Sanwo-Olu pledges to double investment in youth, as Ehingbeti summit closes

• Investors, Business Leaders Chart New Course for Lagos, Transmit Resolutions To Govt

• Investors, Business Leaders Chart New Course for Lagos, Transmit Resolutions To Govt

• ‘Lagos Is Fortunate To Be Led By Visionary Governors’ – El-Rufai

The 8th Lagos State Economic Summit (Ehingbeti) has drawn to a close today, with the organisers and participants departing with actionable resolutions to chart a new course of physical development and economic growth for the State.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu pledged that the learnings and recommendations emanating from the summit would be developed into a policy framework to forge a new action plan and implementation that would bring the envisioned future of Lagos to reality.

The three-day event with the theme: “Greater Lagos: Setting the Tone for the Next Decade”, was largely held on a virtual platform, but some sessions were held physically at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island.

Over 11,000 people in 10 countries participated in the event, with an average record of 5,500 participants globally attending sessions daily.

Sanwo-Olu, in his closing address read virtually from Abuja, said the State Government had started to look into the future and was ready to implement resolutions that would make Lagos adaptable to the new culture of business interactions occasioned by technology and unpredictable pandemic.

The Governor said Lagos took lessons from the disruption of economic activities created by the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), stressing that the experience would make the State Government deepen its scenario planning capabilities to bolster its resilience against such emergency.

He said: “As we have now successfully come to the end of this eighth edition of the summit, it is imperative to emphasise that the conversation must not end here. We must take the learnings and the conclusions from this Summit and use them to forge a plan of action and implementation that will ensure that the future we are envisioning for Lagos State comes to fruition.

“We have learnt, from the emergence and spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, that we can never be too prepared. So much has changed in the past year, humbling our confidence in the ability to predict and forecast what the future holds. The big lesson is that, we must deepen our scenario planning capabilities, as national and subnational governments, and as corporations and business entities. We must plan for every eventuality, including the next pandemic, which will eventually happen in the near or distant future.”

Sanwo-Olu said Ehingbeti, since year 2000 when it was first introduced during the administration of the visionary former Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, had become a tool to re-invent Lagos. He said the summit had become a platform for conversations about where Lagosians want the city to be headed, and how to fast-track the journey.

He said the development blueprint of his administration was designed as a road-map to guide the Government on the journey to deliver Lagos of residents’ dreams.

The Governor pledged to strengthen the economic potential of the youth, whom he described as critical stakeholders in delivering development programmes of the next decade.

Sanwo-Olu said the State Government’s investments in youth-focused initiatives, such as Lagos Excel Project, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSSTF), Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC), were pointers to the readiness of the State to improve youth inclusion in governance and raise their entrepreneurial skills.

He said: “We must now begin to plan for the next summit, even as we also take action on the resolutions of this one. I call on the private sector to be aggressive in seeking out opportunities to partner with and support the Lagos State Government. Ehingbeti speaks to what Governments, the private sector and civil society can come together to accomplish through deliberate bilateral and multilateral partnerships.”

Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, described Lagos as “the engine room” of the nation, stressing that the State was fortunate to have been governed by visionary leaders, starting from the administration of ex-Governor Tinubu.

El-Rufai said he looked forward to more reforms that would further simplify Ease of Doing Business in Lagos, noting the better the economy of Lagos performed, the better for Nigeria.

He said: “For us in Kaduna State, Lagos is a model that we follow. We look at Lagos as competitive advantage in many areas and try to implement reforms that will bring us closer to what Lagos has been able to achieve. Lagos has been blessed with very good Governors. The reforms initiated by Governor Tinubu are still bringing prosperity to the State.”

There were 146 speakers and panelists who facilitated six plenaries and 20 deep discussion sessions held during the event, which focused on six thematic areas, including making Lagos investment destination, strengthening governance and institutions, Fourth Industrial Revolution opportunities, funding growth and ensuring inclusive human capital development and sustainability, resilience and impacts.

At the end of the summit, the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, outlined 11 key highlights that encompasses the resolutions to be implemented by the State Government before the next summit.

Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, represented by Hon. Gbolahan Yishau, pledged to support the resolutions with necessary legislative framework to make the Government implement the resolutions.

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The Commander, U.S. Africa Command, U General Stephen Townsend, wrapped up a three-day West African visit February 22-25, 2021, with a stopover in Nigeria to meet with the nation’s leaders and further the long-standing partnership and security cooperation between the two countries.

A press statement by the Embassy on Friday, said: “During the visit, Townsend met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue operation last year.

“When we asked for their help, the Nigerian government answered the call. Our hostage recovery mission in October would have been impossible without their support.

“They quickly provided assistance that helped the U.S. military to save an American life. That is a strong example of our partnership with Nigeria.”

Townsend also met with senior military officials, including the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magash, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, to talk about on-going cooperation in the region and greater maritime security and threat mitigation.

Nigeria is a key partner in countering violent extremist organizations throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

Townsend said furthermore: “The bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. is built on several pillars including security cooperation.

“U.S. Africa Command will do our part to advance the security cooperation pillar, so that Nigerians can enjoy the more secure future they all deserve.”

As close partners, the U.S. and Nigeria have worked at ensuring the collaborative relationship continues to grow to include a commitment to interoperability. Nigeria purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, which will be delivered later this year.

“Nigeria’s purchase of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is another example of their commitment to interoperability and security in the region,” he added. “Our economic relationship with Nigeria is already strong, and we look forward to the continued strengthening of security relationships. Nigeria’s leaders understand the importance of a collaborative approach to ensuring stability in West Africa and partnering on areas of mutual interest.”

The Commander also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

Leonard said: “General Townsend’s visit to Nigeria demonstrates the strategic importance the United States places on our bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

“Our security cooperation partnership with Nigeria’s military will strengthen the country’s capabilities to secure land and sea borders, enhance overall security, and combat terrorism in the North East.”

As part of the visit, Townsend participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives in the service of their nation.

During the visit, the delegation expressed their condolences for the seven service men killed in the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Abuja.