At debate, Lagos guber candidates differ on corruption, indigeneship, others


Tempers flared among Lagos State gubernatorial candidates during the debate organised by Lagos West Diocese of the Anglican Communion on Tuesday when they shared contrary opinions on corruption, indigeneship and other critical issues affecting the state.

In an attempt to impress the audience, each contender tried to outwit the other to get the support of voters in the March 2 gubernatorial debate. The candidates were Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC), Jimi Agbaje of People’s Democratic Party, (PDP), Owolabi Salis of Alliance for Democracy (AD), Mr. Babatunde Gbadamosi of Action Democratic Party (ADP), and Muyiwa Fafowora of African Democratic Congress (ADC). Others were Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP), Segun Musa, National Conscience Party (NCP), Funsho Awe, Alliance National Party (ANP), Barrister Ladipo Johnson; Abundant Renewal Party (ANRP), Arch. Abiodun Dabiri, Young Progressive Party (YPP), Adebisi Ogunsanya, Labour Party (LP), Olurotimi Olulana, and Social Democratic Party (SDP), Adetokunbo Pearce.

The debate, which was held at the Archbishop Vining Memorial Church Cathedral, G.R.A, Ikeja, became heated when candidates were asked how they intended to tackle corruption in the state.

In his contribution, Agbaje said the only way the state government could show transparency and accountability is if it domesticates the Freedom of Information Act. He said anything besides that would only be cosmetic and not holistic.

According to him, “We cannot be talking about transparency when there is so much opacity in the government. How much does the government actually spend on infrastructure and how much is budgeted? What is there to hide? The people should be able to know how their taxes are being spent and what it is spent on.”

Awamaridi said if he wins, he would establish an anti-corruption agency to try corrupt officials while Gbadamosi alleged that most corrupt practices in the government were perpetuated by poorly paid civil servants. He promised increased workers’ pay and putting mechanisms in place to stop leakages if elected as governor.

Also speaking, Fafowora said any candidate whose campaign was being sponsored by the state government or by contractors is corrupt. According to him, such a person should not be suggesting ways to end corruption.

He noted, “If we are going to be sincere about corruption, we should not be afraid to speak the truth. If contractors or the state government is sponsoring your campaign, then you are corrupt. It is big time fraud for the finances of a state government to be used in financing the campaign of a candidate and it is also fraudulent for government contractors to finance a campaign. If that happens, the candidate is corrupt.”

But on the contrary, APC standard-bearer, Sanwo-Olu, knocked his opponents, saying corruption is the consequence of the failure of parents to raise their children properly. He said no one should blame government if parents failed to discipline their children.

He insisted that disciplined children grow into wholesome adults who would not engage in corrupt practices in their workplace or businesses. He also advised citizens to report any government official caught collecting bribes or engaging in corrupt practices.

According to him, “We cannot be making assumptions on who is funding anyone’s campaign. Anytime that the issue of corruption is raised I always insist that these vices start from the families. When parents raise their kids properly, they would not engage in corrupt practices when they grow up. Every citizen of Lagos has the responsibility to ensure that things are done the right way. When you see a LASTMA official collecting bribe or when you go to a government agency and you are asked for bribe, report such a person to the relevant authorities or you can even post the information to social media.”

Another topic that generated tension among the candidates was the issue of indigeneship. While some of them advocated that the original indigenes of the state deserve preferential treatment over non-indigenes, others argued that anyone born in Lagos is automatically becomes an indigene and should be treated equally.

Pearse, Gbadamosi and Agbaje argued alike, saying that migrants to Lagos have contributed in making the state the mega city that it is today. They, however, said that despite advocating for equality, the rights of indigenes should not be trampled upon and they should also be given a special quota especially in the area of education.

But Faforwa cautioned against using the issue of indigeneship to score political points, saying that migrants have never posed a threat to anyone. He insisted that even though there are indigenes, everyone should be treated equally.

On his part, Awe was of the view that Lagos belongs to everyone, saying, “Even those who claim to be indigenes migrated to the state at a point in time in their lives.”

But Salis, who held a different point of view, said there were some vested interests that were using the issue of indigeneship to divide the people adding, “In Lagos, we have the visitors, indigenous people, para –indigenous people and the settlers. But we should see Lagos as a cosmopolitan state that serves the interests of everybody.”

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