Chairman Of The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Lagos State, Hon. Olatunji Shelle, At The General Assembly At The State Secretariat On 19th December, 2013.
I want to welcome all our members and leaders to this general assembly. On behalf of the state executive, I duly say thank you for your presence and support till this moment. We appreciate you all.
As usual, this is a gathering of the PDP family, fraternizing and seeking understanding of the situation in our party and thinking together on our common challenges.
Till date, the state executive has been projecting the party as a desirable alternative to power in Lagos State and this is our conviction. Gaining political power is why we exist. But suffice it to say that we are constrained even as we believe that our efforts have recorded some tangible results. In due course, we would all see the outcome of such moves, particularly on the very vital issue of empowerment for our members in the state. The state leadership is working hard to usher in better days in the party. It is an issue we have taken to the national leadership and we are getting a sympathetic ear because of the fact that we do not have a government in Lagos State.
Yet, empowerment as a means of consolidating our gains in political mobilization and development is critical. We would keep all members informed as events unfold in this regard. We, therefore, want to plead with our members to appreciate the situation and let's continue to forge ahead in our determined efforts to make the PDP a party of choice in Lagos State.
At different levels of the party, the challenge of the 2015 general elections is now a major issue.We are gradually moving into the election year and as a responsible leadership with a promise to make a difference in that crucial election, we find it incumbent on us to sensitize all our members to the obvious challenges and our sense of mission. We have stated in the past and re-stating here that 2015 is our year of electoral redemption in Lagos State. But we have to be realistic that our desired victory can only mean more hard work and of course some sacrifices here and there as necessary in our kind of situation.
Therefore our common objective is a collective responsibility even as the state leadership believes resolutely that we can make this overdue victory possible. This is why we want all our members to stand up and be counted as we take some strategic steps in conjunction with relevant stakeholders, bodies and organizations in the PDP family to chart the way forward. Essentially, we need the cooperation of everybody in the party to achieve on this mission.
In this regard, we want to implore our leaders and members at the various lower levels of the party, particularly at the local government and ward levels to take party meetings seriously and regularly held to keep the soul of the party alive. I want to assure all or members that we would try as much as possible to assist in oiling the wheel of progress at these levels of our party.
In spite of the wild orchestration going on in the state as being propagated by the Lagos State Government where political arrogance and sheer judicial impunity holds sway, we have no doubt that the PDP still has large members and indeed sympathizers who are clearly against the bad governance we have witnessed over the years in the State. Many Lagosians now know if actually they have been pauperized or not, but we all know that the state government has taken the core economic interest of Lagosians for granted. We take note of the despotic nature of governance, judicial manipulation of election results,huge debts in spite of the huge IGR and Federal Allocations to the state and such manifest corruption in high places. Lagosians are certainly bothered by the insincerity of the Fashola Administration. We hope to correct these anomalies in due course but we must first win an election. This is the challenge we face.
What this signifies is that the future of our great party is really in our hands and it is now too clear that we would have to decide the extent we want to go and I believe we are ready.
I want to note here though that based on recent developments in our party, especially using the last local government elections as yardstick, we can actually win in major electoral contests in Lagos State to the extent that such contests are free and fair. We know that our challenges have been more of internal contradictions but we thank God we are now gone beyond this as we focus more on what we can do together for the overall interest of the party rather than the disagreements of the past.
As much as we are sensitive to the recent happenings at the national level, we do not have to worry about factionalization here in Lagos PDP. There is no new or old PDP, we are one. Our unity of purpose is what is uppermost in the mind of every member and leader in the party, working together for the benefit of all.
Now we cannot pretend not to see the challenge of the opposition to our collective political interest both at the state and federal level. But the question to ask is: how far can the opposition go? The emergence of APC may be good for democracy but we also realize that the essence of the party is not convincing, going by the antecedents of its promoters and the evil their quest for power portends for our dear nation. The whole scheming is just to secure power for selfish reasons and not for the interest of the people as being propagated. Anyway, time will indeed tell if such contraption of strange bed fellows will ever go into the next polls as a single entity. We are beginning to see the cracks in APC and this is likely to degenerate before the next election, setting the stage for an implosion.
