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The Economist Describes Lagos as a City Characterized by “Crime, Corruption & Motionless Traffic”




The Economist has some interesting things to say about Nigeria’s “Centre of Excellence,” Lagos.

In an article titled Learning from Lagos, the publication highlights the city’s purported bad aspects, and lauds it for improvements being made.

Here are excerpts from the article:

The bad/ugly

FOR a city that dubs itself the “centre of excellence”, Lagos has a lousy reputation. The mere mention of Nigeria’s commercial centre conjures images of crime, corruption and motionless traffic. The bodies of people run over in car accidents can be left on the street for hours and commuters in even the poshest parts of town are sometimes caught in shoot-outs between robbers and policemen. Little wonder then that in a ranking of the “liveability” of 140 cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a sister company of this paper, it sits in the bottom five. The besieged Libyan capital Tripoli scores higher, and war-threatened Damascus only fractionally worse. Its citizens are also an unruly lot: men urinate on the don’t urinate signs, people hawk by the don’t hawk signs and loiter by the no loitering signs…

The good

Yet the city is a lot better now than it was two decades ago. Bola Tinubu, who became the governor of Lagos State when civilian rule was restored in 1999, remembers taking over a “slum”. “The traffic was chaotic. The infrastructure was disintegrating. There were mountains of refuse all over,” he recalls. “People were being murdered. Armed robbery was rampant. Dead bodies were picked on the street on average 10-15 times every week. There was no control of any kind.”

Mr Tinubu and his successor as governor, Babatunde Fashola, both say their efforts to reform were often frustrated by the PDP-led federal government. It failed to upgrade the main roads in the city that were under federal control, including one leading to West Africa’s biggest port. It delayed approval for an important train line that the state government was willing to pay for. “I don’t want to be understood as recriminating,” Mr Fashola says, “but I know things could have been better.”

Instead of relying on Abuja for funds, Lagos learned to generate its own. It created passable systems to monitor its own spending and squeeze taxes out of citizens not known for their eager compliance with such things. Internally generated revenue has risen to 23 billion naira ($115m) per month, from almost nothing a few years ago. That still amounts to only a few tax dollars per person. But the state has been able to borrow against that income to finance projects such as a much-needed bridge linking the upmarket areas of Ikoyi and Lekki. Moreover, its reliance on local tax collection has forced it to improve its services in order to attract businesses.

And in this regard it has done well. The state produces about $90 billion a year in goods and services, making its economy bigger than that of most African countries, including Ghana and Kenya. Much of Nigeria’s industry, which once thrived in the north, can now be found in the suburban manufacturing estate of Agbara. Cranes hang over the city and land is being reclaimed from the sea as developers rush to satisfy the vast appetite for property…

Read the entire article on

Photo Credit: The Economist/iStock


  1. george uruakpa

    July 8, 2015 at 10:35 am

    this looks more like a terrible painting of the lagos state we live in now with better structures.

    • ak

      July 8, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      NY and OXFORD street in UK look just as bad as that photo

  2. bruno FIERCE

    July 8, 2015 at 10:56 am

    tinubu how much did u pay them.

    u cant fool me.

    • nnenne

      July 8, 2015 at 1:58 pm

      Exactly my thought, bruno FIERCE.

    • Egbami

      July 8, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      Some people’s problem start and end with Tinubu. It is as if Tinubu caused all their wahala. Is Tinubu a good man? No, he is just like all politicians. Instead of this “blame tinubu game”, why don’t you focus on the people that represent you. Some people don’t live in Lagos, yet in their village,they will be blaming Tinubu. Every article written about Lagos, PDP, GEJ, Buhari and Nigeria must have Tinubu all over it. Paranoid people.


      July 8, 2015 at 5:39 pm

      @ BRUNO, Your hate for tinubu will lead to your . . .. . . . . . . . .




