Cablegate: Nigeria: Ambassador's Conversation with Lagos

Published: Wed 30 Jul 2003 03:37 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. SUMMARY. Recently re-elected Lagos State Governor
Bola Tinubu continues to push his three-part plan for
improving the state through privatization, housing
construction and environmental clean-up. In meetings
July 23 with senior Mission officials, Tinubu outlined
new road rehabilitation and technology initiatives
that specifically address the state's decrepit
infrastructure. END SUMMARY.
2. On July 23, Ambassador Jeter, Consul General
Hinson-Jones and EDDI Director Sarah Moten met
Governor Tinubu in his Lagos office. The meeting was
followed by a tour of a new computer center in the
state government's office complex and a joint ceremony
to award 50 scholarships under the Ambassador's Girls
Scholarship Program.
3. Tinubu said he plans to rehabilitate all roads in
the state, whether Federal or State controlled. Lagos
State needs to step into this traditionally federal
role because the central government has "abandoned"
the state's highways by failing to pay 7 billion naira
owed to the state for road maintenance, Tinubu said.
4. Road maintenance is particularly important to
Tinubu to attract foreign investment. Tinubu said he
realizes a decrepit, over-used highway system
discourages investors of all kinds, including those
who might put money into an urban transit program.
Stating that Lagos had "cars-per-road" ratio of 222 to
1, compared to 11 for the rest of country, the
Governor stressed Lagos needs to take ameliorative
action now before the road situation got worse.
5. Tinubu also wants an additional one naira per
liter increase in the fuel pump price to be directly
channeled into maintenance of all roads in the state.
"If you don't put money on the infrastructure of Lagos
State, you're just wasting it," he said. Such a fuel
tax may result in geographic disparities in fuel
prices, Tinubu said, something that he said is
necessary to let the market decide what price is best
for gasoline in Nigeria.
6. Also on the subject of roads, Tinubu praised his
meeting with NSC Senior African Director Jendayi
Frazier on the margins of the recent POTUS visit. As
a result of the meeting, Tinubu said he plans to work
with the Governor of Georgia to improve urban
transportation in Lagos.
7. With federal assistance lacking, Tinubu said he
plans to finance this work through increased tax
revenues that result from more efficient tax
collection and accountability. In the new
Transnational Computer Technology center, Tinubu's
administration trains state bureaucrats to use
computers to collect, sort and check tax information
and other data like health statistics and water usage
patterns. Through the center's efforts, 20 of the
state's 36 administrative zones are already connected
to a central database, with the rest scheduled to be
on-line by next year. The center's staff said tax
revenue has already increased four-fold, with another
two-fold increase expected by next year.
8. In other remarks, Tinubu said Lagos is talking with
the World Bank to install a 1000-megawatt generator
for Lagos alone so that the State can operate
independently of the national grid. He also discussed
technical education and said he wants a series of
"alternative schools" or "community colleges" to act
as intermediate skills training centers feeding the
state's manufacturing industry. Lastly, Tinubu
outlined the state's need for a new wastemanagement
center and his work to improve the usage of drainage
dams from 20% to 70% efficiency.
9. COMMENT. The real needs of Lagos State are
monumental and continue to challenge Tinubu. However,
he is attempting to respond and his efforts at
infrastructural improvements are noticed and
appreciated by the Lagosians who give him high marks
for trying to build foundations for sustainable
development in the State. Tinubu intends to follow up
his urban transportation and other development ideas
by seeking partnerships with the state of Georgia.
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