I have heard the whispering campaign that I do not have hands on experience in Governance. I chortle at this, because it would appear that the opposition are not well informed of the political history of the Country. It is a well known fact of history that the two legendary visionary leaders in our political pantheon had no prior experience in Government, before assuming some of the most important positions of their eras.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo was never a councilor or a civil servant before he became Leader of Government in 1952 (nomenclature changed to Premier in 1954). Without any previous experience, he pioneered general access to primary education. He built Liberty Stadium (now Obafemi Awolowo Stadium) – the 1st in Africa and erected Cocoa House the first Skyscraper in Tropical Africa. Chief Lateef Jakande was neither a Commissioner nor Minister before he became Governor on October 1, 1979. Yet he successfully abolished the obnoxious shift system in public schools. He was never a Permanent Secretary, but he conceived the Metro-Line and Ferry Services to resolve the traffic challenges of the then Lagos population of 5 million. LKJ, as he is popularly called, came up with 10 mini-waterworks to make portable water available as it ought to be and in just 4-years of being in office he built over 30,000 housing units that were specifically targeted at low-income people. Recall that even the current Governor of Lagos, Babatunde Raji Fashola, for all intents and purposes, was neither a Commissioner of Housing nor an Accountant-General when he first ran for office in 2007.
The enormity of the challenges that ordinary people face in Lagos and our capacity to adequately respond and address issues that affect them would need a leadership with bold ideas and a clear vision. The expectations of our people require that the impact of governance must improve not just by marginal gains but in leaps and bounds in the shortest time possible. Let’s be clear, we will NOT realize the Lagos of our dreams if the experience that we’re counting on is one proficient in cornering the resources of the state, for squandering by a few. Lagos deserves a new kind of leadership – one driven to irrevocably ensure that the resources of Lagos State are deployed maximally and prudently in the interest of, not just a few, but the greater good.
It is my vision to make Lagos competitive again, poised to take its role on the world stage of mega-cities – with cities like Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore as reference points for comparison or service delivery. I’m confident that my education and my exposure have adequately prepared me for this onerous role and I shall deliver, if given the chance. My life experience grounds my humanity – having run successful businesses while working as a pharmacist and supporting ordinary people at a community level. The innate values that I imbibed as a young man and the tenets that I’ve learnt over the years as an activist with the Afenifere – working side by side my hero and mentor, late Pa Abraham Adesanya – continually reminds me of the importance of a leader’s duty to his people.
Make no mistake. The change that we so desperately need in Lagos will not come easy. We will need to fight for it and in the process, we might sometimes disagree. But as we strive, let us remember that we do so for the collective good of our people in the hope that we leave Lagos better than we met it for generations unborn. I enjoin you, good citizens of Lagos, to partner with the me in this election so that together we can realize the Lagos of our dreams. If AWO did it, we also can do it. And because LKJ laid the foundation, our resolve must be to deliver on an inclusive government that will guarantee sustained prosperity for all Lagosians. The experience and achievements of AWO and LKJ remain our reference points and we shall not lose focus.
Lagos deserves nothing but the best and I’m confident that I will give Lagos the best.
Agbaje is a Governorship Candidate of People Democratic Party in Lagos.