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After four years in office, what changed in Lagos under Sanwo-Olu?

On 9 March 2019, the people of Lagos State elected Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the governor of Nigeria’s commercial hub, offering the topmost job to a man who had promised to serve and take Lagos to greater heights.

In his inaugural speech titled ‘Awakening Greater Lagos,’ Mr Sanwo-Olu promised to focus on six pillars of development tagged – “THEMES.” These are Traffic management and transportation, Health and environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21st-century economy, Entertainment, tourism, Security and governance.

The governor, who is seeking reelection in the 18 March elections, told Lagosians at the inaugural ceremony that “our ultimate goal would be to ensure that Lagos State remains one of the top destinations on the African continent to live, work and invest in.”

According to him, the six pillars of development “represent our response to the yearning of the people. They constitute the foundations that must be restored for future generations.

“And should we fulfil our promise and deliver on these pillars, we are most confident that we will have succeeded in setting Lagos on a new trajectory of economic growth and development that would be unprecedented in our entire history.”

PREMIUM TIMES, in this report, examines data on key socio-economic indicators to see what has changed since Mr Sanwo-Olu assumed office in 2019.

Internally-generated revenue
In 2018, before Mr Sanwo-Olu assumed office, Nigeria’s commercial hub generated a total of N382.1 billion. The revenue was obtained mainly from taxes, making it one of two states whose IGR exceeded their federal allocation.

By 2019, months after Mr Sanwo-Olu’s inauguration, the IGR had jumped to N398 billion.

At the end of 2020, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Endsars protests, Lagos topped other states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to earn N418.99 billion. The IGR increased by N20.26 billion (5.08 per cent) from the previous year.

In February, when the state commissioner for economic planning and budget, Sam Egube, gave the breakdown of the state’s 2023 appropriation bill of N1.768 trillion, he said they are targeting N77.067 billion IGR monthly, which is over N900 billion for the year.

Unemployment and underemployment
Prior to his emergence as the state governor, Lagos had an unemployment rate of 14.6 per cent in 2018, the lowest of the five states with the highest unemployed population.

In 2019, Lagos was among the four states that topped the unemployment chart with 1,088,352 jobless residents. The other states were Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Kano.

Available data from BudgIT shows that unemployment and underemployment increased in Lagos to 41.66 per cent in 2021. In a bid to address this, BudgIT, a civic group, recommended a job target of 461,651 yearly for four years.

Poverty rate
With a 4.5 per cent poverty rate in 2019, Lagos was the lowest of the 36 states and the FCT in Nigeria.

The state maintained the figure in 2020 and 2021.

However, according to a report, Nigeria Poverty Assessment 2022: A better future for all Nigerians, by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Lagos now has a 29.4 per cent poverty rate.

Fiscal strength
Before Mr Sanwo-Olu came in, Lagos topped the chart of the State’s Fiscal Sustainability Index.

By 2021, Lagos was in the fourth position, according to the States by States Fiscal Performance Ranking report by BudgIT, demonstrating its resilience with a total revenue of N658.56bn for the fiscal year 2020. The Centre of Excellence was ranked behind Rivers, Ebonyi and Anambra respectively. The data also shows the state has “greater viability” if it were to exist as an independent entity.

BudgIT’s sustainability ranking examined the 36 states’ fiscal performance using three indices – the ability of the state to meet their recurrent expenditure obligation without having to depend on the federal government, the state’s ability to cover all recurrent expenditure obligations with a majority of their income sources (IGR and federal allocation) and how long it would take states to pay off their debt stock, which examines the extent to which gross revenue can service outstanding debts.

In 2022, Lagos emerged third, trailing behind only Rivers and Kaduna.

Debt Burden
Lagos was adjudged the most indebted state in the federation in both external and domestic debts in 2018.

Its total debt as of the end of 2018 stood at a high of N973.1 billion. Domestic debt had grown from the 2015 level of N218.5 billion to N539.2 billion by the end of 2018, while external debt stood at $1.45 billion as of December 2018.

By December 2021, Lagos had a foreign debt rate of $1.3 billion, a reduction compared to the 2018 figure, while its local debt stock stood at N658.9 billion, an increase, according to the Debt Management Office (DMO).

Ease of doing business
Lagos State was ranked second to show that it was easier to do business in the state than in its counterparts in 2018. Only the FCT was ahead of the state in the report that compared Business Regulation for Domestic Firms in 36 states and FCT Abuja with 189 other economies.

Despite being the commercial nerve centre of the nation and the state with the highest IGR, it ranked 20th among the 36 states and the FCT in the ease of doing business in 2021 and 2022. This represents a significant decline.

Under-5 Mortality
Before Mr Sanwo-Olu took office, the under-five mortality rate was 59 deaths per 1,000 live births. Under-5 mortality is the probability of a child dying between birth and the fifth birthday, i.e., before the fifth birthday.

The latest data shows that Lagos under Mr Sanwo-Olu’s administration recorded fewer deaths of children in 2021. The state recorded 15 deaths out of 1000 children.

Prevail Inegbenose

Prevail Inegbenose is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Spark Media & Entertainment Ventures, the Publisher of Spark News Daily - Nigeria's most sought-after online newspaper in Government, Politics, Sport, Entertainment and Religion. Prevail Inegbenose studied Mass Communication from the prestigious Auchi Polytechnic Auchi and graduated in 2007. He is an experienced journalist with 16 years of active and practical journalism. Prevail Inegbenose is the Lead Pastor, House of God Int'l - Rest Tabernacle, Abuja - Nigeria. Tel: 08039564796.

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