Gridlock, poor healthcare, and issues in the educational sector were major talking points at the Lagos gubernatorial debate which held on Sunday, January 13.
The debate which was organised by “The Platform”, had as part of the debaters Mr Bababatunde Badamosi (Action Democratic Party), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (All Progressives Congress), Mr Jimi Agbaje (Peoples Democratic Party) and Owolabi Salis (Alliance for Democracy).
At the debate which held in Lagos, each candidate spoke about their varied plans on how to reposition the state and keep the metropolis functioning at a global standard.
Salis Targets Decentralisation of Lagos Commonwealth
For Owolabi Salis, the gubernatorial candidate of AD, decentralisation of Lagos commonwealth is key to transforming the state.
He said if voted into office as the governor of the state, he will ensure that the state’s commonwealth is taken away from the hands of one person.
“I want to take away the commonwealth that is in the hands of an individual and give it to the people of Lagos state,” Mr Salis said.
He expressed concern over the state’s finance, claiming it is in the hands of one person and that has led to the high rate of poverty in the state.
He also noted that education is another factor that can reduce the poverty rate in the state.
According to him, education is a basic need of life and the rich do not have a problem with educating their children but the poor cannot afford to train their children in schools.
“The less privileged have a problem with educating their children.
“If you go to some schools in Apapa or Amukoko you will see the children sitting on the floor while some carry chairs on their head to go to schools”.
Mr Salis also noted that he will appoint 50 Special Assistants to aid governance in various wards when he gets into office as the governor of the state.
According to Salis, “My first week in office, I will set up a ward executive council in every ward and appoint some special assistants in every ward at least 50”.
He regretted that the state had a ‘big problem’ to solve which the present administration had created.
Gbadamosi Believes Devolution of Power Will Solve Lagos Gridlock
The candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Babatunde Gbadamosi, said the traffic nightmare that Lagosians have contended with for years can be solved by focusing on three things – rail transport, use of barges and devolution of powers.
He said, “There are a number of ways to tackle this problem. The most obvious one is rail. Secondly, barges to lift containers from the actual wharfs and take them to lighter terminals all around Lagos, and, thirdly, devolution of powers. It’s time we started this discussion about devolution of power.”
According to Gbadamosi, the ports, being in Lagos and the level of revenue being lost as a result of the gridlock is unconscionable.
“I’m not having it,” he said. “So, the first thing we are going to do is to copy the Ethiopians and build a heavy rail line, the length of Lagos State – all the way from Badagry to Ode Omi with branches going up to every exit point by road of Lagos.
“The point with this is that all of these exit points must have container terminals where the trains will pass through Apapa and Ibafo will deposit their goods so that people coming from out of state, which is quite common, will not clog up the roads with their trailers.”
Gbadamosi also said the first thing he will fix if elected as governor is public sector pay.
This, according to him, is because there is a massive gap between what public sector workers are paid and the kind of service they are expected to offer.
Consequently, he plans to up the pay of workers once he gets into power.
He said, “The first thing I am going to be looking at very quickly is public sector pay. What we pay as civil servants and what we demand from them – there is a massive gulf between the two.
“Our civil servants are very disgracefully paid, and we want them to deliver the 21st Century service to us in Lagos State. That is not going to happen at the sort of pay levels we are offering them right now. So, we are going to upgrade civil service pay very quickly.”
Sanwo-Olu Claims He is His Own Man, Says ‘I Am Going To Be In Charge’
Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu insisted that he will not take instructions from anybody or group in leading Lagos if elected the governor of the state.
Speaking during the Platform’s governorship debate, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Jimi Agbaje had queried the ability of his APC rival to lead the state.
He said, “I believe the question is to look at Lagosians and say I am going to be in charge, that the bulk is going to stop on his table.”
But the APC candidate swiftly saying, “Mr Sanwo-Olu had had a unique opportunity of running the state budget; I am my own person.”
He further listed his achievements as a commissioner in Lagos, including the introduction of the Lekki Free Trade Zone.
Other projects Sanwo-Olu highlighted are the 767 – 112 control and command centre, security trust fund, as well as the first pension board in the country.
Sanwo-Olu also promised to tackle the problem of traffic jams if elected into office.
With 33 days to the general elections, he vowed to also make the gridlock in the Apapa axis of the state a thing of the past in less than four months.
“First on the list, I will tackle the traffic problem of Lagos frontally,” Sanwo-Olu said during ‘The Platform’s debate which held on Sunday in Lagos.
He explained further, “Out of the two traffic gridlocks that we have identified, some are low-hanging that we can resolve within the first 60 days … the first 60 days is to solve the ones that are low-hanging.
“Within the first 100 days, I will tackle the gridlock in Apapa … I will make sure that it’s a nightmare and we will not see that again.”
On how he intended to achieve this, the APC candidate disclosed plans to engage the private sector with a productive discourse in which stakeholders would set an agenda for the next four years.
He added that he would convene a town hall meeting to inform the public sector about the new ways of engagement to develop the state.
Agbaje Says Lagos Government Being Run In A ‘Very Opaque’ Manner
The Lagos gubernatorial candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Jimi Agbaje said the state government is being run in a ‘very opaque’ manner.
Reacting to questions regarding the running of Lagos state, Agbaje said as governor, he will “Let Lagos know there is a new sheriff in town by carrying everybody along”.
Agbaje stressed that technology will play a key role in drive the various process that makes the state a mega-metropolis.
On the issue of easing traffic congestions in Lagos, Agbaje said by employing radar technology and proper town planning the state will enjoy major ease in the gridlocks commuters encounter daily.
“The idea is to have even development across Lagos state so that you are having less of movement from one end of Lagos to the other,” Agbaje said.
He argued that the different parts of Lagos must be looked into as to make them self-containing.
In the educational sector, Agbaje decried the lack of access to the internet suffered by children in public schools.
“Technology is a new world and our children in public schools have no exposure to technology,” the PDP gubernatorial candidate opined.
He, however, promised that “every primary school will have the internet facility” adding that “with an internet connection, you must have power, technology will drive the process of education”.
Agbaje went on to argue that the reason the schools in Lagos are yet to get fully equipped technologically and internet-wise, is because the government has continued to place obstacles in the path of those looking to equip the schools.
“Those that have been there for the last 20 years have put obstacles for technology, in terms of the right of way”.