By Olawale Abdul-Fatah
Barely 50 days to gubernatorial election in Lagos State, All Progressives Congress, APC candidates, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his People Democratic Party, PDP counterpart, Jimi Agbaje, clashed on different issues and vowed to tackle the Apapa gridlock immediately they assumed office.
The candidates spoke at Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI interactive session with private sector themed Private sector Agenda for Lagos, Post-2019 election, held on Friday in Ikeja, which was also attended by Musiliu Obanikoro and others.
At the debate moderated by publisher of Business Day Newspapers, Frank Aigbogun, while Adewale Adegbite, Niyi Yusuf and Fayo Williams accompanied him, both candidates were applauded by their supporters; embellishing the exercise.
The debate which started peacefully with both candidates reeling out their Curriculum vitae and their vision for the state, at midway, resulted into attacks, forcing the moderator to caution them to concentrate on explaining solutions to the audience.
They stressed that strict measures must be adopted to end the perennial gridlocks that had crippled business opportunities within Apapa ports, stressing that the challenge would be tackled head-on when they assumed office as governor.
However, both candidates could not reach agreement on specific date at which they could solve the perennial gridlock within Apapa Central Business District, CBD.
I will solve Apapa gridlock in 60 days-Sanwo-Olu
Speaking on the perennial traffic gridlock on Apapa-Oshodi expressway, Sanwo-Olu emphasised that his administration would solve the gridlocks within the first 60 days of his administration because he has done the needed study on it.
While reeling out five things that would be done by his administration within the first two months, the APC candidate argued that the axis was important to his government and wants to restore it’s glory.
“Apapa is a nightmare and there are some individuals that we need to have strong conversation with. Those trucks were somewhere before now. So we will go there are ensure they return to the previous status.
“I don’t know the commercial entity that has caused the trailers to leave for the roads. We will reach out to Nigerian Port Authority, NPA so that they can return to the ports.
“We will embark on a pooling system. And Ogun state will be useful in this. We will asked that the trailers park outside the state and coming when they have been called. We will have tough conversation with the owners of the trucks owners,” he added.
On strategy to prevent same scenario from Lekki as more industries shift towards the end, Sanwo-Olu disclosed that “regional roads to complement the existing roads within the axis.”
.No specific timeline
Agbaje, on his part, stressed that zero tolerance would be adopted by his administration on the gridlocks, but did not state specific timeline to end the Apapa CBD challenge.
“Apapa traffic is very sensitive to me because I live within the axis and my office is there. And it is sad that for over 20 years we have been talking about the trailer park and it hasn’t materialized. Aside the life that is been put in danger within Apapa, the activities of these trucks are affecting the economy.
“The bridges could go down anytime if we don’t take the required measure to end their continued parking on the bridges and road. And I don’t know how we can build them again.
“It is important that we give zero tolerance from where they are presently. We must have a rail system that can help move good out 9f the ports rather than rely on the roads,” he added.
The clashed intensified when the moderators asked that they express their views on Lagos economy and solutions to the challenges that had affected it from competing favourably with other megacities.
Agbaje said: “Mr. Sanwo-Olu has alluded to the fact that the economic strategy is not working in Lagos because he has tried his hands in the private sector before and because of the issues in that sector, he couldn’t survived and left for politics. It is the same way that we all must look at the issue of economy and ensure that the private sector is considered as partners to the government and not mainly source of revenue.”
In a swift response, Sanwo-Olu said: “It is clear that Agbaje has not done well in politics all this while. And that is why this made it the third term he is contesting for the gubernatorial post. I have done both and I know what is obtained in them. And I have solution to address them.”
The PDP candidate lamented that the state of education was appalling and must be addressed immediately for Lagos to breed the needed workforce that could address its present and future challenges.
“It is sad when you examine the state of education in Lagos State. This is a megacity where only 20 percent of the students have passed West African Examinations Council, WAEC. So to correct that, we will do so much on education far above the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO percentage.
“All children in the public schools must have access to the internet. This is one of the basic that is required for better and improved education. And the over population that is still prevalent in Lagos schools will become a thing of the past when I assumed office. It will take a chunk if not the largest of the state budget,” he added.
Replying, Sanwo-Olu faulted Agbaje, saying the statistics peddled by the PDP candidate were apparently not correct.
“The 20 percent pass is incorrect. Away from that, I remember that as commissioner, I often trained hundreds of teachers in the state. And that is because we believe that when the teachers get quality training, they will be able to impact on the students.
“Part of the problem that we have is because we have challenges with enumeration. And that is why we had a meeting with about 5,000 private school operators in the state to listen to their challenges and how they could be solved. It is a strategic gap that they are filling. And we have decided that we would grade the schools into categories. This will afford us to streamline their charges and parents get value for their fees,” the APC candidate argued.
But frowning at the strategy raised, Agbaje stated that the Alh. Lateef Jakande administration had foresight on education and never segregate schools, saying, “We must go back to the strategy used by that administration, that is, government must drive the educational process. And get rid of private schools that are not up to standard.”
Clarifying his stance on education, Sanwo-Olu argued that the model of education his administration aimed to introduce has been adopted in different societies that were more complex than Lagos.
“In United State, they have different categories of schools and that has helped to address the previous challenges they had in education. It will be unfair for parents sending their children to different schools furnished with different standard of facilities to pay same fees. This is a huge economy that we cannot get rid. We have to accommodate them and that is what we are saying.”