The state of aquatic splendour, â€˜Eko' or â€˜Ilu Ogbon' like my father would say is by all measure a case study for the kin advocates of urbanisation and development. From health to water, transportation, environment and infrastructure, Eko has made considerable progress above all states - except perhaps, the FCT where the federal government would bet its funds.
Certainly, Eko's gradual progress is by far a triumph over years of political indolence. Its progressive moves have at least stirred a few out of dire poverty. In its full form, Eko has seized to be a microcosm of the sad state called Nigeria. â€˜Ilu Aro mi sa legbe legbe' has set precedence for future administrators that no matter how rough, tough or bumpy the road might be - there are still some leeways for serious development out there. While these are just some simple glaring truths about the current state of Eko, one must confess that the state still has a long way to go.
â€˜Eko mi owon' is still a land of poverty, pain, insecurity, calamity and misfortune. The spate of robbery, illiteracy, maternal mortality and unemployment is still alarming. As it would be a clear exaggeration to say that Eko has failed like its master called Nigeria, it must be acknowledged at least that it is a state still grappling with serious challenges in all its social and economic forms. But who would blame Eko for these challenges, when it is a city that receives more intending residents daily than the state of New York and London combined.
This is exactly part of the growing problems confronting â€˜My Eko'. It is of course a serious urbanisation challenge but by far more of a political test. The future of Eko therefore lies in getting good men into its politics to drive the needed growth. No. Not the good men of social fibre, name and class like the Randle's in Lagos's recent political debate, but good men of honour and seasoned passion for development. I have seen good men in politics, but have learnt that goodness has no correlation with the spirit of development.
To ignite development, it has never been by the goodness of a man, age, experience or education, but by the skilful exercise of competence, wisdom, ability, sheer determination and direction. This should be the hallmark for measuring the quality of men that must be allowed to stir the politics of Eko, because the present and future administrators of the state have enormous tasks to accomplish than any other state in Nigeria. It is the task of taking the destiny of Eko into Eko's hands. Eko's urbanisation challenge is harshly enormous. It is a challenge that if not addressed with the best of minds in politics and economy would lead to an implosion like the deadly time bomb.
An Eko type implosion would not necessarily mean the start of war, but by far would mark a serious era of stagnation, neglect and underdevelopment. An Eko implosion would in every way make the most skilful of technocrats look like a redundant fool; it would simply dwarf any good done by any competent administrator. To avoid such implosion, our administrators must never renege on their efforts to create effective social good and stable economic growth.
Above all, job creation would play a significant role but the starting point is to ignite the engine of enterprise and industrialization. In human history, industrialization has never failed; it has been the heart of resounding economic successes in nations and cities around the world. Industrialization is the best way to maximally utilize local resources for common good. With industrialization comes massive job creation and self sufficiency. I know it is very much easier said than done, but if many states with fewer resources can do it. So what's stopping My Eko?
An industrialization path for Eko is not a fuzzy dream; it is what the planners can do. For example, to support the Lekki Free Trade Zone, the state can create another two free trade zones entirely through joint venture partnerships.
One can be located across the Ogun/Lagos axis while the second be located somewhere on the mainland. The one across the Ogun axis can be deliberately designed to encourage rural forms of businesses, like Commercial Agriculture, Food Production, Saw Mills, Waste recycling, Paper production, etc. While the one on the Mainland can be designed to encourage businesses like engineering, technology, ware housing, apparel, catering and other commercial industries.
Care must be exercised however, not to encourage only foreigners especially the Chinese to signup to the free trade zones, as such, the State can partner with financial institutions to give competitive long term loans to local businesses that wants to locate in the free trade zones. To emphasize the seriousness of including local business contents, special concession can be given to local businesses who wish to establish or relocate to the Free trade zones. In addition to the FTZ's, the state can lead and kick start commercial food production projects mainly in its suburbia terrains.
With precision design, the commercial food production scheme can be built and transferred to the private sector by state. Although the state should never be in the business of business, but kick starting such project can never be a bad idea.
