The governorship candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and those of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Jimi Agbaje; the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Babatunde Gbadamosi and the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Owolabi Salis were absent at the Lagos State governorship debate held on Thursday, February 21.
Sanwo-Olu was said to be bereaved and reports had it that he was sighted at the Ikoyi Cemetery earlier in the day. No reason was given for the absence of Agbaje, Gbadamosi and Silas.
The debate was organised by The City That Works Alliance, a non-partisan coalition of professional bodies in collaboration with Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Association of Professional Bodies in Nigeria (APBN), Enough is Enough, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Ikorodu branch among other bodies.
The candidates who featured at the debate included those of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Funsho Awe; the Young Progressive Party (YPP), Princess Adebisi Ogunsanya; Advanced Nigerian Democratic Party (ANDP), Dr. Segun Musa; the Labour Party (LP), Prof. Awamaridi Ifagbemi and the Mega Party (MP) Aiyeola Babatunde.
The four candidates described the Land Use Charge fee in the state as illegal and vowed to abolish it if elected.
Awe accused the state government of illegally introducing the land use charge to increase its internally-generated revenue.
He said the practice used to be the payment of tenement rate, which he said was under the purview of the local government.
The Labour Party candidate on his part said the charge is fraudulent because it is already built into the fee paid for the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) as Ground Rent.
Although the ANDP candidate said he would retain land use charge, he noted that it would only be paid on property used for commercial purpose and not private-dwelling residences.
On taxation, the NCP candidate said that less than ten per cent of the state pays taxes, adding that more people need to be brought into the tax net.
He also noted that most of the tax accruing to the government was paid to the wrong purses, adding that his administration would ensure that the taxes go to the right purse.
The YPP candidate noted that the poor pay most of the tax in Lagos State in form of various levies market women and artisans are made to pay.
On his part, the ABDP candidate promised to relax taxation and explore other sources of revenue if elected.
He noted that many people were willing to pay tax but were discouraged because of lack of accountability.
On education, the YPP candidate said if elected she would introduce information communication technology (ICT) in all 1,788 public schools in Lagos State and introduce new curriculum to bring education in line with the 21st century.
The NCP candidate noted that the gap in education widened because of population growth, promising that an NCP administration would build and equip new schools to bridge the demand gap.
On his part, the LP candidate said he would retrain teachers and push for a law that would make it mandatory for the children of all political-office holders to attend public schools.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Lagos State Council of NUJ, Dr. Quasim Akinreti, in his welcome address said the debate was organised to further interrogate the candidates’ plan for Lagos State and how they plan to achieve greater good for the state if elected.
He said the debate was meant to test the candidates’ understanding of the dynamics of Lagos State and the plans they have to make the state work for all citizens.