It is hard to describe what will transpire in Lagos next year because of the upcoming elections both in Lagos state and across Nigeria, leaving a sense of uncertainty until a new governor is elected. However, there are some elements that hint at priority areas for 2015.
Looking at the recently proposed 2015 budget (N489.69 billion) for Lagos State some priority areas can be spotted. In comparison with the 2014 budget, the proportion of the 2015 budget on education and health has increased, while environmental protection, housing and community amenities, public order and safety, recreation, and culture and religion has decreased. Education (16.6%) has been allocated the largest percentage of budget, followed by housing and amenities (10%), and health (9.1%). These can therefore be defined as priority areas. It is clear that outstanding projects are also a focus area for the present governor before his departure because at the presentation of the budget Governor Babatunde Fashola said ‘the 2015 budget would focus on payment of contractors’ liabilities to enable the government to complete as many projects as possible before handing over to the next administration.’
Lagos has also been declared the next oil producing state in Nigeria. Oil was found at Aje Field, offshore Badagry, Lagos and the joint venture led by a Nigerian company have recently taken the final decision on an exploration of the field. The first phase which is scheduled to start by end of 2015 is targeting 10,000 barrels per day of oil from two target wells. This expected addition to Lagos will surely change the economy as well a job prospects in the city. This may also have an effect on population growth and the density of road usage as well as public and private transportation routes.
In 2015 security is likely to become a larger issue. As we are nearing the end of 2014 and the 2015 elections, security has been tightened. Last week there was an announcement that people should be on high alert at the Apapa port because threats had been received of a Boko Haram attack. Boko Haram are a terrorist group who have so far affected towns in northeast of Nigeria. In 12 months the violence in the northeast has claimed more than 10,000 lives with many more affected, losing homes and livelihoods.
At the end of November the price of oil declined to $80 per barrel, about 30% of $140 per barrel in June. Following the drop in crude oil, the Naira was devalued by 8%. Even though the devaluation of the Naira has been recognised as a positive step more needs to be done in regards to fiscal policy measures to ensure the economy stabilizes. The Managing Director of Afrinvest, Ike Chioke, said, in an interview with the Sunday Independent newspaper, ‘for the average Nigerian, however, these are troubling times’. We are yet to feel the pinch, but come 2015 we are going to be hit hard. The 2015 national budget is yet to be declared but there is evidence that cuts are already being made.
Regardless of the uncertainties surrounding the pending elections, dwindling oil prices, and security threats Lagos will continue to thrive as it always has. Midway though the new year, once the new governor has settled in, it will be easier to understand what he wants his legacy to be and where Lagos will be taken within the next four years.
Olamide Udoma is an Urban Activist – researcher, writer, artist and film maker. She is currently involved in governance issues within the urban environment of Lagos and is an advocate for sustainable transportation and social engagement within street spaces.Read older posts from this section