‘We Will Apply Taxes Prudently to Solve Lagos Problems’

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Babatunde Gbadamosi

Mary Nnah interacts with Babatunde Olalere Gbadamosi, Lagos State gubernatorial candidate of the Action Democratic Party, who explains among other things why he wants to be the next governor of Lagos State

Why have you decided to take huge task of running for the office of Governor of Lagos State?

I noticed over the last 20 years that certain set of people have seized the reins of power in Lagos State and have turned the state into their personal toy. I am interested in running for the position because I believe I can bring value that the state has never seen before. I can fix the roads, bring in high speed trains, bring 24-hours power supply, I can put children in schools. I can provide free education and high quality health care. I can redevelop the economy of Lagos and put in a number of things such as industry, tourism, science and technology and agriculture. With my experience as a real estate developer of note, I can do anything that Lagos requires to be a first world state.

 

What machinery does the ADP have in place to unseat the government in power?

What we have in my party is a group of experienced politicians and a whole lot of ordinary Lagosians that are interested in seeing progress in their lives. People want real change. They don’t want a situation where they will continually be dictated to by a group of selfish individuals. They want better schools for their children, better and more affordable health care. People need homes. They need jobs. The government has not created an enabling environment for employers of labour. These are some of the things that I want to address when I become the next governor of Lagos because I am an employer of labour of no small means. I am a successful business man and I have the interest of Lagosians at heart.

I am passionate about Lagos. I believe Lagos State can be as good if not better than a lot of other commercial capitals in the world. For example, Singapore, Dubai does have not have what Lagos, but they are properly managed. We can do better with the resources that we have. As the second largest economy in West Africa, we ought to be better than Accra, Abidjan, Banjul, Dakar, but we are not. These are issues that I plan to tackle very quickly. Fortunately, it is all about the built environment. Construction technology has grown in leaps and bounds just as Lateef Jakande (first civilian governor of Lagos State) provided 20,000 affordable housing units 35 years ago, alongside all the things that he did. Can’t we do better today? The rate of advancement in construction technology says that we can do it at a far more cost effective rate.

 

Are you not worried that Nigerians on a daily basis are being impoverished?

Poverty is a big issue in Nigeria, but you have to consider that the poverty the country is experiencing now is artificial. It was deliberately induced by the people who came into leadership since we had democracy and there are things we can do about it. Food is expensive because farmers are being killed by herdsmen and they are chasing people from becoming farmers. If there are no farmers to grow the various crops, then food would become scarce. People would have to go to farms to grow these crops.

Another fact is the total mismanagement of the economy. It is difficult for the people to understand but my own opinion is that this administration at the federal level has been doing all it can to degrade the economy and drown the people in a sea of poverty. It is the only reason why Nigeria will turn from the fastest growing economy in the world at a time to become the poverty capital of the world.

 

How can corruption and god fatherism be curbed?

The government has clearly shown how not to deal with corruption. If you are going to deal with corruption, you don’t do it on the pages of the newspapers or television by making all sorts of allegations that cannot be substantiated. They government has not been able to start and finish the prosecution of any individual that has been accused of corruption. All we see is people being clamped into detention illegally. The courts of the land have pronounced that these people should be freed and the president that is supposed to uphold the constitution that will engender confidence in the country and economic growth is not obeying these court orders. Then it stands to reason that if anybody who has capital is looking for a place to invest, he will certainly not go to a place where court orders are not obeyed.

The truth is godfatherism and corruption have been totally deleterious to the economy. Lagos State has been degraded despite the huge amount of Internally Generated Revenue and the federal allocations that it receives. We have nothing to show for it.

 

How do you intend to source for funds for your campaign considering that you don’t have a godfather?

In America, for example, President Donald Trump decided that he could not take what was going on anymore and decided that he was going to end it. In Lagos state, I have had enough of the situation. I am not alone. There are many Lagosians of well-known means, who have trooped out in their numbers with a mission to rescue Lagos from the clutches of some greedy individuals and that is why they are supporting me. We want a change and if one of us happens to be the avatar for that change, then everybody is going to support him.

 

Are you going to run a government without taxes?

Taxation is an essential ingredient of government but where this administration has got it wrong is that they have never not really applied taxes honestly to solve the problems confronting Lagos. Why are there no coastal roads in Lagos after 20 years? It took Jakande three years to build the Lekki-Epe Expressway. And the government in power has not been able to expand that road all these years. They have not been able to do it. The only answer is corruption and I want to put an end to all these anomalies.

We will apply the taxes prudently to the problems confronting the state. One of the things that I intend to do is build the coastal road, a 10-way lane from Ligali Ayorinde Road to Ode Omi to the border of Ogun State. So that we can build a tourist corridor in Lagos where we can begin to compete with Accra, Dakar and Banjul then hope to compete with Dubai for the money they realise from tourism. We have an advantage over these countries because of the population of Nigerians in the Diaspora. When they go on holiday, they visit all the notable tourist attractions in the world. What do these places have over Lagos that have attracted a lot of people to these countries? It is convenient that they have good roads, airports and that is what we intend to bring to Lagos.

We also plan to revolutionise Lagos with agriculture through large scale farming that has never been seen in Nigeria and perhaps anywhere in world. We want to provide food security that will make Lagos the net exporter of food to the rest of Nigeria and West Africa. If Israel has a world plan to supply food to the Middle East in the middle of a desert, then Lagos has no excuse.

IN THE MORROR:

* He is the Chairman of AMEN Estates and Redbricks Homes International, which he co-runs with his wife. He is one of the real estate practitioners doing well despite the recession

* He is from the illustrious Gbadamosi family in Ikorodu, Lagos

*Born in England. Spent his childhood in Nigeria. Went back to England in his early 20s. Attended the Lagos State University, but dropped out. He did not graduate. He never went back to a university. He does not have a degree

*Served by the University of Life serves me better. His grandfather, Chief S.O. Gbadamosi train him in business and social interaction. His first business was actually a Danfo bus washing enterprise

*Before he went to LASU, he started selling flush doors produced from the factory of an uncle had a factory

*In England, he worked in a super market, cleaning offices and driving taxi-cab. From driving cab, he opened his cab office and employed many drivers

*Married his wife and they started working together. First, they ran an IT training consultancy, which expanded from a one-room business to one whole building. They used to gain experience in renovation. They bought a rundown building and renovated it

*They were able to buy 100 unit of property, which boosted the profit of the company. They also benefitted from the massive rate of appreciation of property between 1998 and 2004

*Detained in February, 2017 by the DSS for allegedly exposing organised foreign currency fraud by officials of the CBN