Nigeria: 'I'm Certain of Winning Lagos Gubernatorial Election On Saturday'

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interview

Mr. Jimi Agbaje is the standard bearer of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the gubernatorial election in Lagos State on Saturday. He spoke on his chances of defeating the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and how he plans to govern.

What are the issues between your campaign organisation and Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency (LASAA)?

This is not the first time we are running campaigns in Lagos, and there is the provision in the law that for politics, there is a waiver on adverts for as long as it is within the specified area and we followed that. The ruling party in Lagos has been having a field day on adverts before we started. They have been running their adverts on governor, deputy governor and others without issues and even electronics boards but when we put ours out on the Third Mainland Bridge, they were vandalised in a way that was disgusting. In fact, they were thrown on the bridge. For us it was intolerance, arrogance and lack of belief in democracy and when we protested, the reaction of the ruling party was surprising.

We accused the ruling party of vandalising our campaign materials and it came up to deny that it wasn't the one, but only for four days after, LASAA now came up to accept. We don't want to believe that it was the agency that did the first vandalisation of our materials, because if it was to be the agency I don't think by their training they should throw the materials on the bridge. What they normally do is to mark it or remove and take them away because it is a danger to traffic. I feel in trying to cover up their deeds because of public reaction, LASAA now tried to give legality to the illegality that took place by accepting that it did it because we did not take permission. But it took the agency four days after to come up with that. But after making our position clear, we went back to erect the billboards and other materials. Having done that again we now arrested some people destroying the same materials again in the night and we handed them over the police and they were people in LASAA uniform. It was after this the agency wrote a very unprofessional letter to us. My people wanted to reply but I said no, because there was no need to reply such unprofessional letter from a regulatory agency.

In the last few days, we now have another letter from another advert agency saying that it has the right to Third Mainland Bridge, and that this right was given to them by the Federal Government, because it is a federal highway and they now asked us to remove our boards.

The question then is, what was LASAA talking about? Could we say that LASAA was acting outside its jurisdiction? This meant that LASAA doesn't even have any right to Third Mainland Bridge, if the agency is correct. And I can tell you on record that we lost over 3,000 boards because LASAA kept coming after us and, of course, it was acting the script of the ruling party. But now we are told that it was not LASAA's business, which means the agency is merely taking decision it is not expected to take. If you look closely you will see that we don't have any billboard on the bridge because the agency that has the right to it has taken it over. This speaks volume about our democracy and the government in power. In a proper, civilized country, we are expected to claim damages and compensation for what has happened from LASAA and we are also expected to sue it along with the agents that were caught.

Apart from the Third Mainland Bridge incidents, are your campaign materials elsewhere in Lagos and do you seek LASAA's permission to place them in those places?

We are not because the guidelines say there is a waiver during elections and campaign time and that's what we are all working on and nobody seeks permission. I don't know of any parties that has sought permission to place campaign materials and it is not only on Third Mainland Bridge that our boards have ben vandalized; they have been destroyed all over Lagos. This is the height of intolerance and victimisation.

It has also been alleged that the security agents are not providing adequate security for you and your campaign organization?

I came across that and I was so surprised because there was no release from my organisation about security. Somebody drew my attention to it but it didn't come through our official channels. I have police protection and I am also in contact with the DSS for protection. I want to say the statement didn't come out from our campaign organisation.

How do you intend to deplore technology to address the issues of traffic in Lagos if elected?

Regarding traffic challenges in Lagos, we cannot say that those who have been in government in the last 20 years have planned for the future of the state. I will always refer to Lateef Jakande's era where we had to build the Lekki-Epe axis. If he didn't have that foresight, I don't know where we would be today? In the last 20 years, nothing much has been done in terms of roads being constructed and rehabilitation in this state and that is the first problem.

The other issue is that the way to address traffic is using urban planning. For example, when children are on holiday, there is less traffic on the roads, meaning people move less. This means in terms of good governance, the ideal thing is that children should be schooling near their homes so that we wouldn't have to see children travelling far to schools everyday. If there are good schools in every locality, children would not necessarily have to travel long distance. In another case, you are developing what we call self-contained areas, and by that we will have shopping complexes and offices in a place like Ikorodu. Today about 80 per cent of people residing in Ikorodu work outside the area, whereas it should be the other way round. This is all part of longtime planning that should underline issues.

Again, the definition of a mega city is that people are coming in everyday; over a million people flow around Lagos everyday. This means the issue of road must be adequately addressed. It is time to have another road, for instance, along Ikorodu. We should begin to do the multi-tarred road.

This government has also failed to do enough in fixing potholes and rehabilitation across the state, which is another short-term measure. Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) has been inefficient in the last few months, which again worsens the traffic situation. Another area I will address is the static traffic light we use currently.

I am going to deploy technology to address issues of waste. On waste management, I must say Lagos has lost out in terms of transformational leadership. It has not had any transformation in the real sense of it and that is why we are saying we are going to re-anchor the state, if we win, on the performance of Jakande's administration. What is happening in the state under APC is not the ideal situation.

For instance, the ideal situation in waste management is that Lagos generates 12,000 to 14,000 metric tones of waste daily, which is equivalent of 400 trailer loads. The issue is, how do we dispose this? If we have to take 400 trailer loads of waste to the landfill sight daily, you could imagine the type of problems that will generate? But in most advanced nations that is not the issue. Waste is no longer a challenge to them as it is to us now. In advanced nations, they go into recovery, recycle and reuse. Today, this government is relying on the use of landfill. The way forward is to recycle and reuse. To recover waste is a big challenge because of the bad state of our roads. This is the reason I still believe we still need the service providers to bring the waste from the inner roads.

There is the concern that you are not cozy with your party leaders in Lagos. Is this true?

That is not true. We have been doing everything together because we are all passionate about rescuing the state. In recent times, the party leaders have been together and we also met at Chief Olabode George's house in Ikoyi to fashion out ways forward, which was in response to the propaganda of the ruling party to fuel the impression that PDP is not united.

There have been several criticisms of the current administration. Is that good for democracy?

This is not about attack or propaganda, but the electorate is now asking questions, what has the ruling party achieved in the last 20 years? For example, you can point one to five achievements of Jakande that he left as a legacy just within four years. But what can we say about those that have been there for 20 years? Is it transportation, education or other infrastructure that is better? It is about issues and not propaganda. What we are saying is that those who have been there for 20 years are not there, not so much for service but for self and this plays out in Lagos in several ways that we all see. The economy and political powers of the state are concentrated in a few vested interests. We are giving a legacy to Jakande 37 years after. I wonder what would be given to these people in 20 years to come.

Lagos is the worst state in Nigeria to get approval for building. This is World Bank's ranking not me. We have an economic intelligence unit report that puts Lagos at 138. People try to think that the state is fantastic but no. It is only fantastic to those who do not know the reality on ground.

Do you look up to forming alliance with other parties?

Yes, we are already doing that and you remember we had one with Accord Party when its governorship candidate stepped down for me.

Would probe the activities of your predecessors when you get into office?

It is not about probing because it would amount to a waste of time. It is a time-wasting process to say you will probe but that is not to say in the course of governance things that are wrong would be corrected but it would not be with the mind to witch-hunt. It is a military thing to probe and why they do that is to justify their seizure of government through coup.

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