The rot in public schools has caught the attention of the Lagos Governorship Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Jimi Agbaje, who at the weekend promised to restore the glory of government owned schools by increasing budgetary allocations to the education sector.
Lamenting the unenviable condition bedeviling public schools in the last 20 years that had made them an unattractive option to parents, the PDP standard-bearer said he would follow the glowing footsteps laid for the educational sector by former Premier of the Western Region Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Lagos former Governor Alhaji Lateef Jakande.
Agbaje spoke when he paid visits to Badagry and Amuwo councils in continuation of his town hall meetings round the state.
He also tagged as an act of corruption and lack of vision Lagos authorities who recently rebuffed the American company, Google’s offer to light up all schools in the state with internet facilities, and forced the firm to shift the project to Angola and Ghana.
According to him, public schools would be more attractive when his regime comes into power and increased the state’s education budget, to make provision for internet access, topnotch classrooms, learning equipment and motivational incentives for teachers.
“In Lagos public schools today, our children sit on the ground to take classes. This should not be the case in a state we refer to as a mega-city,” he said. “In those days, people prided themselves attending public schools. This is no longer the case. Now if you want quality education, you avoid public schools and enrol your child in the private school.”
The PDP candidate recalled that Chief Obafemi Awolowo had spent the lion’s share of the budget of the Western Region in the First Republic on education, and promised that his government would follow that lofty example.
The PDP candidate criticized the APC administration for the confusion reigning on the road construction and blue-rail project between Apapa and Badagry, lamenting that the situation had brought untold hardship to residents and businesses in the area.
Frowning on the slow pace of work on the expansion of the Apapa-Badagry highway, now lingering into 10 years, Agbaje promised to finish the work on the project, saying, the road would singularly facilitate tourism and boost the state’s economy.
He said that that axis would serve as the industrial and manufacturing hub in West Africa, as it was Nigeria’s interface with the rest of the sub-region.
However, he blamed Apapa-Badagry in the All People’s Congress (APC) whom he accused of foot-dragging the project for selfish reasons.
During his Saturday visit to the palace of the Alamuwo of Kuje Land, Oba Isaac Owolabi Olayemi, Agbaje said: “In Badagry, there exists abundant opportunities. But how can you tell anyone now to go to Badagry through this horrendous road and open a factory there with the current situation of things?”
Like he did in Badagry on Friday, Agbaje was speaking to an audience that included representatives of the League of Imams, leaders of local arm of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the mechanics association, the vulganisers, landlords, the commercial motorcycle and tricycle operators, as well as non-indigenes and indigenes.
He was accompanied to Amuwo by his Running Mate, Mrs. Haleemat, the House of Representatives Member and PDP Candidate, Honourable Oghene Egoh the candidate for the State House of Assembly, Honourable Wasiu Yesufu, and party leaders.
Thanking Oba Olayemi for past the people’s support that saw PDP winning the House of Reps and State House of Assembly seats in the 2015 elections, Agbaje prayed that history would repeat itself in 2019.
Oba Olayemi prayed that the dream of PDP to rule the state would materialize, asking that God would protect the candidate and his entourage through their journey round the state.
According to Agbaje, politicians could be divided into those who came to serve the society and those who came to serve their selfish interest.
He said the past 20 years had seen the state under the control of politicians who had come to milk the state dry, evidenced in the poor infrastructural development bedeviling the state.
In a meeting with the Badagry Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Agbaje said that power would be top on his government’s priority list, with the commitment to increase the state’s electricity generation from an additional 1,000 megawatts in the first 18 months to 3,000 by the end of his four-year tenure.
He also committed his government to moving in the direction of the lofty ideals laid by Second Republic Governor Lateef Jakande through the provision of adequate health, affordable housing and potable water.
Responding to a question at the Badagry town hall meeting, where someone complained that indigenes were disfavoured in projects and appointments, Agbaje promised equitable distribution of available resources.
“We shall be following the IBILE formula that has always existed in Lagos State,” he said. “We shall ensure fair and equitable allocation of resources, projects and positions to all the five segments of the state, Ikorodu, Badagry, Ikeja, Lagos Island and Epe.”