Fashola’s administration is corrupt –PDP

Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the People Democratic Party, Mr. Tunji Shelle In this interview with ALLWELL OKPI, the Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the People Democratic Party, Mr. Tunji Shelle, speaks on the recent restriction of information flow from the state government and other issues

You said the administration of Governor Babatunde Fashola, is restricting information because it has skeleton in its cupboard. What do you mean by that?

A government that does not have something to hide should at least allow commissioners to talk to the public. Such a government should be able to allow director-generals to speak authoritatively on issues that have to do with their respective ministries. They all don’t have to go through the Ministry of Information to talk about governance in Lagos State. If they do budget and collect loans and don’t tell us how they spent the money, then definitely, they have something to hide. If the government is a democratic government and not a military government, then they should be able to speak. We will continue to talk about this. It’s nothing personal. We are not criticising Fashola, we are criticising the administration. We want things to be better. Government is supposed to be open and should be run better than they are doing. Lagos State is supposed to domesticate the Freedom of Information Act, if truly they are running a democratic government. If commissioners can’t speak, who then can speak? Is it only the governor, or the commissioner for information? They should be open and tell us how they are using the budget and running the government.

You said you are not criticising Fashola, but his administration, do you share the opinion that he is corruption-free?

I’ve not said that he is free. But I’m dealing with facts and figures in everything we say, and then he should be able to defend his own position as the governor of the state. I’m not saying we cannot criticise him. He is the governor of the state and the head of the administration. When we are criticising, we are saying: do better, give us more information. Let us know how your government is being run. He is not isolated. I only wanted to clear the misconceptions that some people may have that we are just attacking him as a person. What we are criticising is the policies of his administration.

Last week, you said the state government restricted information flow because it was jittery. What could be responsible for that?

In democracy, everybody is a stakeholder in government. I have mentioned some things like the fact that public hospitals are not working. They may paint them from outside, but inside, nothing is happening. Some of the hospitals have even been privatised. The fees of the Lagos State University are so high that no average Nigerian can to afford it. Fashola benefitted from free education in Lagos, one would expect that at least there should be compassion in governance. The poor need to survive too. You don’t rub the poor to pay the rich. Why are you sand-filling the Atlantic Ocean, when there are still lands? When you sand-fill it and sell it at exorbitant prices that means you are allowing thieves to come and invest in the state. It doesn’t make sense. There is still land in Badagry, Ikorodu and Epe. Government can take advantage of the places and decongest the city, instead of congesting Victoria Island and putting a toll gate in Lekki. These are signs of corruption of the mind, corruption of the soul and corruption of the spirit. Everything is corruption. That is why we are trying as much as possible to change in the politics of Lagos.

Some people view this restriction of information as affront on the human rights of Lagos residents. Does your party see it that way?

Fashola’s administration is insensitive to the plight of the people. They don’t respect human rights. They have done several demolitions and the people were not resettled or compensated. When you demolish people’s homes you should resettle them. We don’t need to rush to become a megacity. It is expensive. It is something that we need to prepare very well for. This government is just developing the places where people can see and neglecting the interior. Badagry, Ikorodu, Ipaja, Alimosho and some other places like that, are being neglected while they are concentrating on VI and Ikoyi. People are not happy. The market women, who were displaced and their shops allocated to people who paid higher, are not happy. The poor are getting poorer. Even the rich are being touched. In Ikoyi, they are asking the people to come and renegotiate for their lands. We are concerned because this is a syndicate of a few people carrying the affairs of Lagos State in their hands and they are the only ones benefitting. Every other person is relegated to the background. We believe we can do it differently, and that is why we are crying out. We expect the human right activists to join us. They shouldn’t keep quiet because some of them are benefitting from the government.

How does the Action Congress of Nigeria come into all of these issues you’ve highlighted?

We criticised Fashola on the issue of Okada riders, he should have provided alternatives; he should have given them more time and he should have created lanes for them, if possible. He just chased them out of the streets and crushed their motorbikes and police are tormenting them. When we complained, it was ACN that started championing the cause on behalf of the state government. Don’t forget that when Fashola wanted to contest election, he bought Okada for some people. He bought crash helmets. He even rode in their midst. When the election was over he decided to punish them. That is not godly. It’s unreasonable and diabolic to a reasonable extent. What we are saying is that they should be fair to everybody. Don’t use people and dump them. A PDP government would not do that. We try as much as possible to separate politics from governance and Fashola from ACN. Fashola plays to the gallery most of the time. When we raise some of these issues, we want them to react. If they are not reacting, that means they have something to hide. Another issue is that there is no checks and balances in ACN government. The House of Assembly is a rubber stamp. The civil service is now upturned. They are now using non-career civil servants to occupy the positions of director-generals. They are just doing things upside down, looking for money by all means. We are talking because we know that any government that is not criticised will not deliver governance and also because we are the alternative that can run Lagos State properly and we are getting there in 2015.

What about the tussle for Ikoyi-Obalende Local Council Development Area?

Election was conducted and it was collated from the polling booth to the ward level and then to the local government level. We have copies results from the polling units. We have copies of results from the collation centre. But ACN government, under Fashola, refused to collate results at the local government level and in some places at the ward level. They forgot that we have copies of the result. Instead of declaring the result at the ward level and local government level, they didn’t do that. About three days after, the chairman of Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission announced result for all wards and local governments, without recourse to the returning officers. At the end of the day, when we went to their own tribunal and we were declared winner, they still appealed. Then we went to court on Thursday and they upturned that declaration. This is supposed to be a democratic government, not a government that is engineered to humiliate others.

How does PDP cope in Lagos as an opposition party?

Lagos is a very rich state and some people have capitalised on this to enrich themselves. And as a result, they think they can do anything and get away with it. They believe that can buy anybody. They’ve compromised the judiciary and the police. When there is an election, they give out money as if that money is not being worked for. And because of poverty in the land, people mortgage their souls. ACN should see politics as service to the people and not service to a few people.

Since Fashola may not contesting in 2015, do you think PDP stands a chance of winning Lagos?

We stand a very big chance now. Fashola became popular because Ahmed Tinubu did not do anything when he was governor. So, with the things he (Fashola) did in the first two years, people were projecting him as someone who has done so much. But now, he is not doing anything. Lagos is sleeping. Nothing is working again. They did beautification project. They built some roads. But it goes beyond that. Let us develop Lagos State. Let us spread amenities. Where in Lagos State are people getting clean water from their taps? And yet they are getting grants from World Bank. Come 2015, we stand a better chance.

Leave a Reply