With loads of messages to him from concerned citizens who were traumatized in the course of a protest march by armed pro-Goodluck Jonathan and Jimi Agbaje groups on Monday, 16th March, 2015, Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN on Tuesday, 17th March, 2015 said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has by the disruptive rally shown its own security model.
The Governor, who stated this at the Johnson Agiri Agricultural Complex, Oko Oba Agege, where he flagged off the 2015 Agric Value Chains Empowerment programme, asserted that when the gangsterism displayed by the PDP supporters on Monday, 16th March, 2015, is put side by side with the peaceful rally the All Progressives Congress (APC) held in Lagos on 7TH March, 2015, the difference is clear.
He said instead of the PDP supporters canvassing for people’s votes and showing them why their record of service is better, they were wielding knives, cudgels and other dangerous weapons.
“Yesterday, I received telephone calls, text messages from residents who explained to me. Some residents phoned that they were banging on their cars. The residents consistently complained yesterday that they were traumatized by those people, who supposedly were carrying out a rally in support of the President and their gubernatorial candidate. I am sorry about the pain and trauma they put you through”, he said.
Whilst still shedding more light on the security issue and its impact on choices available to the voters in the next elections, Governor Fashola said that when President Jonathan came to Lagos last week, whilst the citizens were being robbed, the President was protected by 2,123 security personnel.
“Let me be clear, the President is entitled to every protection. He is our President, but the question to ask is that when you were being traumatized yesterday, where were those 2,123 men, because you are entitled to be protected. The reason why the President gets all that protection is so that he can protect all of us. So another difference between us is our own approach to your own well being. That is why we are here today to support you, our small farmers”, he said.
Fashola reiterated that the work of a government is to protect its citizens and not to terrorize them, maintaining that for those who still say that they do not know what the issues in the next elections are Monday’s event has brought the issue of security sharply into focus.
The Governor explained that the peace and safety that all residents of Lagos have enjoyed for eight years is now at risk going by the kind of people who support the opposition party and their Presidential candidate who came out on Monday, adding that this could become a daily experience except Lagosians come out to vote en-masse for a party that would not traumatize them with security apparatus.
“Unless you come out and vote. You are the employers, unless you come out massively on March 28, April 11 that is the only way God will forbid that kind of thing in Lagos. It is your vote that will change it. A vote for Buhari would put an end to this kind of abuse of state power. A vote for Ambode will continue the security that we have built and protected you with for the last eight years”, the Governor stressed.
According to the Governor, another issue that will determine the next elections is the economy and how the PDP at the centre has been managing the oil revenue when compared to how the Government in Lagos has been managing its resources, adding that all he would suggest to propositions by the PDP that it has improved agriculture is for anyone to do a price survey of foodstuffs between last December and now.
Fashola said a similar empowerment programme was carried out in October last year noting that, that was not the first contact of the State Government with the farmers as in the last four to five years, he has met some of the graduates from the Agric Yes Scheme in Araga, met some of the poultry farmers in Erikorodo in Ikorodu and also been to the Fish Farm Estate in Odogunyan, to personally ensure that all was well.
He added that last October at the Agric Value Chains Empowerment Programme, farmers got Certificates of Occupancy to their farms to act as collateral for access to small loans and 3,149 farmers were supported with farming equipment, seedlings, business tools to start their own businesses.
The Governor informed that this year, 3,529 farmers engaged in various agro-business such as acqua-culture, poultry, artisanal-fishing, vegetable and arable crop, egg marketing, fish marketing, butchery, perishable produce and seed millers are being supported.
“So for us this has been a day to day journey, it is not a six weeks affair. We have counted from 2010 to 2015 and six years. What they did not do for you in six years is what they are trying to rush through in six weeks. Sorry they came to work very late, the game is over”, he added.
He also reminded the gathering that the projects are what the administration does with the taxes being paid by the citizens and that the State Government would not use it to give out pipeline contracts to militants and did not put it in an airplane and forget it in South Africa.
The Governor contended that if the PDP at the federal level talks about improvement in agriculture, the people are in the best position to know because they are the ones who know where the shoe pinches.
