The role of Lagos

Originally published here exactly a year ago, Kathleen just reminded me of it. Enjoy…

Our biggest problem in this country is that we are a pathologically dishonest people. Today, my timeline is littered with tweets from suffering Lagosians who have spent an average of 3 hours in traffic. Yet, the solution to the problem is glaring, and not many, certainly not those with the power to, are attempting to attack this problem.

What is the problem? Lagos is effectively Nigeria’s only port. Yes we have some others in name, but I have been to the ports in Warri and Onne, so I know that the balance of economic activity in both, combined, compared to Lagos, is negligible. Calabar is even worse.

How is this the problem? Nigeria, a nation of at least 120 millions depends on just one entry point. An entry point that has no functional rail line leading out of it, and dilapidated roads. An entry point that has only one real highway out of it, the E1, which is under maintenance. I am tempted to say forgive the man in Alausa as there’s not much he can do, but I won’t.

Ambode has access to three Senators and five Reps, who can initiate a review of the Exclusive Legislative List. Will he do it? No he will not. Why won’t he? Because his backers, do not want any other part of Nigeria, to compete with Lagos. They believe that it is Lagos’s birthright to be the premier city in Nigeria. Fair enough such a belief, but, to the detriment of Nigeria?

This fear of competition, is what killed Nigeria in the 1960s when we had every chance to grow. The fear of “Igbo domination” made Nigeria turn against its most enterprising people at the time, rather than make efforts to compete with them. A similar fear is repeating itself. Fear, that Lagos will become “unimportant”, will make the APC hierarchy not to look at the obvious solution of opening up the rest of the country. As a result, the rest of Nigeria, will keep trooping to Lagos, and Lagos, already being crushed under its own weight, will eventually die under its own weight.

What happens when Lagos dies? For the avoidance of doubt, under the current economic arrangement, Abuja is artificial, Lagos IS Nigeria. When Lagos dies, Nigeria follows. Simple as that.