Lagos: A Study in The Paradox of Wealth

Marcus A.
4 min readMar 13, 2023


Of the 54 countries in Africa, only 8 (including Nigeria) are richer than Lagos State. Of the 15 ECOWAS member states, only Ghana’s economy is as large as that of Lagos. You can actually sum up the GDP of 9 ECOWAS countries and it would be less than Lagos State’s GDP.

If Lagos State were a country, it would be the 9th largest economy in Africa

Out of 172 cities sampled from all over the world by The Economist Intelligence Unit, only one has worse living conditions than Lagos. Lagos actually shares worst place for Healthcare, Stability, and Education with the likes of Karachi in Pakistan, Harare in Zimbabwe, and Damascus in Syria.

The above statements should not be simultaneously true. Sadly, they are.

Of the 36 states in Nigeria, Lagos state has the highest IGR i.e. income from corporate taxes, employee income taxes, local government levies, etc. Matter of fact, when you consider the average revenue generated from each person in Lagos State, it’s more than 2 times any other state in the country.

Source: BudgIT Nigeria — State of States

This is not considering income the state makes from Federal Government Allocations. While Lagos State already makes more from its tax payers than any other state in Nigeria, it also remains one of the top 5 beneficiaries of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).

If all that is not enough, Lagos State also maintains the highest level of debt (both local and foreign) of all the 36 states in Nigeria. Its Operating Expenses & Loan Repayments are more than twice that of any other state in the Federation.

Source: BudgIT Nigeria — State of States

So what do Lagosians get from living in the 2nd richest economy in ECOWAS with significant tax income, high Federal Allocation and substantial debt, with consistent uninterrupted leadership by the same political party for the past two and a half decades?

Not much, if we are being honest.

Even if we ignore the preponderance of evidence hinting at the state’s resources being “poorly managed”, quality of life in Lagos is simply not great. Just ask any former Lagosian that has relocated to Abuja or even nearby Ibadan.


Businesses are not having a great time either. According to the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), Lagos State (Nigeria’s economic hub) ranks at #20 out of the 36 states, when considering the Ease of Doing Business.

Unfortunately the current governor has been too preoccupied with other concerns to actually face the task of running the state during his first term.

However, while Sanwo-Olu hasn’t been great, Lagos State’s “leadership problems” didn’t start with him. In the last 24 years, the state has been run by a single political party, with one particular individual more or less determining its governors.

The pertinent question for Lagosians now is, Is APC the best Lagos can do?

In the past, the Nigerian electorate has struggled with credible candidates. Nigerian voters were usually stuck deciding between the devil and the deep blue sea. The 2023 election cycle has however thrown up a few good options. And the 40-year old Labour Party candidate clearly stands out from the rest.

From healthcare to water and waste management, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour (popular referred to as GRV) not only demonstrates competence, but clear, well-thought out plans for his vision of a new Lagos.

While the incumbent party has been busy deploying deflection tactics and outright lies, GRV continues to pursue his ambitions with the dignity AND confidence that only genuine pedigree can command.

While a president has a lot more influence on your future (and that of your children) than a state governor, a governor impacts your everyday life experience a lot more. Lagosians should be pushing for a new administration in Lagos as much as they pushed for a new President in Nigeria, if not more.

The same way Sub-Saharan Africa looks to Nigeria to become the global Giant it was meant to be, the country also looks to Lagos come into its own and become a truly great place to be.

Lagosians have the opportunity to change the narrative this year. Let’s hope they do.