He said the people know how much they spend on generators to preserve their produce and they also know how many hours they also spend on the fuel queues to get fuel for their generators.
“So this is another issue in the election. We are talking about the economy now, power, food cost of living, fuel and generator. For those who say there are no serious issues in the elections there are many and I would continue to talk about them because the President cannot escape a discussion about his record. That is what every election is about. Did you do well with the first term? If you did, go to the next class, if you did not do well, leave the job”, he reiterated.
He described the people as the employers of government because when they go out during the elections to the polling units in the sun, rain, they are electing those who will serve them and not there to do favours for the people adding that citizens also have a duty to pay tax if they earn an income so that more people can benefit.
Underscoring the power of the electorates, Fashola declared: “If you want change, we have provided the platform for change but myself and other leaders can only vote for ourselves but we cannot elect ourselves. You must elect us because you are the employers. You are the best person to know whether the quality of your life is improving by what they do or not”.
While countering the claims by President Goodluck Jonathan that he has created two million jobs, the Governor insisted that the claims of the President means that about 55,000 people from each of the states of the federation have been offered new jobs, wondering where such people exist in Lagos State as an example.
“Ask them what happened to vision 20:20. You have read it before, they have left that one. Ask them what happened to Seven Point Agenda. They are now transforming. But because they see that the transformation is not working, they have come up with ‘We are moving forward’. Anytime they tell you we are moving forward, ask them if the high cost of living is what they are moving forward”.
“It is unfortunate that he came to Lagos and said he has failed. Unfortunately when it comes to the lives of the people there is no opportunity for repeat. So you have seen the two economic models, the economic model that put jobs in your hands and one that put jobs in numbers that you don’t see”.
“We have seen the difference between security management when security can protect the number one citizen and his followers and would not protect you. You now decide which model you prefer. Is it the APC model or PDP model? I pray for wisdom for you as you make that choice that is ultimately about your own life”, the Governor explained.
Governor Fashola said the only reason why Lagos State is working is because the PDP has never governed it and going by the testimonies of some of the Agric Chain Empowerment beneficiaries, who are not indigenes, Lagos is where it is better.
He reiterated that with APC governed states, certainly there will be improvements and that the difference between APC governed states and PDP governor states is that the APC states are as good as their records.
“If you go to all the APC states, even the people who left them and joined us are the ones that have been doing well. Only Lagos and Rivers States are building Intra City Rail in Nigeria. It is development and progress that unites Governor Rotimi Amaechi and I”, Fashola said.
Earlier in his welcome address, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperatives, Prince Gbolahan Lawal said the Agric Empowerment Programme has resulted in significant reduction in poverty to the extent that Lagosians now clamour for more value-chain interventions.
He added that in determining the beneficiaries, special consideration was given to the vulnerable groups within the society who are desirous of vocations in agriculture and the artisanal fishermen cooperative societies that did not benefit in the last exercise.
Testimonies were given by some of the beneficiaries of the Empowerment Scheme including a fish farmer, Mrs Sherifat Adedayo who recounted a boost in her sales and a positive change in all facets of her life since was empowered with cat fish last October.
While praying the APC gubernatorial candidate emerges victorious at the polls on April 11, Mrs Adedayo called for a continuation of the Empowerment programme as it has changed the lives of many people for good.
Another beneficiary, Mrs Florence Uworen who is an egg marketer said she was empowered with 500 crates of eggs and her business has flourished leading to her now selling as many as 5000 crates of eggs with additional hands to work with her employed.
Another fish farmer who also benefitted, Mrs Omolara Okoh expressed her gratitude to the State Government for not discriminating against those who are not indigenes of the state in the choice of beneficiaries, saying similar opportunities does not exist in Kogi State which is her state of origin.
The Governor later made symbolic presentations of inputs and support to the different groups, cooperative societies and individuals at the event which attracted dignitaries including some members of the State Executive Council including: the state Commissioners for Special Duties, Dr Wale Ahmed; Education, Mrs Olayinka Oladunjoye; Transportation, Comrade Kayode Opeifa; the state Deputy Chairman of the APC, Cardinal James Odumbaku; elder statesman, Prince Tajudeen Oluyole Olusi; beneficiaries and several other guests from far and near.