Akinwunmi Ambode, a former accountant-general of Lagos State, and one of the expected candidates for the APC’s gubernatorial elections, has refuted allegations that the ruling APC government had saddled Lagos State with unmanageable debt.
Speaking last week at the inaugural Leadership Series organised by For The Future Nigeria, a political action committee affiliated with the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ambode explained that debt should never be analysed in isolation but should be considered in relation to GDP. In that measure, Lagos has one of the best debt-to-GDP ratios in Nigeria, surpassing that of most states and even the Federal Government. He further explained that most of Lagos’ debt went to finance projects that would increase the state’s revenue-generating capability – ensuring that Lagos would continue to develop and remain credit-worthy.
When asked his vision for Lagos, Akinwunmi Ambode said, “I see a prosperous Lagos; a Lagos that is easily accessible, open to foreigners and Nigerians to pursue their potential; a safe and clean environment; a Lagos that allows every person to achieve their potential; a Lagos that knows no gender, no race, no sex, no religion, no colouration; a Lagos that has connectivity and mobility; a 24-7 Lagos, a Lagos where the economy does not sleep at 8p.m.”
In response to a question about whether APC was anti-poor, Ambode revealed that the party wanted to give all Nigerians the tools to get out of poverty and progress to a better life for themselves and their families.
Ambode’s appearance formally kicked off the Leadership Series, a set of conversations between young Nigerians and various influential members of the APC simultaneously providing a platform for the APC to articulate its ideology and a feedback tool for the party to understand the needs of young Nigerians.
Speaking after the event, Akintunde Oyebode, one of the founders of For The Future Nigeria, said that the organisation was created by a few young professionals to increase the political awareness of those aged between 18 and 40. Since 70% of Nigerians are younger than 40, it is important that this voting bloc elects officials whose vision ensures a prosperous future for the country. He further stated that the FTF team had aligned themselves with the APC because the development seen in selected APC states suggests the party is a credible alternative to the PDP which has controlled the Federal Government since 1999 with minimal evidence of improved living standards for Nigerians.
The event was hosted at The Social Place, a boutique event facility on Victoria Island, where Ambode, in a no-holds-barred session, was quizzed on various topics from finance to education, development and gender equality.