At this juncture, I want you to join me as we pass a vote of confidence on our leader, President Goodluck Jonathan and the leadership of our great party for their worthy stewardship so far which is reflecting in steady march in our national development.
The critics will always have a point against the President and the federal government but the truth is that President Goodluck Jonathan has been delivering on his Transformation Agenda. His achievements in office will continue to vindicate him when we look at the various reforms and their successes. From the power reform to National Health Insurance scheme to the aviation sector, to huge growth in telecommunications, thriving banking industry and resurgence of the capital market, there are obvious changes in development.
Yet the various road constructions across the country is a major achievement; dredging the River Niger and construction of the new Niger bridge, construction of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, as we can also see major expansion in oil and gas industry and sports development with major laurels to show for it. We cannot but also take note of the increasing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Nigeria even as the economy is growing at 7.5 per cent. In spite of the Boko Haram malaise, it is true that the government has done so well to maintain the security of lives and property in the nation.
The opposition from APC in the state is an act of ingratitude considering the fact that Lagos State is feeding fat on the Federal Government's legacies. From the Seaports & Airports, all the bridges connecting Mainland to the Island, to several federal infrastructure in the state, Lagos State should be grateful to the Federal Government. Just recently, President Jonathan, acting as a statesman, waived aside politics to ask the Senate to approve a fresh loan of $600m to the state government; disbursement of 1.3Billion Dollars for a deep sea port in Lekki and a housing scheme coming on stream in due course. In any case Lagosians know who to support in the 2015 general elections and I am sure the federal Government will do more for the state in other areas.
Now, party leaders and members, we have some questions for Governor Babatunde Fashola for which we are demanding answers. Actually some of these questions have been asked in the past but up till now he's yet to respond to them. They are subsisting questions because they bother on public trust and indeed his own integrity and leadership.
1. THE IKUFORIJI TRIAL: The on-going trial of the Lagos State Speaker, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, by the EFCC over money laundering and the attitude of the relevant bodies in government remains a puzzle. We are very concerned about Fashola's indifference to this serious crime. Now we are calling on the governor again to speak up otherwise his silence over time would mean approval of corruption. Similar attitude by the Lagos State House of Assembly, in our candid opinion, amounts to complicity and for the sake of leadership morality and public good, we hereby call on Hon. Kuforiji to step aside pending the determination of his trial by the EFCC. We also demand a public statement from the state assembly on this serious matter, otherwise Lagosians will continue to see them as supporting corruption.
2. CORRUPTION IN LG COUNCILS: In a similar vein, the case of the chairman of Lagos Island East Local Government, Kamal Bashua; That of Surulere Local Government and several others who have cases of graft with the EFCC must follow same action not only by the state assembly but also engage the immediate attention of Governor Fashola. If the governor fails to take a stand as a necessary step expected of him, then our only conclusion will be that he is actually shielding them from prosecution and this has implication for his high office. It is all about public trust and we believe he would act fast on them.
3. THE DEBT QUESTION: We are very disturbed by the spate of debt accumulation by the Fashola administration. With over N27b monthly IGR; huge allocations from the Federation Account and several sources of aids from multilateral agencies and institutions, the Lagos State Government has continued to pile up debts on the guise of funding development. But at what cost? The latest is the $600m World Bank facility despite over N900b gathered from several questionable bonds! Our concern really is that we cannot justifiably see the direct bearing of these huge loans on the people. Fashola must open the books and tell Lagosians how he has spent their money. For what purpose and at what cost? This is important because all we can see all over Lagos are high rise hotels which we are well informed are where our resources are being diverted to. Fashola must speak up on this. Lagos State Local debt according to the DMO now stands in excess of N193.44bn. We know that the foreign debt is in the region of a Trillion Naira.
