Politics

Braithwaite declares to run for Lagos State governorship

It’s been some 40 years since my uncle, the late great Dr Tunji Braithwaite came to national consciousness, to lead the charge for social-economical justice. Sadly, many of the ills that he fought against are still with us to this day and, in many cases have become worse. The rats and mosquitoes have multiplied to epidemic proportions.

It is against this backdrop that one has to examine where we are coming from and where we are going, as we approach the elections in 2023 – particularly as it relates to our beloved Lagos. The governing party came into office 23 years ago on a wave of goodwill, after our emergence from the stifling command and control system of the military. A master plan that would take our Lagos to its ‘Eldorado’ was launched, to great public acclaim. Today, our expectations have been dashed as it appears that the master plan has become moribund; sacrificed at the altar of avarice by state-capture actors.

Our Lagos, the epicenter of Africa, is a shadow of its old glory. It has become unkempt, insidious, rough and sprawling with shanty towns springing up all over the place. A place where homeless urchins scavenge the streets that are overrun by rubbish while growing numbers of disenfranchised adults and youth sleep underneath the few bridges that exist. There is so much disorder and chaos in the Lagos of today, with a looming existential threat, posed by those who have nothing to lose, as was demonstrated during the October 2020 riots that followed the #Endsars Lekki massacre.

It is abundantly clear, that having been ruled by the same party for 23 years, and counting, Lagos is in dire need of a real paradigm change. Lagosians have been taken for granted and sold short by those who have held it in a vice grip for so long. It is the only state in the country that has been governed by the same political actors who have lost touch with Lagosians. In the last 10 years alone, Lagos has received inflows in excess of 5 trillion naira, from federal allocations and internally generated revenues, (not including its borrowings). Yet, there is little to show for it in terms of infrastructure and a higher standard of living for the populace. No coastal road, no trains circumnavigating the city, lack of adequate healthcare facilities, broken roads….and the list goes on.

This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. For us to move forward, we must usher in a new government that will transform Lagos. I have decided that I Akinwunmi Braithwaite will step up to provide the inspirational leadership to deliver the transformational governance that will take Lagos to Olympian heights. My pedigree, exposure and experience have prepared me for such a task.

I have had over 40 years of experience that cuts across different industry sectors such as Insurance, Education, Information Technology, Agriculture and Telecommunications. I have worked in diverse countries including: Ghana, Iran, Syria, and UK and garnered the experience required to build high-performance teams that deliver results.

Whilst at Celtel (now Airtel), I had the opportunity to lead operations in the Southwest zone which consisted of Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Kwara and Ekiti. Rolling out network infrastructure, as well as customer sales and service touchpoints across the states and problem-solving down to the grassroots has more than equipped me for the transformational task at hand.

Furthermore, my stint at MTN, as the Customer Relations Executive, dealing with 53,000,000 customers and rolling out touchpoints across the length and breadth of Nigeria, has provided me with the bandwidth required to take on the demanding role of the governor of Lagos State, which I will perform creditably. Through the Ajapaworld social enterprise, I have also been involved in grassroots work on poverty alleviation through Financial Literacy initiatives. The work entailed rolling out financial literacy programs to public primary school children in all the local government areas of the state. The program involved developing life skills and helping children to develop the capacity to earn and save money through home-grown initiatives. The program was a private initiative, approved by SUBEB (State Universal Basic Education Board) and rolled out in conjunction with UNICEF.

As Governor of Lagos state, our approach will be fundamentally that of caring and partnering with the people. We will co-solve the major problems so that there is buy-in from all stakeholders – including the street urchins. At a high level, our approach will consist of:

Civil Service Reorientation(alias – Civil Partnership). Without an effective civil service, it will be very difficult delivering quality programmes with the speed required. We will re-orientate our servicemen and women to imbibe a culture of duty of care to fellow compatriots. We will motivate them to co-own the vision and mission of transforming Lagos. We will make them buy-in to their constitutional duty to deliver the well-being of the people of the state. As much as the budget will allow, we will endeavour to bring the remuneration structure of our civil partners in line with current day exigencies, to ensure they can afford a good standard of living and take-home pay really takes them home.

Infrastructure – priority will be given to ensuring:
The road network is built efficiently to ensure people of the state are able to move around without having to contend with road hazards on their daily journeys
Integrated transport system for easier commuting, that will encourage more citizens to use public transport and leave their cars at home.

Energy – Our people have been saddled with the burden of providing their energy through the deployment of generators, (including beta pass my neighbour), thus adding to atmospheric pollution that will pose real health challenges to the communities, going forward. Our government will sponsor bills that will bring about the enactment of laws to remove the impediments that prevent the generation of energy locally. We will deploy various alternative energy schemes that will bring power to Lagosians, within the shortest time frame, at an affordable cost. This is a critical issue which we believe is a fundamental right for our citizens.

All Local Governments will be activated to participate and effectively meet their constitutional obligations to provide local road networks, school facilities and other local infrastructure.

Education – Education is a leading determinant of economic growth, employment and earnings. All public school facilities will be brought up to the right standard conducive for the delivery of quality education. Our government will give education the priority required in its annual budgeting rounds to ensure we rescue it from the doldrums and catch up with the rest of the world. We will work towards a policy of radically transforming our public schools, by inviting the private sector to partner in a new deal for the 14,900 primary schools and our government will also partner with the technology giants Microsoft, Google & others in the unique and novel approaches to modern education, to unlock the potential that modern technology can bring to ensure we meet the MDG education target for 2030.

