Lagos seeks exchange programme with Harvard

Eniola Ajayi, Lagos

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode (3rd right), with Immediate Past Vice President, International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji (3rd left); Allen Asiimire (left); King Tshering (2nd right) and others during their courtesy visit to the Governor at Lagos House, Ikeja, on Thursday, August 10, 2017.

Lagos State has mooted the idea of an exchange programme with Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) in the United States of America.

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said the partnership became beneficial to further bring dynamism into governance in a way that would improve service delivery to the citizenry.

He was speaking while playing host to students of the institution at the Lagos House, Ikeja.

“I want to thank you for choosing Lagos, most of you will probably not dream of coming to this part of the world; but you must have been able to actually experience or have deeper knowledge of the environment, you are a better person through exchange programmes like this that exposes you to what public policies and governance are all about,” Governor Ambode stated.

He said; “Lagos State is the ‘trigger’ that can propel the economy of Africa, it has the largest concentration of the black race in the world, so there is a compelling reason we must look at Lagos as a case study because the United Nations has estimated that in another 30 years, Nigeria will be the third largest population in the world; currently Lagos has 23 million population despite having a very small space, so if Nigeria is going to be the third largest population in the world, you know what that means for Lagos in the areas of practical challenges of urbanisation and governing a fast growing city like this.”

Governor Ambode with some Harvard Kennedy School delegates.

The Governor affirmed that Lagos as Africa’s 5th largest economy had run on transparency and accountability, noting that the government has not in any way compromised an “open-door policy.”

Safest city
According to him, Lagos remains the safest city in Nigeria, considering the huge investment in the security architecture of the State which has been evident in the State’s contribution to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP).

He also answered questions bothering on federalism and the Smart City initiative as he maintained that “there must be devolution of powers to accelerate development”.

On the Smart City Initiative, Governor Ambode said the policy would be largely driven by the private sector against the backdrop of information and communication technology.

Human resources
Leader of the HKS delegation, Mrs Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji said the team comprised students from about 17 different countries.

She advocated Lagos to leverage on the pool of human resources.

Mrs Akerele-Ogunsiji added that her exploits at Harvard and the consequent visit of the Harvard students had given different perspectives of Nigeria as against the misconceptions that had held sway beyond the shores of the country.

The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University also known as Harvard Kennedy School is a public policy and public administration school.

Some of the students’ points of call include sites of the on-going Eko Atlantic City Project on the Island of Lagos and other iconic projects as well as Badagry which houses the relics of the infamous slave trade and the ‘point of no return’ being used as departure point for victims of slave trade.

Governor Ambode is also an alumnus of Harvard Kennedy School Boston, US.

Sammie Idika