It gives me a great pleasure to welcome His Excellency, MR DENYS GAUER the French Ambassador to Nigeria, leading a French Business conglomerate under the umbrella of MEDEF, to Lagos State House.
For those who might have forgotten, let me remind you that this is the second time the French Ambassador would be leading this very important business group to Lagos State since we came into office. I had the privilege of playing host to this group in October 2015.
Since the Ambassador’s maiden visit, a lot has happened to both countries. During that period Nigeria has slipped in and out of recession; oil revenues have dwindled drastically and the imperative of diversifying the global economy has become even more compelling. In its own right, France has had to grapple with the reality that the United Kingdom, one of the founding countries of the European Union, decided to leave the group. France has also had to contend with the upsurge in the ugly phenomenon of terrorism.
More importantly, Lagos State has witnessed momentous events since our last meeting. We have witnessed the consequences of recession on a large scale: we have had to cope with exponential rural-urban and state-to-state migration within Nigeria. It is on record that Lagos State welcomes 86 migrants from other States and outside on a daily basis, a figure that far outstrips New York’s 17 per day.
We have grappled with the reality of having to provide infrastructure on a scale that far exceeds what our resources can cope with. These infrastructure are necessary not only to make Lagos State 21st Century mega city compliant, but also to ensure that the rapid urbanization of the State does not lead to a rupture or an implosion, a reality that is not too remote to contemplate if necessary actions and preparations are not put in place.
Ladies and gentlemen, the resolve of our government to enhance the ease of doing business in Lagos State has started paying dividends. As you are all aware, Nigeria moved 24 steps in the recently announced World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking. While this is a remarkable feat for Nigeria to achieve, it is most gladdening to remember that Lagos State alone contributed 73% to the World Bank’s ranking of Nigeria on this front.
Our government continues to inspire confidence among investors worldwide and it is a fact that Lagos has received more FDIs in the last two and half years than it received in the previous fifteen years. This modest achievement has been made possible by our resolve to improve security of lives and property in the State, by embarking on security and justice sector reforms, by lightening up Lagos streets and by easing the passage of traffic across the State. In the nearest future, Lagos State will put in place an intermodal transportation system, taking full advantage of our waterways, rail networks to mention but a few.
As a country, we have had a great relationship with France even if this slowed down some time back. We hope that with what it has to offer, Lagos State can spearhead the revival of this relationship and the ushering in of a stimulating cooperation between Lagos and France.
Lagos is open for business and I call on the French business community not to miss out on the real and great opportunities that exist in Lagos State in such sectors as health, Agriculture, transportation, energy, tourism, to mention a few. Lagos State may be the smallest State in Nigeria by size, it is the most populous State in the country with 22 million people and still rising. With a GDP of USD 136 bn, it is Africa’s fifth largest economy, which is bigger than several African States’ economies combined.
Now that you have witnessed the progress our government has made in the last two years especially in the area of infrastructural development and creating an enabling environment for business in the State, it is my hope that you will be encouraged to invest in Lagos.
Your Excellency, members of MEDEF, once again I welcome you to Lagos House and thank you very much for your abiding interest in doing business with Lagos State.
Governor of Lagos State