Sanwo-Olu, Ag­baje, Oth­ers Hold De­bate, Dis­agree over FoI, God­fa­therism, Traf­fic

THISDAY - - NEWS XTRA - Se­gun James

La­gos State gov­er­nor­ship can­di­dates at a de­bate yes­ter­day ex­pressed dif­fer­ent opin­ions on the al­leged fail­ure of the state gov­ern­ment to do­mes­ti­cate the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act and what they would do dif­fer­ently in pro­mot­ing ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency in gov­ern­ment.

The four can­di­dates were Mr. Baba­jide Sanwo-Olu of the All Pro­gres­sives Con­gress (APC), Mr Jimi Ag­baje of the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP), Mr. Ba­batunde Gbadamosi of the Ac­tion Demo­cratic Party (ADC) and the can­di­date of the Al­liance for Democ­racy (AD), Owolabi Salis.

In the de­bate, or­gan­ised by The Plat­form and broad­cast on Chan­nels TV, the can­di­dates promised to en­sure that gov­ern­ment was more open.

Re­spond­ing to a ques­tion on how trans­parency would im­prove, Ag­baje said he would do­mes­ti­cate the FoI Act, which was passed by the Na­tional As­sem­bly eight years ago.

He said, “The La­gos State gov­ern­ment has been run­ning an opaque sys­tem. No­body knows about award of con­tracts.

“You can­not be ac­count­able if you are not trans­par­ent. In my first 100 days in of­fice, I will do­mes­ti­cate the FoI Act,” he said.

Sanwo-Olu said he would look into the FoI mat­ter but said he would first set up a por­tal through which the peo­ple of La­gos State could com­mu­ni­cate with his gov­ern­ment directly.

Gbadamosi, how­ever, said there was no need do­mes­ti­cat­ing the FoI Act since the Court of Ap­peal had ruled that it al­ready ap­plies to ev­ery state.

He, how­ever, said it was un­for­tu­nate that the La­gos State Gov­ern­ment had ap­pealed against the Ap­pel­late Court’s rul­ing at the Supreme Court.

The ADP can­di­date said the FoI Act was not suf­fi­cient as re­gards pro­mot­ing trans­parency, adding that it didn’t cover fi­nan­cial state­ments.

The can­di­dates – ex­cept Sanwo-Olu – also lamented the neg­a­tive ef­fects of vested in­ter­ests in the state, which had af­fected the pros­per­ity of the state neg­a­tively.

The gov­er­nor­ship can­di­date of the AD, Chief Owolabi Salis, said the com­mon­wealth of the state was in the hands of an in­di­vid­ual.

“I want to re­lease the com­mon­wealth to the peo­ple. La­gos is the im­age of the African black na­tion and I am go­ing to open La­gos to the rest of the world. This state should not be ruled this way,” he said.

Gbadamosi said that if elected, he would use the money that Al­pha Beta Con­sult­ing was gen­er­at­ing to de­velop the state.

Al­pha Beta, a con­sult­ing firm given ex­clu­sive rights to col­lect In­ter­nally Gen­er­ated Rev­enue on be­half of the La­gos State Gov­ern­ment, was in 2018 ac­cused of tax fraud to the tune of N100 bil­lion.

Ag­baje said pupils in La­gos schools were not ex­posed to tech­nol­ogy, adding that the state gov­ern­ment blocked Google plan for self­ish rea­sons.

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