I welcome you all to this first Executive Retreat of this administration.
In the next Three days, we will set the tone and direction for what Lagosians will experience in the next Three and Half years. We are here to set and agree on the goals of this government and work out how every one of us, in our Ministries and Departments will play our parts to achieve these goals.
Our vision is very clear; to make Lagos Africa’s model mega-city. To make Lagos globally competitive; a global, economic and financial hub that is safe, clean, functional, productive and prosperous.
This is already set out in the Lagos State Development Plan. This government has said it will provide Continuity but Continuity with Improvement. The improvement will come with CHANGE. We will have to make some changes to improve on what was done before.
Over these Three days we will look at where Lagos is now – we will look at some data and discuss with key partners such as World Bank and DFID and those in the private sector. We will also look at where we need to be. We are in competition for investment with other cities in Africa and globally – we must think about how we win that competition.
The Lagos State Development Plan was designed to overcome challenges. We will remain focused on its four pillars. Each of those four pillars gives rise to key policy directions that I want to now outline.
The first pillar of the Plan is Economic development. This is fundamentally about wealth creation through employment for our people. We need more and better jobs, not only for today’s population but to match the growth that we know is coming.
As I said in my inauguration speech, in Lagos you can always succeed. This is the Nigerian dream where hard work, courage, perseverance and merit pays, regardless of someone’s background.
The second pillar is Infrastructure development. We know that our infrastructure will hold us back if we do not improve it. We will ensure that we make money available for long term investment in infrastructure – transportation, power, housing and water all being key issues. We will work with the private sector to achieve these and set out to complete the Blue Line light rail, improve our bus network, make better use of our water assets for transport purposes.
When talking of infrastructure we must not forget modern communications infrastructure. We can reduce our traffic problems if we invest in better communications so the need to travel is reduced. We can create more jobs if we have better ability to communicate to the rest of the world. We can also make Lagos safer through technology and improve the efficiency of government.
It is therefore critical that we find ways of investing in new technology and related infrastructure. This government will prioritize access to broadband and utilize digital approaches – for example in the land administration where our processes can be transformed for the benefit of our people and business.
These infrastructure investments cost money – and you heard last night from our Commissioners for Finance and Economic Planning & Budget that money is in short supply.
The third pillar of Social development and protection also requires investment. We must invest in our most important asset – our people. We must invest in their health and education and we will not compromise on ensuring their security. Like all good investments this will yield a high return. A well-educated, healthy work force will be prepared for the new jobs that we create.
Finally the fourth pillar – Sustainable development. We must always bear in mind the future, such that our children can live and prosper here despite the growth in population that we can expect in the future. Our planning must take into account the generation of pollution that comes with economic growth and the vulnerability of a low-lying coastal region like Lagos to changes in climate and flooding.
There is always a need to balance the short term solutions to our problems with creating solutions that will stand the test of time. So when you go tomorrow into smaller groups to think in more detail about the way ahead – please ensure you bear in mind that all our problems are moving targets.
We have come a long way already but have a long journey ahead. We will in these next Three and Half years take many great steps together towards the creation of that model mega city – a leader not just in this continent but one that competes with the best in the world.
This brings me to the key aspect of this retreat – Leadership. Everyone here is a leader in their field and we will explore what it means to lead our people and our citizens – how do we make more of making a difference even in these times of scarce resources? We will hear from external speakers on key aspects of leadership during the course of this retreat – please reflect on what they have to say.
I want us all to focus on how we lead and to understand what effective leadership looks like in our context.
I remind you all of the acronym we set for L.A.G.O.S – Leadership, Accountability, Good Governance, Opportunity and Service.
That is what we are about. We must demonstrate leadership and good governance.
I want you to leave this Retreat with a clear view about where we are going. Each of you must leave with a clear view also about how you can contribute. Indeed before you leave, you will be given the opportunity to present back to me the strategy and key targets for your ministries. I look forward to hearing the product of your discussions.
Everything comes back to the quality of our leadership. That is inevitably the determining factor of success when humans are faced with such significant challenges.
That is why we have entitled this retreat “Leading for Change”. Change is our goal and you are the leaders who will achieve it.
On this note, I have the honour and privilege to declare this retreat open.