The five governorship candidates for Lagos state were at Channels TV during the week for a debate over their plans for the state.
The debate, which was aired live, had the incumbent governor, Babatunde Fashola, who is also the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria; Adegboyega Dosumu, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party; Dominic Agboola, the candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance; Yomi Tokoya, the candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party; and Jaiye Randle, the candidate of Social Democratic Mega Party.
Several issues, ranging from housing, employment, power supply, security, and transparency and accountability formed the core of the arguments among the debaters.
For Mr Fashola, what Lagos needs is continuity of the “transformation process” he has started in the state and not a new experiment.
According to him, Lagos State is already riding on a fast train of development and cannot afford to put its destiny in the hands of new starters.
“The economy of Lagos is working. New businesses are springing up and many international businesses are now operating in the state. Our bonds are oversubscribed and these are signs that investors’ confidence in our economy is growing,” he said.
Mr Dosumu on his part, wanted the state’s number one job to relieve Lagosians of “excessive taxation” while also promising to bring ‘federal presence’ back to Lagos.
“When Lagos partners with federal government Lagos will benefit,” he said, adding that he would run a transparent and accountable government.
“Every Wednesday, the Federal Executive Council publishes the list of contract awards and their costs. That is the level of transparency we expect in Lagos also,” he said, challenging Mr. Fashola to publish the list of all the projects the state government has done and their cost.
In response, Mr Fashola said, “Award of projects is done by the State Tenders Board and the list of these projects, the cost, and details of contractors are on the website of that Board.”
But Mr Randle of the Social Democratic Mega Party said his untainted credibility and years of service rendered to Lagos State “without collecting any money” stood him in better position as the prospective governor than all other candidates.
The All Progressive Grand Alliance candidate, Mr Agboola promised to turn Lagos State into a “construction yard,” adding that industrialisation stimulated by constant power supply is the most critical need of Lagos now.
The All Nigeria Peoples Party candidate, Mr Tokoya, promised to address the housing deficit in Lagos by utilising locally made building materials.
The debate did not end without some heated moments. Mr Fashola and Mr Dosumu exchanged verbal attack after Mr Randle accused Mr Fashola of being inaccessible to citizens, having tried unsuccessfully himself.
“The first time you tried to see me was about a criminal matter and the Attorney General is in the best position to handle it. The second time was about your house that was sitting on drainage and causing flood,” said Mr. Fashola in his reply, which enraged Mr Randle.
When asked by Mr Tokoya why he refused to submit himself to an investigative panel set up by the House of Assembly over allegations of financial improprieties, Mr. Fashola said “to the contrary, I was actually investigated by a panel set up by the Assembly. It was a court order that stopped that panel from continuing the investigation and as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, I will not violate a court order,” Mr Fashola said, seizing the moment to take a swipe at Mr Dosumu, who despite a standing court injunction restraining him from parading himself as PDP’s flag bearer, still appeared at the debate.
Mr Randle caused another scene at the end of the debate when he refused to shake hands with Mr Fashola, but proceeded to embrace the other candidates.