Lagos State Works No More


Governor Akinwunmi Ambode

I am not really interested in FG elections. This is 2015 again. We are facing a case of two poor choices. The Nigeria that I dreamt of would take a while, not this co-joined political elite. The work for Nigeria is long and equally complex. I don’t even know when we will get started.

Once we have paid staff salaries, our finance manager asks me about the taxes. It pisses me off. I freaking hate it but it has to be done. This is why the Lagos State elections matter more to me. There’s a common saying that taxes should drive accountability, that citizens don’t hold their leaders to account because of oil revenues, I don’t see that theory being fulfilled in Lagos.

The incumbent governor is not running for the second term and you know the silent tone – state funds are concentrated through his network and he’s not distributing it across party lines and the bureaucracy – “Money is not flowing”. If you add the errors of Otodo Gbame, Visionscape etc, it is obvious how public opinion rounded him up. However, it’s a trap.

You are free to disagree but Lagos has had mediocre leadership since 1999. If you strip away the PR, the gloss that the press affords them, what you have is nothing. Go to other state capitals like Uyo, Enugu and even Kano to understand why. A city with trailers right in its middle, stretching from Apapa to Obanikoro. Isn’t this Federal/State alignment meant to make things better? What I see is the greedy interests in FG properties – Marina House, TBS, National Stadium, Airport road etc.

I pay for tolls but a shoddy work was done on Lekki roundabouts. The tolled roads are caving in and no one is answering questions on the quality. No one even knows when the tolls end? Wasn’t there a buyback at a point? 

Well, it is “them them” job. Even the inner roads of Ogbomoso, my hometown, are better than those of Lagos. This is a state with N400bn in revenues, the most indebted by a mile but the street drainage overflows, the streets untarred and through a haze of opaque financing, you can’t unravel Lagos finances.

How do explain a state that won’t pass FOI Act? Lagos Attorney-General wrote us affirming this and the case now goes to Supreme Court for the final verdict. This is the funniest bit. Lagos has been using taxes to defend itself why it should not be accountable to the people who pay taxes.

What are we getting? The same stuff. The same cabal wakes up and anoints a man. Let’s not forget the incumbent Governor made a weighty allegation of fraud. No questions on that. I see the immense PR, ” this is the brand new messiah”. I am just chuckling. I know Lagosians are adults. I will live with their decision.

I pray you don’t have a reason to go to LASUTH. I lost my friend, Franca, last year. I was so sad at how she was treated. It was disgusting. Don’t make me weep. Our gateman fell and he bled badly. We took him to PHC in Lekki. There was no one to attend to him. The place barely existed. No pipe-borne water, shacks popping up as real estate & inner roads don’t delight you.

The real pain is knowing you can’t even get accountability and you also know a substantial part of your taxes is just oiling the political interests.

My gut feeling is that the vultures are well positioned & in a distributed manner, the public will be shortened again. So what I am asking?

Please think about voting properly. For those who are working class in the city and also pay taxes, it is time to stand up. I drove from Ojota to Lekki recently, I was so sad. I tried to make a turn to Oshodi, at Anthony, I ran into a large pothole, right in the middle of the city.

From New York, I see tales of traffic. It’s like government barely exists. Honestly, I am one of those that love the hustling spirit of Lagos. Running an NGO should make me live in Abuja. All our donors except one have offices in the capital city. But, my last visit made me lose interest in Lagos. Like how can we be glorifying suffering?

I know you are seeing the noise with the candidates smiling and jumping up. Yes, Ambode did the same thing. He even followed me on Twitter but every complaint I sent in DM afterwards, ended in deaf ears.

Can Lagosians keep doing the same thing under the same structure and expect a different result? Isn’t this invincibility like that of PDP, already breeding arrogance?

Please think well about it. “I don’t really like Abuja” but that’s what every Lagosian says till he/she stays for two months. I went to Enugu recently. I looked at the greenery, the paved roads and the blast of nightlife. Lagos, life should not be this hard.

It’s just unfortunate Nigerian leaders lack vision for new spaces. We should be dreaming of a new city, new energy, somewhere built out of nowhere.

Before you vote in Lagos, think well about. It looks hard to convince my wife but I will keep trying. I will assume the Lagos situation inspired Sylva Nze Ifedigbo new book’s title, “My mind is no longer here”

Written by co-founder of BudgITOluseun David Onigbinde

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