Ironically, it was the day that the media was agog with the news that “Lagos ranks the 5th Best African City” that a seasoned journalist, Mr. Bola Bolawole, chose to express a contrary opinion. Of course, he is entitled to his opinion. However, there is a need to set the record straight because, as they say, fact is sacred.
Writing in the New Telegraph of Wednesday, August 30, 2023, Bolawole, in an article titled ‘That Lagos may not go up in Flames’, made a lot of false claims.
First, he claimed that the number of Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the state is 39, whereas it is 37.
Then, he went ahead to allege that “Lagos has become a glorified slum and must be the dirtiest city in the world”. He based his conclusion on the report of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), which reportedly ranked Lagos as the fourth worst city in the world in terms of living standard.
What Bolawole did not, however, include in his write-up is that a 2023 report by Brand Finance City Index has ranked Lagos as the 5th Best African City behind Cape Town (South Africa), Cairo (Egypt), Johannesburg (South Africa), and Casablanca (Morocco).
Probably, he had not read that!
The writer’s inconsistency, bias and obvious lack of proper research into the issue of discussion came to the fore when he wrote in the same piece: “According to reports, Lagos’ population grows at the rate of 500,000 people every year. The World Economic Forum says Lagos is the fastest growing city in the world with a growth rate of 85 people per hour.
“This figure corresponds to the one released in July 2016 by the then governor of Lagos state, Akinwunmi Ambode, that 123,000 people migrate into Lagos every day, which translates into 85.4 immigrants per minute. This growth rate is faster than that of London (9 persons per hour) and New York in the United States of America (10 persons per hour) put together and multiplied many times over.”
The above is clearly in contradiction with his position that Lagos is the worst city to live in on earth. According to Google Scholar, the important factors which motivate people to move can be classified into economic, demographic, socio-cultural, political and miscellaneous.
It is a known fact that people only gravitate towards where life can be better. So, Bolawole will need to reconcile the two extreme positions.
Equally of interest is his assertion that Lagos roads are in terrible conditions, especially during the rainy season. He claimed that poor workmanship make the roads to be washed away in Lagos as soon as they are constructed.
Literally, this connotes that no road exists at all in Lagos, since they get washed away as soon as they are constructed. So how does the over 22 million Lagosians commute with over 5 million cars and more than 200,000 commercial vehicles on a daily basis?
There should be a limit to hyperbole.
On the allegation of poor workmanship, we boldly challenge the writer to take pictures of any of the roads that were completed in the first tenure of the Sanwo-Olu administration that have been washed away to buttress his argument.
Some of the roads that were reconstructed in the governor’s first term include Itamaga-Ewu Elepe, Oba Sekumade Road, Ojota Interchange/Kudirat Abiola Road junction, Milverton Road, Ikoyi, Thompson Avenue, Ikoyi Lateef Jakande Road, Ikoyi, Pen Cinema Bridge, Agege and the adjoining roads.
Others include 13.68km Oshodi-Abule-Egba BRT lane, 31 network of roads in Ojokoro LCDA, Ishefun-Camp Davies-Ijon Road Network, Badagry, reconfigured 6 Junction/Roundabouts- Allen, Ikotun, Maryland, Lekki and Ajah, first phase of the reconstruction and upgrading of the Eti-Osa-Lekki-Epe Expressway, Tedi-Muwo Link Bridge, Lagos-Ogun boundary Roads in Alimosho and Agbado-Oke–Odo access roads among others.
In view of the peculiar topography of the state, concrete pavements are now being used in constructing most of the roads. This is why they are able to withstand the usually tough rainy season.
Kudos should be given to the Lagos State Public Works Corporation for its efforts in fixing roads across the state, even at night.
Between 2019 and 2023, the Corporation has intervened in the reconstruction, major rehabilitation and routine maintenance of at least 1,625 roads measuring 316.49km.
Sadly, Bolawole took mischief-making to an extra height by claiming that roads are constructed in Lagos without drainage. Pray, which Lagos is he talking about?
Since the time of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as governor of the state, Lagos has surpassed that phase. Roads do not only come with drainage, they also come with critical road infrastructure such as walk-way, high bay streetlights, bus-stops and, where necessary, flyovers.
Lagos drainages are desilted annually in preparation for the rains, and that explains why the type of flooding witnessed in the state in 2007 has never reoccurred. In the last three years, 756,001.20m of secondary drainage channels were cleared while 457,829.00m of primary drains were cleared. This is apart from the various drainage channels built and those under construction.
On the writer’s insinuation that there are no bus-stops on the state’s roads, nothing could have been more mischievous. The truth, however, is that there are a total of 408 bus stops in the state, out of which 277 have bus shelters.
On refuse collection and disposal, Lagos generates 13,000 tons of refuse per day and over 19 million tons of waste has been evacuated in the last four years by the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).
The fraction of refuse that is turned into compost (fertilizer) in the state has greatly helped in reducing waste at the dumps. The state’s recycling campaign has also created jobs and vastly reduced waste. Over 100 compactors have been injected into the LAWMA fleet to further aid waste management. It is either Bolawole is not aware of this, or he deliberately chose to disregard it.
Deliberate distortion of facts is as toxic as the venom of a python. Respected opinion moulders in the mode of Bolawole shouldn’t be in the vanguard of those twisting facts.
*Ogundeji is Director, Public Affairs Department, Lagos State Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.