State governor Babatunde Raji Fashola.

Position::Economic development in Lagos, Nigeria - Interview
 
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The Lagos State Government PPP office is one of the institutions set up to deal with bridging the infrastructure gap in Lagos State. What was your initial reason for setting up this landmark office?

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Before we discuss the reason behind the concept, I think it's important that we discuss the problem. In the aftermath of my emergence as governor, a few things were obvious, the first of which was that we needed to bridge the pre-existing infrastructure gap.

Now, we could not do this by direct public expenditure alone and we reasoned to ourselves that if there were areas of the economy where we could offer commercial reward for private capital investment, we should cede it to them because, ultimately, what we seek to do is to provide service to the people. The people are not really concerned, in a sense, about who is providing it.

So we looked at the possibilities of toll roads, concessions for buses for public transportation, we looked at the possibility of diagnostic services for health care, captive power projects and so on.

And we asked ourselves: What did we have to deal with in that event? Everybody who had a proposal had to see my team and me. So in the first six months of my administration in 2007, we spent long, long nights after days of work. We had businessmen make their presentations to us. But I noted that there would sometimes be a conflict of interest when making a judgment and that's when I realised I had to delegate this responsibility; that was the origin of the Private Public Partnership (PPP) office.

Decision making, for me, concerns policy and programmes. Having technical people in charge meant that they were able to see that we get value for money. For example, if we are giving a concession that lasts for X number of years, it must be a concession based upon the financial model that rewards the entrepreneur but does not put the public at risk of profiteering.

The process had to be ethical in its nature, and we had to get approval from parliament as we had to break the current state structure to recruit the leader of the team. We had to find someone from the private sector.

The lesson we've also learnt is that this type of procurement takes some time, and so even though we have not been able to complete as many projects as we wanted to, we have been much more efficient and thorough. We have been much more detailed in our project appraisals, our risk evaluation and management. And that is, I think, why we received...

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