It is often said that there is no permanent friend or enemy in politics, that what is permanent is interest. This saying is playing out in the battle for Lagos governorship position.
The intense politicking in the last couple of weeks has shown that what is paramount in the agenda of the both the political parties and their candidates is how to win the election.
Despite the recent poll shift, political activities in Lagos are still raging, signifying that the electorates in the state won’t entertain another election postponement from the April 11 fixed specifically for gubernatorial poll in the country.
That the battle for the soul of Lagos State often referred to as the microcosm of Nigeria is getting increasingly charged by the day is understandable.
It is slightly different from the other states of the federation because whoever controls Lagos has Nigeria by the neck. Without doubt, Lagos remains the only state that can call the bluff of the dwindling federal allocation and still survive.
Thus, the state has become the toast and target of most politicians, making the contest for the governorship position a very fierce one.
Although the All Progressives Congress (APC) is determined to maintain its winning streak, having metamorphosed into different parties, the opposition in the state is not sleeping on guard. From Bola Ahmed Tinubu who governed the state for two terms spanning eight years and was able to pass the baton to, Babatunde Raji Fashola his former Chief of Staff who in few months time would also have served two terms of four years each, they are not leaving anything to chance.
In the current political dispensation, it is a two-horse race for Alausa Government House, Lagos and it is between the candidate of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Akinwunmi Ambode, and Jimi Agbaje, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s.
As Ambode and Agbaje square up for the contest, the quality of their issue-based campaigns and of course, the interesting strategies deployed to woo the Lagos electorate have made both of them a cynosure of all eyes in the country.
Ambode, a tested and trusted top technocrat was at various times the state’s accountant general, permanent secretary Ministry of Finance and auditor-general for the Local Government Councils. He served meritoriously in those capacities for 27 years before resigning in 2012.
In the same stead, Agbaje, popularly known as JK, is a seasoned pharmacist and highly revered by his teeming admirers as a grassroots politician.
The fact that he is not a neophyte in the race, having thrown his hat into the gubernatorial ring back in 2007 but lost out to Governor Fashola is currently being felt in the way his candidacy had succeeded in jolting the ruling party in the state.
As they deploy their political tactics to outsmart opponents, Agbaje is currently making frantic efforts this time around to win it, with the support of his party and Lagos people and prove a point and occupy a special place in the political history of the state.
Ambode, who has since unveiled his programme, promised to inject N25 billion in four years into his proposed Employment Trust Fund (ETF), to create jobs for Lagosians, among others.
According to Ambode, each year, N1 billion would be accessed by each of the four divisions in the state to create employment for people, adding that two-third of Lagos revenue is generated from tax and that the glut in oil price would not affect the state much.
“We knew that a day like this will come and that was why we have strengthened our tax system. There are eight million residents of Lagos who should be in the tax net but we have four million. The next strategy is to ensure that we become more efficient in generating more internally. We will be more creative with it by pleading with the four million that are yet to embrace the payment of tax in the state. The tax we get was what we have used to develop the state,” he added.
In the area of security, Ambode explained that in the last seven years, N12 billion had been raised for this purpose by the government with the private sector contributing about N4 billion to the Security Trust Fund, STF, assuring that he will improve on this achievement.
He added that his administration would offer good leadership, accountability, governance, opportunities and service to the people of Lagos if voted into office.
He also said he would raise the performance bar of the incumbent governor, if elected into office, pointing out that his long-standing experience in the state’s civil service had equipped him with the wherewithal to take the state to the next level.
The APC candidate said that his 27 years in the civil service gave him the right experience needed to transform the state.
He pointed out the informal sector as the most important section of the state’s population and appealed to Lagosians, especially artisans to make his ambition a reality through their votes.
According to him, “Lagos is owned by the people in the informal sector as this group constitutes more than 85 percent of the population.
“So, since it is you artisans who own the state, I appeal to you and indeed all Lagosians to support my aspiration to govern the state.
“I am the man for the job because having spent 27 years in the civil service, at the peak of which I became the accountant-general, I think I understand government and governance.
“My work experience in the local governments and the grassroots has enabled me to understand the people and what they want. The task of making Lagos a better place is a collective responsibility. And by the grace of God, if I am elected, I will take the state to the next level.’’
By the same token, Agbaje has vowed to defeat the APC candidate in the election.
He has promised to redress the alleged injustice done by the ruling party in the state by returning illegally acquired lands to their owners, if elected.
Agbaje also promised to pay adequate compensation to those whose lands were acquired for government projects but were not well compensated.
He said: “Some of the lands acquired were turned into private property of some officials, including the ones designated as cemetery. Some of these lands were acquired in the guise of using them for industrialisation but ended up as private estates.”
The PDP candidate also said that he would take advantage of the aquatic nature of the area to improve the economy of Lagos State.
According to him, this will translate to an ocean of economy that will transform the lives of the indigenes, even as he pledged to create standard markets in the area to reduce the suffering of the people who had to travel some distance to access modern markets.
He also said if elected into office, he would ensure that adequate facilities were provided to enhance fishing and maritime business in such areas, noting that the state had the potential to reap from the vast ocean and maritime resources it has but for lack of adequate planning and attention to the area by government.
Agbaje said a PDP government in the state would focus on the provision of healthcare, security and education for the citizens.
The duo have made their manifestos known to the teeming Lagos electorate, it is left for them to choose who they want to govern them.