Following media reports regarding the proposed ₦150,000 safety audit fees for tech hubs and co-working spaces in Lagos, the state government has suspended its planned implementation.
On Tuesday (September 27, 2022), Techpoint exclusively reported that Lagos State Government has begun enforcing a yearly safety audit on co-working spaces and tech hubs as part of the Lagos State Safety Commission (LSC)'s responsibility to ensure the safety of lives and properties in the state.
The audit which was slated to be carried out between September and November 2022 by Aquicorn Projects was received with several criticisms. "To ensure adequate stakeholders engagement and representation, the Commission wishes to suspend the planned audit whilst providing further necessary training sessions with the facility," Lanre Mojola, the LSC's Director General said in a statement.
The management of some of the Lagos-based declined to comment on the issue when Benjamindada.com reached out. Since some of the public criticisms were describing the audit fee as a tax, Mojola added that "the Safety Audit fee is not an arbitrary fee. This fee is statutorily associated with facilities that engage and welcome members of the public beyond a certain footfall in many business and civic sectors."
It is NOT and will not ever be a revenue-generating fee. — Lanre Mojola
The commission further defended the fee stating that its priority is the safety of Lagos residents: "the importance of Occupational Safety and Health cannot be overemphasized, as accidents occur daily without prior notice. These sudden unplanned occurrences may lead to injuries, disabilities or in some cases fatalities."
The Lagos State Safety Commission was inaugurated in May 2009 as an office of Public Safety under the Ministry of Special Duties to set safety standards for all sectors involved in the socio-economic activities in the state. It was signed into law in July 2011 as a full-fledged commission and subsequently began operations.
Who owns Aquicorn Projects?
Contracted to conduct the safety audit on tech hubs and co-working spaces in Lagos is Aquicorn Projects, a private safety assessment company. In an introduction letter to these hubs, the company identified itself as the lead consultant to the LSC for "banking, techs, recreational parks and gardens, insurance and manufacturing sector."
The Nigerian Corporate Registry states that Aquicorn Projects was incorporated in 2018 and was based in Yaba at the time of the incorporation with Shekoni Idris Abiodun, Oloba Oluwajoba and Ogedengbe Peter as individuals with significant control in the company.
It is important to note that Oloba and Ogedengbe are co-founders of The Nest, a Lagos-based tech innovation hub.
According to a Nigerian open contracting expert who pleaded anonymity, "expertise and technicalities are important when giving out contracts, so contracting a local company that is experienced in how tech hubs in Lagos work is commendable."
"However, there is a question of competition and fairness since the individuals running Aquicorn Projects also own a tech hub in the same jurisdiction they are meant to audit," he added.
- This is a developing story, we will update it with more details soon.
- We added more details about Aquicorn Projects (September 29, 2022. 13:30 WAT)