Representatives of the Lagos State government wooed Nigerians in the Diaspora with investment opportunities in the state, last Saturday, as the “Love Lagos” weekend designed to leverage on the feel good spirit of both the annual Notting Hill Carnival weekend and the last bank – public – holiday before Christmas, kicked off at the Woburn House Conference Centre in Russell Square.
Aides of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode asked the diaspora community to invest in the state, saying that not only is Lagos ready for business, but that the investment opportunities are both numerous and equally rewarding.
Steve Ayorinde, the state’s commissioner for information, told attendees that the fifth largest economy in Africa is “ready to do business with you.” Although he did admit that, like any country, “there are still slums to regenerate,” and “roads to be constructed,” the 49-year old mega city is still a choice investment destination for the diasporan community and other nationals.
Professor Demola Abass, the director of Lagos Global, which oversees the state’s foreign investments, described Lagos as a “transformed city,” noting also that the Ambode administration has removed the notorious bureaucratic bottlenecks that had hitherto hindered and frustrated potential investors. He backed up his claims with the story of an Indian businessman who got approval and land to start his pencil manufacturing business within 24 hours of making an enquiry.
Abass also cited the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for the construction of the fourth Mainland Bridge that took just six weeks to finalise, as another proof that Lagos is both willing and ready to welcome investors who want to do business with the state. According to him, the fact that “the governor listens,” is another reason for those with any kind of investment and developmental ideas and money to come over to Lagos.
Governor Ambode’s special adviser on arts and culture, Mrs Adebimpe Akinsola, also sang from the same hymn sheet, telling the audience that the state is open to those who want to invest in the creative industry. “Things are done sharp, sharp, now,” the former state house of assemblywoman noted.
Akin Oyebode, who oversees the state’s employment trust fund revealed further that the Ambode administration wants to provide and create jobs and also wants “young entrepreneurs to thrive in the state.”
The government of the state also wants “to support hundreds of start ups,” and to “match people to jobs,” he noted further. He too assured the audience that “if you hope to do business in Lagos, this is the right time.”
A former commissioner of the state, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, also spoke passionately about the new order of development that Ambode has added to those of his trail blazing predecessor, Babatunde Fashola.
” The state is lit up,” and “darkness no longer hovers over the horizon as you are landing at the airport,” he told the gathering. Besides, “no traffic gridlock lasts more than an hour and a half.”
He also assured them that “Lagos is – both – a safe destination to go and to be,” compared to even the United States and South Africa.
A former editor of the now rested NEXT newspaper, Kadira Ahmed , who jointly took the questions and answers session with BEN TV’s Priscilla Nwikpo, had earlier also thrown down the gauntlet for the small audience , noting that “the richest man in Africa – Aliko Dangote – didn’t make his money sitting in Kano, he made his money in Lagos.”