Economy – Our government will bring about an economic recovery, predicated on harnessing the productive capacity of millions of Lagosians. Focus areas will be:

Agriculture – we will create special hubs with market linkages from urban farms to larger farmsteads and ensure that incentives are provided for private sector integrated cold chain logistics and packhouses. We will ensure that there is an organised sustained supply chain that will enable the production of exportable value-added products – proudly labelled: Best of Lagos

Human capital – the population has to be harnessed to unlock the potential of Lagos. Even the street urchins need to be engaged and become partners in our mission. In our dispensation, no one will be left behind. All residents of Lagos can count on an Akin Braithwaite led caring and empathetic government that recognises and treats all Lagosians with the dignity of their humanity.

Jobs – we will push the Pride of Lagos campaign and promote Made in Lagos so that the young can produce, and the government will procure from the SMEs that conform with our laid down standards. Self-employment will be encouraged for those who have passed out of tertiary institutions, through a network of cottage industries that will ensure productivity and lift people out of poverty. These cottage industries will be coordinated in such a way that they will be part of the value chain of continuous supply and procurement. Our government, in collaboration with the House of Assembly, will sponsor laws that will protect SMEs from exploitation by their larger enterprise customers, such as in the area of excessive delays in payment of invoices for work done.

Tourism – Lagos has such huge tourism potential that is seriously untapped, from Badagry in the West to Epe in the East. This will be unlocked by our government to ensure Lagos is on the global tourism map of key places to visit. Our government will encourage all Lagosians to buy-in to the rebranding of Lagos so that we can effectively market the rich heritage, history, as well as arts and crafts of cosmopolitan Lagos and its diversity to the world. Lagosians will benefit from the huge revenue inflows that will be unlocked from this endeavour.

Housing – In a modern Lagos, in this generation, we can’t have people sleeping on the streets and be so uncaring. This is not who we are That is not the culture of Lagosians. We will work out the best way of providing housing for the poor, so that they too are protected and properly documented. This will impact positively in the fight against insecurity. Our government will work closely with the likes of Habitat who have successfully engaged the poor to participate in building their own homes, using special schemes that factor in sweat equity.

Security – Drawing on my SPY Police training, our government will ensure that we will not compromise Law and order. There is so much lawlessness and disorder in the state, which manifests in recklessness road habits, and activities of roughnecks who have constituted themselves into mafioso that must be curtailed. There are too many unlicensed firearms and dangerous weapons in the wrong hands which our government will deal with as a matter of top priority – through an amnesty process and re-orientation of gun-totting gangs. Our approach will be multi-layered, multidimensional. At the base will be the Neighbourhood Watch scheme. which will operate right at the ward level. Residents associations will partner with government and be trained in crime prevention, sharing of intelligence with relevant agencies for proactive action. Local government councils will be encouraged to join forces with the state government and support the polity with communication gadgets and a centralised citizens helpline, to coordinate activities across the state. Other facets of the security blanket which will be deployed to support regular police will be:
Drones – effective deployment of modern technology walky-talkies, network of drones for the surveillance of the hotspot areas, where criminal activity is rampant.

Security cameras – a megacity like Lagos must have a network of security cameras in strategic locations, which are hooked to a central data center that will cast a watchful security blanket across the state. Lagos is too populous to be handled by the traditional method of boots on ground and patrol car policing only.

All citizens should be documented including those living on the street, and they will be provided with a safety net measures to keep them from falling through the cracks.

Transportation – Our government will usher in a truly integrated transportation system which a megacity like Lagos needs, to keep people moving and productive. Where possible, we will dredge particular areas of the state to ensure that transportation by water to nooks and crannies of the state is enabled. If it can happen in Venice, then it certainly can be achieved in Lagos. A critical objective of our integrated transportation system is effective mass transit that will significantly reduce the need for Lagosians to put their cars on the road daily, to commute to and from work. The net effect of this will be less gridlock and less productive time lost on the road. Transportation will be included as part of the government’s social intervention program. Employees of SMEs who are registered in the scheme will be entitled to discounted trips in public buses during certain time bands of the day. This initiative will help the workers retain a significant portion of wages to apply to other needs.

Our Youth – Lagos the megacity is under threat of the Youth bulge. Our government will pay special priority attention to this segment of society. Our youth plan will be multidimensional, to deliver both engagement and income generation. Key focus areas will be.

Sports – As it happens in other climes, where sports is a major revenue generator and job creator, our government will create the enabling environment, such as Community centres for all kinds of leisure activities to be turned into jobs and occupations for youth. We can achieve a lot through unlocking the potentials of income generation that sports provides. We will help large numbers of youth to develop careers in sports, which will also translate to tax revenues for the state. We must embrace it, as of necessity.

Financial literacy – Our government will undertake poverty alleviation through partnering with private sector Initiatives that build capacity in young children to earn and save money sustainably. This will be a key pillar in helping the youth to inculcate critical habits of self-development. Our government will place serious importance in achieving the MDG goal regarding the reduction in the numbers of those living in abject poverty.

My dear compatriots, I hope you will agree with me that the mission that I have set before you is truly achievable, by a committed, caring dependable government that can be trusted.

I state, unequivocally that based on my verifiable track record, as laid out before you, I possess the skills and capacity that you can depend on, to keep faith with you and deliver the Lagos of our dreams. The Lagos that will become a power house in this next decade.

I Akinwunmi Ishola Braithwaite submit myself to be the people’s choice as the next Executive governor of Lagos State, on the platform of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) to preside over a government that cares and can be trusted to take care of the commonwealth of all Lagosians.

For the Transformation of Lagos.

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