Yusuff: Agbaje’s Rescue Mission In Lagos
FOR some politicians belonging to the ruling APC in Lagos State, it is unthinkable that their party is not the party in power in the state. This is hardly their fault, having been the ample beneficiaries of three back to back political and electoral victories of the party in various shapes, formations and names; and a fourth victory is just seen as regular; just an icing on the cake. This haughty assumption pervades the entire echelon of the APC such that its leaders and followers do not see what is very much in plain sight and is bound to be the party’s nemesis at the 2015 gubernatorial elections in Lagos State. That is the Masses’ resentment against the government machinery in the way it has gone about its onerous and very successful but rich harvest of collecting revenue from all the nooks and corners and commercial streets of the Lagos Metropolis and sprawling suburbs of the state without thinking of the discomfort and pain it has cost the citizenry and electorate in the process of enriching its coffers for governance. This then is why change is of necessity in Lagos State and a priority for the Lagos state electorate to vote in the PDP candidate, L. K. Agbaje in order to get immediate and absolute respite from the Eko Oni Baje dictum of persecution of Lagos State, which the APC wants to continue with ‘ Ambo ‘ — ‘ we are coming’ slogan of APC candidate Akin Ambode, another handpicked candidate of the party.
The election of Jimi Agbaje is a task that must be done like former head of State General Yakubu Gowon said about crushing the Ojukwu rebellion during the Nigeria civil war. This is because on a daily basis Nigerians face the torture of government agents in Lagos state in pursuit of their task of collecting government revenues. On the roads, LASTMA officials are busy charging at drivers without driving belts while making little effort to make traffic flow, which the State governor said was their primary duty. They jump at trailer drivers at great risk to their lives like area boys and force them to park to collect revenue for one type of infringement and another. At peak hours when people are looking for their daily bread, uniformed Vehicle Inspection Officers –VIOs — swarm the streets and waylay traders, market women and businessmen to ask for particulars and take bribes, where they are not available. This is a daily nightmare that has made Lagosians dread waking up to each working and business day to earn a living. It is not that government should not collect its revenue but that in collecting it, it should give the masses that put it in power a right of way and passage to earn a living. This is why the Lagos electorate is waiting for a change of parties and personalities at the helm of affairs in Lagos state and cannot wait to elect Jimi Agbaje on the platform of the PDP and thus end 16 years of the shenanigan and oppression of the ruling APC.
Again, we believe it is the duty of government to collect taxes from its citizenry for the development of the state. It is also the duty of government to look after the welfare of its citizenry with the tax so collected. That is not the case in most parts of Lagos streets, especially with innermost city streets far inside the metropolis where the teeming masses live. Bad roads have been the order of the day in Lagos, with no linkages to the well laid out roads in city centres and business areas. It is not unusual to see — Pay Your Tax — road signs at junctions of roads leading nowhere, where LASTMA officials lurk to arrest, fine or take bribes from road users who inevitably take one way routes to come back from roads that end abruptly which are quite many in Lagos State.
The overhead bridge meant to link Okota with Surulere is a classical case of government’s indifference to the plight of its citizenry in Lagos State. The Okota end of the bridge cannot link Okota’ gateway at Apple Junction just because the road in-between, which should have been ready before the construction of the overhead bridge, is simply impassable. So, of what use is the overhead bridge? This coming gubernatorial election makes the election of Jimi Agbaje the solution to this Okota Apple Junction linkage with the Okota – Surulere overhead bridge.
The important thing about elections is that they provide another opportunity to make a choice and elect to power those that people feel will listen to the; Not those who oppress them and turn a deaf ear to their pleas for improved welfare and free movement of goods and services to make ends meet. Agbaje represents a breadth of fresh air for Lagosians to make a change that will affect their environment for good and make them have a sense of belonging. Not the army of occupation, which pursues those who elected it as if once elected, the government is to make life difficult for those who elected it. The election of J.K. Agbaje should change such electoral misconception; and Lagosians look to his coming this year with enormous joy and great expectation.
• Babatunde Yusuff, a political analyst, writes from Lagos.