Lagos State Divisions
|ADMINISTRATION IN LAGOS STATE: A SOCIOLOGICAL APPROACH|
|Written by S. AJOSE|
|Friday, 16 July 2010 13:55|
This chapter attempts to analyse the socio-economic and political situations in Lagos state in contemporary time, which have their origins in the historical antecedents of successive administration. The neglect of many years with negative impacts demands a thorough and pragmatic solution which must address the root cause rather than treating the symptoms. It is against this background that this paper considers the historical underpinning factors that have for a very long period shaped the socio-economic and political development in the state.
Lagos Before 1800
The city of Lagos as we all know and familiar with, started as a small settlement of farmers and fishermen. While some historical account said the settlement was found by one Ogunfunminire, a hunter from Ile-Ife, another source supported the fact that it came into being through the Benin people. However, from historical analysis, and research studies, it was more plausible to take the former version that thrown up Ogunfunminire as the founder of Lagos. The young settlement like many African settlements had its own internal government and paraphernalia of authority. The system of government then was confederacy. The socio-economic aspects of life in Lagos during this period were essentially characterized by worshipping of traditional deities such as Ogun. Sango amongst others while the inhabitants, especially men, practiced, hunting, fishing, farming, blacksmiting amongst others as their occupation. Lagos of the period of 1800 was relatively peaceful, there was very small number of people inhabiting the town at this period. Lagos then upland was essentially agricultural emporium. The people because of the availability of arable upland and engaged not only subsistence farming but also produced enough agricultural produce which were supplied to other neighbouring settlements like Ikorodu. Apart from the farming and fishing activities that characterized the socio-economic history of Lagos of the pre-colonial period, the people were also reputed as traders of various items with the people of Yoruba hinterland.
The Lagos of the pre-colonial period was peaceful, the traditional administration enjoyed the support of the people, there were no major criminal activities. The people’s mode of transportation was by trekking on land and through the use of canoe on the available water passages that surrounded the city.
Lagos From Pre-Colonial Era
The pre-colonial Lagos refers to the period between the foundation of Lagos and the British colonial conquest of the region. From the period after 1800, especially from the era of slave trade, the political administration of Lagos witnessed dynastic squabble and political rivalries that were not hitherto witnessed. The reason for these development is not fat to seek. With the advent of Trans Atlantic slave trade, and the power this conferred on the Lagos monarch at this period, the throne became so attractive that succession to the Obaship stool became very competitive and cumbersome. This period witnessed violent wars such as Ewekoko and Ahoyaya wars amongst others. Similarly, with Trans-Atlantic slave trade, the socio-economic make up of the inhabitant changed from hunting, farming, fishing and switched to trading in slaves. With this new trade, a new set of elite emerged on the traditional scene of Lagos. These elites became the rallying point for the moulding of opinion and course of development in Lagos. Along with the slave trade came prosperity and because of the new wealth, there was great influx of the people from the interior Lagos. With the influx of people into the city, the seemingly homogenous identity of Lagos gave a new identity for the city, which were to in later century, lend credence to the cliché that Lagos was ‘No man’s land’.
It is necessary to point out the fact that the abolition of slave trade later in 1880s and the activities of anti-slave trade Crusaders led to the emergence of another brand of Lagosians most of who were freed slaves who settled at the area known as the Brazillian quarters. These people, because of their exposure and special skills contributed immensely to the development of the new emerging Lagos. Some of them were professional tailors, teachers, architects, bricklayers, painters amongst others.
One needs to point out that before 1800 and up to the eve of colonial rule had to contend with minimal socio-economic and political problems. During this period, there were no serious population explosion, dirty environment, high crime rate and social ills bedeviling us today. However, all these were to change with the commencement of modernization and its attendant consequences. The twentieth century opened with great promise.
By the middle of 20th century, the consequences of influx of more people into Lagos had begun to manifest Lagos, with a population figure of about 5,000 up to 1800 witnessed and upsurge in this number by the turn of the 20th century. According to demographers, this development was as a result of the prosperity of the city and its attractiveness to the people of the interior Yoruba country. With the influx came urbanization, change from its rural enclave to a modern, heterogenous and metropolitan city. The former sleepy, rustic and sparsely populated community became a city with road network, new mode of transportation in terms of vehicular movement, new houses and other pre-requisite of modernization and urban growth became visible everywhere.
The first noticeable consequence of movement of more people into the city was that of commensurate facilities like housing, road, adequate security and other necessary facilities. Under this situation of its availability of adequate infrastructure, there was also the problem of environmental sanitation, development of shanties and slums, violation of planning regulation amongst others it is worth mentioning that various governments at these times took some measures to correct these anomalies with little success.
