Opinion: 10 Reasons Why Lagos CAN Afford To Be In The Opposition...

Opinion: 10 Reasons Why Lagos CAN Afford To Be In The Opposition Again

By Opinions | The Trent on April 5, 2015
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Lagos
Oshodi Bus Terminal Lagos | Mirjam van den Berg

by Chidi Okereke

So there’s this list that has been circulating on the web over the last couple of days about how Lagos cannot afford to be in the opposition again. I won’t lie, my first impression was a cheeky smile knowing my people in the APC wouldn’t stop at anything to provide cover for an obviously sub-par candidate whose campaign in this election has left a lot of people asking if Ambode really has what it takes to carry on Governor Fashola’s legacy.

On paper his qualifications look like a million bucks but in person, not so much.

Now whether Jimi Agbaje stands a chance against the APC political machinery in Lagos is a lecture for another day. But if the APC thinks this weak sh*t about how Lagos cannot afford to be in the opposition is going to sway voters from dumping Ambode, then they’re clearly not paying their Public Relations Overlords enough.

Anyway, I’d spare you the long sermon and get to my take on your “10 answers”. Please feel free to contest it in the comment box below.

  1. Federal Government is owing Lagos several billions of Naira. Lagos needs to be in sync with FG to get this paid?

ANSWER

I actively campaigned for and voted President-Elect Muhammadu Buhari, a good man, and I take comfort in the General’s words that he intends to be fair to all Nigerians, not just Nigerians in his party. Now I find this “Lagos needs to be in sync with the FG” statement a bit shocking and slightly misrepresentative of the mandate that Buhari now holds. Are you alluding to the fact that Buhari will not be a fair President and would pursue a vindictive agenda towards Lagos if Jimi Agbaje happens to win on April 11? Bruh! Your spin-masters need to come correct.  Case closed.

  1. All abandoned FGN buildings can be put to better use. If Lagos governor and president are in same party, the FGN can be persuaded to embark on urban renewal and build new towns in Lagos as done in the Shagari era?

ANSWER

The Government of Alhaji Lateef Jakande was in the opposition during the time of President Shehu Shagari. But it did not stop the ruling party at the centre from building the new towns in Lagos. Again, I believe that the General Buhari I voted for and the Federal Government will not pursue a vindictive agenda against Lagos, regardless of the Party that the people prefer to vote for in the forthcoming gubernatorial elections.

I agree that abandoned FGN buildings in Lagos can be put to better use and Jimi Agbaje in the course of his campaign has made it clear that he intends to engage with the Federal Government to resolve these issues, for the ultimate benefit of the people in Lagos.  The last time I checked, Jimi Agbaje had talked specifically about simplifying the process and eliminating the bottlenecks placed by the current Lagos State Government to frustrate genuine titleholders to FGN properties trying to regularize ownership and title. Currently there are more than 15 different processes before Federal title can be perfected in Lagos State. Next.

  1. Lagos deserves Special Status as Economic Capital of Nigeria?

ANSWER

This one I agree. Lagos does deserve Special Status as the Economic Capital of Nigeria, and this is an issue that has been actively pursued by the representatives of the people of Lagos at the National Assembly. Senator Oluremi Tinubu; Senator Solomon Adeola and Senator Gbenga Ashafa and our representatives have been elected by the people of Lagos to uphold their rights and interests at the National Assembly. I believe that they will continue to vigorously fight for the Special Status that Lagos needs without regard to political consideration. Or is the Lagos APC stating publicly that these APC senators will withdraw their support for the Special Status if their party is not in Government in Lagos State?

  1. 70% of nationally collected VAT is from Lagos. Yet Lagos gets no preference from FG when sharing?

ANSWER

My people, VAT is a Federal tax, collected and administered by the Federal Inland Revenue Board. If we are truly advocating for change and we have the likes of the General Buhari and Pastor Osinbajo at the helms of affairs at the Federal level, what is there to fear? In fact, with Jimi Agbaje – who has been known to work across the isle and to be a strong collaborator, what’s there to fear, really? The responsibility to review on the current distribution of the nationally collected VAT rests solely on the Federal Government. As we have done in the past, we could push from the state, but the FG will make the final call. My hope is that they make the right decision when Lagos comes calling.

