Friends of Jimi Agbaje Worldwide, PDP UK and the old students of St.Gregory College Lagos organised an interactive fund-raising event tagged ‘An Evening with Jimi Agbaje’ for Nigerians in diaspora on Sunday January 4th, 2015 in North London. The amiable gubernatorial candidate gave an extempore speech as he brilliantly shed light on his blueprint for a new Lagos – a blueprint that will be beneficial to both the present and future generations of Lagosians and Nigerians in general.
The interactive session attracted the crème de la crème of the Nigerian community in the United Kingdom, Europe, America as well as some invited guests from Nigeria. Jimi Agbaje, a pharmacist by training and a man described in many quarters as a political jinx breaker and the voice of the masses, kicked off his speech by painting a picture of what is really at stake in the forthcoming elections. He said: “Lagosians must determine the Lagos of their dreams as they cast their votes for their next Executive Governor. It is up to them to choose either REAL CHANGE or the continuity of the same old policies that have favoured a few and created more hardship for the greater part of the population. Let me give you three scenarios to further explain the give-and-take policies of the current administration:
- Think for second about the commercial motorcyclists popularly called Okada riders. They were all given safety crash helmets before the 2011 election by the ruling party. After they won the election, the government withdrew their crash helmets and seized and destroyed their motorcycles. This left many of them without jobs and in deep hardship because their main means of livelihood was now forcefully taken away from them without any form of palliative measures put in place.
- In a typical Lagos market, market women are subjected to N1000 per day levy before they are able to display their wares for sale. This illegal revenue – with no proof of official receipt – goes directly into the coffers of the local government authority completely unaccounted for. The current government’s policies have grayed out what used to be a clear distinction between taxation and regulation which has in turn created more hardship for the common man and woman on the street. I share their concerns and I have assured them that I am their voice.
- Let’s look at the tuition fees at our state-owned tertiary institutions. The ruling government recently increased the fees by almost 1000% – beyond the reach of the average student only to reduce it because the general election was around the corner. Government actions should not be based solely on politically expedience at the expense of prioritizing the welfare of its people.
Now the question is: are our people wiser now? Will it be possible for Lagos’ ruling party to fool us again given their give-and-take track record of the last 4-years? I don’t think so.”
Jimi Agbaje, who anchored his conversation on the tripod of Security, Education and Health spoke on the issue of Lagos as the ‘Mega-City’ of Nigeria. He expressed disappointment in the whole project whose planning lacks a human face and its monitoring inefficient. He stated: “From 1999, Lagos’ Internally Generated Revenue increased from N10 billion to over N400 billion in 2014. Lagos State’s economy has grown exponentially over the years but at what cost. Lagos State is currently ranked 28th out of 36th state in Nigeria in terms of enforcement of contracts. Lagos is the hardest place to get land titles in the whole of Nigeria and those of you with lands and properties in Lagos will understand that story better. Lagos may look fantastic in terms of structures but it is far from being economically viable especially when you consider the vast potential of its people. The Lagos of our dreams must be populated with vibrant, well-skilled and creative people irrespective of gender, tribes and political background. We must begin too see Lagos as not just an economic nerve-centre of Nigeria but the commercial centre for West Africa sub-region and in fact the whole of Africa.”
The PDP Gubernatorial Candidate Further Spoke On The General Infrastructural Decay In Lagos State:
“The replacement of Molue buses with BRT buses is a good initiative but the poor implementation is killing the project. For example, BRT is gradually becoming another Molue bus. If you move round Lagos’ major roads, you’re likely to notice broken-down BRT buses blocking the traffic flow to cause more congestion. A Mega-City cannot grow with poor transportation system. The light-rail project would definitely further assist the easy transportation of our people but no one can tell when that contract will be full completed.”
On Youth Empowerment And Qualitative Education, Agbaje Lamented The Lapses And Advocated For A Robust All Encompassing Solutions:
“Primary education is the foundation of proper learning for any child any where in the world. Many of our primary school leavers from government-owned schools cannot properly read and write after their Primary-6 final examinations. These type of children would always have problems coping with the rigour of the secondary school education. We need to re-design our educational system in Lagos state and promote vocational training amongst our children. The people who are currently shaping the world are not university graduates but they are creative people with technical and vocational skills. Our people must be well-trained and equipped to support a Lagos poised to be a global city of the future. We cannot settle for ‘passes’. We must strive to be a talented, innovative and creative people.
The government should begin to facilitate legislation that will encourage, for example, a construction company who has been awarded a road construction contract in Alimosho local government area to employ job-seeking youths in the area. Without adequate jobs and opportunities, our youths have a higher tendency of becoming hoodlums and ‘area boys’ that cause mayhem in society. As we discharge our duties, we should also not discriminate against non-indigenes that are willing to contribute to our state.
On The Proposed Infrastructural Projects Including The Lagos Atlantic City, Agbaje Pointed Out A Few Issues:
“It is clear what the impact of the Lagos Atlantic City will have on the congestion of the Victoria Island axis given the increased growth in traffic flow to this area. We should begin to consider opening up and developing Epe, Badagry or Ikorodu and help improve economic opportunities in these areas to reduce the impact and pressure on the Lagos coastlines. For Lagos’ housing needs, our proposed projects shall be private-sector driven but very affordable for ordinary Lagosians – who would be able to pay for them using mortgages with reasonable interest rates. I intend to build over 150,000 housing units for Lagosians as well as non-Lagosians within four years”.
On Health And General Welfare Of The Lagosians, Agbaje As A World-Class Pharmacist And Health Worker Affirmed His Total Commitment To The Efficient Health Care Delivery System In Lagos State.
Among the important personalities at the interactive session were: Alhaji Dr. Bamanga Tukur – former PDP Chairman, Otunba Abayomi Fakorede – PDP Chairman UK, Chief Akeem Akinosho – PDP Chairman South West UK, Mogaji Hakeem Adetoro and Yeye Banke Adetoro of Royal Textiles UK, Chief Bimbo Roberts Folayan, Chairman Central Associations of Nigeria UK (CAN,UK), Barrister Bob Olukoya, Convener Friends of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Mr.Alistair Soyode – MD/CEO Ben TV, Mrs. Solape Epega – Executive Director, African Women in Business, Hon.Soji Fashina, Barrister Gbenga Akinmoyo, Morenike Animasahun, Barrister Nwosu – Chairman Board of Trustees PDP UK, Mr Femi Okutubo – Publisher/CEO Trumpet Media Group, Kate Anolue, Rosaline Fadipe and many others others.