A major highlight of 2016 in the state and, indeed, the country at large, is the grand entrance of LAKE Rice, the product of a joint agro venture between Lagos and Kebbi states, into the market. The product currently sells at designated points across the state. Considering the current harsh economic reality in the country, its roll out, no doubt, offers good tidings to Lagosians as it is believed that it would cushion the effect of economic recession to a great extent. The price is equally largely reasonable and moderate when compared with that of imported rice of same quantity.
Aside providing succour for local consumers, one major goal of the LAKE Rice project is economic diversification. Presently, the need for economic diversification in our country cannot be over-emphasized. Faced with a bleak economic prospect brought about by an agonising economic recession, this, indeed, is the exact time for governments at all levels to embrace every creative strategy that would fast track economic emancipation. It is, therefore, quite commendable that the Lagos and Kebbi state governments are already leading the way in this direction.
Another landmark attainment of Lagos State in the previous year was the discovery of crude oil along the Badagry axis of the state. Consequently, the Federal Government has approved four of the discovered 5 Aje Oil wells. With this, the state effectively entered into the league of oil producing states in the country and as such now entitled to the monthly disbursement of statutory 13 per cent derivation fund as an oil producing entity. It should be stressed that the commencement of oil production from Aje oil field by Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Company Limited is the first time oil is being produced outside the Niger Delta basin and, therefore, of a significance in diversifying the source of crude and gas production in the country.
The Lagos feat had kick-started the path to diversification of oil production in Nigeria. The landmark accomplishment came after several missed targets for the achievement of first oil, the latest being March last year. Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Company Limited, a wholly-owned indigenous firm and operator of the OML 113 offshore Lagos, had announced the commencement of production of crude oil from the field. Other partners are New Age Exploration Nigeria Limited, EER (Colobus) Nigeria Limited, Pan Petroleum (Panoro Energy) Aje Limited and PR Oil & Gas Nigeria Limited.
2016 further consolidated the plan of the state government to transform Lagos into the entertainment hub of Africa. This was largely achieved through an increasing commitment to the ideals of T.H.E.S.E which stands for Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment and Sporting Excellence. In 2016, Lagos hosted a few international and continental entertainment events such as an evening of Jazz and AFRIMA.Similarly, the maiden edition of Lagos Street Party was held in 2016 while Lagos equally had an astonishing showing at the 2016 edition of Nottingham and Toronto Carnivals where eight films produced by Lagos State-based filmmakers were selected for red-carpet premieres and screenings.
The 2016 edition of the now famous One Lagos Fiesta capped the entertainment landmark of Lagos in 2016. The event held concurrently across the five major divisions of the state viz- a -viz at Agege, Epe, Badagry, Ikorodu and Lagos Island. The plan is to guarantee that every part of the state was given the opportunity to have a taste of the stimulating experience.
In other to empower budding artistes, a talent hunt event tagged: Lagos Got Talent was incorporated into 2016 OLF. Participants cut across the five divisions in the state. Epe born promising musical star, Ogunlaja Ahmed, aka Mr. Dollar, emerged overall winner just as 18 years old Ikorodu born rapper, Abiodun Blessing, aka Candy Bliss, was the runner up.
In 2016, Lagos became a huge construction site as major infrastructure development programme became visible across the state. For example, the construction of the reinforced concrete fly-over and signalised intersection at Ajah Roundabout was being undertaken simultaneously with the rehabilitation of Freedom Road in Lekki, with a view to reducing the heavy traffic being recorded at Ajah Roundabout and Lekki- Ikoyi axis.
While the Ajah project is aimed at easing movement of residents and commuters on the Lagos Island-Ibeju-Lekki areas, the construction of the reinforced concrete dual-carriage flyover at Abule-Egba junction will bring relief to millions of commuters plying Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway in Alimosho, Agege and Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government Areas of the State.
Similarly, construction work on the Pedestrian Bridge at Ojodu-Berger along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, with provision for the physically challenged, was completed last year. The project with provision for 200m laybys on either side of the expressway for commuters to disembark and embark from the buses has already led to drastic reduction in traffic gridlock along the axis.
Perhaps, the most audacious infrastructure development stride of the state government in 2016 is the construction of 114 roads in 57 local governments/local council development areas. This project is a demonstration of the fulfilment of the governor pledge to run an all-inclusive government in which no section of the state is left behind. It is a massive statement that authenticates the state government desire to even development across the state.
To further highlight its desire to sustain the tempo, efforts are in top gear to replicate the process all over again through the construction of additional two roads per local government area across the state.
A major defining act of the Lagos State government in the previous year is the strengthening of security mechanism in the state through the purchase and deployment of surveillance helicopters, utility and operational vehicles, power bikes, armoured tanks and others worth billions of naira to the State Police Command. Similarly, the State Police Command was further boosted with the donation of security equipment worth N4.7b. It is a bold statement by the Ambode administration concerning its zero tolerance for crime.
As 2017 unfolds, especially with the recent passing of the budget by the State House of Assembly, Lagosians are poised for more pleasant moments. The Ambode administration is passionate about building a Lagos that works for every class of people. Hence, Lagos residents can be assured of continued prompt response to their needs in extra creative fashions.
Tayo Ogunbiyi is of the Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos