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By: Segun Lawal
The 3rd anniversary of the 8th Legislative Session of the Lagos State House of Assembly (LSHA) was recently celebrated with a special plenary session that had the Vice President, Prof. Yemi  Osinbajo and Governor Akinwumi Ambode, among other dignitaries in attendance. Also in attendance were leaders of the All Progressives Congress  (APC) at local, state and national levels.
The anniversary provided an opportunity for elected legislators in Lagos state, under the leadership of Rt Hon. Mudashiru Obasa to give account of their stewardship and to present their score card to the electorate for necessary appraisals.
Speaking on the theme: ‘Strengthening Legislative Institutions as a Panacea for Enduring Democracy,’ Obasa emphasized the need for a strengthened legislature beyond engaging the electorate in form of debates, and consideration of motions, resolutions and bills but through the promotion of democracy and all-inclusive governance.
He stated that the executive had a role to play in the survival of the legislature, adding that an executive arm that negatively influences the business of the legislature could not be categorized to be democratic. He also noted that relationship between the Executive and Legislature should be cordial in order to ensure political stability.
The Speaker disclosed that the 8th Assembly, since its inauguration on June 8, 2015, had passed 28 bills into laws; with 13 of them being passed in the past one year.
With over hundred resolutions passed, the 8th Assembly of LSHA, is undoubtedly a trail blazer in the discharge of legislative duties:  formulating laws for the benefit of the good people of Lagos State and in the promoting an inclusive, participatory, open and people-oriented democracy.
“Some of these laws address issues relating to the environment, power and energy sector, health, transport, as well as education. Notable among them is the Lagos State Electric Sector Reform Law 2017, which aims at ensuring the protection of consumer interest and compliance with environmental laws. The law is to further strengthen electricity generation, distribution and transmission for improved power supply in Lagos State,’’ Obasa said.
According to him, the Land Use Charge Law 2018 was also reviewed to weed off parts of it that were perceived obnoxious by the public. The review was necessary in view of public outrage against the law.
Also worthy of note, is the enactment of a law seeking to establish the Lagos State Cancer Research Institute to provide for the promotion, aid and coordination of researches relating to cancer and cancer-related illnesses. According to Obasa, the law was formulated institutionalise the campaign against cancer and improve the health and welfare of the citizenry.
The need to ensure that only professionally qualified teachers are employed in the state also necessitated the Lagos State Teaching Service Commission Law 2018; while the Lagos State Transport Sector Reform Law 2018 is expected to address issues relating to the challenges of road commuters in the state.
While condoling with the families of Otedola bridge tanker explosion, Obasa reiterated that no meaningful development can take place in an unsafe environment. He stated that the LSHA had (during the year under review), called for the urgent upgrading of all fire service stations in Lagos State with modern firefighting trucks, service equipment and personnel, to enable the Agency combat fire incidents with a view to preventing loss of lives and property in the state during fire or flood disaster.
While affirming the importance of the legislature, the Guest Soeaker and Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, said “Of the three organs of the government, the place of primacy belongs to the legislature. The function of government begins by law-making and is followed up by law-enforcement and adjudication functions. As such, the legislature is the first organ of the government.”
Professor Osinbajo advocated for a decentralized government towards the  speedy eradication of poverty, adding that it was the needed structural change for Nigeria, at this time of huge socio-economic challenges.
“There is no question that poverty remains one of the most critical contemporary challenges of our nation. It is both a cause and effect of the conditions of squalor, disease and misery that millions of our people live in by creating stronger States (powered by collaborative efforts of the executive, legislature and judiciary), the Nigerian government would eradicate poverty quicker than imagined, Osinbajo says.
“Nigeria is a Federation of 36 sub-nationals and a Federal Capital Territory. The people, land, the busineses, the schools and healthcare facilities are all in the states. It is simply impossible for the nation to be wealthy when its component parts are poor. The standard of living of the federation depends on the standard of living of people who live in the states,” he said.
The Vice President also opined that the devolution of more power to the states would enable them to control more of their resources and make more of their own administrative decisions such as creation of Local Governments; the state and community police, including the state prisons; creation of special courts and tribunals of equivalent jurisdiction to high courts.
Referencing the phenomenal achievements of the Western Regional Government of Chief Obafemi Awolowo in industrialization and free quality education, Professor Osinbajo said that strengthening state governments would enhance rapidly the socio-economic development in the country.
While itemizing education, healthcare and job opportunities as three major indicators of poverty, Osinbajo  said that “a combination of visionary leadership and strong autonomous states is a winning formula for economic development.’’
“Our population growth, as you know, is almost over 3 percent, and economic growth today, is certainly under 3 percent. By 2050 we would have the third largest population in the world. Three issues are critical to resolving the poverty problem. The first is education, second is healthcare, and the third is the provision of jobs.
“There is a need to focus, spend time and put resources behind education, not just at the Federal level but in particular, at the State level. This is because the States have primarily, the duty to ensure that primary and secondary education is funded. It is within the province of the State government, Federal government does not own primary and secondary schools, except the unity schools.
“It is time for compulsory Health Insurance. Every State can have its own, this is an important conversation for the executive and legislature to have, in setting a legislative agenda. There is no question at all, that we must spend more on healthcare just as we must spend more on education.
The Vice President also lauded the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) established by a law of  LSHA in 2016, adding that it is an excellent example of state intervention in creating opportunities for small businesses.
“As of May 2018, the fund has given out 7,000 loans totalling almost N5 billion, it has created over 12, 500 jobs in its first six months of operation. We think that this is a very important initiative of the State government, because it understands and addresses and important segment of our society; the young bright minds that require some capital to be able to multiply their ideas and thoughts,’’ he said.
Governor  Akinwunmi Ambode commended the efforts of the 8th Assembly for formulating people-oriented laws and for remaining steadfast in the discharge of their duties.
He however called for more collaboration with the executive arm of government, in order to ensure accelerated.
In his opinion, the Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola believed that the Legislature is the most important arm of government.
Thus, for him, because of its importance, the Legislature should “be sacrosanct to democracy without which no democratic institution can function”.
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OGUN LCDAs ASSURED OF ADEQUATE FUNDING

