By Tayo Joseph Lagos, Nigeria
The World Bank on Thursday said that the role of Lagos to Nigeria’s stability and growth could not be overemphasized, as the State remains the economic gateway to the country and for the rest of the world.
Country Director of World Bank, Mr. Rachid Benmessaoud who spoke when he paid a courtesy visit to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode at the Lagos House in Ikeja, said the giant strides being recorded by the present administration in the State had received global attention, adding that the World Bank was proud to be part of the transformation.
“Nigeria needs Lagos, Lagos is a huge part of the growth for the country and the growth is about job creation and stability of the country. We are really honored to have been your partner and we would be honoured to continue the partnership.
“We really acknowledge the national, regional and local importance of Lagos being the gateway to Nigeria and for the rest of the world. There is a success story that is being told not only in Nigeria but globally and that success story is really thanks to the leadership that you (Ambode) brings in with a clarity of vision and also the speed by which you take decisions and implement programmes and projects,” Benmessaoud said.
He attested to the fact that the engagements the World Bank have had with Lagos have been unique in Nigeria, noting that as the existing partnerships were coming to a close, they were looking at other opportunities to build on the positive momentum and partner the State on its urban regeneration drive.
“We are closing our ongoing portfolio which is very small right now, we would very much like to support you and go for the next generation of programmes that are responsive for your vision. We are very pleased to partner with you as you set an agenda for a transformative State,”
He said the visit to the Governor, therefore, was to explore ways to build on the existing partnerships in the areas of transportation, energy and the environment towards meeting the growing demands of residents as well as attract more investors into the State.
“The objective of the visit is to maintain and capitalize on the positive momentum that we have created through our partnership over many years and also to see how we can leverage that partnership in helping you, supporting you achieving your vision for the urban transformation in Lagos State that will enable you to create a livable city, bringing more jobs that will not only retain and expand the existing businesses but also attract new businesses and generate more revenue for the State and attracting the private sector,” he said.
Responding, Governor Ambode thanked the World Bank for their partnership over the years, noting that they have contributed immensely to the success story of Lagos State, especially in the transportation sector.
Alluding to the fact that Lagos was the first State in Nigeria to receive budget support from the World Bank, the Governor commended the successful execution of the three Development Policy Operations (DPOs), saying that the State has been able to show evidence that the partnership had been very successful.
“It’s been very fruitful and we’ve become totally responsive to ensure that whatever it is that we are getting in terms of support from multilateral institutions, we show credibility also to show that we plan well for such support and we are willing to also continue to abide by international standard to ensure that whatever it is we are getting as support, it is used for the common good of every citizen in Lagos which is the whole essence of service,” the Governor said.
Governor Ambode also said that his administration has fashioned out a work plan to integrate water, rail and road transport system to evolve a viable means through Lagosians can commute within the State with ease.
“I think the new sets of proposal are the kind of strategy we should put for Lagos State and that’s what this visit speaks to. I will like to see a strong support in the transport sector, so that we have support for water, rail and other infrastructure that goes with it. Like I said, we already have a work plan that integrates the three together which we would share with the World Bank and also improve on our discussions in terms of advisory management, financing and also different kind of support that ultimately help us to deliver the dividends of democracy that we actually promised our people.
“We are very serious that we want to improve on transportation, improve on environment and also power because we believe that’s the whole essence of making the State investor friendly.
We have improved a lot on security and we just think that moving 23 million people on a daily basis in a comfortable way would mean that we will have to integrate our transport management system in such a way that you can move actually on water, using the rail also and then the road,” he said.