Babatunde Fashola, SAN, for President!

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

I don come again o! Last week I was all over the place telling some dry stories about Abuja roads. This week as well, I will tell some stories. The effect of the bite from the story-telling bug has not worn off yet and so here we are again. I thank God the bug is not the tsetse otherwise I would be dozing on my desk now. Only yesterday, somebody told me that if you have to have dreams, you must first sleep. Today’s story will be about a certain ‘correct’ Lagos bobo, who did not just wake up yesterday with dreams and visions of transforming Lagos into a super mega city. He is a senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN, was Bola Tinubu’s chief of Staff for eight years and is less than 50 years.

Before I begin to tell Babatunde Raji Fashola’s story from my own hi-story book, I should like to paragraph it with another story. About two weeks ago, a report in The Will newspaper [an online publication] had it that Governor Fashola had admitted that his predecessor’s Administrations was a failure. The occasion was the private sector interactive session organized by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, for Fashola and the PDP gubernatorial candidate, Adegboyega Dosunmu. ‘We cannot engage the future without looking at the past. When we came on board, we faced the problem of dilapidated infrastructure, porous security system and failed institutions’, Fashola was quoted as having said at that meeting. After having read the entire report, I wanted to post a response to it but I didn’t succeed, and that failure has morphed into this write-up. But I read the story again and began to get a bit worried at the sensation or the total misconception ascribed to an intelligent man’s recourse to the past, so as to give a horizontal analysis to an issue in that ‘quasi-debate’. If I did not know about The Will’s antecedents I would have thought that this was one example of an irresponsible politician using the media to create disaffection between Fashola and Tinubu, and rubbish their impeccable legacy.

But what was it that I wanted to say as response to that misconstrued report? Well, I wanted to say that the so-called failure that The Will had as its theme in that report was an induced failure, probably to discredit the Bola Tinubu government and use it as a campaign[as they are doing now] to wrest Lagos State from Babatunde Fashola. Are our brains so limited in capacity that we have all forgotten so soon that the battle of Fallujah, between Olusegun Obasanjo as president and Bola Tinubu as governor raged at that time? Lagos is mini-Nigeria. Therefore, whosoever controls Lagos controls Nigeria. Whatever progress that was made that did not factor Lagos in is mere waste of breath. So, for the man in Aso Rock then, it was a miss-the-ball-or-break-the-leg matter [to use a local parlance familiar among football fans]. To break that leg, Aso Rock with-held all funds accruable to Lagos and used the excuse of Lagos creating additional ‘development areas’ as raison d’être for stifling all the state’s apparatus. For the whole 8 years that the war lasted, I was in Lagos and I saw the stress that that Fallujah war brought on Lagosians. Now when there is war, will there be development?

All of this began to change the minute Fashola got in. If you watched the handover of baton from Tinubu to Fashola on television, it seemed the man was in a hurry and he said and meant it like this: ‘The four years we are going to spend in office amounts to 35,000 hours and 40 minutes. I am therefore in a hurry because the public expectation is high’, he had said. He had already backed all of this up with a campaign credo and theme aka Ekoo ni baje, to mean, ‘Under my watch, ‘I will not let Lagos Fall to Ruins!’ Therefore, when some foreign journalists approached me then to do a critical assessment of the new man in Lagos, I did not hesitate to tell them the truth. That truth was published with that title above in The Equatorial Press. Please do Google it and read the stuff. In fact, the man had already initiated a N228billion Energy City Project, to be cited in a 170-hectre piece of land in Badagry before Olusegun Obasanjo’s successor did an about turn and paid the billions of naira that the Federal Government owed Lagos State. I do not have the space to document Fashola’s achievements in Lagos but I am sure that a comparative analysis of Fashola with some former PDP governors in the South-South eloquently helps my argument that Fashola should be our next president. Lagos is mini-Nigeria and Fashola has done well for that mini-Nigeria. Shouldn’t the man who has done well for that mini-Nigeria stand a chance at the maxi-Nigeria?

This is sounding like a monologue, isn’t it? But wait till you hear what others have to say about Babatunde Fashola as Lagos Governor. For a prominent Nigerian musician who does not want his name mentioned, Fashola is ‘Up NEPA! – to mean that he does what he does for the good of Lagos and wants to be noticed doing so. But hear what Austin Erhabor, a solicitor who had lived and worked in the UK for more than a decade had to say: The way Lagos was 20 years ago was in shambles…Jakande and the others made an improvement. However, we began to see a remarkable improvement when Tinubu and Fashola started administering. That progress that started from Tinubu blossomed under the Fashola administration. This man therefore is a shinning beacon of progress and of what governorship should be about. If you listen to Fashola speak, he talks of internal generation of revenue, instead of depending on a so-called statutory allocation. He breaks down how his administration goes about generating revenue. I think other governors in Nigeria should try to emulate this remarkable man. And what more can one add to this other than – Fashola for President!

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