Aderemi: The illusion of progress
ASIDES all the politics, propaganda and jokes, there are serious issues in Lagos that need to be addressed; the rich are getting more comfortable while the poor are living in circumstances that are becoming more unbearable by the day. As we approach the elections, it is imperative that we know just what the candidates are offering as their agendas and policies to change these dire circumstances. Only upon such knowledge should we cast our votes. Don’t vote for someone whose policies are actually voting against you. It’s like selling your soul and forgetting to collect the payment.
The cries are getting louder but it seems no one’s really listening. Are you there? Do you see the countless of people waiting to get into the BRT buses? Are you possibly one of them? The countless of low-income earners displaced by ‘burned markets’? The forcefully retired okada riders not empowered to work in other economic spheres? Are you there at all? The neglected Ocean Economy? Do you even know what an Ocean Economy is?
There are a number of things the Lagos State Government can do to make life better for the ordinary man. The only reason they haven’t done so is because they don’t care about the ordinary man. The government can invest in efficient transportation since there’s no cheaper alternative and majority of our population are low-income earners. Efficient transportation doesn’t just mean new buses; it means a system that works. It means a timed schedule, convenient routes that are well spread across the state – a system good enough for the man with a car to decide to leave his car at home and take the bus. Don’t just say “It starts from somewhere”, yes it does, but we’ve been at that somewhere for quite a while now and the state is cosmetically looking better but the living conditions of the people are getting worse.
The Lagos State Government can invest in extending development further down the mainland, away from the Island to relieve congestion so people don’t have to wake up by 4 a.m. to travel across the bridge for three hours before they get to work. The Lagos State Government can localise developments across the mainland so that certain geographical areas on the “Island” aren’t tremendously more important than others on the mainland. They can sieve and monitor extra taxes so low income earners don’t suffer the consequences while high-income earners reap the benefits. The government can invest and expand its Ocean Economy. But if we don’t know these things are possible, we won’t ask for it, and we might just end up giving to someone who intends to take everything from us.
Lagos is not a company, it needs a leader not a CEO. While a number of people boast of credentials, let’s make sure our next leader’s heart is also boasting of concern for the ordinary man’s difficulties. Ambode has demonstrated tremendous qualifications suitable for world leading companies but a government should not be about making money or raising profits; it should be about executive administration and changing lives. If that’s the case, take a good look at both of the fore running candidates; one called Lagos a company, called himself a CEO and is well qualified to be termed as such while the other has over the past eight years demonstrated executive ability in running his own company and businesses to be called a leader and more importantly has been actively involved in affecting lives – years before the elections.
Remember Lagos is not a company. If you’re not opposed to that notion, remember if it becomes one we certainly can’t all be partners.
• Aderemi, a public commentator, lives in Lagos