The gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, has criticized chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for their attempts at maligning him.
Agbaje, who spoke at the party’s rallies, which took place in Amuwo and Apapa local government areas, referred to the public attacks instigated against him by the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Governor Babatunde Fashola and their candidate, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.
“E be like say dis governorship election, na two-and-half people Jimi Agbaje dey contest against”, he stated in pidgin, implying that Tinubu was the puppeteer of the two others. Agbaje also said it was strange to be described as too old by people in the same 50s age bracket as himself, especially as their party presented a 72-year old as its Presidential Candidate.
Agbaje said the government was lashing back at him for exposing the cases of impunity and weakness in the administration of Lagos State.
According to Agbaje: “To do well is our children passing their exams. To do well is for poor people to have houses they can afford. To do well is for people to have a suitable environment to practice their trades and run their businesses. Whether they worked hard or not is not the issue. They have worked hard but they have failed.
“This election, this one, God has given it to us. They cannot continue. To continue is when you have passed. Have they passed or failed?” to which the huge crowd yelled “Failed!”
Agbaje said the recent spate of attacks on his person were a reflection of desperation on the part of the APC.
Speaking to a crowd at the rally ground opposite FESTAC Gate, Lagos, Agbaje used the opportunity to reply Fashola’s tirade that the he was a tax evader, too old to be Governor and that he lacked experience in public office.
“This election is not about experience but qualification. ‘Jimi Agbaje no get experience for political office, but e qualify,’ the candidate added in pidgin.
The crowd cheered as Agbaje reminded them that his critics also lacked public service experience before they took over the reins of power in the state.
“They even talk about experience. They say I don’t have government experience. Tinubu was just a Senator for three months before becoming Governor. For me what is most important is qualification and I am eminently qualified to be the Lagos Governor,” he added.
According to him, the experience that Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode could lay claim to had been rubbished in the two public debates at which the two contestants met, one organised a fortnight ago by the Archbishop Vining Memorial Church and another last week by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“One by one, I go give them T.K.O.,” he joked.
Dismissing the tax evasion allegations levelled against him Wednesday by Fashola, Agbaje said: “Yesterday, dem say Jimi Agbaje na tax evader. But as God dey catch person, just recently, na im dem send me congratulations say I dey pay my tax well-well.”
He made reference to a letter of commendation written by the Lagos State Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Ayo Gbeleyi.
Describing all the allegations as unwarranted and malicious, Agbaje said: “My prayer be say as dem dey throw mud for my body, e no go stick to me. E go backfire!”
Addressing the salient issues bedevilling the administrating of Lagos State, Agbaje acknowledged the hardship occasioned by several policies of the government.
He assured non-indigenes that discrimination against them, their interests and their businesses would dissipate as soon as he came to power.
Contesting the government’s claim that Lagos was overcrowded and that a policy to manage the influx of strangers would be established, Agbaje said: “Trying to deport strangers from other states is like trying to stop the flow of a river with your hand. Is it possible?”
Agbaje also promised that the notorious Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) would be rebranded, not scrapped, saying, the problem with the agency was that it had derailed from its statutory duty of traffic management to imposing draconian fines on motorists in order to generate funds for the government.
He also said that as part of his human-face policies, ‘okada’ (commercial motorcyclists) would be taken into consideration in formulating policies concerning their operations.
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