Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, on Sunday led top chieftains and lawmakers of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to receive a delegation of US Congress, led by Congressman Darelle Issa, where he said that the state is the citadel for growth and development of Nigeria.
Speaking at an interactive session with the US delegation at the Lagos House, Marina, where issues bothering on deepening democracy, trade relations and tackling Boko Haram insurgency taking centre stage at the meeting, Governor Ambode said the US democratic experience was one that would be beneficial not only to Lagos, but also to Nigeria.
The Governor commended the US government for its role in ensuring the peaceful conduct of the 2015 general elections, saying that the country has benefitted from their democratic credentials.
“The parliamentary structure that we have is synonymous with what is obtainable in the US. APC as a party is the first in the history of Nigeria to unseat an incumbent government and we want to imbibe the tenets of democratic values,” the Governor said.
Governor Ambode also told his visitors that the state leverages on its population and cosmopolitan nature and perhaps the most buoyant economy in West Africa.
“I want to let you know that you are in the commercial capital of Nigeria, Lagos represents the future citadel of entrepreneurship in this country. As we speak, the population is nearing 21 million of which four million are actually middle class. We’re the fifth largest economy in Africa and our GDP has hit $131billion, more than 42 African countries put together,” he said.
He said the thrust of his administration is to be able to touch as many lives as possible and make life easier for residents, saying that the state government is committed to pursuing this ideal in the next four years.
To achieve this, the Governor said his administration is ready to entrench moral leadership, saying that it would latch on to the experience of the US to better the lot of its people.
“As we proceed, the party is committed to learning the best ideals of democracy and that’s where I want to take this advantage to learn from you. We want to be transparent, we want to be credible, we want to bring a leadership to the table that is open, we want a government of inclusion, we don’t want to leave the people behind. Lagos is more like New York because it is a cosmopolitan state where the largest concentration of foreigners live. So it’s important that everyone is carried along, we’re committed to that,” he said.
He listed the areas of collaboration the state government was looking towards improving upon to include security and trade relations.
Earlier, Congressman Issa Darelle, a Republican, explained that though America could be viewed as possessing high democratic values it was also striving towards perfection of democracy, urging that rather than emulate the American democracy, Nigeria should strive to better the America experience.
He also urged Lagos State to as a matter of urgency, collaborate with the Federal Government, in tackling issues of insecurity issues in the country, especially the Boko Haram menace, saying the fight could not be left alone for the government at the centre to handle.
Among those in attendance at the interactive session include members of U.S Congress, Carolyn Manoney, Sheila Jackson Lee and Blake Farenthold, Chairman, Lagos APC, Otunba Henry Ajomale (right), Women Leader, South West APC, Mrs. Kemi Nelson, acting US Consul General in Lagos, Ms. Dehab Ghebreab (2nd left) and the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello, House of Representatives and State Assembly lawmakers from Lagos, among others.