Ambode, Agbaje, others at debate, differ over Fashola’s performance, unveil manifestoes
POLITICAL gladiators in the Lagos State governorship race in the February poll Thursday went face-to-face to unveil their plans for citizens and why they should be voted into office.
The packed audience at the Archbishop Vining Memorial Cathedral Church (AVMCC), Ikeja, showed surprise that the Lagos guber race has more than two candidates.
Besides the front runners: Akinwunmi Ambode of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Jimi Agbaje of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the candidates are Michael Abiodun Popoola of the Labour Party; Ishola Atoyebi Aregbesola of Action Alliance and Bolaji Ogunseye of Alliance for Democracy.
Others are Pastor Kayode Jacobs of Mega Party; Comrade Ayodele Akele of National Conscience Party; Akinola Obadia of Independent Alliance and Victor Adegboyega of Ekowa Party, all of whom talked tough on the Lagos problems and their version of solution, if voted into office.
Bishop, Diocese of Lagos West Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and organiser of the political debate, Dr. Olusola Odedeji, in his opening remarks noted that the diocese, in collaboration with Badagry and Mainland Dioceses organised the epoch making event as part of their sensitisation effort to ensure Lagos gets the best leadership.
Unlike other aspirants that gave the APC government marginal credit of performance in the last 16 years, Agbaje of the PDP, Akele, Aregbesola and Popoola were of the position that the administration of Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) has not done well, especially in the area of education, investment-friendly economy and resource management.
Agbaje said very little should be expected of an educational system where 83 per cent of its budget is spent on salary and overhead cost, a claim Ambode later debunked, maintaining, “It amounts to sheer lips service to vocational skills and empowerment where only 1.5 per cent of the State budget is allocated to such purpose. Lagos needs 200, 000 new houses yearly, but all the government has created since 1999 is 25, 000, which is like scratching the issue on the surface,” he said.
Citing the fall in crude oil price, he added that there is the need to manage the available resources better, because the economic reality is direr than is currently aware of.
“There are lots of wastages in the Lagos system, even as it does not encourage businesses and growth. Lagos is today the worst state, according to World Bank survey, to get construction permit in Nigeria. It hardly allows permits to investors. It is rated 28 out of 36 to get your property registered in Nigeria. To expand the economy, you need to review the system.
Akele of the National Conscience Party said he could not understand why Lagosians don’t have potable water to drink, live amid chaotic traffic gridlocks, housing deficit, pay exorbitant fees in schools, unemployment and government officials arresting street hawkers.
Akele, a quantity surveyor by profession, said if elected to be governor, he would remove all toll plazas on Lekki-Epe Expressway; eradicate monthly sanitation exercise, inject 50, 000 buses on Lagos roads and industrialise the entire state, fashioned after Obafemi Awolowo’s model to create jobs for Lagosians.
Ambode, however, gave credit to the current administration, as he pledged that his plan – anchored on LAGOS (Leadership, Accountability, Good governance, Opportunity and Selfless-service) – would continue the good works of the Fashola-led administration.
He said that the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model that has ensured the Lagos State Security Trust Fund, put at N12billion, would be introduced into the job creation scheme to create one million jobs every year. Ambode promised that his government would introduce free-lunch programme in all public primary schools as well as introduce a two-door apartment scheme in the Lagos Homes Mortgage Scheme (LagosHOMS) for affordability and aroused interest in real estate.
Aregbesola of Action Alliance said he would address traffic congestions. “We discovered that traffic congestion in Lagos is as a result of corruption among the officials of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) because you always see them at Mile 12 and Ketu collecting bribes from commercial bus drivers instead of directing traffic.”
He added that they would improve on environmental sanitation, though they will not bring back commercial motorcyclists on the Highway.
Kayode Jacobs of Mega Party warned Lagosians to be wary of candidates that have godfathers. He said godfathers are very costly to the treasury of the state, adding that he would rule Lagos in the interest of the masses.