Fashola: No Evidence Of Graft Against Me
LAGOS, March 02, (THEWILL) - Lagos State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) today spurned allegations of financial impropriety once preferred against him and his administration by a group called True Face of Lagos (TFL).
Fashola told an audience during a televised governorship debate that he did not make an attempt to stop the state House of Assembly investigation into the petition of alleged financial crimes and contract inflation.
The debate was hosted by Channels Television in partnership with Thisday newspaper at the MUSON Center in Lagos.
Fashola was responding to a question by the governorship candidate of All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), Mr. Yomi Tokoya, who had accused him of frustrating the investigation using the state’s judiciary.
Other governorship candidates at the debate include Dr. Adegbola Dominic of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); Dr. Adegboyega Dosunmu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Bashorun Jaiye Randle of the Social Democratic Mega party.
The governor said he had urged the petitioners “to provide evidence, but none had been provided hitherto apart from the fact that the case was still in court.”
Fashola also spoke on the infrastructural challenges confronting Lagos as a megacity, saying that the state “requires at least $50bn over a period of 10 years to solve the problem.”
He said the state government “from the administration of former Governor Bolaji Ahmed Tinubu had embarked on aggressive infrastructure development with a view to transforming Lagos to Africa’s model mega city.”
He pointed out key achievements in infrastructure “to include massive road construction, water projects, schools and hospitals upgraded, building of bridges, jetties and the light rail project, among others.”
On the issue of Revenue Allocation Formula, Fashola said the state government needed at least $10 billion and that the process was lopsided in the favour of the Federal Government, a model he said, need be reviewed.
He argued that the formula that gave 52 per cent of resources to the federal government with fewer staff, 26 to the state, 20 to the local government and ‘2-3 per cent to some amorphous ecological fund’ is responsible for the multitude of Nigeria’s problem. He blamed the PDP government and advocated for a better revenue allocation formula in favour of the state and local government.
On the issue of housing, Fashola argued that the state had built over 5, 000 housing units but had not sold since it is shopping for a favourable mortgage policy but PDP’s Dosunmu countered that government has no business in housing except as social intervention.
Dosunmu further took on the incumbent governor on infrastructure deficiency, saying it is as a result of “misappropriation of Lagos funds. What has been spent on Lagos State would have repaired 70 per cent of the roads.
“There should be transparency like is being done in the Federal Executive Council. Lagos State has received almost N2 trillion in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and other funds over the years and not much has been done.
“The problem of Lagos State is not the allocation formula but mismanagement and at this rate, will soon be bankrupt,” the PDP candidate stated, adding, “he has spent N50bn to repair a 48km road. That is a record, spending more than a billion on a kilometre. The city mall costs N5bn. Is that how you spend taxpayers’ money? You get all the money and use it to finance elections in Ondo, Ekiti and Osun states.”
Claiming he started public service career at level 8 and retired at the peak of level 17, Dosunmu took a swipe at Fashola, saying the incumbent governor had never served the public until he became the Chief of Staff to former Governor Bola Tinubu.
Randle on his part argued that the problem with Lagos was more of infrastructure deficiency; Tokoya however argued that that the perennial problem of power supply was responsible.
He criticized the state housing policy as too elitist, saying the LSPDC has constructed houses and is selling them for N51m and N40m each. He said, “anybody who can pay such does not need the government, they can build their own.”
All the candidates except Fashola criticized the state tax policy, while Dosunmu added that many companies have relocated from Lagos State due to the heavy tax burden.
A tensed exchange occurred between Fashola and Randle when the latter asked the governor, why, as a senior citizen, he has not been allowed a five minutes appointment with him in almost three years.
In his response, Governor Fashola obviously agitated by Randles question, said there was no point trying to see him because he has enough aides and in spite of his tough schedule, still manages to “take up to 200 calls and e-mails per day.”
The governor said; “I know why you want to see me. It is about the criminal case in court that involves you. You built you house in Victoria Island on a drain and that is why Lagos state remains flooded.”
A visibly angry and embarrassed Randle rebuked the governor for insinuating that he was involved in criminality and refuted the argument that he has a criminal case in court.
Randle told the audience that he built the said property over a 15-year period and obtained necessary clearance from the government before it was erected. He told the governor in a sarcastic tone he could demolish the property if he wanted to. He thereafter demanded an apology from Fashola saying it was inappropriate to malign his reputation and family name.