Bode George: Lagos deserves a better deal

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Today, we have arrived at a critical junction in the history of our nation. We have now reached a stage of collective moral challenge about the status and the continuity of the Nigerian Union. This is a challenge we cannot avoid. This is a crucible we cannot abandon.
There is so much noise now across our nation. There is so much din and thunder shattering the landscape, threatening the peace, neutralizing the frail fabric of the Nigerian state.
Yes, we must engage each other in robust debate. We must discuss and provoke our multifarious differences to arrive at a reasonable accord. Yes, we can be passionate and even be roused in animated candor to establish a point and promote our views. This is all in line with the finest doctrine of democratic practices.
Yes, all views must be heard. None must be silenced. Every voice must be activated in firm, declarative assertions.
But in all the twists and turns of the national debate, in all the fast moving energy of national discourse, the truth must be told. As we engage each other in the storm and fury of variegated visions and opinions, we must never allow our narrow personal preferences to becloud our judgment. We must never distort the truth to serve the hour.
This is now the basic challenge of the Nigerian state. Now, all kinds of characters are making ludicrous claims and assertions, venting their spleen, pouring toxic venom in the ploy of freedom of speech.
Again, the truth must be told. Let me start from home. Since the golden years of Oba Akinsemoyin in the 17th century, Lagos has always been the most blessed, the most endowed, the most gifted territory in the Nigerian Union.
Won ni ti oju o ba ti Ehingbeti, o ju oni ti Eko. Our forefathers were hardworking, honest, puritan, devoted and God-fearing. They loved the land. They treasured the beauty of nature. They invested and cultivated with their bare hands. They were motivated by hard earned discipline and cultural fortitude. They were sincere and truthful to themselves.
But what has now happened to our Lagos? Yes, Lagos accommodates everyone regardless of tongue or tribe. We embrace all Nigerians without discrimination. But alas, the good old Lagos has been seized, appropriated, mortgaged, bought up, captured, completely taken over by the Emperor of Bourdillon and his despicable cohorts.
From 1999 to date, Lagos State has generated over N30 trillion, both from internally generated revenue and the statutory allocation from the Federal coffers. But what has happened to this tremendous revenue? The emperor of Bourdillon, the present Governor, the APC gubernatorial candidate in Lagos, the Vice Presidential Candidate of APC and Alpha Beta have seized up part of this tremendous fortune. Significantly, it was the APC Vice Presidential Candidate who drafted the obnoxious law that legitimized this executive stealing.
We all know that at the end of every month, since 1999, the Company, Alpha Beta, rakes in at least N5 billion from the totally generated revenue of Lagos State. Ambode, of course, was the Accountant-General and the technical hand who set up the bolt and nuts of the corrupt regime that is still milking Lagos in prodigal proportions.
More than two thirds of the high-priced properties in Lagos State are owned, stock and barrel, by the Emperor of Bourdillon. In brazen, insensitive, depraved, morally distorted acquisition spree, the APC Chieftain and the Emperor of Bourdillon has seized the Old Nursing School at Awolowo Road, Lagos, the Ikoyi-Obalende Local Government Council Headquarters, the huge campus of Lagos State Polytechnic at Ketu, the vast stretches of precious acres of land at Lekki and many, many others which he has now turned into private use.
And they talk about corruption. They should look at themselves. Our inner roads, from Ajegunle to the coastal water of Epe, are virtually impassable. But no one seems to care.
And they want us to continue with this arrogant self –centered, indifferent approach to governance.
Lagosians say no to this benighted tools of power. Everywhere you look, businesses are collapsing: the manufacturing companies, the tyre industries, the food producers, the distillers of liquor and wine, they are all fleeing from Lagos because of excessive and extortionist taxation regime.
And the common businessmen, the retailers, the hawkers, the traders, the mechanics, the Okada riders, the food sellers, the Iron-mongers, the carpenters, the sewing-mistress, the brick-layers, the tilers, the vulcanizers, the plumbers, the taxi-drivers, and many, many, more have all been thrown into the unemployment market because the APC Lagos is not business friendly.
Lagosians should reject them. We cannot continue like this. Enough of their lies. Enough of their brazen distortions. Lagosians should have a better deal.
They talk of probity but they steal our money. They talk of selflessness, but they are the most greedy. They say they want to create a mega city, but they are devastating our villages: From Maiyegun to Alpha Beach, from Igbo-Efon to Ologolo and Awoyaya, the beach fronts are virtually eroded. Ancient villages, fortunes and businesses are disappearing under self-provoked Oceanic tidal wave.
And they say Lagos is working! Where? How? The Peoples Democratic Party is coming with a new vision and a more progressive, people-oriented leadership.
The Peoples Democratic Party’s vision is about tolerance and progress. We do not believe fellow Lagosians should be kidnapped and transported forcefully to Onitsha simply because they are not Yoruba people. We frown at a government that extorts Alaba traders, the electronic dealers at Mandilas and the spare-parts dealers at Ladipo market.
