I have heard both men speak. One exudes intelligence, brilliance and a strategic mind, while the other reminds me of some uncouth member of the NURTW (National Union of Road Transport Workers) – apologies to good members of that noble association. I leave you to guess who is who.
In my opinion (and I may well be wrong), the candidate that will do better for Lagos state is Jimi Agbaje, never mind that I hate the guts of his party, the PDP. Let me tell you some things I learnt from hearing the two men.
Two days before I heard Ambode speak I was not sure who I was going to vote for. Now, since I usually run mornings, I have lately been coming across political campaign posters of Ambode, and was increasingly getting annoyed at the varied, weird and grotesque postures in his different photo shoots, and asking myself, “what does this clown think he is doing”. It might have been an unconscious reaction, but slowly and surely, whatever sympathies he had with me were eroding. When I came to listen to him then, my mind was his to lose. He delivered his presentation from a prepared speech. He did OK, but all he had to do was just read. Come time for questions though, he flunked it badly. Towards the end, one lady stood up and gave him a piece of advice that went something like this: “I have advice for you. Whenever you enter a room during this campaign period, there is a big elephant in the room. It will do you no good to keep skirting it, but rather you should address it, for unless you do, the big elephant will keep looming and harm you. That elephant is, how independent you are likely to be from your political godfathers” – an obvious reference to Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC godfather and Ambode’s patron. How did he answer it? Badly. Towards the end of the round of questions, one man asked him to name one single legacy he would like to be remembered by at the end of his tenure. What did Ambode reply? Wait for it… He said he would like to “build monuments” all around Lagos. Now before you think that was a figure of speech, he then went on to explain that Lagos needed more statues, art works and “monuments”. Gosh! Does this guy have a brain!
And Jimi Agbaje? They are thousands of miles apart, the two men. He had a PowerPoint presentation and did not read from a prepared speech. Rather, his presentation was full of charts and graphs adapted to his audience, a room full of business leaders and members of the diplomatic corp. He did a situational analysis of the Lagos environment, addressing all the needs of the people and how he planned to begin to solve them. When he occasionally made reference to the opposition, he did so without rancour and was not afraid to admit the good things Fashola has done, a number of which he promised to continue, such as the Light Rail transportation system. Unlike Ambode who had nothing to disagree with from Fashola, Agbaje made it clear that he would be his “own man”. Now, if you understand Lagos, you will know that as good a man as Fashola is, Lagos has been under the grips of another one man, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. There is nothing wrong with having political patrons. What is wrong is having a patron who uses his protégés to milk the state dry financially. Who owns Alpha-Beta Company, the contractor that collects tax on behalf of the Lagos State government? (Some say Tinubu). Agbaje said that one thing he does not like about the present arrangement was the habit of the state government of taking land belonging to individuals on the pretext of using it for public good, only to turn around and allocate it to other individuals as business or political favours. Now there he touched my heart for good, because I have always bemoaned the allocation of those lands by the Lagos lagoon to individuals. They build hotels and bars blocking the common man’s beautiful view of the waterfront. Under Tinubu and Fashola, all of those water front lands were given away to the likes of Jim Ovia, Radisson Blu, Oriental Hotel, and so on.
I have more to say, but I have other work to do so I’ll stop here.
What’s your take?