14 December 2018

Nigeria: 'Campaign to Free Lagos Is Quest for Democracy'

The Lagos State gubernatorial candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Jimi Agbaje, has explained that his campaign is founded on the yearnings of the people to experience true democracy, stressing that for the first time after 20 years, Lagos would escape the trap of one man's despotism.

Agbaje said the explanation became necessary against the backdrop of insults and falsehood being hurled at him by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) after his appearance at the venue of "Experience 13" celebration organised by House on the Rock Metropolitan Church in Lagos elicited tumultuous crowd approbation.

He reiterated his belief that godfather politics had held Lagos down leading to dilapidated schools, hopelessness, poverty and terrible traffic, adding that the fact that the party had to change its team in the middle of the game shows that the wish of one man supersedes the verdict of many.

While insisting that leaving Lagos under the control of one man can not augur well for democracy and the cosmopolitan status of the commercial capital of Nigeria, Agbaje said: "As a megacity, Lagos must rightly be compared with others around the world.

Sadly the comparison shows that Lagos has been and remains one of the worst cities to live in the world as it is presently ranked 138 of 140 global cities.

"Twelve years after promising and commencing the construction of the light rail system in Lagos, the project remains uncompleted. The example of the Addis Ababa Light Rail is instructive of what diligent governance can deliver. They commenced construction of the Addis Ababa Light Rail in 2011 - half-a-decade after Lagos."

The PDP governorship hopeful noted that within the past two decades, the government of Lagos, managed by the same set of people, has collected nearly N5.0trn or US$26bn in revenues and spent approximately N6.2trn or US$35bn.

He said the crucial question to ask the ruling party is "whether the outcomes generated by this level of expenditure has sustainably improved our state," just as he urged Lagos electorate to free themselves with their permanent voter cards.

He promised that if elected into office as governor next year, his administration would harness the entrepreneurial capacity of Lagosians to ensure that the economy of the state grows rapidly and competitively to ensure that sustainable businesses are built to create and support the employment.

He maintained that unless such a bold step was taken, Lagos stands the risk of further descent into one huge urban slum, stressing, "We must rebuild the industrial capacity that in recent years has been lost to our neighbouring states. Improving the quality of life of our citizens will remain unattained if their access, irrespective of their socio-economic status, to adequate healthcare continues to be unmet."

On waste management, the Pharmacist-turned politician remarked that it remains a fact of great shame that after 20 years of governance, the ruling party and its various re-incarnations are still unable to provide and implement a framework that ensures the continuous cleanliness of state.

The Universal Basic Health Coverage, according to him, will be run through a well structured and financed health insurance scheme as a key priority for a PDP administration, under his leadership in Lagos.

He said: "The failure of Lagos State, despite huge expenses, to discharge its responsibility as basic as waste management belittles us at the same time as it endangers our collective health. Lagos State must work for all citizens as a place where they can live, thrive and have a future.

"This campaign is about a new future for Lagos built by the entire community of Lagosians. I am clear about the key imperatives towards a brighter future for Lagos and the role of government therein. The government must serve the safety and security of residents and visitors alike as they pursue their legitimate ambitions."

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