Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial hub, turns 50 in 2017. To mark the state’s new age with a celebration, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has created a committee who are set to commemorate in a big way. Several projects are underway in the state as citizens prepare for next year and one of them is taking place across the city’s state schools. Polly Alakija, a Nigerian artist has been put in charge of the “One Lagos” project, which involves producing artwork for the city.

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I am currently working with the One Lagos team at Kuramo School – one of Lagos’s state schools on the island. The children at Kuramo are designing wraps with the assistance of Polly Alakija for Lagos buses. I have had the chance to supervise the students and get to know them and one thing that created a spark in me was their eagerness and ambition to strive for success regardless of the daily hardships that they face. From setting goals to become bankers to wanting to get in to the agricultural industry, the children at Kuramo are making the most of their education and empowering themselves for a brighter future.

Nigeria’s public education sector is a continuous issue that many advocates speak up about, as it is believed that Federal and State Governments do not spend enough money on education. However, I visited Kuramo for the first time two years ago while introducing technology to the school under a project called ‘Laptops 4 Learning’. I was surprised by the conditions that children were expected to excel in. It was then that the poor quality of Nigeria’s education sector really became known to me. Having said that, I was so elated to walk in to Kuramo last week and see the work that Lagos State had put underway to improve the conditions of the school. The classrooms had sturdy desks, the buildings were refurbished and the aura was a lot more positive.

I decided to come up with a list of goals that I believe Lagosians such as myself should work towards before we turn 50:

  1. Encouraging effective implementation of policy regarding public education in the state
  2. Keeping Lagos clean and discouraging unlawful acts such as littering
  3. Expanding the commercial hub further, towards areas such as Ajah to reduce congestion
  4. Supporting small businesses aiming to thrive during the current nationwide economic struggle
  5. Protecting our oceans and discouraging pollution, attracting more tourists to Lagos city

Lagos State has evolved in to a beautiful, cosmopolitan and diverse state over the past fifty years. However, we still have work to do and change starts with individual citizens. From inspiring young children to discouraging the pollution of our land and sea, we can celebrate our new age on the world stage! We need to set goals to make Lagos better, encouraging tourism, more investment and a stronger city. Lagos has so much potential that we are currently trying to maximise, but we cannot maximise our potential without the support of every citizen. Let’s come together over the next few months to achieve goals that Lagos needs.