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The Ogun State government has reiterated its commitment to always make adequate provision for the sustainability of the newly created 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) through prompt payment of both Local Government staff and Primary School teachers salaries, arrears among others.
The State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, through the Press Officer, Ministry Of Local Government And Chieftancy, Mrs. Oluwaseun Boye gave this reassurance while wrapping up the Treasury Board meeting on year 2019 budget, at the Obas’ complex conference hall in Abeokuta.
The Governor said apart from adequate welfare for local government staffers,  priority has also be given to the provision of basic infrastructure, which has helped in opening up the local communities to investors, noting that all on-going road projects would be completed before the end of this administration.
 He boasted that no state in the south west could match up with his administration in terms of infrastructural development, saying, ‘’gradually, we are getting there, I challenge any state that has done up to half of what we have done in Ogun state to come out”.
 Presenting his ministry’s 2019 budget proposal, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Chief Jide Ojuko commended the government for prompt payment of Local government staff’s salaries as and when due, noting that, with the help of state government, all challenges encountered during the migration from 20 Local Governments to 57  Councils, were surmounted.
  On achievement, he noted that additional 40 monarchs and 2,706 village chiefs (Baales) were installed in the last three and half years, pointing out that the upgrading of Vigilante Service of Ogun State (VSO) to So-Safe Corps, had contributed to the peace and tranquillity been experienced in the State.
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Real Estate Reform Key to Propelling Economic Growth & Alleviating Poverty in Nigeria….Andrew Nevin

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As one of the keynote speakers at the 4th annual West Africa Property Investment Summit, Dr. Andrew Nevin, Partner and Chief Economist for PwC Nigeria shared high level insights ahead of the region’s leading property investment conference taking place on 15 & 16 November at the Eko Hotel, Lagos. Featuring more than 90 speakers and 500 delegates from over 200 companies, #WAPI2018 will set the agenda for West Africa’s real estate’s executives.

As a respected regional and global authority on Nigeria and West Africa, Dr. Nevin’s presentation is titled: THE GLOBAL VIEW ON GEOPOLITICS, OIL & MACRO-ECONOMICS: How are these impacting investment in West African Real Estate?

In an increasingly volatile world (Trump, China, Turkey and more), emerging markets have been significantly impacted. But the question which Dr. Nevin, will help Nigeria’s executives answer is how volatility, government policy and oil will impact investment and development in Nigeria?

Why is Real Estate fundamental to growing an economy?

Real estate makes up 60% of the world’s global assets and in developed countries, real estate buttresses the financial sector, enabling for the creation of asset backed loans and securities. Nigeria’s real estate system cannot work without a proper land registry; banks cannot lend against a property without evidence of ownership. The current land titling system is onerous and excludes many people from formal ownership. Based on these facts, real estate is one of the most critical sectors that if reformed will propel growth and alleviate poverty in Nigeria.

Global volatility and the local Real Estate Market?

Foreign exchange and inflation have stabilized in Nigeria amid emerging market pressures. However, crude reliance continues to leave Nigeria vulnerable to external shocks. This creates persistent uncertainty for investors in Nigeria, which is affecting all sectors in the economy, including real estate.