4. SUNBURN YATCH: After floating miserably on the Marina water for so long, the controversial Sunburn Yatch which cost the Lagos State Government, under Bola Tinubu, a whooping 8 Billion Naira suddenly disappeared, only to be sighted at Thames in England. Now, the question is: who orchestrated this 419 and who were the beneficiaries of this waste of public fund. This is certainly a fraud and Fashola must tell us something he knows about this fraud failure which he remains an accessory after the Fact in the fraud.
5. WHERE ARE THE TWO LASG HELICOPTERS? In 2007, these helicopters were bought from the now over N120b Lagos State Security Trust Fund purportedly to combat crime. Besides the fact that the prices were grossly inflated, we discovered to our amazement that these helicopters were never used for the purpose they were meant for. Now, investigation has revealed that the two helicopters have been converted to private commercial use, majorly in the Niger Delta. That's how bad corruption has become in Lagos under the APC led by Fashola and this is a shame.
6. THE BRT AGREEMENT: How much has so far accrued to the state government from the BRT agreement and how has it been spent? The BRT buses are fast going down in vain, when will the next batch of buses arrive as promised over two years ago?
7. CLASSROOMS WITHOUT FURNITURE: Why are students still sitting on bare floors in Lagos schools? The revelation by Punch newspaper that students still sit on bare floor in so many schools in Lagos State will continue to generate interest because except for the corruption in this government such is unthinkable. It is so bad that even in Ikeja Grammar School, a distance of less than Three kilometers to Governor's Office, students don't have chairs to sit. So what happened to the well over 90 million Dollars World Bank funds for the Lagos Eko Project which should have consigned this oddity to the past?
8. LASU FEES: We will continue to harp on the unacceptable and intolerable tuition at LASU because it is outrageous. We call on APC Governor Fashola to reverse such prohibitive fess immediately so that children of the poor can attend the state university.
9. FASHOLA AND HUMAN RIGHTS : To say the least, activities of the KAI Brigade and other Militarised Agencies of the State Government under Governor Fashola are causing Lagosians untold hardship and we call on the state government to call them to order. Indeed the Revenue Target placed on the supposed welfare outfits has made them become corrupt, over aggressive and many times inhumane in carrying out otherwise ordinary law enforcements. Like a Fascist Government, Fashola Now has illegal detention Camps across the State. This anti-people behavior in a democracy must stop. We demand!
Party leaders and members, these are some of the issues that will continue to resound ahead of the 2015 general elections and it is our responsibility to stress the valid point that the APC has nothing new to offer; our great party, PDP, remains the party to beat.
What should interest us here is that if the PDP wins at the federal level, we must also join the victory train in Lagos by also winning our own election at the state level. So it has become very important to educate our people about the incalculable damage already done by the ruling APC in its various colours and guises over the years and indeed that it is now time for CHANGE. An overdue change which should naturally lead to the formation of the next government in Lagos State by the PDP. Such change will go beyond mere change in colours and name but also in the essential leadership values that will bring real progress and development to the good people of Lagos in a manner they are yet to experience. We strongly believe that time will come and in no distant time because the people themselves are now tired of "same of the same" spanning over thirteen years of exploitation in Lagos State. We have to come together as one family in the PDP and improve in our unity, reconcile at every level and move as a mighty force into the 2015 election. Lagosians are waiting for us to lead the way and we cannot afford to disappoint them. This is the message we should take home from here today as we look forward with hope and determination to achieve this noble cause in due time.
NB: Party faithfuls, Ladies and Gentlemen, We must mention our joy and Glory to God for the recent Supreme Court judgment which has now vindicated our Prime Leader, Chief Olabode Ibiyinka George. We have another date to celebrate this and that shall be communicated in due course. In the meantime we pray for his safe return.
I thank you all.
Comrade Tunji Shelle
Lagos State PDP Chairman