Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, yesterday said the remark by Vice President Namadi Sambo that people were leaving Lagos in droves because of high taxation is a mark of ignorance and diabolical on his part.
Fashola, who stated this at the end-of-year media briefing held at the Ikeja House, Lagos, said he sincerely believes that Mr. Sambo was misquoted or the utterance could be a reflection of the quality of people the country parades as its leaders.
“That statement is a very serious display of ignorance if it was true that the vice president said so. How do you then justify the perception that people are leaving Lagos? Is the VAT being collected from Lagos reducing compared to other states? Is the air traffic into Lagos reducing? Or have you a significant reduction in traffic in Lagos? More hotels are being built in Lagos, companies are licensing and operating in Lagos.
“Displaced people from other parts of Nigeria are moving into Lagos; has the workers’ demand in Lagos reduced? Has the demand for hospital services reduced?
“So, it is a very grave statement to make. That is why I say may be he was misquoted because that is the chairman of the Nigerian Economic Council. So, if he misunderstands what is happening in the commercial and economic nerve centre of the country, it may be a very revealing index to their understanding of the country’s economy.
“It may also confirm to you some of the things you heard from the president that he receives all sorts of contradictory advice and may be this is part of it. It is a very dangerous statement to make; it is either an ignorant statement or diabolical, and either ways, it is not good because it tells you then why the economy is not functioning if the chairman of the economic council does not know anything about people and number. The economy is always about people”, he said.
The governor, who reeled out the achievements of his administration in different sectors, said the All Progressives Congress (APC) had delivered dividends of democracy to Lagosians.
On the fears expressed in some quarters that the candidacy of Jimi Agbaje as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate is a threat to APC in the state, Fashola said, “He is not a threat to us. Let’s go and check the result of the 2011 election.
“He got three percent of the votes cast. Even his party, we have defeated PDP in all elections done since 1999. Our candidate, Akinwumi Ambode is going to defeat Agbaje with your support. This is not the place to experiment; one needs a lot of experience to achieve what we have done in Lagos.
“When you look at what their party has done with the country, for instance, there are missing funds, non-functioning rail, epileptic power supply and others, do you want that to happen in Lagos?”
On PVC and electoral process, he said the real head of INEC should be a statistician and not a professor and academician or others as currently obtains.
“It is not about theory; it is about practical. People who should also do this job should be those who have managed distribution activities in the country. It is not a judicial work but logistics”, he added.