Renowned economist and financial expert, Professor Pat Utomi at the weekend, said that Lagos State is a crucial catalyst if Nigeria’s economy is to witness a turnaround for the better.
Utomi, who spoke at the Executive/Legislative retreat for members of the State Executive Council and lawmakers from the Senate, House of Representatives as well as the House of Assembly, said there were a lot of lessons to be learnt from the Lagos economy, which according to him, is largely driven by its huge investment in infrastructure, vibrant tax collection strategy and an enabling environment for businesses to thrive with less dependence on oil revenue.
Utomi, in his paper presentation, cited an example of when Comrade Adams Oshiomhole emerged as the Governor of Edo State and alluded to the fact that he needed to learn how Lagos was getting it right and then replicate same in Edo.
“The first thing he (Oshiomhole) did was to say he needed to learn how Lagos was getting it right. And he came over to Lagos with his core team to understudy the Lagos developmental model. And we can see how that worked well in Edo,” Utomi said.
He said that several other states have also followed suit in emulating how the tax and IGR template works in Lagos and how the public service is structured in a way that there is good coordination.
Utomi said the Lagos example should be prescribed for other states and for Nigeria as a whole, because according to him, the momentum would be good for the country, just as he canvassed for the South West States to scale up its economic integration.
“This is why I have always advocated for a Lagos-Ibadan megalopolis. Lagos is already a mega city by virtue of its population, but a deliberate economic integration with other South-West states can produce even better results.
“This won’t be a new template. In fact it will be taking us back to the template of the old federal structure in a way, when the three regions had a healthy competitive spirit that brought about development.
Also Speaking, Senator representing Lagos East at the Senate, Gbenga Ashafa commended the Governor for coming up with a platform where the executive and legislature meet to deliberate on issues affecting the people with the view to pull human and material resources together in the interest of the people.
Ashafa, who is the Chairman of Senate Committee on Land Transport, said he had been assured by Governor Ambode that the rail reform of Lagos is almost ready, saying that upon completion, the Light Rail of the State would bring serious dividends of democracy to the people, as well as employment, which in turn, would hasten Nigeria’s recovery from recession.
The lawmaker, who also spoke on kidnappings in the country, commended Lagos for the way the crime had been handled which had always resulted in release of victims unhurt, saying that it was a sign that the State cannot be a haven for criminals.
Besides, Ashafa assured that the bill seeking one percent of revenue accruable to the Federal Government to be spent in Lagos would be represented to the Senate, adding that the passage would be pursued with every needed energy.