In urban areas, commercial real estate occupancy has declined as a result of low demand in an underperforming economy. Consequently, office rent has declined by 20% over the last 3 years in the high-end market [1], while co-working spaces are becoming more popular, consistent with the growing number of tech start-ups and entrepreneurs.

In the premium residential market, demand has shifted to less expensive semi-detached houses and apartments. There is also persistently huge demand for affordable housing in Nigeria. Nigeria’s population is set to exceed 250 million people by 2030 (roughly 50 million households), and by 2025, our housing deficit will be approximately 20 million [2]. We are not building enough houses for people to live in.

Global volatility has increased the oil price, which has benefitted the immediate public sector coffers, but is this a good thing? Some have argued that a lower oil price will drive economic reform, but won’t $70 – $80 oil keep reform at bay?

The economy is benefitting from rising oil prices. The reality is that Nigeria requires capital to invest in critical sectors and fund long-term structural changes. Over the last three years, we have seen government debt grow from 12% of GDP in 2015 to 20% in 2017. A further indication of the high demand for government revenue is the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), which was implemented to grow tax revenue.

Failure to diversify the economy is a result of bad policies and poor implementation of good policies. Oil prices have fluctuated since the first quarter of 2016 (over 2 years ago) and we still have not achieved a diversified economy. There is no reason to believe that persistently low prices in the future will make this happen.

How have macro-development factors impacted the real estate sector – has there been less transactions, or investment, and has Nigeria bucked the trend?

The real estate sector has not seen positive growth since the start of the recession in 2016. The sector continues to lag behind overall growth, recording a growth rate of -3.88% in the second quarter 2018. Nevertheless, this is an improvement from the -9.4% growth of the preceding quarter.

The tight monetary environment – high interest rates and currency restrictions – are huge contributors to the slow growth in the real estate sector. Heavy government borrowing has crowded out the private sector, making it difficult to investors to finance the capital-intensive projects of the real estate sector. This issue reinforces the need for the government to undertake structural reforms that will improve capital stock and business environment.

If we look further ahead to 2019 – what are the major concerns going to be?

The 2019 elections will revolve around the economy. There is growing frustration over slow growth, high unemployment, low liquidity and poor infrastructure. Foreign investors who

have low confidence in the economy are also keeping close watch. Thus, the election outcome will have some effect on Nigeria’s economic health in the short run.

Over the last year, the ease of doing business has risen 25 places to rank 145 out of 190 countries, however, the absence of major reforms in infrastructure, power and land ownership will ultimately stifle advancements in improving the business environment in the long run.

Where do you see the investment case for Nigeria and the region in the next 12-18 months, and do you think we are about to see a continued growth curve?

In the absence of sweeping structural reforms, Nigeria will continue to experience slow growth through 2022. The critical takeaway here is that income per capita will decline each year over the next five years as population growth exceeds GDP growth, if no action is taken. Investor confidence will be largely determined by the elections and the ongoing security situation in Nigeria.

To register for West Africa’s largest real estate event, visit www.WAPISummit.com/register as seats are limited.

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CNN names U.S. Government Exchange Alumna in Top 10 Heroes List

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Cable News  Network (CNN), has named a 2017 alumna of the United States government-sponsored International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP), Ms. Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin, as one of the  Top 10 CNN Heroes of the Year.

Ajayi-Akinfolarin’s organization, Pearls Africa Foundation, which she founded in 2012, assists girls from underserved communities in Nigeria gain relevant technological skills to transform their lives. The beneficiaries get training in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python  and Scratch and visit tech companies to reinforce their  learning and broaden their horizons.

Her GirlsCoding project has reached more than 400 beneficiaries, including girls from orphanages and correctional homes, in addition to young women fleeing the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram. The GirlsCoding project is being supported by the U.S. Consulate General Lagos.

In 2017,
Ajayi-Akinfolarin also founded Lady Labs Innovation Hub, a  female-focused tech centre which caters specifically to the technological needs  of female university students enrolled in the STEM fields of study and female entrepreneurs.

The graduate of  the University of Lagos participated in a three-week IVLP  exchange program focusing on “Education and Activism for Young Women.” The International Visitors Leadership Program is the U.S. State Department’s premier professional exchange  program.

CNN described
the 10 finalists as “remarkable trailblazers who have  truly changed the world.” Each Top 10 CNN Hero will be awarded $10,000 and the CNN Hero of the Year will receive an additional $100,000. The honorees will also receive free
capacity-building training from the Annenberg Foundation, a leading supporter of nonprofits worldwide.

To vote and select the CNN Hero of the Year, visit: CNNHeroes.com

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