Babatunde Olalere Gbadamosi BOG is a big player in the real estate industry. He is the CEO of Amen Estate situated along Eleko Beach Road in Ibeju Lekki, Lagos. He’s a businessman of high repute and his commitment to the development of Lagos is well spelt out in the exquisitely facilitated estate he provides for the residents of his estate. Born in Ikorodu, Lagos, BOG spent all his life in Lagos until he became a full adult when he travelled abroad for a post-degree study.
On Saturday, October 20, 2018, BOG clocked 51 and he decided to make it a double celebration for his family, staff members, allies and well-wishers as he used the medium to declare his intention to run for the governorship of Lagos State on the platform of the Action Democratic Party, ADP. City People’s Damilare Salami caught up with him at the event where he laid his mind bare on why he is the most experienced man to run Lagos for the next four years. He explained that if it was possible for him to provide a 24/7 power supply, pipe borne water, good roads and a serene and convenient residence and take away a good number of youths off the streets by providing good jobs for them, then he could do it for all Lagosians. Enjoy the excerpts from the interview.
Sir, why do you want to be the governor of Lagos state?
Well, being the governor of Lagos state is not child’s play and I’ve seen over the past twenty years that the people that have seized the reins of power have turned Lagos state to their personal toy. I’m interested in running Lagos because I believe that I can bring value, the value that Lagos state has not seen before, I can bring them. I can fix the roads, I can provide 24/7 electricity, I can put children in schools; provide free education, free and high-quality health care services. I can redesign the economy of Lagos and put on four solid lenses; industry, tourism, science and tech and agriculture. All of these are sectors that have been sort of neglected for the larger parts for the last 20 years. And I dare say that with my experience as a real estate developer of note and a frontier breaker in the real estate, I can do anything that Lagos requires to become the first world state so to speak.
Do you think your party has the wherewithal to unseat a government in power that is well entrenched all over Lagos?
What we have in my party is a bunch of experienced politicians and a whole lot of ordinary people that are interested in progress in their lives. People want real change; people don’t want a situation whereby they will continually be dictated to by a bunch of selfish, greedy, individuals. They want better school for their children, they want better and more affordable health care, and people need homes. A lot of Lagosians are homeless, people need jobs, the government has not been playing its role of providing an enabling environment for employers of labour. These are the things I intend to come and do especially as I’ve earned myself an employer of labour of no small means.
How do you convince Lagosians that you are the man for the job?
I’m a businessman, some will say I’m a successful businessman and I take that in my stride. I’m somebody that has the interest of my state at heart. I’m a Lagosian, I was born in Ikorodu to Fatai Gbadamosi and Jemila back in 1967, I grew up in Lagos, went to school, primary, secondary and university all in Lagos and it was only when I became a full adult that I left the comfort of Lagos for the first time to go to the United Kingdom. So, I’m passionate about Lagos, I believe that Lagos can be good if not better than a lot of commercial capitals around the world. The Singaporeans of this world have nothing better than Lagos, a Lagos that is properly managed. We should have had rail in Lagos as far back as 1985, that process was interrupted by the man who is now “ruining” Nigeria as President. We can do better with the resources that we have. As the second largest economy in West Africa, we ought to be better than Accra, we ought to be better than Abidjan, we ought to be better than Banjul in the Gambia, Dakar in Senegal but we are not and these are issues that I plan to take on board very, very quickly. Fortunately, it’s all about the built environment and the construction technology has moved on in leaps and bounds since Alhaji Lateef Jakande first provided 20,000 affordable housing units, built the Lekki-Epe express road, provided over 1,000 new schools across Lagos state 35 years ago all in the space of four years and three months. Can we do better today? The rate of advancement in construction technology today says that we can and it says that we can do it at a far more cost effective rate than the sort of costing that is being bandied around by the people that have been in charge for the past 20 years. We are talking six billion naira per kilometre for the Lekki-Epe expressway expansion; that’s unbelievable, that’s something that we are not going to be tolerated any longer. If Dangote can build 44 kilometres of dual carriageway within the refinery complex in Ibeju Lekki, then Lagos State can pretty much build roads; our own will be smaller say 250-kilometre square. There is no reason we should be paying anybody up to a billion for the construction of roads unless of course when you are talking about a super hanging, the kind that we plan to have along the coastal road axis from Eti Osa all through to Ibeju Lekki and Epe.
How do you think the issue of corruption which has been a major issue in the Nigerian federalism should be handled?
