Since the first of February, Lagosians have been having to trek some distances and face heavy stress in trying to commute to their places of work, houses and all other destinations, just because the Lagos State government under the Leadership of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu put a ban on movement of okada riders and Keke Napep on some roads, these roads actually being Major roads.
In view of this, there has been loads of reactions from people, politicians, Analysts and the rest.
And just in that stead, Mr Jimi Kolawole Agbaje, a renowned Politician, who was the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP at the 2019 Elections gave his point in summary, but Timothy Dehinbo young Journalist and Writer for Ladispeaks.com and Pidginblog.ng.ng felt more should be heard of Jimi Agbaje in terms of this and the administrative aspect of this current government, and therefore had an exclusive interview with Jimi Agbaje, as he spoke about issues regarding the government, 2023 ambitions, Amotekun and Lagos Okada ban.
Below are the interview Excerpts
Journalist; What do you think about this current administration under Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and how do you assess it?
JK; 2019 WAS AN ELECTION YEAR, you had campaigns, and CANDIDATES campaigned on the issues. Lagos is a mega city and the challenges of a mega city remain traffic control, education, youth unemployment, ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES AND waste disposal, HOUSING DEFICIT. THESE are the major issues and therefore any government will have to OVERCOME those challenges, and until you’re able to meet those challenges, there is still a lot to be done.
I BELIEVE THAT as to assessing the PRESENT government, I won’t get into that, but AFTER GIVING THE general outlay OF WHAT NEEDS TO BE URGENTLY DONE, LET THE people DECIDE whether the issues are been addressed, AS THEY SHOULD BE.
Journalist; Will you be contesting in 2023? And if you will, why can’t you try other options, probably a Lawmaker seat, as it seems the governorship post isn’t coming through because of some reasons?
JK; The issue of contesting is too early, I think, and it’s not something that’s up at this point in time, I SINCERELY BELIEVE our politics shouldn’t just be about contesting for elections, it has to do with good governance.
THE emphasis today should be on good governance; it should be on how to make life better for the people. THE PEOPLE MUST ALSO BE STRONG & UNWAVERING IN THEIR RESOLVE TO CHOOSE BETTER GOVERNANCE MODELS.
But then you raised an issue that is more like giving up, because it seems like there is somebody who’s in charge of Lagos and nothing can change it.
PEOPLE MUST REALISE THAT BAD CHOICES CAN ALWAYS BE CHANGED, the reason being that there’s nothing that is not possible, IF THE PEOPLE put THEIR minds to it. AS to whether I remain in politics, yes I remain in politics, I WILL NOT BE SILENT ON CRUCIAL ISSUES and in different ways, I shall continue serve, but issues on running FOR ELECTIVE OFFICE DOES NOT arise at this point in time.
Timothy Dehinbo and JK on interview seat
Journalist; The APC in reply to your statement on Okada ban, said you lack the skill and experience to teach Sanwo-Olu about Governance, what’s your response to this?
JK; Well I think I’ll disregard that statement, it’s not something I’ll bother about, we have to look at issues properly, Jimi Agbaje is a Lagosian and therefore is entitled to his opinion, we are not running an election, we are not running a campaign at this point in time, I made my views known simply to give an opinion as to how I felt the issues should be addressed, and I stick to my opinion; as to whether somebody has more experience, I’ll just disregard, I won’t bother to join issues on that.
Journalist; Most People have said you don’t form an opposition and that you only show forth during election periods as an opposition, is there a certain way opposition has to be made?
JK: Firstly, an opposition is formed not by one person, opposition is formed by the party, to the extent that the party has to begin to work in advance, opposition isn’t about the person, or whoever wants to run.
IT’S about the political party, and then don’t forget that in a state where there has been only one ruling party for 20 years plus, it’s a more difficult task to uproot them, especially in the climate that we are.
Where things are FREE & FAIR, you WILL know if it was the people’s choice, but because things are not fair and free, looking at what happened at the last election where only 18% of registered voters came out to vote DUE TO the violence, intimidation and all that, these are some of the issues that work against the people’s voices BEING heard.
Journalist; Placing you on the spot right now, this is Governor Jimi Agbaje speaking, what would you have done on the case of the ‘Okada’ and ‘Keke Napep’ riders ban?
JK; Well firstly this isn’t Governor Jimi Agbaje speaking, so let me speak and say, as I summarised my views in my tweets.