For a Lagos that cares, for a Lagos that treasures merit and conscionable pursuit, I urge Lagosians to vote for Jimi Agbaje, a gentleman with solid pedigree and professional competence that will take Lagos to the next level.
Lagosians are not deceived. The endless parade of posters littering the roads cannot translate to a measure of performance. The amount spent by APC to litter our roads is mind boggling. The cost per poster can feed a child on 3 square meal per day. What a charade! What a waste of resources from the treasury!
Our elections and campaign must be issue based and issue driven. This eyesore on all our roads must be condemned in its entirety. Let those who are ready to lead us give us their manifestos and subject themselves to robust debates in other to convince us to vote for them. This is 21st Century and Nigeria must move with the rest of the world.
And at the national platform, the difference is clear. President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is the better choice. He is humble, dedicated, honest, sincere, well-meaning, selfless and totally devoted to the growth and success of our nation.
Despite the grave security challenges, President Jonathan has not strayed from democratic principles. He has not declared any martial law anywhere. He is still tolerant. He still believes that Nigerians must work together. He still believes that the Boko-Haram issue is an aberration. He supports our soldiers with necessary equipment. President Jonathan will never abandon any space in the Nigerian landscape.
But he will never rule with terror or venom. Instead of the draconian decree that muzzled the press and sent Nduka Irabor and Tunde Thompson to Kirikiri, Jonathan signed the Freedom of Information Act which empowers every Nigerian to probe into the inner recesses of government. Now we can request all strata of government to furnish us with the most sensitive information and they must comply.
President Jonathan is well meaning. He is truthful. He is an Omoluabi symbol that all well-meaning Nigerians should support for re-election. Eje ko lo lekan si!
President Jonathan’s achievements despite all these challenges are quite impressive. He is rejuvenating our infrastructure everywhere. From Lagos to Sokoto, he is building new roads, expanding our highways, bringing distant communities into closer embrace. He has practically revolutionized our railways, putting fast moving rail-lines across our cities. The president is equally building new and affordable Housing Scheme for the armed forces and civilians.
The President has upgraded our aviation industry, remolded our airports and put the industry at a competitive international level. In the Education Sector, President Jonathan has invested over N400billion to raise the standard of our tertiary and secondary education. He has created at least 12 new Federal Universities and equally reduced the cost of learning by pegging tuition fee at N15,000 per annum.
In the health field, the President’s swift and competent intervention in the Ebola crisis is a significant novelty that has now become a reference point across the world. The Convocation of the National Conference by President Jonathan must equally go down as one of the most significant attainments in our nation’s history. The National conference allowed an unfettered and unguided articulations of national discourse without acrimony and without bitterness. The Conference was peaceful and uninhibited.
The Boko-Haram issue is not an adequate platform to analyze Jonathan’s achievement. Boko-Haram is not an immediate cure-all affair.
Take IRA in Northern Ireland. Take Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. In all these nations, nothing has been concluded. The internecine war continues. Insurgency can never be over powered by force. It must be through moral suasion.
Is it not President Jonathan who is now equipping our boys in the armed forces with the necessary tools to combat the insurgency in the North East! For years our boys had been stripped of all necessary equipment of a modern army. That has now changed. Attack helicopters, sophisticated bombers, warships and gun boats are now fastly being procured.
But in the end, we all know that insurgency is never defeated on the battle field. It has to be on the round table of persuasive discourse.
It is now on record that President Jonathan is the most accommodating of all Nigerian Presidents since independence. He is the first President to bring the largest numbers of women to the federal cabinet. He is the first head of state to increase the growth of food production by decentralizing the distribution of fertilizers. He is presently empowering our youths with over N200 Billion soft loan scheme to retrain the unemployed and give them practical knowledge for a life time. This novel skill acquisition scheme under the Federal Institute of Industrial Research at Oshodi is ultimately a distinct weapon of poverty alleviation. And he has done so much more.
My appeal now to all Nigerians is that we should eschew all ethnic and religious bigotry. Let us put Nigeria first. Let us come together in harmony and peaceful association. Let us all promote merit instead of nepotism. Let us all promote observable knowledge instead of cronyism.
This is our collective fight. This is our collective struggle. Enough of this charlatanism. Enough of this rampant fraud and lies. Enough of the unconscionable wastage of our treasury.
Our nation is in good hands at the national level. But in our Lagos, power must change hand. We must now embrace new vision and new leadership. Lagosians should now search their conscience and stop and ponder whether this APC government has made any meaningful contributions to their lives in the last 16 years. Whatever decision we make at the polls in February will have lasting impact on the lives of all voters, including the next generation.
This time, we cannot afford to get it wrong. The die is cast. We must now look forward to a purposeful change. It cannot be otherwise. The people want the change. The young and old want the change. Men and women of all faiths want the change. Even the APC wants the change! And naturally, the Almighty God wants the change. And so shall it be in Jesus Name, Amen. Eko a gbe gbogbo wa o!