Insecurity threatening Lagos’s economic dream

In April, the governor of Lagos, Nigeria Akinwumi Ambode called the country’s commercial nerve the world’s fastest growing mega city, with GDP of $136 billion. At this level, Lagos sits comfortably as one of the top ten economies in Africa by GDP. Should Nigerian states start fending for themselves; only Lagos and a few others would be able to survive. Lagos generated more than $940 million internally in 2016, exceeding the combined IGR of 30 states in Nigeria.

The city state remains a major economic focal point in Nigeria, generating around 10 percent of the country’s GDP. It continues to grow its revenue as investment flows rise with expanding opportunities in several sectors. Economic growth in the Nigerian port city seems to be boundless but whatever brightness the future holds can only illuminate as far as the dark forces of insecurity recently rampaging Lagos would allow.

It has been more than 40 days since some 6 pupils were kidnapped at a school in Epe, on the north side of the Lekki Lagoon in Lagos, raising questions about the ability of the state government to address insecurity. The parents of the abducted pupil have reportedly paid N10 million ransom to the kidnappers but they are yet to get their children back. Security operatives in Lagos seemed to be clueless about the whereabouts of the abducted pupils, with parents’ only hope now the kidnappers’ assurance that their children would be released soon. Insecurity is increasing in Lagos at a worrying pace; apart from kidnapping which is becoming frequent, cult killing is also becoming rampant in some parts of the state.

While peace does not necessarily drive growth and development, insecurity disrupts it. Lagos Governor Ambode’s goal of making Lagos Africa’s third largest economy is under threat.

Lagos has been able to diversify its economy and to a large extent, reduce its dependence on oil allocations from the federal government. The state generates revenue from a variety of sources, including transport, manufacturing, construction and wholesale and retail. To continue growing its economy, Lagos faces challenges such as rapid population growth, urbanisation, as well increasing demands for infrastructure. These challenges cannot be addressed only by widening the tax net, but also by making the state a perfect investment destination. Although Lagos has huge potentials, much will not be achieved if the current security challenges are allowed to fester further. 

Insecurity makes investors nervous. Therefore, a safer Lagos with its numerous potential will remain an investment destination that can achieve the governor’s dream of a top three African economy by 2020.