Tag Archives: Lagos

Governing Lagos

Diane de Gramont has a new report describing and explaining the remarkable reforms Lagos state has made over the past 15 years. These reforms include increasing tax revenue, reforming waste collection, introducing high-capacity buses, and containing area boys or thugs.

The figure below comes from the report. To give you a sense of this revenue in dollars, 200 billion Naira is a little over 1 billion dollars.



“Piecemeal urbanization at the peripheries of Lagos”

Lindsay Sawyer (who has a great Twitter feed) has a new article in African Studies [gated] called “Piecemeal Urbanisation at the Peripheries of Lagos.” An excerpt from a section on Ogun state as a Lagos periphery:

[I]ndustries, institutions and manufacturers have been relocating from Lagos state and into neighbouring Ogun state, although staying within the urban footprint of Lagos. They are leaving Lagos state to avoid the multiple taxation, high land and rental rates, and lack of space. In the past two years 35 companies have relocated to Ogun state including pharmaceuticals, large cement plants, steel manufacturers and a power-generating plant. There are also a significant number of institutions relocating there including megachurches and university campuses. In response to and due to the increased Internally Generated Revenue, Ogun state has been investing in significant developments such as road infrastructure, security and industrial estates, and is promoting itself as a ‘Gateway state’.

Amongst these groups of actors, the state is perhaps notably absent. In fact, due to the fact that most of the periphery falls in Ogun state yet is clearly contiguous with the urban fabric of Lagos, it is unclear who is supposed to take responsibility for these peripheral areas. For example, in Nigeria roads come under a hierarchical structure of jurisdiction with the federal government responsible for national highways, the state government for main roads and local governments for smaller roads and tributaries. This division of responsibility is contentious even within Lagos state, as federal roads are in a notoriously poor state of repair but the state government is powerless to do anything about them as part of its fairly comprehensive road-upgrading scheme. In the peripheral areas the matter becomes more complicated. As most residents are employed in Lagos but residing in Ogun state, if they pay tax at all it will be to Lagos not to Ogun state. Thus Ogun state government is unwilling to invest in the residential roads under its jurisdiction. This is compounded by the fact that federal funds are allocated to the different states of Nigeria according to population figures derived from the shaky 2006 census. It is unclear whether the peripheral areas of Lagos were included in this census, and under which state. In either case, the population has increased significantly in the last eight years since, meaning that neither Ogun nor Lagos state is receiving federal funds to support this additional burden, leading to further reluctance to invest in residential areas.


Market Men and Women Association in Lagos orders markets shut in Chibok protest

The Market Men and Women Association ordered several big Lagos markets to shut down yesterday to protest the abduction of the Chibok girls.

Though not noted in the article, Lagos traders have been affected by insecurity in the North. Traders from Chad and Niger used to travel to northern cities like Kano to buy cloth, clothes from China, electronics, etc. The Kano wholesale/retailers in turn traveled to Lagos to supply their shops. Because of insecurity in the North, now, traders from neighboring countries don’t travel to Kano, and Lagos traders have thus lost some of their biggest customers, the Kano-based wholesale/retailers.


“If your name is not on Google, I don’t do business with you”

Below is a two minute video following up on Vocal Slender, the guy from the BBC Lagos documentary who was a trash scavenger and rapper. H/t to Jonathan.

It includes this wonderful piece of unintentional commentary on risk management for people who do business in Lagos.

“If your name is not on Google, I don’t do business with you, because I can’t find you.”


“How to (attempt to) talk your way out of extortion in Lagos”

Katie Rhine, a an anthropologist from University of Kansas and my moral compass/guiding light/model researcher/inspiration in Nigeria, tells us how to avoid being extorted on the road in Lagos. She first explains how to avoid getting pulled over in the first place, and then offers step-by-step instructions to diffuse the situation. Some excerpts:

Step Six: Ask the police man, “Well, what can we do?” He will say he has to call his oga [boss]. He will ask you for an exorbitant amount of money [Say 50,000 naira (~$420)]. Tell him that the government gave him this job because they have complete faith in him that he is a responsible and competent person. Tell him that there is no need to call his boss. This is also a good time to try and let him know that you too would have to call your oga at the top [boss], and neither of you want to delay one another, when the matter can be settled between the two of you.