Basically, all I AM saying is that I do agree that THERE HAS BEEN AN INCREASING menace, but I do not agree that the way to address that menace is the way it was done with the outright ban on the major roads, I believe that they can be STRICTLY regulated and that REGULATION should start with those formal operators, the ride hailing organisations, because they have self-regulated themselves and up till this time, they have insisted on following the rules on the capacity of their motorcycles which fall within the guidelines of traffic laws in Lagos State, they have insisted on crash helmets for themselves and their passengers, they do not carry more than one passenger. STRICT REGULATION IS THE WAY FORWARD.
The government has raised issues on road hazards, but following the statement by one of the organisations for example, where it STATES THAT THEY HAVE RUN 2 million trips in the last nearly 2 years, because they have data, for the 2 million trips, they have had about 100 accidents and out of THOSE 100 accidents, 7 have been serious, but there have been no fatalities.
If that is correct, it punctures GOVERNMENT’s argument and shows that the formal ones are not the reckless ones, and it’s those others who are not under any regulation that are the problems, so why not BAN THE UNREGULATED ONES FIRST? I AM SURE AT LEAST 60% of OKADA WILL DISSAPEAR FROM LAGOS STREETS! Then take the formal ones and put STRINGENT guidelines IN PLACE in terms of road COMPLIANCE.
IN terms of security, the government has talked about INsecurity, that they are foreigners and all that, but following the TV and radio for the past one week, the people that have been protesting have not been those foreigners, the people that have been protesting and agonising have been Nigerians, the Yorubas, Igbos, and the middle-belt and more.
So these are the issues, and it won’t be correct to just use one stroke of the pen to wipe everybody out.
And so we’re saying that in terms of security, YOU MUST SPELL OUT the guidelines for the formal operators, you can insist for example that they must have a National ID, (WHICH MUST BE GENUINE, NOT AVAILABLE TO FOREIGN NATIONALS, ESPECIALLY NEIBOURING COUNTRIES!) things like that, SO THAT LOOPHOLE IS PLUGGED. THAT IS VERY IMPORTANT WHEN ADDRESSING ISSUES OF SECURITY, SO THAT THEIR BIODATA IS CAPTURED.
Do you because trailers are falling down at Ojuelegba bridge, now and again now say that trailers must not ply the streets? No.
What you do is to regulate and don’t just ban, that’s not the way to address it.
There are other issues also, talking about the economy of Lagos, it’s not just the Okada and Keke riders that will be affected, and not only their dependants. A lot of other complementary services, an example is the vulcanizers that pumps their tyres, the food sellers in their parks, the spare parts dealer and even the micro finance banks that fund many of the tricycles won’t be able to get their money back because there is a force majeure of government policy, so it means that it affects the economy in more ways than they thought of.
These formal operators have borrowed money from outside, so we’re talking about foreign direct investments, when you collect money from outside and you say you’re bringing it to Lagos state for a project, that is approved or has been encouraged in the past and then all of a sudden, OUT OF THE BLUES THE GOVERNMENT STOPS YOUR BUSINESS, it means that in future anybody who has a project for Lagos from outside will have to look twice and say that we did give money the last time to some people in Lagos and the government in Lagos without any notice just stopped it, and our money got stuck. It discourages foreign direct investments and these are realities that you find.
When you look at the UK government, IN London, they had problems with Uber, but they didn’t just say Uber must go off the road immediately, there is a process, and there’s a right to give a feedback given that kind of thing.
I’ll emphasize once again that there is a menace, but it’s the way that it has been addressed that I disagree with.
Journalist; Finally, your position on Amotekun as a Security Network for the South-Western reregion?
JK: I did put a position out on that, and basically is to say that, we have to secure ourselves and do it in a way that everybody is comfortable. WE can no longer wait for Abuja to secure the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, it’s just NOT working, and we need to have securities at different levels and so what the government should do, is to sit and agree on what levels and what the limitations are for the different security organisations.
So I’m looking at a situation where in the future, it’s not only the regions that will have security networks, we should have security networks at state level, local government level and even at the University campuses because what’s important to me on the campus may not be important to the Nigeria Police Force. I could say I don’t want people parking on my main routes on campus, if I don’t have a police within campus, that will be tough, because the Nigeria Police Force is too stretched to come and be helping with my traffic on campus, so these are the realities that I believe that we’re going to get to, and that’s where WE ARE are going.