  1. Lagos hardly benefits from Ecological funds even though it needs it more than any other state?

ANSWER

Wait, I thought Lagos State has successfully applied and received funds in the past from the Ecological fund, notably in 2011 (relief materials) and 2012 (funds). I have no reason to believe that an APC led Federal Government will be so unfair as to stop Lagos from benefiting in the event of a natural or ecological disaster.

  1. The only reason why Lagos residents are not enjoying 24hrs power is because it has been in the opposition. Lagos has the capacity to build IPP for Lagosians and deliver 24hrs power in a matter of 2 yrs?

ANSWER

Throwing everything including the Generator? First and foremost, it’s clear from this statement that whoever put up this point has no clear understanding of how this sector operates, so I’ll try and dumb this down as best as I can. As we speak the distribution and generation of power has been standardized which has given rise to private sector driven entities like Egbin Power, Eko DisCo etc. Essentially, anyone can build a generation plant by walking up to the NEC and applying for a license. The fact that transmission still remains the prerogative of the FG solely doesn’t preclude individual state governments however from generating captive power – which is what Lagos has done in this case with its IPPs to power government facilities and buildings. An expansion of the current structure to include transmission will require major reform which wouldn’t just be about Lagos but about the entire country. Neither Ambode nor Jimi are in a position to force that. That responsibility will lie on the General Buhari and his team. By the way, if you’ve followed JK’s campaign closely, he has stated that he intends to continue to expand the IPP program in Lagos, working to attain power self-sufficiency especially for public and government-owned buildings.

  1. PDP will only reverse the trend of progress. We have seen what they can do at the FG level?

ANSWER

After 16 years of the same party in Lagos State, Jimi Agbaje offers the possibility of a great leap in progress, not marginal improvements.  He offers the ordinary people of Lagos a change in their circumstances, a real improvement in their daily lives.  Take a look at his Manifesto (www.jimiagbaje.com/manifesto) and check out what I’d say is a pretty robust plan for improving Health, Education, Housing, Transportation, and providing much needed infrastructure across all of Lagos, not just in specific areas but in all the forgotten corners.

  1. Federal Roads and bridges in Lagos need rehabilitation 

ANSWER

How can you complain about Federal roads when majority of the roads in Lagos are State owned? Without taking away from Governor Fashola’s work, our state roads, by far, are in need of help. Take a drive to Ifako-Ijaiye, Akowonjo, Egbeda, Okota, and see for yourself. Let the center focus on their roads. We have a handful to deal with here. Kachiko?

  1. All tribes are represented in Lagos and the social facilities are stretched thin.

ANSWER

I’m not sure how to answer this. You’re not alluding to deporting anyone are you? So what if all tribes are represented in Lagos. That’s what makes it Lagos. Whether it’s Jimi or Ambode, if we can find a way to plug the wholes created by corruption and we have a state government that’s slightly less elitist than what we’ve had in the past, I’m sure we will do just fine with an IGR of N300B. This is not a question of alignment with the center; it’s a question of who is the less corrupt out of these two candidates. I’ll leave that to the voters to decide.

  1. Prosperity of Nigeria is tied to the prosperity of Lagos. This is Common sense politics.

ANSWER

Yes, I absolutely agree. Our prosperity as a country is definitely not tied to the prosperity of the APC or selected politicians. Now that this leans towards the populist conversation, a Jimi Agbaje led government rather than an Akin Ambode government is more likely to cater to the needs of the ordinary man and woman. We know where the APC left us with affordable homes for ordinary Lagosians; affordable state schools (go ask LASU and LASPOTECH students); respect for social service providers like Doctors; Okada riders and ‘Igbo destitutes’… I’ll stop there for now.

In this campaign, it is clear who has a more robust plan to deal with hardcore issues. Google-search for Jimi and Ambode’s manifestos if you have not already. I am an avid JK follower because the prosperity and opportunities he’s offering are not for a select few, but for all the people of Lagos regardless of origin, socio-economic background, physical limitation and gender.  I have followed Jimi Agbaje’s campaign closely, listened to him speak at various events, watched him floor his opponents in debates, read his tweets, Facebook posts, and every page of his manifesto which is why I’ll be voting for him come the 11th of April. And I encourage you to do the same.

God bless you. God bless Lagos!

Chidi Okereke writes on twitter via @Chydee

Opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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