To address the issue of environmental sanitation, there emerged, Health Sanitation Inspectors otherwise called ‘Wolewole’. Even with this, the level of sanitation and cleaningness did not change significantly. This situation made Oba Adeyinka Oyekan appealed to the people in 1965 to make Lagos clean in order to ensure that it remained the pride of the Federation. In a nutshell, the problem of filth and dirty environment had been one of the problems confronting the city as a result of urbanization. In an attempt to tackle other problems of urbanization, the Lagos Executive Development Board was established in 1923, Municipal Transport Service was also established in 1958, a slaughter house amongst others was built to address the consequence of urbanization.
Lagos Since 1960
What we now have as Lagos State was created out of the modern Lagos and its neighbouring settlements to its east and West in 1967. The new state inherited all the problems ans liabilities of the greater Lagos and the sum-rounding areas that were merged with it to form a state.
As Kunle Lawal (2002) pointed out the new Lagos as saddled with the responsibility of putting in place appropriate political, economic and socio-cultural infrastructures that will smoothen its take off and growth. Lagos had the good fortune of having a committed indigenous leader in person of Lt. Colonel Mobolaji Olufunso Johnson who became a major later. As a major, Johnson was originally appointed as the overseer and later administrator of the Cederal Capital Territory of Lagos after the coup and counter coup of 1966 (Kunle Lawal, 2002). He took over the mantle of administration of Lagos from the former Minister of Lagos Affairs, Alhaji Musa Yar’ Adua who occupied the position as an NPC politician. By his appointment, Johnson became the first indigen of Lagos to conduct the affairs of the Federal Ministry of Lagos since its creation. Authenticated accounts show that Johnson displayed a good administrative acumen.
The new 20th century, state under the administration of Major Mobolaji Johnson immediately went into action to develop infrastructures like modern road networks open up the various parts of the state, office and residential accommodation for administrative machinery of the young state. The Johnson administration strode in its own way to address the ever-incurring problem of urbanization and change. His administration also promulgated edicts to end unhygienic practices, planning law violation, tax evasion amongst others. With the benefit of hindsight, the Johnson administration eminently qualified as the founding fathers of the state. He laid a very solid foundation to the future development of the state. Major Mobolaji Johnson recognized right from outset the central key to the success of his administration and the rapid future development of the state was a pragmatic and a comprehensive programme of action that will stand the test of time. One want to say without the fear of contradiction that Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson succeeded to a considerable extent in this direction. His era witnessed the division of Lagos into five Administrative divisions. He made use of indigenes in the state executive council. The cabinet of Lagos state during his tenure consisted of representatives from the five administrative divisions, i.e. Ikeja, Badagry, Ikorodu, Lagos, and Epe (IBILE). His administration protected the rights and privileges of the indigenous people of Lagos State. His administration also constructed two major roads (the Ikorodu-Itoikin road and Lagos –Badagry expressway) which linked the eastern and the western flanks of the state with the metropolis. Between 1967 and 1975, Lagos state witnessed unprecedented infrastructural development across the state. In the area of road construction, many township, rural and inter cityexpressways were constructed, housing schemes were also designwed to address the urgent need for habitable accommodation for all categories of Lagosians. The major policy trust and direction of state administration under Johnson were rapid socio-economic development and expansions of the revenue based on the state. Like earlier mentioned, Major Johnson succeeded in giving Lagos a solid foundation that future governments were to build on later.
Post-Johnson Era in Lagos
By the time Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson’s administration was removed from office, Lagos had grown from a small agricultural settlemt of the 15th and 16th centuries to become one of the most urbanized, industrialized and highly populated modern cities in Africa. This fact was corroborated by the number of road networks, industrial establishment and population of the state. More influx of people from other parts of Nigeria as a result of the prosperity of brought about by oil boom of the 1970 and 80s and the attraction of Lagos as a place where dreams are realized made many people to troop into the state. The upsurge in population growth had great impact on infrastructure and social amenities such as accommodation, sanitation, educational institutions, traffic congestion, waste dispersal, physical planning and other vital sectors in the state. The crime rate became a serious challenge to the capability of the security agencies.
The seeming chaotic and rowdy situation of things in Lagos from 1975 upwards tasked the resources and ingenuity of the various administrations of the post-Johnson era to the limit. However, it is worth mentioning that they gave their best to address these situations. This was the pattern of development of the eve of Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande (LKJ) administration, the first civilian administration in the state. By the time Alhaji Jaknade assumed office, the image of Lagos as a city of slums, shanties, unplanned physical development, industrial pollution, filth, high crime rate, and other consequence of urbanization had become more pronounced. It therefore became incumbent of his administration to solve most of these problems. In spite of these problems LKJ pursued utilitarian programmes which were people oriented and widely acclaimed as impactful on the people.
