Abdul-Azeez Adediran (Jandor) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) consistently threw jabs at Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu who boycotted the event, but it was the candidate of the Labour Party, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, who stole the spotlight on Sunday at a debate among major Lagos State governorship candidates.
Mr Rhodes-Vivour, who only joined Labour Party in August after losing at the PDP primaries, wowed the audience as he confidently highlighted his plans if elected governor of Nigeria’s commercial capital.
The architect subsequently trended on social media platforms with rave reviews of his performance in the debate organised by The Platform, a civic discussion initiative of the Covenant Christian Centre.
Moderated by a broadcaster and communications strategist, Victor Oladokun, the two hours debate also had in attendance Olufunso Doherty of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), but Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who is seeking re-election on the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC), boycotted the debate, citing the alleged involvement of the PDP in political violence in the state.
Mr Rhodes-Vivour and the other candidates started the debate by publicly disavowing political violence as the moderator cited incidents where supporters of APC and PDP allegedly disrupted campaign rallies of each other.
The LP flag bearer went ahead to share his plans for curbing insecurity, citing youth unemployment as a menace and the major driver of political violence in the state.
He promised to ensure that young people get employability skills that will be domiciled in the local government areas, adding that to address police harassment, he would create a special force with the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to create a hotline for people to call when they are harassed.
In an apparent dig at the ruling APC, the LP candidate said “the culture of thuggery has been celebrated in Lagos for a very long time” buttressing his points by referencing the viral video of thugs alighting from buses with machetes during the #EndSars Protest in 2020.
Young Nigerians had taken to the streets in October 2020 to protest against police brutality, extrajudicial killing and extortion and called for a reform of the Nigerian police. However, in what seemed to be a coordinated attack, hoodlums attacked the peaceful protesters.
On inadequate transportation and infrastructure, Mr Rhodes-Vivour said the basic foundation needed is a proper train system, promising that his administration would deliver about 60 kilometres of rail in four years.
He berated the APC administrations in the state for delivering 16 kilometres in 14 years, a claim that was later fact-checked to be false. Reports state that President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the 13 kilometres of the first phase of the Lagos Blue Rail Line.
Mr Rhodes-Vivour also made a false claim in response to flooding in the state, by saying Lagos does not have a Wetland Protection policy, whereas the government launched a policy on wetland conservation, protection and management in 2016.
On road safety, he said his administration would set a clear policy to kick against the ‘Agbero’ (motor park touts) system, which has “created a lot of safety hazards in the state.”
Overall, Mr Rhodes-Vivour made clear his plans and appears to have attracted more supporters with his performance. He was also applauded when he promised to publish the state government account in his first 100 days in office.
Mr Adeniran, aka Jandor, the candidate of the main opposition party, PDP, made multiple snide comments about Mr Sanwo-Olu despite the governor’s absence. The teams of both candidates have engaged in accusations and counter-accusations.
Mr Sanwo-Olu had on Saturday pulled out of the debate, saying he would not be “sharing the podium” with the PDP candidate following the violence that erupted in the Surulere area of the state on Saturday.
Speaking on the incident, Mr Adediran accused the APC candidate of playing the victim card, saying Mr Sanwo-Olu was in the best position to disclose who the culprits were, as the PDP had recorded more attacks during their campaigns.
He promised that his supporters will continue the election campaign as “peaceful as possible”.
The PDP candidate appeared to be versatile with places in Lagos when he highlighted how he would address road congestion with regard to container trucks and trailers.
He said the solution to the gridlock at the Lekki-Aja expressway is to provide a fly-over at every intersection, adding that the state needs more alternative routes that link with places. He said heavy trucks (containers) should be restricted from moving during the day.
On how to address the over two million out-of-school children in the state, he said he would go into partnership with the registered 5,000 private schools in the state to admit some of the children, adding that he would also be working with religious organisations to use their spaces during school hours for aid learning.
He also pointed out that the Lagos State government has not implemented the 65 years retirement age policy for teachers in the state, which was signed into law by President Buhari in 2020.
He went ahead to shade Mr Sanwo-Olu in his reaction on waste management and landfills in the state which he said has been a prolonged issue in the state.
Referring to Mr Sanwo-Olu, he said “the man that ran away” said he had a solution to landfill in an interview but a particular company wants him to do a PPA before they can take up the project waste-to-wealth or energy. He said his administration will take up that opportunity to address landfills.
On waste management, he said his government would engage the PSP and “PSP in truth, not just PSP of political leaders and acolytes”, another jab at the ruling party.
Mr Adeniran promised to convert ‘area boys’ in the state into positive tools to improve security around corridors where there are garages and the whole state at large, adding that he will put in place “community policing” which will allow citizens to share information on attacks and other issues directly with the government.
However, the figures and data he quoted were accurate.
Just like Mr Rhodes-Vivour, Mr Doherty of ADC intelligently outlined his plans for Lagos State. He said he would be a principal and “not an agent controlled by some persons,” which was a remark on the candidate of the APC, Mr Sanwo-Olu, who is perceived to enjoy the backing of a former governor of the state, Bola Tinubu.
Mr Doherty agreed with the response of Mr Rhodes-Vivour on the rail project, saying it is a welcome development that should be complemented by bringing the waterways into the multimodal transportation system.
Mr Doherty vowed to disentangle a tax company in the state, Alpha Beta Consulting, and to review all tax collections in Lagos if elected governor of the state. Alpha Beta reportedly handles the computation, tracking, and reconciliation of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in Lagos.
He also promised to publish information on the Blue Line rail, begin a public sector compensation survey, and raise their compensation. The ADC candidate added that he would declare a state of emergency on the roads, flashpoints, and rapid intervention mechanisms and will review the proposed Fourth Mainland Bridge. “We will stop it and review that project,” he said.
To reduce the brain drain in the health sector, he said he would ensure the upward review of the compensation of doctors, nurses, and other health workers in the state if elected.
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