In this interview with ENIOLA AKINKUOTU, the Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State, Taofik Gani, speaks about several issues in the state
How will you evaluate the performance of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in the last six months?
The performance of the governor has been disappointing despite the propaganda that helped him get into power. Even he has admitted that a lot needs to be done. So, I don’t know why he has continued to delay development.
In the area of education, things are getting worse. The Lagos State University is now worse. No infrastructure has been built in the school. And this is the only state university in Lagos. Former Governor Babatunde Fashola nearly destroyed the school and increased the fees by over 200 per cent. But Ambode has done nothing in the school. The governor imposed a vice-chancellor on the school. The traffic congestion in the state is worrisome as trucks now park on bridges with impunity. The governor has reduced the power of traffic officials that should manage traffic. So, we score him 10 per cent. We can pardon him if he can expose the rot he met in the system and probe his predecessor. However, we know that the APC has no plans for Lagos. Ambode is chasing shadows. He has disappointed Lagosians and should throw in the towel because his performance is embarrassing. He claimed to be an agent of change but he has not changed the plight of the people.
But the governor recently inaugurated security equipment including helicopters.
The governor cannot take credit for the procurement of crime-fighting equipment because they were bought through the Lagos State Security Trust Fund which is sustained by banks, multinationals and members of the public. Spending over N4bn on security equipment is high. We believe the amount was grossly exaggerated. Let him reveal to us the amount of money in the LSSTF. We hear it is over N80bn. Also, let him tell us how the money was spent. Let him reveal the cost of each helicopter and each patrol vehicle instead of just stating that N4bn was spent.
For him to have spent so much on security is suspicious. Fighting crime goes beyond buying equipment. The traffic situation should be solved immediately because despite the procurement of equipment, the rate of robbery has continued to rise. We will also ask the police to give account of these equipment and the police must ensure that they are not used in perpetrating fraud. Is Governor Ambode saying that the police have now become the complete responsibility of the state government?
What happened to the over 1,000 CCTVs inaugurated by former Governor Babatunde Fashola as well as the helicopters bought by him and his predecessor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
You condemned the governor for the gridlock. However, Ambode recently inaugurated over 200 BRT buses.
This BRT of a thing was a United Nations’ idea and was guaranteed by the Federal Government. However its management was handed to cronies of the APC and that is why Lagosians can no longer enjoy what is an ordinary social service. The buses are not well maintained. Ambode’s purchase of a million buses will not excite Lagosians because the scheme has virtually become more expensive than ordinary commercial buses. So, Lagosians are wondering why they see many BRT buses on the pages of newspapers but in reality, only a few are available and working. We don’t know how these buses keep disappearing. It was the same way the Lagos State Government spent over N4bn to a buy a yacht which was berthed at Marina for three years and disappeared mysteriously. Lagosians are disappointed.
How do you feel about the $200m approved by the Senate for Lagos State for the construction of rail given the fact that the governor has promised that the Marina-Okokomaiko blue rail will be completed next year?
It is the same old story by the APC. It is the tradition of the APC to always tell lies. This was how Fashola promised that the light rail would be completed before 2012. They have not meant the deadline and almost a trillion naira has been spent on the scheme till date and there is no light rail in the state. The money has been mismanaged. Ambode has no moral justification to ask for any more loans since the state’s Internally Generally Revenue is over N25bn. This is despite the money that comes from the Federation Account, the Excess Crude Account and the donations that come from private companies in the state.