The Lateef Jakande Administration: Lagos from 1976
On assumption of office, Alhaji Lateef Jakande immediately went into work to address most of the problems confronting the state. He launched a programme of action that was aimed at addressing the problem of accommodation through massive construction of housing across the state. He also embarked on road construction to ease vehicular movement, water transportation was also given serious attention through the establishment of a Ferry service which took advantage of the abandoned inland water ways to shift passengers from Amuwo to Apapa, amongst others. Because of the fund that was available to this government, it embarked on ambitious developmental programmes that contributed to the socio-economic transformation of the state, and this in turn led to more prosperity for the people of the state, more people coming into the state.
By the time Jakande administration was ousted from office, his tenure was acclaimed for laudable achievements in the area of housing: about 23,000 units was constructed, more road networks, more classrooms constructed across the state to ease the problem of classroom congestion arising from population explosion in our primary, secondary and tertiary institutions and modern waste disposal facilities. He also resuscitated the transportation sector with the establishment of the Lagos State Transport Corporation with hundreds of modern buses purchased to boost intra and inter city transportation amongst other initiatives that were introduced by his administration.
Lagos from 1983-1999
Other governments and administrations that came after Jakande especially those who held for between the periods immediately after 1983 jettison some of the good programme and the initiative of Jakande era for reasons better appreciated by them. However, it is worth mentioning that they also made conscious efforts to solve some problems of the state. For instance, the Mudashiru Administrtion constructed modern classroom across our primary and secondary schools in the state.
By 1996, when Colonel Buba Marwa came on board, he also recorded some modest achievement in the area of decongesting metropolitan Lagos towards the eastern and western corridors of the state. He also made great impact in the area of road rehabilitation and its regular maintenance through the establishment of the Direct Labour Agency. He also constructed some housingestates to solve the problem of accommodation. The programme of his government towards tackling waste disposal and traffic congestion were commendable. Of great significance were his efforts at providing security for the citizenry. He strengthened the fighting capability of the State Security Outfits: Operation Sweep, Neighbourhood Watch. This was the situation of things until the advent of the Tinubu administration in 1999.
Lagos Since May 29, 1999
The mantle of leadership of the Lagos State government was handed over to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu on 29th May, 1999. his administration like his predecessors had to contend with more difficult situations than ever witnessed in the state. The reason for this can be located within the fact that, Lagos state as at the time, the Tinubu administration came on board had grown to become a conundrum of cities, burgeoning population estimated to be about 12 million on a land space of 3,577 square kilometers, with growth rate of 600,000 per annum. Beside the issue of influx of people, there were also the consequence of high population of the traffic situation, waste disposal, shanties and ghetto, educational services, road construction and other social infrastructures, which were in serious state of despair and neglect.
Ever since his assumption of office, the present Lagos State government have been working assiduously through a well thought blue print, towards the creation of a ‘New Lagos’ where public infrastructural facilities and other necessary complement of modern mega city will not only be adequate but well maintained for the benefir of Lagosians.
In this connection, Lagos state has put into place certain machineries to prepare the state for the present challenges and of the future for a state that has been projected by the United Nations population to e home to about 25 million people by the year 2015. The implication of this projection is that effort must be geared towards making the state habitable, comfortable and secured before the year 2015, we must ensure that the present population density is evenly distributed towards all the axes of the state, especially the eastern and western corridors. This better explains the high concentration of more housing estates towards these axes.
To address the problem of inadequate road network, the state government has identified some road network that will definitely open-up other parts of the rural area to the urban centres. For instance, negotiation is on with some private investors to finance some of these proposed roads. Beyond this, for the purpose of regular maintenance of roads across the state, private maintenance contractors have been contacted.
The transportation sector of the state and vehicular movement are witnessing unprecedented growth under this administration. Negotiation was being concluded for the purchase of 100 luxury buses for intra and inter city transportation. These buses, because of the experience of the past mismanagement that led to the failure of past efforts in this sector, will be managed under a special arrangement to be supervised by the private sector.
In a nutshell, the Tinubu administration having realized the fact that the solution to the myriad of problems confronting Lagos state demands a pragmatic solution instead of the efforts of the previous administration most of which only succeeded in treating the symptoms rather the root cause. One is very sure that at the end of it all, those disadvantages and consequences of the past years of neglect and inadequate planning will be turned to great asset and advantage for all Lagosians irrespective of the economic state.
One adds that the government alone cannot just transform the present situation to that of the growth and development without the support of everybody. First, we must all necessarily believe in the sincerity of the government, share in its aspiration and vision for the state and tend to appreciate its genuine efforts towards ameliorating our present precarious situations. Our supports for the policies and programmes of the government will go to a very great extent in bringing about the realization of our collective dream and vision beyond 2015 A.D.
Ajetumobi, R.O. (2003) Coastal Yorubaland of Nigeria. 1500-1900. Lagos, raytel
Ali, adekunle (2002) Lagos from the Earliest Times to British Occupation Lagos, CEFOLAS.
Kunle Lawal (2002) In Search of Lagosans Lagos CEFOLAS
Lagos State Handbook, Ministry of Information
|Last Updated on Saturday, 17 July 2010 09:53|