Well, throughout this period, President Buhari has shown us how not to handle corruption because if you want to deal with corruption, you don’t do it on the pages of newspapers, you don’t do it on televisions, making all sorts of wild allegations that you cannot substantiate because of course, since president Buhari has been in charge, he has not been able to start and finish any prosecution of anybody accused of corruption. All we see is people being clamped to detention illegally because the courts are making pronouncements that these people should be freed; talk about Sambo Dasuki as a good example and many others. The courts of the land have pronounced that these people should be set free and president Buhari who is supposed to be upholding the constitution, a document meant to engender confidence in the country and therefore confidence in the economy and economic growth. But if the president himself is not obeying court orders, it’s normal to reason that anybody who has any level of capital looking for where to invest will certainly not go to a place where court orders are not obeyed, especially by the president of the place. So, again, everything he has done has been to disrupt the economy and he has succeeded at that. The truth is, the way godfatherism and corruption have affected the economy of Nigeria has been totally deleterious. Lagos state has been degraded despite the huge amount internally generated revenue and the huge federal allocations it has been receiving all these years, we have nothing to show for it. We don’t have roads; virtually every road in Lagos is bad. We don’t have water, even though we live amidst water. We are the equator and yet we don’t have light; we couldn’t harness the power of the sun to provide energy, to provide electricity, we are around the Atlantic coast and we couldn’t install green turban farms offshore just the way it’s been done everywhere else in the world. We are not asking that they re-invent the will; we are just asking that they copy from the best practice elsewhere, that’s all. All of these things are sold, they are in the open market and we know their prices. Nobody is going to tell me that it’s going to cost six billion naira per kilometre to expand the Lekki-Epe expressway and you expect me to accept that being a developer myself. I am not stupid and many Lagosians are also not stupid as well, that’s the reason why Lagosians are keen to see the back of the Tinubu led government that has been in charge for the last 20 years in Lagos.
We have discussed a lot of issues and most of these cost huge sums, how do you intend to raise funds for these projects?
Lagos already makes a lot of money; I think nine billion a month or so goes to some agencies that are called tax collection agencies, Alpha Beta is amongst them, you saw the scandal that emerged recently when one of the erstwhile directors, I think the managing director of Alpha Beta made an allegation that he was defrauded within Alpha Beta itself. I personally believe that the whole Alpha Beta arrangement and its sister companies, about three of them, one in each Senatorial district in Lagos is a massive fraud and we are going to end it. The money that is going to them can come back to the state coffers and we can use that to develop the state. Our workers are badly paid and I’m really very worried about the plight of civil servants in Lagos State, the pensions that they are supposed to be getting are also very poor because if you want world-class service from our civil servants, then we better be ready to pay world class compensations.
What do you have to say about Vote buying?
Well as far as vote buying is concerned, you guys in the media have the responsibility. I am going to put it squarely on the fourth estate of the realm because the incidents that happened in Ekiti and Osun States were not highlighted in the local media until the BBC picked it up. The BBC actually went out there, risked their lives and exposed the very process of vote buying and selling in Ekiti State and it was until the BBC broadcast it that the local media found their backbone and began to talk about it. I’m really happy about the way the media has gone, I think that you guys in the media (sorry I have to say this) have lost your backbones. You need to wake up, it’s your weakness that has thrown up the bloggers, your weaknesses at investigative journalism at interrogating the past of people that put themselves up for political offices and it is these weaknesses that have allowed bloggers to flourish. It is you guys that are going to sensitise the populace that if you sell a vote for 5,000 naira, that is less than 200 naira if you spread it over a period of four years and if people have decided to live for say ten naira in a day for four years, then so be it. And if you think that you need more, then don’t sell your vote for people who are there to share money because what you are doing is selling your destiny and that of your children’s children.
If you become the governor today, you are likely to have a house of assembly that will be dominated by the opposition. How do you intend to survive amidst “enemies”?
Why do you assume that the House of Assembly will be dominated by the opposition? Why do you assume that the lawmakers are going to become my enemy or the enemies of the people? They have been elected to work for the people of Lagos state and I’m very certain that whoever is elected into the house of assembly whether it is ADP, APC or PDP, we are all going to work together to make sure that Lagos and Lagosians get the best because, at the end of the day, Lagos will not prosper unless the Lagosians are prospering at an individual level. If the individual Lagosian cannot feed his family then Lagos cannot be said to be prospering.