The two front-runners in the governorship election in Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, and Jimi Agbaje of the Peoples Democratic Party, were absent as gubernatorial hopefuls locked horns in a debate organised by the British Broadcasting Corporation Yoruba (BBC Yoruba) on Saturday.
The debate, which was conducted in Yoruba language, had four parties and their aspirants in attendance – Adebisi Ogunsanya of the Young Progressive Party (YPP), Omolara Adesanya of the Providence People’s Congress (PPC), Babatunde Gbadamosi of the African Democratic Party (ADP), and Olumuyiwa Fafowora of the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
With Mr Sanwo-Olu conspicuously missing, the contestants launched scathing criticisms at his party’s alleged wasteful spendings over the past 20 years and the refusal to make its books open for public scrutiny.
The YPP’s Mrs Ogunsanya, when asked if she agrees with the statement that Lagos government is wasteful, said, “Our government ought to publish its books but our accounts are shrouded in secrecy. They only say things like recurrent expenditure without stating what specifically they are spending on.”
For Mrs Adesanya of the PPC, the APC government in Lagos State is wasteful and opaque.
“In health, they said they have spent N1.6 billion but we have neither new hospitals nor up to date equipment in our hospitals. So where did the money go?”
Mr Gbadamosi of the ADP said he does not support classifying money spent as official secret because it is the people’s right to know.
“How can they claim they spent N5.8 billion per kilometre on Lekki-Epe road when companies like Dangote spent just N200 million per km on a dual carriageway within their refinery?”
Mr Fafowora of the ADC said terming the state government’s opaque expenditure as wasteful is an understatement.
“I don’t support the statement. They are wasting not the money we have at hand but they are borrowing and spending away our future and I don’t know how to qualify that kind of spending.”
Answering questions on health, Mr Gbadamosi said he would provide free healthcare for all.
Mrs Ogunsanya said she would review the wages of doctors and nurses upwards, provide drugs and adequate machines to the right hospitals, and ensure that health centres are run round the clock.
Mr Fafowora said he would follow the UNESCO recommendation of 30 percent of budget for health and enforce health insurance of 400 naira per month.
Speaking on their plans for the physically challenged, Mr Fafowora said he “will improve their schools and design empowerment programmes for them.”
Mrs Adesanya said she “will upgrade their institutions and schools, we would empower them and make laws for companies to set aside quotas to employ qualified candidates that are physically challenged.”
Mr Gbadamosi said he “will make a law that all public buildings must have disabled access, we would make our educational institutions disabled friendly. It shouldn’t be all about menial jobs, we can employ their brains too.”
Mrs Ogunsanya said she “will increase government spending on the health, education and well being of physically challenged people.”
On the issue of traffic and road accidents, Mrs Ogunsanya said she would “ensure all trailers leave the expressway and repair all roads.”
Mr Gbadamosi said he would “improve on waterways routes using catamaran ferry (fairly used) to ease movement of people, cars, and trailers and ensure that LSPWC is in every community to ease repairs of roads.”
Mrs Adesanya said she will “extend the work time of BRT to 10 p.m. and make it based on shift, repair all roads and implement what I call boat taxi that will be built by Nigerians and operated by Nigerians.”
For Mr Fafowora, “I will implement the metro line of Alhaji Jakande. Every megacity has a metro line. All the roads we have now were planned for a population of 10million, we are now 22million.”
Speaking on air pollution in Lagos and how they intend to tackle it, Mr Fafowora said “most of the smoke come from bad vehicles because most are tokunbo (fairly used). We will create a loan that helps people buy new and better vehicles to stop the pollution.”
Mr Gbadamosi said “most smoke emission in Lagos are from small generators, we would tackle electricity problem to address this. We would also bring in electric cars and make it available to people with no added cost and on an interest free loan.”
Mrs Adesanya said “we will introduce laws against emission and make sure it is enforced.”
Mrs Ogunsanya said “I have realized poorly managed refuse dumps contribute foul odor to the environment, I will ensure that there are dump sites in each community for prompt waste pick up and ensure they are processed.”
Addressing questions on waste management, Mr Gbadamosi said he would “return refuse pick up to local governments and build recycling plants for them.”
Mr Fafowora said “we would pay LAWMA out of land use charge. You just bring out your refuse, you don’t have to pay them, we will pay. We would employ 50,000 youths through LAWMA and deploy machines to pick up refuse on roads.”
Mrs Adesanya said “we would ensure all vehicles have dust bins and they dispose them in proper locations and would utilize lawma.”
While answering questions on job creation from the audience, Mrs Ogunsanya said she would open job centres in all the local governments and keep updating the database weekly. She added that she would use the information generated to send specific job information and opportunities to the job seekers.
On how he intends to raise money to pay the increased new minimum wage for workers, Mr Gbadamosi said he would block all the loopholes from wasteful spending.
“They claim to have used $1.2 billion for the blue rail from Okokomaiko-CMS while the contractors declared on stock exchange that they collected $120 million.
“When we eliminate such waste, we will get enough money to pay workers. I have been asking where they put the 1billion dollars.