A resilient city and innovative leadership

By Fola Adeyemi   |   15 February 2017   |   4:30 am  

Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode

Another milestone was recently recorded in Lagos State’s quest to build a globally competitive state as the Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, received the certificate that admitted the state as one of the 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) in the world. Aside being a remarkable accomplishment, the feat is a further affirmation that recent strides of the administration in the socio-economic transformation of the state across all sectors have not gone unnoticed. It is common knowledge that, in the current political dispensation, Lagos has become a reference point when it comes to initiating and executing pacesetting innovative and strategic policies and programmers that are meant to uplift the living standard of the people.

Since, the world has become a global village; the world could not but recognise the modest efforts of succeeding administrations in the state towards turning it around. Such recognitions have come from diverse globally recognised platforms and in varied forms, the latest of which is the admission into the league of 100 RC of the world. The 100RC initiative, which was established by the Rockefeller Foundation, is no doubt a starting point and an optimistic enterprise that would help the state address its salient developmental challenges.

This much was revealed at the 100 RC admittance event by Governor
Ambode when he asserted that: “In spite of the challenges faced by the state in vital areas such as flooding, environmental degradation, public transportation, security, unemployment, strain on existing physical and social infrastructure, slums and a massive housing shortfall, Lagos remained resilient, dynamic and forward looking.” While drawing attention to the intention of his administration to make every community in Lagos economically habitable and curtail rural-urban migration, the governor disclosed that conscious plans have been initiated to deal with most of the key challenges confronting the state.

Urban resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience. And it is undoubtedly a great honour that Lagos made the list of 100 such cities in the entire world. It needs to be stressed that only 11 of such cities are worthy of such recognition in Africa. Common indices used in identifying resilient cities include chronic stresses which weaken the fabric of a city on a daily basis, acute shocks which represent sharp events as flooding, outbreak of diseases and other such natural disasters which threaten a city and resilience and allow them to withstand, respond to, and adapt more readily to shocks and stresses.

Others include being reflective which helps in using past experience to inform future decisions, resourcefulness which enables them to identify alternative ways to effectively use resources and flexibility which refers to willingness and ability to adopt alternative strategies in response to changing circumstances. Another vital indicator of resilient cities is inclusiveness which bothers on prioritising broad consultation to create a sense of shared ownership in decision making.

It is crucial to affirm that the innovative and visionary leadership which Lagos has benefited immensely from in the last few years play decisive role in launching the state into global reckoning. President of 100 RC, Mr. Michael Berkowitz authenticated this stand when he stated that out of the over 1,000 applications received and three rounds of selection process, Lagos was chosen for its innovative leadership, infrastructural strides and influential status not just in Africa but in the world.

It is actually in the area of innovative leadership and infrastructural strides that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has predominantly warmed himself into global reckoning as an insightful leader. Not many actually gave him much chance when he was given the mandate of his party in 2015.

Today, barely 18 months after, his administration has invested incredible vision, innovation, time, energy and resources in setting the pace for good governance in the country.

As a visionary leader, Ambode has built a reputation that embodies qualities such as technocratic competence, commitment to results and above all integrity which Nigerians often complain are lacking in their leaders. Detectable achievements in terms of construction of roads and bridges, environmental regeneration, employment generation, tourism and entertainment development, sports development, health care delivery, youth empowerment through T.H.E.S.E. which is an acronym for Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment and Sporting Excellence, upgrading of public infrastructure, among others, have created a sense of relief among Lagosians that they have a government that is proficient in delivering enduring legacy projects.

With the success of the various inventive strategies that were evolved to promote public security in the state, business atmosphere has become predictable and gratifying. Thus, the state now play host to local and foreign investors who continue to provide the necessary impetus for economic growth. The various commitments by these investors are already yielding dividends in terms of creation of job opportunities. The governor further demonstrated his administration’s desire for job creation and poverty eradication, when cheques worth over N1 billion were recently presented to 705 beneficiaries from the State Employment Trust Fund with a charge from Ambode for them to create more jobs, thereby contributing to the growth of the state’s economy.

For any government, innovation is an essential component of governance. Apart from being an indispensable attribute, innovation is a continuous process as it has no finishing line. This is why the state government is taking on a foremost position in advancing science, technology and modernisation as nucleus policy areas that not only hold the key to the state’s future, but could also make it one of Africa’s most productive hubs.

Hence, the Lagos State government is continuously thinking outside the box to improve the lots of the people as evident in the institution of a N25 billion Employment Trust Fund, institution of Disability Trust Fund, production of LAKE Rice, provision and sustenance of street lights across the state, ingenuous tackling of traffic gridlocks across the state among countless others.
• Adeyemi is a permanent secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy.

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Akinwunmi Ambode


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