By Nkasiobi Oluikpe,

Lagos

Not too long ago, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), an independent business within The Economist Group, recently in its Quality-of-Life-Index, rated Lagos among the least liveable cities in the world, ranking side by side with cities like Damascus of Syria and Tripoli in Libya. In the survey conducted this year, Lagos maintained its position as the 137th out of the 140 cities across the world, same as last year.

According to the report, some of the criteria used for the ranking include factors such as stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

Coming from such an international reputable body as the EIU, sure calls for concern, especially considering that over the years, they have been providing countries and industries across the world with sound management analysis.

Beyond that, they also produce regular liveability and cost of living of the world’s major cities that receive wide coverage in international media.

In the survey, EIU was said to have noted that of the poorer-scoring cities, 14 of which Lagos is amongst, continue to occupy the very bottom tier of liveability, where ratings fall below 50 percent and most aspects of living are severely restricted.

For stability in Lagos, EIU reports that the continued threat from the Boko Haram sects has been one of the constraints. Minimal improvements to infrastructure, education and healthcare are also restricting ranking climbs for Lagos.

Analysts are of the view that for cities like Damascus and Tripoli which have been ravaged by war situation, their ranking could be understandable by any rational mind, but the case of Lagos truly calls for reflection. Hence, INL set out to sample the views of some of these analysts on the report of the EIU survey. Though a good proportion of them disagree with the survey, there are those who believe that the report was based on objectivity.

Olayemi Shonubi, former Lagos State chapter chairman of the Nigeria Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), rebuffed the report saying that he disagrees with it based on the increasing population of Lagos. “From about eight million in the 80s to about 16 million or more now; if not liveable, the population should decrease. If you check the other cities listed, Tripoli and Damascus, they are centres of civil war in their respective countries.”

The Coordinator, Network of Migration Research on Africa (NOMRA), Prof Aderanti Adepoju, also took the same stance by saying that the infrastructure, security, education and beautification of Lagos in the last four years has improved tremendously.

“I can’t say much about the education standard, but since the former deputy governor was responsible for education, the fillers I get was that, that also has improved. If you look at the current facilities, I think that report is not correct. But if you are looking at Lagos of 2000 to 2005, probably yes. The countries that Lagos was rated with are also not adequate because those countries are going through crises.

“There was a meeting of governors and mayors of megacity on the internet where Governor Raji Fashola was given an accolade for good performance, saying he was the best influential person in the world on governance, which includes improvement in infrastructures and liveability.

Using Oshodi as example, Adepoju remarked that any foreigner coming to Lagos and passing through Oshodi in Lagos will see mass improvement. The flyovers, he said, are now free of congestion and hoodlums. “Except if the report refers to Lagos of some 10 to 15 years ago, it is not correct.”

For Abayomi Fereira, a medical director and social critic, he has not travelled to so many cities but has only been to London and a few countries in Europe, hence, finds it difficult to come up with something. However, having been to London, he stressed that it is difficult to compare London with Lagos.

However, for the former General Manager of ICIC Yellow Pages, Christian Nwogwugwu, the report, he said, is purely based on objective survey. Having lived in Lagos for 30 years, he has come to understand that Lagos is not properly planned.

“We need to note that when we talk about Lagos, historically, it is meant to be the Lagos Island, others are farm settlements. In those days, there were very few people who were populating Lagos, so nobody knew that the expansion will be so rapid.

“Planlessness is one of the factors that made Lagos unliveable as observed by the EIU. The demand of the population compared to the infrastructures available is not anything to write home about. Like I was saying, these other surrounding rural areas were now being populated. As a result of the overpopulation, the infrastructures are collapsing making life very miserable. Today, Lagos requires more than 30 megawatts to operate in a day, but today we have less than 4,000 for the whole nation, you can see that there is no way people can be comfortable living in this kind of situation.”

Nwogwugwu said that the policy of Lagos State on land acquisition and the floating of a company is not easy at all, as the state presently indulges in double taxation, demanding for revenue from everything, even up to little children hawking on the street. For these reasons, he says, a lot of people are becoming uncomfortable with Lagos.

“Take the healthcare issue, you will discover that most people do not have access to healthcare facilities, thereby increasing the mortality ratio. The few health facilities that were built by Governor Raji Fashola is not measuring up to the demands of the people.

“The area that must be addressed seriously for people to come to invest in Lagos is the issue of Agberos/Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) who make all manner of ridiculous demands from motorists. They don’t even want you to obey the law, the want you to disobey so that they can make demands. This contributes to making Lagos very unliveable. That is why I share with the view of the EIU.

The former general manager stated that using population as criteria for countering the EIU report is not ideal as according to him, the population came about as a result of the federal presence in Lagos.

“That the population has increased is not an evidence of good living in Lagos. I am telling you, interview an average man in Lagos, you will discover he is ‘suffering and smiling’. People are just pretending, because they have stayed so long in Lagos, they find it difficult to go back to the villages.

“The Lagos State University (LASU) was one of the cheapest in those days, but today, the school fees is about N250,000 and above, the average resident here cannot send their children to school. I am a product of LASU, apart from personal efforts, it would have been difficult. A lot of people are there who do not understand their left from right.

“Do a research on the standard of education in the public primary schools, you will discover that the learning is almost on zero level, the children look so tattered and unkempt and nobody cares, as long as the teachers get their salaries from the government. The teachers also themselves are not properly trained. You see them leaving the classrooms for their petty trading.

He also admits that the government alone cannot be blamed for the situation as the citizenry needs to be re-orientated. He pleads with the federal government to pay special attention to Lagos because it is the nerve centre of Nigeria and West Africa, hence they should provide a special budget for the people of the state.

“I think Governor Akinwunmi Ambode will take note of what we are saying so that he can readdress some of the issues. They should look into power. I know Lagos wanted to have their own turbine which was truncated by the government at the centre then. You can see that the high tension are falling anyhow in Lagos today because over time they were not carrying current, but today that the currents are back, you see them falling and killing people.

“The government should look into the rent people pay, people are not happy at all, where people are paying over 70 percent of their wages on rent isn’t the best at all. That is why, if you enter into a public transport, you discover people are not smiling at all, they are very angry. When it explodes, it is not going to be the EIU that will bear the brunt, but all of us.


Source : Independent