“WHEN Babatunde Fashola goes to the theatre in Lagos, his entrance usually sparks more applause than the cast’s final bow. He has been something of a hero in Nigeria’s business capital since becoming its governor in 2007. Last month he was reelected with 81% of the vote, having attempted to tame the unruly metropolis.”
With that introduction, in its March 5, 2011 edition, The Economist called the former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, a rare good man. I doubt if that will be the case, if the global magazine is to write about Fashola again. In recent time, Fashola’s image has sufficiently gone into the negative just like a bank account without credit.
But Fashola himself is making the matter worse by not facing up to the truth. His idea of going on the offensive describing some people believed to be his benefactors, who are now behind his ordeal as pigs has indeed complicated his case.
These “pigs” are now all out against him bringing to the limelight what most Lagosians—who chanted “Eko Oni Baje” slogan with Fashola—did not know. With a scandal per day, most Lagosians are now feeling they have been deceived by a man that was a poster boy for his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
With skeleton falling out of Fashola’s closet every day and Fashola struggling to keep the scandals contained, it seems like the maxim and aphorism of everyday is for the thief, but one day is for the owner is at play.
From the weird website saga to the borehole brouhaha, there’s something to learn for everyone, that we must walk the talk.
On the website scandal, Fashola has cleverly exonerated himself by pushing it back to the Lagos State Ministry of Science and Technology whom he called government “adviser” but that excuse also offers a window of opportunity to dig deep into the matter.
Who’s that individual that gave this advice in the Ministry of Science and Technology and where is the evidence of no-objection by the Lagos State procurement agency?
I have a feeling that there are many people connected to this scandal. They are the people planted inside government ministries at strategic places to help most governors perpetuate corruption while in office. Those people must equally be the target of the federal investigators, not just Fashola. That’s if the case at hand is not just being used by some elements within the APC for political bargaining without having public interest as the real reason behind it.
Interestingly, Lagos has been one state where those who have been the governors since 1999 have been compared to Alhaji Lateef Jakande, its first civilian governor who merely spent less than four years in office and remains a positive reference point.
True, none of those who became governor after Jakande has been able to beat that record. Just a little under four years, when he was elected between 1979 and 1983, Jakande achieved so much that nearly four decades after, the story of his three-year-old government continues to be a reference point and in the positive.
I’m not sure I have seen many Jakande streets or Jakande shopping centres in my many years of going around in Lagos State. Yes, they may be there as I cannot claim to know Lagos like I know my child. But one thing is this: i have seen many Jakande estates and Jakande schools.
When the current National Leader of the All Progressives Congress and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, ended his tenure of office in 2007, the story about town was the looting of Lagos. That narrative has not changed with Fashola’s exit. Now, who will deliver Lagos?
Understandably, the entrance of the current governor of the state, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode had to be greeted with skepticism by people, even from his own household. They are afraid he’s in power to do the bidding of Tinubu. Some are afraid he will leave Lagos worst than he met it in terms of money. But the failings of his predecessors should help guide Ambode to change that narrative from negative to positive.
I can remember that on May 29, when he came to power, Ambode said: “I will make your taxes work for you. You will surely get a transparent and incorruptible government that will give you good value for your taxes paid.”
He said wherever it is practicable, his administration would practice government by incentives and not government by enforcement and would implement creative ideas and concepts that reduce the cost of running government and ideas that make life simpler and happier for the people. Most Lagosians are smart people who are watching his steps and will show him his own book of Acts when the time comes.
For Ambode, he’s in his own Genesis, there are still several books to open before he gets to Revelation, so he must walk on the track to the very end.
To hear about corruption after Ambode’s tenure just as we have heard about his two predecessors will make nonsense of his own campaign against corruption and confirm what people already believed that Tinubu remains the lord of Lagos.
By Adeola Akinremi
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