The gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party in Lagos State, Jimi Agbaje, has insisted that he is not a stooge of anyone in the party.
Speaking on ‘Rubbin’ Minds,’ a programme on Channels TV, Sunday, Mr. Agbaje explained the relationship between himself and Bode George, the party leader in the state.
“Bode George is my party leader in Lagos, that’s a statement of fact. I’m not his stooge, if that’s what you want to hear,” Mr. Agbaje said.
“And those who know me know that I’m nobody’s stooge. There’s nothing like that. He’s a party leader.
“But I think again, we are gonna be very fair, we’ve got to accept one thing, it’s either you believe in the rule of law or you don’t believe in the rule of law.
“Now if a man is charged to court and sentenced for a crime and a superior court reverses that sentence, then he’s not guilty. So it’s either you accept it, it’s not fair when you take something when you think it favours you, and that’s important.”
Sunday’s programme had been billed to feature both Mr. Agbaje and Akinwunmi Ambode, the All Progressives Congress, APC, gubernatorial candidate.
Mr. Ambode turned down the invitation to participate in the debate.
Mr. Agbaje said that although the idea of the Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, was a good one, its implementation had not been the best.
He also said that he would improve water transportation in the state to ease the pressure on the roads.
“What we’ve had on the waterways are very small boats, there are so many people who are actually very scared of these small boats. So we are going to get bigger boats, ferries more or less, so people feel safer. It’s only the strong that takes those small boats. So you got to do more.”
Mr. Agbaje also said that he would not ban Danfo buses in Lagos, but would discourage the springing up of illegal bus stops in the metropolis.
On the issue of state police, Mr. Agbaje said that it would enable communities to be better policed.
“I’m not sure it’s an APC thing. I’m an advocate of state policing and I’m not APC. I believe we need to have state police because as a state government you’ve got priorities. The police is federal, it’s stretched.
“The benefits (of state police) are more. You can talk guidelines, you can talk about the kind of arms that the state police can have, you can talk about their jurisdiction, their limitations. These are things that can be addressed.
“I think it’s the APC that is against it. The National Conference finished and recommended state police. APC don’t seem to like the outcome of the National Conference. President Jonathan is saying very clearly that when he comes back, he’s gonna ensure that the National Conference report is adopted. It’s the other party that is saying one thing and doing something else.”
The Lagos PDP candidate also said that he would focus on “fair” taxes, adding that government should not be over-burdening citizens captured in tax nets.
“What happens today is government in wanting to raise money takes advantage of the regulatory agencies to raise money in a wrong manner,” said Mr. Agbaje.
“The said regulatory agency has a major objective but what you find today is that the major objective of those regulatory agencies is revenue generation, rather than what they were set up for.
“So you have the LASTMA for example, LASTMA’s objective is to ensure free flow of traffic. But God help you if LASTMA catches you for anything. They are gonna ask you for your tax clearance, if it’s a company they are gonna ask you for the director’s tax clearance, they’ll fine you heavily.
“If you want to build a house for example, you want to apply for approval plans for construction permit, the whole essence of applying is to ensure that what you wanna build is not gonna collapse on anybody’s head and to make sure that it’s right.
“Government puts its fees that is such that it discourages people from even coming forward to apply. Some of the fallout is that a lot of the houses that are being built today people are not just coming forward to apply, and they are building without that.
“Again, it discourages people from investing in housing because of these kinds of restrictions.”
Mr. Agbaje further said that he does not participate in “negative campaigns.”
“Why I said ‘I’m not one of them,’ the message is that I’m not a typical politician. So it has nothing to do with party, it’s got to do with politics in general.
“You tend to look at politicians, they tell lies. I’m not your typical politician. I want you to take me for what I am. If I tell you something I want you to believe what I’m saying. I’m not saying it just for saying sake. And that’s what’s working for me.”