  3. sugarintheplum

    July 8, 2015 at 11:03 am

    Yawn. Yet another Economist article on Lagos which reeks of western ethnocentrism. Hardly surprising since most whites visit the African continent with an ethnocentric sense of superiority, imbued with a white saviour industrial complex and for cultural voyeurism/sex tourism and more. Lagos isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination but I’m tired of people constantly putting it down.

    Where are the Economist articles on the rise of food banks, homelessness and child poverty in the UK?

    Now the most pertinent question which this pseudo journalism fails to address is, if Lagos is so bad, how come it is the commercial centre for the country with the largest economy in Africa? I’ll wait….SMDH

    • Nwanyi Ekwe

      July 8, 2015 at 12:46 pm

      You can say that again!!

    • AlmondEyes

      July 8, 2015 at 2:03 pm


    • Egbami

      July 8, 2015 at 3:07 pm

      Don’t mind them. They will never write about what is wrong with them. Go and see slums worst than a lot of places in Africa in the west. To them, Africa Is a source of poverty porn. What about American politicians taking huge donations from big corporations in return for laws that makes them rich and marginalize the poor. We know we have a problem with corruption in Nigeria but what they practice in the west legalized corruption. Look at Greece.

  4. Seyi

    July 8, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    For once, I’d like if we call a spade, a shade! Yes because it was written by a western publication, it throws up our suspcisions and ups the ante on our own self-blinding bias. But if we must stand the chance to grow as a people and a nation, we must imbibe the necessary critiques on where we can indeed improve. Let’s be honest, despite the superficious look of development in lasgidi, the picture painted by the article was apt and spot on! We men do still urinate on “don’t urinate” signs. And let’s play the devil’s advocate, that is most part due to the government inability to provide a viable sewage/sanitation system for its teeming masses. The trafffic is still shitty, the city itself is still very dirty. I am not a party person of any kind, but I still think 16 yrs of tinubu-fashola admistration could have done better and not just marginally. Theiir policies for the most part are counter productive, the BRT State run transport is averagely just as expensive as the commercial bus operators, unpuntual and a poor service record, most road developments are for those on the island, come to Ketu or Ojota and see the definition of bad roads. Lagos with its masssive tax system with proper management should be capable to finance a lot of capital infrastructures without the Feds. And for the record they should stop resorting to polictical excuses, abuja only withdrew the LG funds, they still a lion percentage of other allocations such as the petroleum funds etc. And that was only during Obasanjo’s time!. Finally pls let’s stop providing excuses for them not to do their jobs right. Nigeria as a country and a people must move forward and it starts with accountability!

  5. nunulicious

    July 8, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    What the heck?! second time this week the economist is coming for us Nigerians. Trust our low self-esteemed Nigerians to whole heartedly agree. I remember when “keeping it real with Deola” heckled president Mugabe, the Zimababwe folks came for her! Even though he looks ridiculous to the outside world, they defended him.
    So dear Lagosians why don’t you pick up your self pride from the gutter and call these western-media with their falsified reports and data to order?!!
    Dear economist,
    I grew up and was “bred and buttered” in Lagos. This mega city OF MINE has given me the hustle mind and has taught me that I don’t need anyone to survive. This mega city has triggered so many start up businesses. So what if we have a few bad points? give us 20 years from now and you’ll eat your words! ptsheeeew!
    and bruno fierce for someone who has access to the internet in this 21st century sometimes the best response to your comments is “Really?!!”


      July 8, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      May you live long! ISEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

    • Idomagirl

      July 8, 2015 at 7:37 pm

      Did you even read the article?

  6. tony

    July 8, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    KUDOS TO MY MENTOR BABATUNDE RAJI FASHOLA!!!! APC needs to bow down to that man everydaily!!!!!!!

  7. garland orhue

    July 8, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    is nothing new except Lagos was scored. And for the record they left out Makoko.

  8. ednutey

    July 9, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    ”Men urinate on the don’t urinate signs, people hawk by the don’t hawk signs and loiter by the no loitering signs” – this part aptly describes lagosians, not also forgetting they paste posters on the Do Not Paste Posters signs…lol

    Eko refuse lati baje o

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