The Lagos State governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Jimi Agbaje has said Lagosians should be free from all forms of political godfatherism that characterize the mode of operations in the state.
Agbaje, who spoke on Sunday Politics, a live programme on Channels Television, on Sunday, said his campaign tagged, ‘Free Lagos’, was about delivering the state from subjection to one man’s dictates.
“Let me start from the basics of the Freedom of Information. Lagos is still run like a closed shop; it’s like a private company. Lagos has refused to domesticate its Freedom of Information Bill, so we don’t know what plays out in Lagos.
“So, we’re talking about freedom in the sense that we want to be able to have access to how exactly they are running our government. We talk about freedom where, in the last 20 years, Lagos has spent some N7tn and we’re asking, ‘What have we got for N7tn? Have we got value for money?’
“Now, there is a private company that takes a percentage of that N7tn, and we’re asking, ‘For what purpose?’ There is a private company fund collector, Alphabeta or whatever, that collects – we don’t even know what the percentage is. It could be 10 or 12 (per cent), eight or six (per cent).”
When asked about the legitimacy of the firm and its operations, Agbaje stated that it was not about it being legal but the morality of its involvement in the state’s finances.
“If you tell me that for every amount of money that Lagos collects or spends, there’s a private company that is collecting, I’m asking, ‘That is taxpayers’ money, so why should it be? To what purpose?’
“These people that collect money, you don’t see them. You don’t see their staff. When people collect taxes, it is Lagos Inland Revenue Service’s personnel that come.
“It is against standard practice because we don’t see what they are doing and we don’t even know what the percentage is. I don’t see (the) value for money; let’s put it like that. So, it’s freedom from that. It’s not about being legal; it’s about value for money. It’s asking ourselves, ‘What exactly are they doing?’”
Asked if he would terminate Alphabeta’s involvement in the affairs of the state if he became governor, the PDP candidate reiterated his desire to rid the state of arrogance.
According to Agbaje, despite parting ways before the 2007 elections, it is wrong to say there was a feud between him and the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
“There has never been a feud between myself and (Tinubu). It wasn’t about anger; it was about principle.”
Don’t forget that even after that, offers were given to me. So, it’s not about that; it’s about principle. It’s not about anger.