As Fashola, Osinbajo, APC Lagos Gubernatorial candidate attend interactive sessions with leaders of Students union bodies in tertiary institutions in Lagos
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN on Saturday attended an interactive session with student union leaders of tertiary institutions by the Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode and the Vice Presidential Candidate of the Party, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, stating that the next general elections presents the most unique opportunity for Nigerians to effect a change in the country’s leadership.
The Governor in a goodwill message at the event which took place at the Tafawa Balewa Square Hall added that this is the first time Nigerians as ordinary people and citizens have resolved to change a government that they all agree is not doing well.
Governor Fashola said change is upon the Nigerian nation and that the only way to make this achievable is for all the students to ensure that they vote and that the only way they can vote is if they are duly registered as voters.
He stressed that if indeed majority of the students are not happy with the way the affairs of the country is being run today, they must go to the various registration points and collect their Permanent Voters Cards which would be available till the 31st of January for them to be able to vote.
At the interactive session which had leaders of various students unions of the tertiary institutions in Lagos in attendance who pledged their support for the Lagos APC Gubernatorial candidate while calling for change at the centre, the Governor said the forum is about connecting the students with the flag bearers of the APC who are in one way or the other connected to the ivory tower and teaching profession.
According to him, the Governorship candidate is the son of a teacher while the Deputy Governorship candidate is a former lecturer in one of the universities just as the Vice Presidential Candidate, Professor Yemi Osinbajo is a law teacher who is not disconnected from the issues of students.
“More importantly you have had the privilege of listening to people like Gbenga Akintola, Mariam Masha, Damilola Ogunbiyi and Yakoob Bashorun who stood in for the Agriculture and Cooperatives Commissioner. What was instrumental about them was they demonstrate to you that the success this state has recorded is not for me, it is the young people who worked for me so they just allow me to take leadership. They demonstrate what is possible if you make the right choices”.
“So anybody can come and tell you about jobs and about whatever. This is the practical demonstration of jobs involvement by young people who are making it happen. So it is not about statistics or GDP of jobs. These are real life people”, he explained.
He described the austerity measures being proposed by the Federal Government as a deceptive policy, adding that the official excuse it gave that because it was losing 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day the people have to tighten their belts is not tenable.
“Largely because of their inefficiency, they have now come to say tighten your belt as austerity has come. Stop losing 400,000 barrels first because 400,000 barrels even at 50 dollars would give you about 20 million Dollars per day. When you multiply that by 190 it would give you about N3.8 Billion a day that is being lost”.
Governor Fashola also faulted the recourse to an increase in Value Added Tax as part of the belt tightening regime. “So before you come back to the citizen to say tighten your belt you must do your job first and they are now saying one of the ways they are going to raise money in austerity is that they are going to increase Value Added Tax (VAT) which means that all of the consumables like water and coca cola would cost more”.
“That is why we quarrel with that austerity formula. We think that this is a time when you need creative and effective people in the economy, The government that cannot deliver electricity to you and cannot deliver security and could not buy guns for armed forces when oil was selling at over 100 dollars per barrel cannot do it when oil prices is 50 dollars per barrel. They cannot do more with less because they cannot do anything with more”, he stated.
While giving an insight into why he is in government, Governor Fashola said it is basically to demonstrate that government can indeed work, saying seven years ago in Lagos banks used to be robbed and there was no capacity to respond which was a challenge for the present government to confront .
“Today there has been no successful bank robberies in Lagos since 2008 except those who go and break ATM. That is a demonstration that government can work. In 2007 there was no street light in Lagos and there was no street that you could point to and say there would be street lights here at night. What that meant is that after 7pm you could not buy fuel”.
“Street by street, pole by pole we are lighting up Lagos at night. That is a demonstration again that government can work. Have we finished the work? No. in 2007, how many parks and green areas were there in Lagos? There used to be pigs on the Marina, we cleaned it up and demonstrated that these things can be done”, he maintained.
He added that all the problems cannot all be completely solved because more people are arriving as more people are going, underscoring the importance of having an accurate census of residents through the State Residents Registration Agency.
While responding to questions on job creation, Governor Fashola revisited the issue of the town and gown reiterating that the town must constantly engage the gown explaining that the town represents the government while the gown represents the higher institutions and educational system.
According to the Governor, there are no jobs because the economy is not doing well with lack power leading to many factories shutting down while for those still managing to produce they were doing so at a cost that made it impossible for them to compete with things that were imported into the country.
“This are the issues in the common sense revolution which is one of the points made by Professor Yemi Osinbajo that it is a conservative team that has managed the economy of this nation. We can only make modest intervention at state level because the present revenue sharing formulae is disproportionately skewed to favour the Federal Government to the detriment of the other two tiers”, he said.
He stated that Lagos State saw ahead and has opened an Energy Academy, because over the next 15 years vacancies would exist for about 200,000 people to work in fields of transmission, distribution and generation of electricity in the country.
“We are intervening in youth agric schemes. You may have heard that there is a graduate farmers scheme in Araga in Epe where they own plots of land, a building and their own businesses. All the money they borrowed they have substantially paid back. Concerning the cassava thing that you are talking about, we have provided linkages between them and flower mills and they are direct suppliers to those companies. We are enabling people to do things with their hands and not giving handouts”.
“We have signed a development agreement with Dangote group to build a refinery in our free trade zone. When that refinery is completed it is going to require 8000 people to operate it. Scientists, chemical engineers and people in allied and related fields, petroleum engineers but during construction it is going to require 33, 000 people to deliver the project. That is what we are committing to here”.
The Governor also used the opportunity to set the records straight on some claims by the students like the assertion that the Governor has never visited the Lagos State Polytechnic, noting that he has visited severally to inspect projects but has not been able to attend convocation because it usually clashes with when he has other pressing assignments.
He also corrected the erroneous impression that federal institutions in the state are being sidelined saying the largest internet connectivity project that the state has committed to from the Lagos Island was delivered in Yaba basically because the largest number of tertiary institutions are located in the area and that apart from the State College of Health Technology, most of the institutions that are benefitting directly from that internet connectivity which is the new frontier are federal institutions.
Earlier while interacting with the students, the Governorship candidate of the APC in the state, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode said his administration would allow the youths to live their dreams by providing the needed educational support to them.
He also gave a commitment that his administration would have no cause to increase the school fees payable at Lagos State University and would ensure that that it builds on the legacy of the Fashola administration in the educational sector.
The Vice Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Professor Yemi Osinbajo who also participated in the interactive session described common sense revolution as one that postulates that governance is not rocket science but one that involves sincerity, creativity, innovation and common sense.
He said unfortunately those at the helms of affairs at the centre are acting as if they are doing something complex and extraordinary with governance but failed to realize that it is a function of creativity and innovation that has been amply demonstrated in Lagos State and many of the APC Governed states in the federation.
Also speaking, a former President of the Lagos State University Students Union Government , Mr Agbabiaka said though he is not a politician, he thinks the next Governorship elections in Lagos is about a choice between experience and experiment and that the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a party represents the change Nigerians are yearning for at the federal level.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the National Association of Nigerian Students, Joint Campus Committee who gave the vote of assurance, Mr Sulaimon Sanusi thanked the All Progressives Congress administration in Lagos State for its pro students actions and commended its choice of Mr Akinwunmi Ambode as its Governorship candidate adding that they would show their support for the APC candidates at the polls.
The event was also attended by the Deputy Governorship Candidate of the APC in Lagos State, Dr (Mrs) Ranti Adebule, State House of Assembly candidates of the APC like Mr Desmond Elliot, Mr. Wale Ajomale and several students’ unions leaders from many zones across the federation.