Step Seven: Pull out the wallet you keep inside your dashboard explicitly for these occasions. Keep a few thousand naira in there at most. Show him this wallet and tell him that this is all the money that you have, and even then, you can’t give him all of it, because [and point at your fuel gauge] you are going to need to buy petrol along the way (or any other need for this money that you can think of). And, in addition, this isn’t even your money. It’s the money your boss gave you in case an emergency happens on the road. In fact, you are going to have to account for that money when you reach the office, but you think you can take care of that inconsistency. Offer him 1000 naira.

Step Eight: He may tell you that that is not enough and that you should carry him to the ATM machine to take out money for him. In this case, you should tell him that you don’t use those things. As a foreigner, say they won’t work for you. In fact, your employer takes care of these needs and doesn’t leave you with cash. Try not to let the negotiation to reach the point of going to an ATM. Tell him to please just take the money you have.

Step Nine: Give whatever money is in your wallet. If you only lose 2000 naira or so, you should feel ok about yourself. You tried.


Apply to be an affiliated researcher or intern at Lagos think tank

If you are looking to be affiliated with an institution while conducting research in Lagos, I strongly recommend considering the Center for Public Policy Alternatives (CPPA), a think tank in City Hall (centrally located on Lagos Island). CPPA is looking for interns in masters-level programs, doctoral students, or affiliated researchers who possess strong statistical and data management skills and are able to assist with statistical analysis and conduct statistics-related trainings with their staff. They are also looking for people with strong writing skills. In return, CPPA could provide a small stipend for interns (doctoral students must be self- or grant-funded), office space (their offices are gorgeous, air conditioned, and have fast internet) and research support, such as contacts and advice. Periods of stay for visiting researchers and interns range from 3-12 months. There might be opportunities for travel within sub-Saharan Africa, which would be financed by CPPA.

CPPA especially welcomes interest from people who do research on one of their focus areas:
-Food and agribusiness
-Political economy
-Health policy
-Local government

I have worked with CPPA, and it’s a great professional environment with enthusiastic and smart colleagues. If interested, contact Dr. Pacheco: adeola.pacheco@cpparesearch.org, and info@cpparesearch.


Happy new month

Lagos State Governor Babtunde Fashola extolled against what he sees as wasteful spending among Lagosians in a recent speech:

It is waste of a degree that, if we curtailed it, will provide enough in savings to fight and reduce poverty. I cannot categorise all of it, but we live through it every day and I will only refer to some examples to illustrate what I mean.

Are you aware that each text message you send costs N5 on average? How many text messages do you send to wish people a happy new year, happy new day, happy new week, happy new Friday, happy new Sunday and happy new month?

How many people did you send them to and how many days a week do you send them? Please do the arithmetic and see how much it comes to in a year and how much food it could have provided for your family. How many people did you invite and feed at your child’s wedding or the funeral of a deceased relative?

Could you really afford it? How many of the people you invited are your relatives, friends or people you know? Would the wedding or funeral still have held if you invited fewer people? Did you borrow money for the event or were you broke or short of cash after the event?

Could you fairly and honestly complain that the economy is bad if you make the choice to be extravagant? Beyond a grave, coffin, shroud and officiating minister, what does it take to bury our dead? How many of your cousins, friends, relations have come to seek assistance for as little as N100, 000 to start a business from you?

As governor, Fashola might not need to text people happy new year to maintain social bonds. But for most Nigerians this is a credible and relatively inexpensive way to signal an investment in a relationship. How will a young man get that N100,000 loan from his uncle if he hasn’t stayed in touch over the years? Maybe the funeral thing is more complicated, but Fashola’s stance on SMS greetings seems privileged and wrong.