Since in Nigeria as a whole, wastes from Agricultural production amounts to over 60% each year, Eko can utilize such wastes by partnering with Agricultural boards in different states. As such, Eko's food production project can focus more on food processing, packaging and distribution rather than commercial farming where all other states solely pull their breathe. Through such project, my Eko can be self sufficient in food, can generate more income, create more employment opportunities, stimulate its business sectors and have more food to export to other states.
In addition to that as an industrialization strategy, Eko can distract its graduates from the educational and white collar craze by encouraging them to start their own businesses. By creating a well managed entrepreneurial fund, the state can support young chaps with business minds and business plans to start or grow their own businesses. This could be done by matching their funds, providing long term business loans and grants where possible. The state can also create business incubators where young and budding entrepreneurial businesses will be nurtured and incubated until they are ready to fly.
For â€˜Eko mi Owon' the possibilities are just immense but this is not a business class. The fact however is that these are just ideas, there are strategies upon strategies which are better than the ones stated above that can be used to drive ceaseless growth. Such growth for Eko is imperative because of its impending urbanisation time bomb.
Currently, the state is on the right path but more needs to be done, therefore, whoever is going to be the next governor must ensure that continuity is the game. If Fashola looses, there's no point ditching his plans by whoever becomes the next governor. Those plans should rather be boosted and revamped for better performance than Fashola's initial design.
On the other hand, if Fashola wins; he should bear in mind that there are three kinds of people. Those who start things and make it happen; those who finish things and those who take the credit, it is always good to be amongst the last. Therefore, Fashola should bear in mind that work in his second term is not a joke. His second coming must be a time to consolidate on his previous efforts. It must be a time to redraw his plans; it is now a serious time for poverty alleviation, cheap housing, abundant food, better infrastructure and more effective transport system. It is definitely a big work which with all commitment can be accomplished.
It is when all these are achieved that Fashola can take credit for his previous goods. Governor Fashola must also bear in mind that, the rate of poverty is still very high. Ha, in my Eko foods are still very expensive, housing is still exorbitant, security still AWOL. This is in spite of the tremendous work that electorates know he has done. His second term should therefore be focused on providing cheaper food, more affordable housing, better security and more efficient transport system amongst all.
Policy formulation and implementation is another very important area. The next Gov. whether Fashola or not, must ensure that policies are not merely formulated but are seriously implemented. With good policies in place, a lot of social good can be done. However, as much as policies are needed to draw boundaries and encourage good, they have sometimes been too harsh and intense in Eko.
Future policies need to be straight, simple and practical. Policies should never be formulated to shame people or to favour few, but rather, to make life easy for common good. â€˜Eko mi Owon' is seriously in need of not just new policies but the execution and reincarnation of the existing ones. Some of the state's problems today are a result of not just the lack of good but of a constant failure to resound the existing policies into the ears of citizens.
Before driving it to an end, it must be mentioned that Eko's security problem can be won. It can be won by one strategy which I know. It is first by providing jobs for everyone and fighting poverty to a halt and then investing in Lagos's own intelligence. A fully functional and well operated special intelligence unit will always foil security breaches and attempts in Eko. It is such a small state that if those who commit crimes have not come from outside the borders of Eko, they must come from within its own very small terrains.
If proper homework can be done, I can bet my millions that insecurity will be the least of Eko's problems in a very short period of time. Finally, Eko's planners and administrators must bear in mind that, urbanisation is a serious challenge that needs serious solutions. Now is time for Eko's planners, strategists, thinkers, architects, administrators, developers, financiers and common men to gather and develop a sustainable road map for the future of Eko.
Yes, the challenge of electricity is there, the federal government is not in favour of Eko and there is no funds to carry out all the gigantic projects that will make the dreams of the dreamers of Ilu Eko come true. But the fact about the matter is that these limitations are just in our heads.
I will round off with this quote: "Afi ki afi opa wa, ki asi fi aje wa, lo legbewa de ebute ogo" (With all hands on deck, we can get to the shore of success).
Eko O ni Obaje ooo