Lagosians di­vided over eco­nomic blue­prints of Sanwo-olu, Ag­baje

Business Day (Nigeria) - - COMPANIES & MARKETS - ODINAKA ANUDU

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 San­woOlu’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, San­woOlu 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, San­woolu 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, San­woolu 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.

Baba­jide Sanwo-olu

Jimi Ag­baje

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