A Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Lagos State gubernatorial aspirant, Musiliu Obanikoro, on Tuesday promised a policy shift from the development of the affluent parts of Lagos as Victoria Island, Lekki and Ikoyi to the development of poorer parts, such as Mushin and Agege, inhabited by majority of the masses.
Mr Obanikoro, who is the immediate past Minister of State for Defence, made this promise at the National Stadium in Lagos on the occasion of his public declaration of his interest to run for governor of Nigeria’s commercial centre.
“We have seen the focus of government and major infrastructural upgrade in the areas harboring the rich and privileged. We have seen billions spent to link Ozumba Mbadiwe Road with Falomo Bridge; we have seen billions spent to link Lekki with Ikoyi; we have seen billions spent in sand filling our waters in order to construct quote and
unquote Low Cost Housing; we have seen billions spent on Bourdillon road and so on. I believe it is time for a new direction! I believe it is time for government to spend billions on upgrading the infrastructures in Alimosho, in Somolu, in Epe, in Agege, in Mushin, in Ikorodu, in Kosofe, in Ajeromi,” he said to loud cheers from his supporters.
“It is time to focus on the masses and majority of Lagosians, for only when the masses are catered for, only when the masses thrive in Lagos can we truly say “Lagos is working”. That is the Lagos of my dream and that is what I call a Greater Lagos!” he added.
He said his administration will unburden Lagosians from the yoke of unemployment and other hardship inflicted on them by the APC-led administration.
“As it is today however, the average Lagosian or average family in Lagos is struggling and burdened. Burdened with the high rate of tuition fees, burdened with traffic, burdened with tollgates, burdened with taxes, burdened with unemployment, burdened with an unfriendly government and I can go on and on.”
He said if elected his administration would make the actualisation of what he termed “A Greater Lagos” its focus. He defined Greater Lagos as:
“A GREATER LAGOS! Where a hardworking family or a determined youth can afford tuition. A Greater Lagos! Where the iya alata (pepper seller) is always remembered in Alausa and not paranoid of being dislodged from her place of business, a greater Lagos where Low cost housing isn’t built on water. A Greater Lagos! Where small businesses are not multi taxed and harassed. A Greater Lagos! Where our hospitals are not flooded with patients ailing from sicknesses like malaria. A Greater Lagos! Where pipe born water to our homes is not a luxury. A Greater Lagos! Where obtaining the title of your home doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg. A Greater Lagos! Where we all live as one community without fear of deportation, and ultimately a Greater Lagos where our children can dream and achieve as long as he or she is dedicated and committed to success in life,” he said.
“This is the Lagos I knew growing up in Isale –Eko as a boy born into a family of less than adequate means. Despite that, I was determined to excel. For me, failure in life wasn’t an option. If not for the opportunity provided by government then, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve any success and stand before you today aspiring for the
highest office in our great state. Fellow Lagosians, it is time to refocus our government on the real people. For the next 4 years, let us focus on addressing the various challenges of infrastructure, education, health, economy of Lagosians in Ajeromi, Alimosho, Mushin, Agege, Ikorodu, Epe, Badagry because again I strongly believe as long
as our people in these parts of Lagos are doing fine, everybody in Lagos will be fine.”
Bola Tinubu the bogeyman
But more than the expression of his policy focus, the event appeared to be dedicated to the bashing of a national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress and a former governor of the state, Bola Tinubu, who all the speakers at the event accused of being the puppeteer pulling the strings of the state.
While commending the incumbent governor of the state, Babatunde Fashola, Mr. Obanikoro said Mr Tinubu cast a debilitating shadow over him.
“For the last 8 years, our government has been led by Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola. Allow me to seize this opportunity to appreciate him for his effort, for it definitely couldn’t have been easy running the affairs of Lagos with the National Leader of their Party Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu standing over him.”
In the same vein, the PDP South West Chairman, Makanjuola Ogundipe, told cheering supporters that the party would free Lagosians from the chokehold of Mr. Tinubu just like it did in Ekiti.
“They came to Ekiti and they ran away at night so why are they scaring you in Lagos?” he asked.
“Tell them PDP has come to take over the state. They are scared because we want to break their pots in Lagos. They are using your money to buy and build properties in Dubia. Whether they like it or not Lagos has been taken from them,” he shouted to the crowd that responded with an uproar of cheers.
A lethargic start but a raucous finish
The event started out in a somewhat lethargic manner but spiralled into a raucous festive mood at the end. Few minutes to 11 a.m, the compere announced the commencement of the event but his chants of PDP! PDP! only got a lukewarm response from the crowd.
The sun was fierce at this time and might have helped in dulling the response from the crowd who tried unsuccessfully to shield themselves with pieces of cardboard papers with the picture of Mr. Obinikoro
printed on them.
But their languid mood was abruptly transformed and life kicked into it as the compere introduced Fuji music star, Saheed Osupa. The crowd rushed forward screaming and waving to the barrier separating the stage from the audience.
The crowd sang, danced as Mr Osupa dished out one praise-singing tune after another in honour of Mr. Obanikoro.
At about noon, Mr. Obanikoro arrived the venue and the crowd erupted shouting Koro! Ibo! Koro! Ibo! (Koro! Votes! Koro! Votes!). Mr Obanikoro mounted the podium with his wife, said a few words of thanks to the crowd, kissed his palms and stretched his arm high towards the crowd. The response was thunderous.
Pieces of buntings exploded in the air at the end of Mr. Obanikoro’s speech. There was even louder cheers.
But no sooner had he left the podium, a group of his supporters almost caused a stampede as they struggled to get packs of cooked rice that were brought to the event. After the crowd dispersed packs of cooked rice could be seen scattered at the spot where the melee occurred. Surprisingly, as if by magic, no piece of beef and chicken that was
served with the rice was found on the ground.