Olujimi Kolawole Agbaje, popularly known as Jimi Agbaje, flagged off his campaign at Lekki, Lagos, last Saturday. His mantra is to free Lagos and create a state of equal opportunities for all. Agbaje contested in 2015 against the incumbent Governor Akinwumi Ambode, whose second term fate was sealed by Jide Sanwo-Olu, governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Agbaje emerged the governorship candidate of People’s Democratic Party(PDP) in Lagos in early October, after defeating his rival, Adedeji Doherty.
In line with the provisions of the Electoral Act of 2010, as amended in 2014, presidential campaigns started on November 18 while gubernatorial campaigns commenced on December 1.
The pharmacist unveiled his agenda before a group of supporters, party faithful and journalists. He anchored his vision on three main areas: Livability, Economy and Future.
On livability, the PDP governorship candidate explained that he would make life better for all Lagosians in order to ensure they stay in the state and tap its economic potential.
“Lateef Jakande (former Lagos governor) was a model we can look at. In four years, the traffic in Lagos will not be what it is today if I am elected governor.
“How can we have a state like Lagos without a light rail? Lagos is the fifth largest economy, but they have been doing the light rail for 12 years without success. They now say it will be ready in 2022. Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) had its light rail in four years. We are telling the people of Lagos that within four years, light rail will be working,” he assured.
Also on livability, Agbaje said Lagos state healthcare system would be revamped. He said the plank of his healthcare programme would be built around the health insurance scheme.
“For health, we will be running a model based on health insurance so that you won’t worry when you get to the hospital,” he explained.
Lagos State output in 2017 was $136bn, which is more than a third of Nigeria’s gross domestic product, according to official estimates.
Data from the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) show that out of N329.94 billion invested by manufacturers in the first half of 2017, 32.9 percent (N108.87 billion) went to Apapa zone while N67.27 billion (20.4 percent of total investment) worth of investments was channelled to Ikeja.
Similarly, in the second half, manufacturers made investments estimated at N176.69 billion. Twenty-four percent or N42.46 billion was channelled to Ikeja, while 20 percent or N35.33 billion went to Apapa zone.
In the first and second half, Apapa got N144.2 billion (28.46 percent), while Ikeja got N109.73 billion (21.65 percent).
Agbaje explained that his economic blueprint is anchored on cutting unnecessary taxes and levies imposed on investors in the state, vowing that if elected, he will make doing business easier in the state.
He explained that Lagos makes more money than 30 states put together but these states have friendlier business environment, pledging that he would stop multiple taxation to enable investors, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to heave some sigh of relief, make more money and create more jobs for the people.
Like in many states, the power sector is a challenge as businesses grapple with high operating costs fuelled mainly by expenditure on alternative energy sources. Nigeria generates 4,000 to 5,000 megawatts of electricity and distributes less. Agbaje believes his will power businesses and MSMEs when elected.
He targets 1,000 megawatts of power in four years to boost the economic fortunes of Lagosians.
“There is an arrangement we will put in place in four years. I am giving you a guarantee as a governor that we will have a minimum 1,000MW of power. Lagos needs 3,000MW to have some sense of stability, but I can promise 1,000MW.”
He said the state used to be the industrial hub of the country but has lost it to a neighbouring state due to several unfriendly business policies, but assured Lagosians that he would restore the state to its glorious status as an industrial and business epicentre.
He explained that he would unveil a programme for MSMEs, which are the bedrock of any economy, adding that it would not be mere hand-outs but support with concrete infrastructure and funding.
Moreover, Agbaje pledged to reduce unemployment to the barest minimum by providing jobs for the teeming young population.
“As far as our children do not have education, they cannot have jobs. The economy is driven by MSMEs, which is why we have to look at how to support entrepreneurs. We must address ease of doing business.”
On the Future, the PDP candidate said after spending N6 trillion in 20 years, government after government in the state has not been able to rejig the state’s economy, its infrastructure, health and education systems.
He promised to restore the high standards of education in the state by providing more accessible, quality education, as opposed to what he called ‘the current ineffective system’.
Lagos’ total debt profile has risen to N1.04 trillion, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Another report by the Debt Management Office (DMO) puts Lagos’ foreign debt at $1.45 billion, which is highest among the 36 states.
He pointed out that things are not working in the state owing to vested interests.
“Things are not working because there are one or two people with vested interests. It is the vested interests that will decide what will be given to Lagosians. They are the ones that have decided that local government system will be ineffective.”
“I am running a believable administration and I am in the race for service not for self. They are in politics for selves. They have said that I am their ‘customer’. But I want to tell them that the customer is the king and he is always right. By March 2019, the rest will be history because this election will be decided by the people of Lagos who yearn for freedom, and not by political parties,” he told the enthusiastic supporters.
He also used the opportunity to introduce his deputy, Haleemat Oluyemisi Busari, promising that they would ‘carry the load together’ instead of the culture of making the deputy a ‘spare tyre’.
Agbaje is a pharmacist and founder of JAYKAY Pharmaceutical and Chemical Company Limited, serving as its managing director until 2005 when he ventured into politics
He was a member of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (1999–2006); national secretary of the Nigerian Association of General Practice Pharmacists (NAGPP) from 1987 to 1990; national chairman NAGPP (1990–1993) and chairman, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Lagos State (1994–1997). He was also a member, Lagos State Task force on Fake and Adulterated Drugs (1989–1993); National Drug Formulary and Essential Drugs List (1986–1993), and Lagos Hospitals Management Board (1994–1997).
He sits on the board of several organisations, including Oakwood Park Ltd, Atlantic Hall Secondary School Epe, Jimi Agbaje Outreach (a project dedicated to helping the less fortunate) and has served as business mentor at Fate Foundation.
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