ONE: Time Magazine declared this week that the 2011’s person of the year is the protester. Not to be left out, Lagosians took to the street on Saturday to protest the their state’s terrible infliction of pain and injustice by forcing them to pay toll fees when using the newly completed Eti-Osa -Lekki Expressway. It was not clear what the protesters who called the protest #occupyLekki hoped to achieve with the protest. Some of them allegedly wanted lower tolls, as the average price of N120 is a bit steep. Also some wanted the tolls eradicated all together citing that the responsibility of building roads and maintaining those roads belongs to the government and not the citizens. The protest devolved into chaos when thugs allegedly hired by the Lagos State government began attacking the crowd. State mobile police had to be sent to enforce calm. Many were injured and there is an unconfirmed rumor that one person died of exhaustion from the tear gas thrown by the police. Some protesters were arrested and apparently they are still in police custody.
TWO: The long awaited budget was unveiled last week when the President addressed the National Assembly in Abuja. The main item that earned extensive criticism was the N921.91 billion-security allocation in the budget. Many thought this was simply too much for a country that needs to invest in infrastructure and other essential sectors of its economy. The lawmakers are set to slash the security vote before passing the final budget. While there were hints of fiscal discipline in this years budget, the reduction of benchmark oil price from $75 a barrel to $70, there were other not for concern as the production target remained high. The long debated fuel subsidy was conspicuously absent in the budget.
THREE: Ghana, Nigeria’s beloved neighbor to the west, is set to begin exporting electricity to West Africa. Nigeria is allegedly their targeted main client. This news is of course rather difficult to bear as Nigeria has historically looked down on its much smaller neighbor, even going as far as calling itself the “Giant of Africa.” In the same week, a power plan in Nigeria was shutdown as it was no longer able to function due to mismanagement of some of its parts, specifically the hydro component. As a result, electricity generation dropped to a very low 1,080-mega watts to be shared by the entire country.
FOUR: The contentious fuel subsidy removal was not heard from during the President’s budget speech last week due to reports that some lawmakers were set to embarrass the president during his speech. After extensive pressure by stakeholder groups the government has agreed to pause the planned removal of subsidy in other to consult more widely with Nigerians. He met with a couple of representative of the youth population last week and many others including the religious establishment. President Jonathan also declared that he is not willing to inflict pain on Nigerians, to collective “annoyance” by most Nigerians. The Nigerian Labour Congress has threatened to call for a mass strike and extensive protests if subsidies are removed. Mr. Jonathan’s government also counter threatened NLC if the organization should attempt to “overheat” Nigerians with such protests. Hard times are around the corner.
FIVE: The Boko Haram menace again reared its ugly head. While in the process of making new explosives last week, at least 4 members of the sect were killed by a premature explosion. This incompetence probably will not deter them from their determination to spread hate and horror throughout the country. But to those who are already exhausted by threat of new killings, and those hoping for an end to terror, this might be a slight conceit. Chickens always come home to roost.
SIX: Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill in Kogi still exists and HERE is a fascinating proposal to push it back to life. Nigerian government, are you listening?
SEVEN: Lagos State last week unveiled the new N16 billion Ikeja City mall. The mall was built in a Public Private Partnership between Lagos State and a private equity firm named Actis. The mall is said to be in the position to make Ikeja the retail hub of Lagos state.
EIGHT: The Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos is set for extensive repairs. The Federal Executive council allocated N1.5 billion for the very purpose last week. It was recently reported during a routine check that there are various alarming deterioration in the bridge’s structural integrity. Given the bridge’s status as one of the most used bridges in the world, we wonder what this will do to an already congested state.
NINE: President Goodluck Jonathan has unveiled his planned renaissance of Cassava flour in the country. Many different forms of economic subsidies were introduced in his proposal. Bakeries that are able to use the flour will be offered tax credits while import duties were lifted on machines used in making cassava flour.
TEN: Governor Fashola is set to create a museum to that famous Lagosian, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. The man’s life was the very definition of what it means to be a Lagosian. We think this honor is deserved.