The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, has painted a gloomy picture of the socio-political economy of the state, saying that despite the fact that its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is higher than the combined economy of both Ghana and Kenya, it is still one of the least developed of the mega cities in the world.
Agbaje declared that contrary to what people think, Lagos, which has been the centre of the country’s banking, industry and commerce, has lost its position as the industrial hub of the country to other states of the federation with N7 trillion wasted in the state in the last 20 years.
He told the panel, “The truth is that Lagos is no longer the industrial hub of Nigeria. Lagos is bigger than 11 countries in Africa combined. But the truth is that Lagos is no longer the industrial hub of the country; we have lost that to neighbouring states. It is still the commercial hub, but it is not doing as well as it should. Yes, it is the fifth largest economy in Africa – Lagos economy is bigger than Ghana and Kenya combined. Lagos economy is bigger than 11 African countries combined; but what I‘m saying is that we shouldn’t get carried away with small successes and think we are doing well.
“Lagos is a mega city; for a mega city, it swings around 139 cities in the world in terms of liveability. It is one of the two mega cities in the world that doesn’t have a transport system; in terms of rail, in terms of multi-model integrated system. The state in the last 20 years has spent over N7trillion! You can imagine what that kind of figure is.
“That is why we are asking Lagosians that what have you really got for N7trillion? Is education fantastic? Is health care fantastic? Is traffic good? Is there power? What is good about Lagos?
Agbaje insisted that the last 20 years under the same set of people and government has not been good for the state and the people.
According to him, “We are going to do many things differently. We need to do something for the youth. The youth of today are not properly prepared for the challenges of the 21st century, so we have to get the education right. Education today is about innovation, having entrepreneurial skills, and we are not doing that!
“When you look at the world today, everybody is talking about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook and the Bill Gates and all that. These are people that succeeded not from university education but from their basic education.
“Now we are not providing that kind of basic education for our own youths, so they are not prepared; the kind of education that pushes them into the creative industry in a way that they can hold their own. You talk about a healthy nation being a wealthy nation; but God forbid that any of us falls ill, but Lagos in the 21st century must have a health system that is sustainable.
“There must be universal accessible and affordable health care. But 20 years after, N7trillion after, we still don’t have that.”
He lamented that the residents spend their time in the traffic because of the poor transportation system.
He disclosed that he had to patronise commercial motorbikes to the airport in order to meet up with his flight.
“That shouldn’t be happening in a Lagos of the 21st century, a Lagos that has spent N7trillion. In the last 20 years,” the PDP candidate said.
On high unemployment rate and the breakdown of social infrastructure in the state, Agbaje stressed that vested interests were responsible for the inability of the Lagos transport and refuse disposal system to run effectively.
“It is the same vested interest that is responsible for the non-completion of the Lagos light rail system. In the PDP you fight for what you want, but in the APC, that option is not there. In APC there is got to be an anointing, but in the PDP you fight for what you want,” he said.
On pre-election debate between him and the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Mr. Jide Sanwo-Olu; Agbaje said, “We are ready for the debate because it is going to be a referendum on their records in the last 20 years. Don’t come and give us promises any longer.
“Lagos is one of the two mega cities in the whole world that doesn’t have a light rail in the whole world, and we have been at it for 12 years, yet it is not near completion.”