Buhari, Okonjo-Iweala, Adesina Call For Economic Infrastructure, Youth Dev At 2021 Eghingbeti Lagos Economic Summit

By Benjamin Omoike

President Muhammadu Buhari, newly-elected Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, WTO, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the President, African Development Bank, AFDB, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, have unequivocally called for development in economic infrastructure, investment in youths and enhanced private sector contribution, for Lagos to achieve its vision of becoming a Smart City.

The trio spoke on Tuesday virtually, on the first day of the ongoing  three-day Economic Summit in Lagos tagged: “Ehingbeti Lagos Economic Summit 2021”, with the theme, ‘Setting the Tone For A Greater Lagos’, at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

In his goodwill message, President Buhari said the Federal Government is determined to open up opportunities by which Lagos State can achieve its prospects of a Mega City.

The President commended the Lagos State Government for its partnership and collaboration with the Federal Government, for putting together an economic summit aimed at improving the lives of citizens of the state.

He said the Federal Government has several ongoing projects in Lagos and commended Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for his resolve to continue the development of Lagos.

“We want a Lagos that is united and ensure its economic prosperity leaves no one behind. I urge all stakeholders to come up with plans to achieve the Lagos of our dreams,” the President said.

In a virtual questions and answers with Governor Sanwo-Olu, Dr. Okonjo Iweala said, apart from construction of roads, Lagos should invest in technology, such as broadband for every household,  embrace artificial intelligence and a digital economy; ensure steady and sustainable supply of electricity and renewable energy/Green to remain competitive in the next decade.

She added the state should harness the youths by providing employment. She further stated the state should move from importing raw materials, by exporting primary raw products to add value and processing, to industrialise Africa. 

In his contributions, Dr. Akinwunmi of African Development Bank, said the youths are the asset for the state and should be given a chance.

He said the state should also invest in education, by turning tertiary institutions in the state to world class standards.

“Youths are not the problem of Lagos, they are the asset. The slogan should not be ‘the young shall grow, but the youths have arrived’. Youths do not need empowerment or handouts, what they need is investment.

“The poverty level in Lagos has reduced from 30.3 per cent in 2009 to 4.5bper cent in 2019. 20 per cent live in slums. A prosperous Lagos will bring a healthier Lagos. A lot needs to be done in tertiary education, especially in science. We must turn tertiary institutions in Lagos to world class.

“The climate situation in Lagos should be attended to urgently. There is still need to invest more in transport system,” he said.

“He further said:” Private sector needs to be mobilised to support the new Lagos. The taxes of the people belong to the people. There must be accountability for taxes collected. I see a greater Lagos , a Lagos where visions are turned into reality and where women and youths thrive.”

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