The two-day Lagos state gubernatorial debate organised by the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Lagos Television (LTV), has been postponed after the first day.
The postponement was due to “personal reasons” from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate, Jimi Agbaje, and his All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart, Akinwunmi Ambode, NUJ officials confirmed to TheCable.
According to the officials, Agbaje and Ambode said they could not make the set date due to their busy schedules.
The debate, which was organised as a platform for the 17 governorship aspirants in Lagos to express their plans for the state, had its first session on Wednesday.
That session, which was expected to feature eight aspirants, featured just three, with five others reported absent.
The three representatives were Ayodele Akele of National Conscience Party (NCP), Kayode Jacob of Mega Progressive Peoples Party (MP3) and Labour Party’s Michael Abiodun, who is actually running mate to the party’s flag bearer, Olurotimi Olulana.
On arrival at LTV 8 studio A, where the first leg of the debate held, the studio was locked without prior notice or signage to indicate the postponement.
A security official simply said the debate had been cancelled, without stating any reason in particular.
A visit to the NUJ, Lagos chapter’s office made the picture clearer, as the officials at the Ladi Lawal Press centre explained that the debate had been postponed till further notice.
On Wednesday, Labour Party (LP) representative, Abiodun, said his principal, the party’s flag bearer, decided not to attend the debate due to his foresight that the “major actors”, Ambode and Agbaje, would be absent.
Femi Adesina, moderator of the debate and president of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), was quick to dismiss Abiodun’s claims, saying Agbaje and Ambode were slated for Thursday and they would attend.
The aspirants present at the debate on Wednesday made several allegations against Ambode and Agbaje.
Akele, who spoke on the platform of late Gani Fawehinmi-founded NCP, said the ruling government had made a law to build a N700m mansion for ex-governors in Abuja and N500m mansion in Lagos from the tax payers’ money when the tax payer gets N2,000 as pension.
“Somebody called me and said that he was taking a pension of N2,000 per month in a state where a former governor was going to have a house in Abuja worth 700m,” Akele said.
“Bola Ahmed Tinubu signed that law, and it has been replicated by Fashola; that is the height of injustice.
“Let me also say jocularly that if my children had attended LASU (Lagos State University), they won’t graduate because the school fees became unaffordable; they attended the University of Lagos and paid about N25,000.”
He went on to describe the ruling government as callous, alleging that it was making life easy for the elites.
“This government is callous,” he said.
“How can someone who enjoyed free education at the University of Benin be the apostle of increase in fees beyond the reach of the poor parent?”