I have often felt – even if only privately until now – that anyone who is able to make a success of governing Lagos State would in all probability, if given the opportunity, make a success of running Nigeria. I uphold this notion on the grounds that Lagos State, in comparison to the other federated units of our nation, occupies a unique position in our nation, due to its historic and contemporary status and its continued importance to our national life.
First of all, for many years Lagos doubled up as the nation’s capital city before its eventual displacement by Abuja. But, notwithstanding, this displacement it still retains to this day a clear imprint of its former status in a number of important areas. Secondly, Lagos State is and has always been the nation’s commercial capital. Offering in this capacity numerous business opportunities to various prospectors and investors – indigenous and foreign – across the corporate, retail, private, and public sectors. Thirdly, Lagos State serves as the primary hub and gateway – to and from – Nigeria with its international Air and Sea ports. Fourthly, and perhaps more importantly, Lagos State, in contrast to other States has to deal with certain challenges and complexities linked to the presence within its boundaries of a multiplicity of ethnicities – indigenous and non-indigenous – for whom, Lagos State is home or has become a home away from home. In effect, Lagos State is a microcosm of the macrocosm that is Nigeria.
Therefore, anyone with executive charge over Lagos State, if possessed of the right attitude and aptitude, will by virtue of the challenges involved in administering its affairs, develop a wide range of effective governance and problem solving skills, to a degree surpassing those of his peers in other States.
At the last throw of the gubernatorial electoral dice in Lagos State, Lagosians, yet again, elected to repose their political trust in the Action Congress. Thereby, submitting themselves to the superintendency of Governor Babatunde Fashola. Governor Fashola, as it turns out, is proving to be a man of the right attitude and aptitude. Since assuming office he has succeeded in eliciting favourable reviews of his performance from a broad spectrum of commentators. This consensus of opinion suggests that he is succeeding in delivering meaningful change to the people of Lagos State. Offering to them purpose driven leadership as he tackles the issues which affect them and their environment. Such that it seems fair to say that he is undertaking a potentially ordinary job in an extraordinary manner.
Reading thus far, it may seem that one is laying out the basis for a run on the presidency by Governor Fashola in 2011. Rest assured that such an aim is neither the purpose nor purport of this article. For a start, like connoisseurs of fine wines, I believe that there is nothing more objectionable or unpalatable to a discriminating palate than the taste of a wine uncorked before its time.
Thus, if one were to lend support or voice to such an expression of ambition by Governor Fashola, it would be with 2015 or beyond in mind. By which time I am confident he will have acquired sufficient skills to undertake such a challenge. But in saying so, I am well aware as well as respectful of, and sympathetic to, the claims of other ethnicities in our nation who have yet to produce a winning candidate for presidential office. So, one must concede in the spirit of equity and unity that it is to them that such office should go at such time.
So my hopes for Governor Fashola for the moment remain gubernatorial rather than presidential. To this end, I am desirous of seeing him re-nominated by the Action Congress and subsequently re-elected by Lagosians for a second term in 2011. This desire is fuelled by the conviction that he has much unfinished business to conclude in Lagos State.
It does seem odd to be writing in these terms and after this manner about someone whose achievements in office to date are both visible and verifiable, and of such a nature as to recommend him for automatic re-nomination by his party with a minimum of debate or discord.
But often in politics other considerations, which do not necessarily coincide with the aspirations of the people, arise to scuttle the balance of assumed political equations, calculations, and projections. To this effect, it is beginning to emerge that a ‘whispering campaign’ is gaining voice in certain quarters to suggest that Governor Fashola should be overlooked for re-nomination in 2011. It does seem, based on the strength of his record of performance, a rather scandalous notion for any in his party to hold. But it is not uncommon for those who live in a comparatively ‘golden age’ to complain about how yellow things are. It would seem unwise, in one’s opinion, to seek to mend that which is not broken.
Those who seem bent and intent on denying him re-nomination also seem determined to drive a wedge between him and Alhaji Bola Tinubu in order to rupture their effective and synergetic partnership, which has been critical in the delivery of positive change to Lagos State. I do hope for Lagos State’s sake that these forces are disappointed in their schemes. There has never been a doubt in the minds of the politically aware that Alhaji Tinubu was entirely instrumental in the emergence of Governor Fashola as the gubernatorial candidate of the Action Congress and equally influential in his election as governor. So in a real sense Governor Fashola is in his debt.
However, it is a debt which Governor Fashola has been repaying with interest on account of his sterling performance in office. His performance portrays Alhaji Tinubu in very good light and increases his political stock as an astute politician. He has proven himself to be a political strategist of the first rank in Lagos State politics. Very few Nigerian politicians can lay claim to being adept, as he, at art and execution of succession planning. One only has to reflect upon the consequences of the inept succession planning undertaken at the macro level in our nation to form a sense of the importance of what Alhaji Tinubu accomplished in Lagos State during his transition from power.
I like to believe that both Alhaji Tinubu and Governor Fashola love Lagos State dearly and will keep on working together for its continued success. I also hope that Alhaji Tinubu will once again, at the appropriate time, give his endorsement and support to Governor Fashola (his political son and protégé); thereby laying to rest the idle speculation regarding their supposedly frayed relationship.
By continuing to work together for the good of Lagos State, both Alhaji Tinubu and Governor Fashola can demonstrate to any underperforming government – Federal or State – in Nigeria that the provision of good governance to the people can be delivered to an exceptional standard without having to be an exceptional occurrence in our political system.
EKO ONIBAJE O!