By Mike Ebonugwo
Undaunted by past gubernatorial failures, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate in Lagos State, Mr Jimi Agbaje, at the weekend strongly reiterated his renewed resolve to end what he sees as the prevailing administrative hegemony in Lagos by dislodging the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, from Government House, Alausa, Ikeja.
He made this pitch at an event, which had all the trappings of a carnival, to announce his formal declaration and the commencement of his campaign.
Venue was the Ultima Studios in Lekki with a stage set to enliven the political atmosphere with an entertainment experience. Indeed, after an eagerly anticipated wait, the man of the moment was invited to make his grand entry and he mounted the stage like a star performer, with combination of strobe and television camera lights as well as stage smoke giving him a magical, surreal appearance. And roared on by his crowd of supporters, he took an all-round bow with a flourish.
His performance, however, almost turned sour when a young lady in the crowd asked him why he should be in the race after being turned down twice?
His response was that a man who loves a woman would not give up on her after being turned down twice, the candidate said as he swore his love for Lagos.
Agbaje who spoke extempore said his persistent quest to rule Lagos to a determined suitor seeking to win the heart and consent of the woman he loves for marriage, he said he was on a rescue mission because Lagos, according to him, is not working presently due to what he described as the many vested interests plaguing it.
Speaking further, he said Lagos has not been working because those in charge of its administration in the past 20 years failed to do the needful, adding: “These people… have been in government for 20 years,(but) what do we have 20 years after?” To which the audience loudly chorused: nothing! Looking at transportation, health, education and housing, his verdict was that they have all fared badly due to neglect in the last 20 years.
Transportation: Lagos without rail
“In the last 20 years, we cannot say we have had any major opening in Lagos. One of those things that will make you want to go abroad is transportation… Lagos is one of two megacities in the world that does not have a light rail system… Under Jakande, … the roads leading to Badagry, Epe, were done in four years. Please tell me: In the last 20 years what have these people done in terms of opening up Lagos? Yet every election they talk of doing 4th Mainland Bridge. Since 2003 there has been no 4th Mainland Bridge; there has been no opening up of Lagos.
N6trn spent in 20 years
“We have a situation we’re making a lot of money for Lagos, but some people have decided that the money is for themselves. In politics, you seek power either for service or self. I am seeking power for service; they are in power for self. In 20 years, those that have been there have spent over N6 trillion (over $35 billion!). And what do we have to show for it?” Again, his supporters chorused: nothing!
Agbaje also accused those who have been in power in the state for the last 20 years of practising “only selfish democracy which does not make them democrats”, adding: “… I will show in the course of the campaign that they are definitely not democrats”.
Continuing, he said: “The future must be bright for us(chorus of Amen!). You may ask or think: What is the problem? Why is it that 20 years after, six trillion naira after, nothing is working. The truth is that Lagos is not working because you have vested interest; it’s time to remove the vested interest.
It’s the vested interest that decides who will govern you in the state; they’re the ones deciding who will be your chairman and councillors at the local government. They’re the ones who have made it such that local governments are completely ineffective. In fact, the local government is not else but a political machinery for them.
“It’s time to put a stop to that. It’s time to elect a governor where the buck stops on his table. There’s nobody that they can bring, who can openly and honestly claim that the buck stops on his or her table. I Jimi Agbaje tell you categorically that as governor, the buck will stop on my table(loud applause). Lagos deserves better.
This campaign is a campaign between the people’s Lagos and one man’s Lagos. We’re going to campaign and tell the people of Lagos to decide on what kind of governance they want: one man’s kind of governance or the people kind of governance.
Thomas Jefferson said: “Government that fears the people will bring about liberty, but a situation where the people fear the government, it’s tyranny.”(applause). What we’re having today is that the people are beginning to fear the government. And so we’re taking the risk of tyranny. It’s has just started, but we must stop it before it grows any further.”
Concluding, he said: “I want to tell you that trust me: You talk about the JA you know, the JA you trust(resounding applause). The JA you have always known has not changed. I want to assure you: those who voted for us(in 2015) remain intact; I know that base has not changed. In 2019, we’re going to expand that base. We’re not only going to beat them, we’re going to beat them flat(sustained applause).
I want you to mark my words. Today, they have shown that they are afraid. They said I’m their customer. But they forgot something: That the customer is king. That king is on ground today. From today till March 2nd, in fact by February, they will know that the game is over.
We’re ready for them. Anything that they want, we’re ready; they throw one, we throw two; they throw two we throw three. So, don’t worry, the game has just started. So, let the campaign begin!”(roaring cheers, singing and applause).