The Changing Face of Lagos

Type Report
Title The Changing Face of Lagos
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
Lagos is the economic and social “nucleus” of Nigeria and the West African subregion, accounting for 32 per cent of
national GDP. It is also one of the fastest-growing cities in the world; by 2015, it is expected to be the globe’s thirdlargest
city, according to UN estimates. Over the past decades, the city has had to contend with the challenges that
accompanied staggering population growth rates. But since 1999, a consistent leadership has guided a reform
process hinged on sustainable urban development. Now, Lagos’s transformation is emerging from its former status
as an infamous, decaying metropolis into a modern, attractive, and functional city.
This report, funded by the Cities Alliance,1 documents the critical achievements of the city’s governance over the
past decade and a half, the major innovations that accompanied various reforms, the catalysts for this change, and
the lessons learned in the process.
Chapter 1 introduces the study and briefly explains its goals. Chapter 2 captures the origin and development of
Lagos as a megacity, provides an overview of its governance and political administration, describes the local
economy, and outlines challenges to sustainable development. Between 1967 and 1999, Lagos witnessed
unprecedented infrastructural development, but faced with explosive population growth without effective land-use
planning and city management, the city had to contend with various developmental challenges. From 1999 to date,
the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola administrations, through focusing on good governance and strong
political leadership, have initiated and sustained the ongoing transformation.
The essentials of the reforms that have taken place are captured in Chapter 3, which begins by establishing the link
between good governance and the reform process. The common vision of successive state governments and the
governance by the leadership of the same political party, the Action Congress, between 1999 and the present, have
been a key factor in the reform process and in the success of sustainable urban planning initiatives.
In addition to the exercise of political will to ensure the development of inclusive cities characterised by equitable
and sustainable growth, other building blocks of the reform process include:
? The strategic visioning of development through which political leaders and the general public were able to
envision and take broad long-term views of governance and urban sustainable development initiatives as
well as the resources required for their accomplishment;
? A knowledge-based approach that allowed the Lagos State government to integrate and share specialised
knowledge among its various ministries and parastatals, thereby promoting sustainable development; Budget reform and linkage to the activities of government institutions, through the adoption of the
medium-term expenditure framework that projected likely availability of resources over a three-year
horizon (documented in a fiscal strategy paper);
? Popular participation and partnership building with the private sector, both at the state and local
government levels, through which stakeholder groups were invited to deliberate on draft bylaws and other
issues before they were approved;
? Policy change, along with legislative and institutional reforms, aimed at improving the delivery of city
? Resource mobilisation coupled with transparency and accountability, leading to significant increases in
revenue generation, which rose from N600 million2 per month in 1999 to an average of N5.023 billion per
month in 2006. and peaking at between N7 billion and N8.2 billion per month in early 2007;
? Application of information and communication technology and data in governance, through which a robust
database of taxpayers was established, ghost workers gradually eliminated, and tax loopholes closed; and
? Programmatic interventions hinged on poverty alleviation and sustainable economic growth through the
pursuit of the Lagos Metropolitan Development and Governance Project that was initiated in collaboration
with Cities Alliance support, which funded the preparatory work leading to the project design and approval
of the World Bank.
Chapter 4 documents the critical innovations of the various reforms, focusing on three broad issues: (1) the
development of plans, institutions, and physical infrastructure for transportation, water and power supply, and
solid waste management; (2) urban and environmental planning; and (3) slum upgrading and redevelopment and
the interconnected topic of social transformation.
The reforms in Lagos aim to promote effective, equitable, participatory, and accountable governance as well as the
security of life and property. Several lessons can be drawn from the experience of Lagos, which are captured in
Chapter 5. They include the need for an institutional framework for effective service delivery, which has been
implemented in Lagos through the enactment of laws, policies, and the establishment of many metropolitan-wide
parastatals including the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA), Lagos State Emergency
Medical Services (LASEMS), Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Lagos Metropolitan Area
Transport Authority (LAMATA), and others.
Other factors critical to the transformation of Lagos include the promotion of participatory governance in all
sectors of development; the establishment of mechanisms for effective resource mobilisation that included

2 1 USD = N156.00
3 1 billion = 1,000 million
transparency and accountability; the planning for, and strategic visioning of, development through long-term landuse
planning for all sectors and engaging in an operative poverty reduction strategy; sustainable urban planning and
development of a strategic vision in this regard; and the use of information and communication technology and
data for planning through the creation of a referenced database, using geographical information system (GIS)
Chapter 6, the concluding chapter, notes that despite Lagos’ successes thus far, major challenges stil remain,
including the need to overhaul the administration of physical planning in the state, especially expanding the
responsibility for planning beyond the Lagos state government to include the local governments. The extent of
federal government infrastructure in the city area, along with the extension of the megacity into certain parts of
Ogun State, require improved levels of cooperation to promote service delivery and public welfare in this
burgeoning metropolis. Ideally this would involve cooperation among the federal government, the Lagos state
government, the Ogun state government, various local governments, and the private sector.

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