Why Ambode Will Defeat Agbaje – Fouad Oki

Lagos State All Progressives Congress (APC) Vice Chairman (Lagos Central) Hon. Fuad Oki spoke with The NATION on the chances of the party in tomorrow’s poll and other partisan issues.

What were the mistakes made by the Independent National Electoral Commission ((INEC) at the presidential election, which should be avoided in Saturday’s governorship poll?

We must take cognisance of the fact that we are still transiting, in terms of getting it right. The card reader is novel. We must experience challenges here and there. I thank the INEC for the initiative and for allowing those whose Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) to go through manual accreditation. We should encourage INEC to do better. Some party agents complained that they could not get identification tags. I think they will get over that in the Saturday’s election.

Other issues are administrative. INEC is setting a standard for a credible, free, fair and violence-free election. We should also thank Nigerians for coming out to vote. They defied the harsh weather in some areas, especially the heavy downpour. We should commend Nigerians for being steadfast.

What are the issues that will shape the governorship election in Lagos?

We want continuity in Lagos. We want the good work to continue. We cannot be experimenting with the next governor. In the last 16 years, Lagos has been progressively moving forward, in terms of development. The state government has embarked on major infrastructural development and moved the local economy from dormancy in 1999 to something that is growing and becoming buoyant.

The election will be determined by the desire of Lagosians to continue to enjoy developmental projects and programmes or whether they want to experiment. PDP has not been able to give to Nigerians what they want, in terms of service delivery, accountability and best practices. These are what will shape the April 11 election.

What are the specific challenges that will confront the next governor of Lagos State?

The challenges that will confront the in-coming governor, by the grace of God, Akinwumi Ambode, will be the challenge of wanting to do much and not having enough. It is not for fun that we call Akinwumi Ambode the consolidator. In 1999, we decided that we will take Lagos to the Victorian era that it used to be in the forties and fifties, sixties and during the civil war.

We have been doing that consistently. Even, PDP leaders have come out to say that Lagos is working. We want to keep it working. We want to do much, but, we have less. As a result, we have embarked on serious financial engineering and re-engineering in making the state a Triple A in the reckoning of international financial institutions. Lagos State government is reputed for best practices in terms of prudence and financial management. We have financial blueprint for the management of resources. In terms of service delivery, mega city status, Lagos is becoming the third.

We are reviving the abandoned rail line project. But, there has been lack of understanding by the Federal Government. We are developing our waterways. We must promote our eco system in this state of Aquatic Splendour. We want to continue to add value to the lives of the people.

In terms of antecedent, professional calling and other personal attributes, what gives you an impression that Akinwumi Ambode will be a better governor than Jimi Agbaje?

There is a saying in Yoruba: eni to fe daso fun yan, torun e la koko maa wo. We are talking about a man whose career path has been in the public sector. But, there is also an candidate whose career path has been a monologue, even in the private sector. We are looking at two different things. Akinwumi Ambode’s career path was in the civil service. He rose through the ranks, earning promotion and becoming all that he became in his career.

He has seen it all in terms of project initiation, formulation and implementation. He has been part of this administration in the last 16 years. He knows where Lagos is going. He has all these benefits, experience and goodwill of successive Lagos State governments. On the other hand, the candidate in the opposing camp is coming for experimentation. For a green horn coming into office, he will spend the first 16 months learning the ropes. He will spend another 16 months to add value. So. he has few time to really work.

Lagos deserves a succession plan, where from onset, we will start looking for people who will succeed Akinwumi Ambode in eight years; who will also learn the ropes and be integrated into the process of governance and public service. You cannot experiment with Lagos. It will hurt all of us.

PDP is more determined to capture Lagos, using financial inducement. Are you saying that will not swing the votes towards the direction of the PDP candidate?

Lagosians are wiser. Let them spend all tax payers’ money. It will not sway Lagosians from doing that which is right. We are used to their shenanigans and the slogan of capture as if we are in a war situation. Let them continue to induce. We will continue to remind Lagos on the need to keep it working.

What is the bone of contention between APC and Ndigbo in Lagos, to the extent that the Igbo are thinking of ditching the party, which has given the ethnic group a sense of belonging in the last 16 years?

I refuse to accept that there is a quarrel between the APC and our brothers from the East. I don’t want to believe so. We have held several meetings with our brothers from the East and one thing they always say is that there is no place like Lagos, in terms of security of life and property, economic opportunities and privileges. Only in Lagos you see Ezes in every community, thus affirming their right to cultural expression and integration. PDP is trying to incite brothers against brothers by playing ethnic and religious cards.

But, APC and our brothers from the East are wiser and those things cannot create tension between them. In terms of accommodation, cultural expression, integration and security, they have always said that there is no place like Lagos. The Publicity Secretary of the APC, Engineer Joe Igbokwe, is an Igbo. The man they call the headmaster, the Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Pastor Ben Akabueze, is an Igbo. We are brothers in Lagos. That is the spirit of Lagos where I grew up.

In specific terms, what are the new things that the APC candidate will do for Lagosians?

Akinwumi Ambode will implement the APC manifestos. He is a party man who subscribes to the party manifestos. He will continue to b he build on the legacies of the Tinubu and Fashola administrations. He will take Lagos to a higher level. He will create jobs and defend all the sectors. He will implement our manifestos.

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