One of the debates lined up for Lagos governorship candidates held Thursday at the Archbishop Vinning Memorial Church, Ikeja. The debate, organised by the Anglican Church Community in Lagos State, gave the public the opportunity to listen to candidates of the participating political parties. Front runners, Jimi Agbaje of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Akinwunmi Ambode of the All Progressives Congress (APC) were the biggest attractions.
Agbaje promised that if elected he plans to create “a global mega-city of well-educated, skilled, healthy people living prosperously in a clean environment”.
The 2007 governorship candidate of the Democratic Peoples Alliance, DPA, said he had been a ‘shop-keeper’, selling drugs on retail before owning a drug factory and other investments, something that gives him sufficient knowledge of small-scale business. “We must create opportunities for the people irrespective of their gender, tribe or religion, so that they can realise their professional, commercial and entrepreneurial aspirations,” he said. Agbaje said vested interests have impeded the economic growth of Lagos.
Agbaje accused the state government of paying lip service to education and vocational skills development. He said while the government spends over 80 per cent of its budget on recurrent expenditure, it spends a measly three per cent on education and one-and-half per cent on vocational skills development.
Agbaje added that his government will be guided by the acronym “S.H.E.L.T.E.R”, denoting which are security, housing, economic interest and leadership.
When it was his turn, Ambode, said he had always wanted to offer public service, adding that he worked for 27 years in the state civil service. He said his mission “is to create a safe, clean, more prosperous Lagos that is driven by quality service, equity and justice.” The APC candidate said he had served under the two governors and is determined to sustain the “tradition of excellence” they created.
He claimed that Lagos has become more secure, cleaner, more prosperous since 2007 and he would want to build on that. The former accountant-general said his programmes are anchored on the acronym L.A.G.O.S (leadership, accountability, governance, opportunity and selfless service). Ambode said he would run an inclusive government, giving citizens participatory opportunities.
He noted that the incumbent administration in Lagos has spent N12 billion on security, of which N4 billion came from private sector players, a development to which he credits the improved security in the state.
He also promised youth employment and opportunities for entrepreneurial development by making finance accessible. According to him, “two-thirds, about 65 per cent, of the Lagos population are less than 35 years old; 40 per cent of them are unemployed.”
“We will allow our youths and all unemployed people to have access to finance. Most of our youth are talented and innovative; all they are looking for is a platform to allow them to start up what they want to do,” he explained.
Ambode said his government will pool N25 billion into an employment fund in four years, with N1 billion released yearly to provide capital for unemployed youth. By doing so, Ambode said 100,000 jobs per division will be created and each beneficiary will be able to employ three or more other people.