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Lagosians divided over economic blueprints of Sanwo-Olu, Agbaje

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Lagosians are divided over economic plans drawn by Babajide Sanwo-Olu, All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate and his People’s Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Jimi Agbaje.

“I think Jimi Agbaje differs completely from Sanwo-Olu because he speaks so much about improving the standard of living and ensuring that every kobo that comes into state bursary counts,” Kayode Amao, a Lagos-based surveyor, said.

“Agbaje is interested in bringing more power to our industries, which, for me, makes a lot of sense. Whenever he speaks, he speaks about rail lines, power, housing and traffic. If you spend three hours on traffic, for instance, you lose man hours. So traffic issues are more of economics than environment,” he said.

Tagbo Ikezua, a fashion designer in the state, said Sanwo-Olu’s continuity project had more advantage than Agbaje’s Freedom mantra.

“Imagine if you disrupt the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund. Roads in Lagos have more economic benefits than social benefits, and any disruption that occurs due to change of government will be bad. No need to abandon these roads,” he said.

A prominent lawyer who does not want her name in print said Sanwo-Olu would work with ‘Lagos Blueprint’, which had so far brought the state to its present level as 5th largest in Africa.

“People tend to forget that he was a commissioner for industry and knows how to sustain local manufacturers in Lagos,” she said.

But Emeka Umeh, a businessman in the state, disagreed.

“If he says he will continue from where Ambode stops, it means he will also raise taxes.

“Again, he says he will take Lagos out of the national grid in six months, but how?” he asked.

On Friday, the Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) brought together the two governorship candidates to state what they had in stock for Lagosians.

The two candidates differed on infrastructure, health and other development issues.

The candidates spoke during the LCCI Private Sector Interactive Forum with in Lagos.

Addressing issues of traffic and transport management, Sanwo-Olu said that government was a continuum and vowed to continue all projects started by his predecessor for the benefit of citizens.

He said that his plan for traffic was holistic, from road repairs and construction to opening up more means of transportation through waterways and rail, to training and empowerment of traffic officials.

“For years during the PDP rule, we asked the Federal Government for access to the existing railway corridor, but it was denied. This led us to create the Blue line railway from Okokomaiko to CMS.

“We need to complete the track because Lagos needs a transportation system outside roads that can move thousands of people daily,” he said.

Responding, Agbaje said that for 20 years of APC governance in the state, residents were still grappling with traffic congestion, especially issues with trailers parked on bridges along Costain to Apapa.

“Lagos is one of the two mega cities in the world that do not have a multi-modal transportation system. It is time we started thinking of multi-tiered roads. The world is moving, we cannot afford to be different,” he said.

Agbaje pointed out that the rail project had been on for too long, stressing that governorship candidates should have big ideas to address problems peculiar to Lagos.

“The way things are presently is not sustainable and it has failed to deliver the sort of impact on the lives of ordinary citizens that should be expected from an economy of Lagos’ magnitude,” he said.

Agbaje said that the sort of development that Lagos required should be anchored on improving liveability, expanding the economy and retooling it for the 21st century.

On the issue of power, Sanwo-olu pledged to take Lagos out of the national grid within six months and provide additional 1,000 megawatts to its current level.

He said that he would partner with distribution companies to ensure they upscale their power supply to the state, noting that prepaid meters would be provided to residents to ensure accountability and transparency.

On his part, Agbaje said he would improve power by 1,000 megawatts within his first 18 months and encourage investment in embedded power projects toward enhancing power supply.

Speaking on health, Sanwo-olu noted that the Lagos Health Insurance Scheme would ensure access to affordable healthcare for Lagosians and help build a health care structure to be proud of.

Agbaje countered, criticising the present Health Insurance Scheme, saying making it mandatory was another form of taxation that had been making life difficult for the masses.

He said his administration would have significant developments on health, waste management, education, transportation management and in technology to solve problems.

Agbaje promised to develop an ocean economy and a knowledge driven economy to enhance the economic well-being of the state and its citizens.

But Sanwo-olu was not done, as he said that his administration would be innovative about Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in a way that would not exert pressure on the citizens.

He noted that the private sector remained the engine of economic growth and would continue to create an environment for the private sector to thrive in the state.

“As a former commissioner for commerce & industry in Lagos, I know that proper collaboration with the private sector leads to more job creation, improved industrial harmony and boosts investment,” Sanwo-olu said.

Babatunde Ruwase, president of LCCI, said Lagos State was very strategic to the Nigerian economy, being the commercial capital of the country and fast evolving into a megacity with a population of over 20 million.

“The private sector in Lagos state is a major stakeholder, having regard to its contributions to the state’s internally generated revenue, job creation and the general advancement of the economy of the state. As in most economies, the private sector is the engine of growth in Lagos State,” he said.

He explained that bringing the two candidates together was very crucial because the quality of political governance had profound implications for the quality of investment environment.

“Without conducive environment for business, there cannot be meaningful economic progress. And this could impede the capacity of the private sector to create jobs and support revenue growth of government.”

He said the LCCI had offered similar platforms for the candidates of the two leading political parties in the state to interact with the organised private sector on issues bordering on private sector development in Lagos State.

 

ODINAKA ANUDU

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