewards here on earth, they will. We will collaborate with proprietors to explore means of sharing assets, resources and students in a manner that assures quality while also improving remuneration of private teachers. We are committed to becoming a State where teachers earn enough to live decently, give their children a good education, own their own homes, and save enough for life after retirement.
“Parents, I do not promise that it will happen immediately. But before the end of this 2023-2027 term, hopefully my first term, the quality of public education would have been significantly enhanced to be almost as good as the private schools such that you won’t need any assurance that there will virtually be no difference before our second term expires, should you grant us that dispensation. We have the same commitment for doctors and eligible health workers. Soon enough, Doctors will Japa to Lagos rather than Europe or America.
“We will partner with a Top-100 Global Institution for the management of LASU for 20 years. LASU will strive to become a Top-100 university within 20 years. I graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), one of the world’s Top-10 universities, and thus understand the advantages and benefits of repositioning our universities to achieve “continental ivy-league status”, and ultimately strive to join the global best. We will seek similar management alliances for every higher institution owned by Lagos State. We will also explore partnering with every Federal Higher Institution in our State to achieve the same standards.
“I saw firsthand, the struggles of my parents to pay fees of foreign universities for me and my siblings. In fact, I was reluctant to apply to MIT on account of the evident financial difficulty my parents were having with my non-IVY League first degree. It took the insistence of my dear father for me to apply. Except for a few exceptionally financially successful, it is almost impossible to retain a middle-class lifestyle if the major option for quality tertiary education is foreign universities. Most families spend more than the cost of a house to educate two children abroad. I am committed to a Lagos where Lagosians can access world class education at all levels in Lagos and at an affordable cost.
“We will start the process to take Lagos off the national grid in phases in concert with the authorized operators in the power value chain. Our target is to achieve up to10,000MW in 10 years and 24-7 power in Lagos. Obviously, this cannot be completed in 4 years, but the process will be started, and we will make substantial progress. Our vision is a Lagos where the entire power value chain from feedstock-generation-transmission-distribution-metering-collection is domesticated in Lagos and independent of the national grid.
“Local Governments will become the breeding ground for potential governors. We will support the emergence of candidates who are seasoned and competent, possessing outstanding experience in different sectors. We will support Local Government autonomy and give them room to flourish.We all know why Lagos is not working, Join me lets create our Lagos that works for you.”
Why is Lagos not working?
The scorecard of Budgit, the most respected independent analyst of government budgets and financial management in Nigeria in its 2022 report noted that over the last decade, Lagos State’s accounts have taken on a worrisome trend; the amount of public funds being handled has grown, but so has secrecy and an outright refusal to adhere to the basic tenets of democracy that state that the public has a right to know. With over N3.8tn spent by Lagos State governments between 1999 and 2015 amid little or no documentation and verifiable trails backing such spendings, we use this medium to call for a holistic audit of the State’s finances. We urge the Lagos Government to submit to the fundamental principles of democracy, which include publishing key budget documents, including the detailed proposed budget for Lagos State, the enacted budget, budget implementation reports, financial statements for Lagos, and the Audit reports. It is equally necessary for Lagos to publish all contract agreements entered into and carried over within each relevant financial year. We reiterate that it is important for taxpayers, civil society organisations, development partners, and international organisations to take note and be aware. Lagos is increasingly normalising opacity in governance, despite being a prominent State; a development that could set dire precedents for other States, and contribute to a devastating retardation of Nigeria’s hard-won democracy.”
“There is nothing more to add. That is the major reason why Lagos is not working. The richest men in the world have most of their riches in assets, not cash. Only God knows how much cash Lagos State pays Alpha Beta monthly. It is possible that the Principal of Alpha Beta may be amongst the cash richest men in the world. Between 1999 and today with Lagos under his thumb, he has acquired two or three airplanes including one that was regularly parked in Ghana. They reduce leadership success to advancing their closest aides to top jobs. Success is not boasting a sitting Vice President, a few serving and ex-Governors, a few serving Ministers etc, it is improving the quality of life of the average Lagosian, which sadly is still is abysmal for most. Eko E Dide!
“Achieving a decent quality of life: Our survey shows that a family of five comprising a father, mother and three children need a monthly household income of about N200,000 for a modest quality of life in Lagos: • N50,000 for feeding • N41,000 for rent; a two-bedroom flat in a decent neighbourhood costs N500,000 per annum • N75,000 for school fees based on N100,000 per term for each of the three children which implies a total of N900,000 per annum • N20,000 for transport • N20,000 for utilities including NEPA, Water and airtime• N5,000 for religious obligations such as Zakat and tithes • N1,000 for health needs and emergencies.
“These already add up to N212,000 without any provisions for contingencies nor savings. The provision for health is also grossly inadequate. But the base of N200,000 household income is a place to start.”
Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour is an energetic graduate of one of the best schools in the world. As an MIT graduate of Architecture with urban planning experience in both the United States and China, I respectfully submit that I am much better equipped both by academic training and practical experience to set Lagos on the path of becoming a first world city by 27 May 2057, 34 years from now, when Lagos will be 90 years since its creation on 27th May 1967. Please give me the opportunity to be your servant as we work together to implement my vision as The Architect of a New Lagos. My vision is to transform Lagos. Hold me accountable, he said.