People do echo the common slogan at every turn in the metropolis: Fashola is working; Lagos is working. It’s, indeed, gratifying to note that most achievements being recorded by the Babatunde Raji Fashola (BRF), SAN, Administration in Lagos State, are attracting the attention of well-meaning Nigerians and foreigners alike in recent times.
True to his declaration on his Facebook page, Governor Fashola, the Eko O Ni Baje (meaning Lagos will not spoil) advocate has said: “Trust us, believe us, we will continue to show good leadership by going the extra mile by providing a sustainable brighter rewarding future for the good people of Lagos and Lagosians.”
The Governor also once said, that Lagosians are detribalised people and wouldn’t care to which side of political divide you belong. “What matters to them is whether or not you could make democracy meaningful to them; whether you could make life better for them. Whether they voted for you or did not vote at all, the truth is that you collect their taxes irrespective of party lines. So, it is our responsibility to provide service,” he disclosed.
Since his inauguration in 2007, during the first term in office as the Executive Governor of the state, Fashola has left no one in doubt that he truly means business, and that he is much prepared to actualise his vision of the Megacity project, through which he advocates massive investment in infrastructure to boost Lagos Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), aside from creating jobs for the unemployed in the society, as well as Environment and Beautification.
Other consequential areas of development on which his Administration has focused its attention include Bill Signings, Health with particular emphasis on maternal and childcare, power generating system, the programme under its Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, through which Lagos State Government, in a strategic move, repositions to develop capacity to fully attend to the power needs of residents and explore the hydrocarbon, oil and gas potential of the state.
Creating sustainable enabling environment for small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) for them to jobs creation, housing programme, and education are other segments of priority for his Administration. Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan, the erstwhile Deputy Governor of Lagos State to Fashola, boldly praised the achievements of her master in major areas of development across the state in the twilight of the first four-year term in May 2011.
In her “Forward to a Compendium of Lagos State Ministry of Education” 2008-2011, Sosan was quoted as saying enthusiastically thus: “We shall not tire in our efforts to fulfil our vision which is to be the model in the provision of education in Africa.”
Recounting the administration’s achievements in the all-important education industry, she added: “Our investment in education, from the building or renovation of new classrooms, long vacation skills acquisition programme for students, provision of additional laboratories, supply of teaching, non-teaching and pupils’ furniture, and the special intervention programme in education to prepare our final-year students is gradually yielding results as seen in the gradual improvement in WAEC (West African Examinations Council) results.”
Still on Fashola’s transformational achievements across Lagos, President Goodluck Jonathan was so impressed by what he has seen in Lagos State that he instructed his newly inaugurated Cabinet ministers to go, understudy and learn the art of good leadership and governance from Governor Fashola of Lagos.
Interestingly, without wasting time, following the directive, Senator Bala Mohammed, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, and his team recently, visited Lagos to understudy Fashola administration’s transformational achievements in critical sectors of the nation’s economy.
Since “seeing is believing”, as people say, the FCT Minister unequivocally told Fashola and his team: “We have come to Lagos to learn what you have done to generate this kind of revenue, whether in transport, land programmes, environmental sanitation or even in other sources, we will like to learn. It is simply a miracle.”
Like a proverbial saying that a Golden fish has no hiding place, Senator Mohammed just could not hide the fact that Lagos is working, he added: “I know since you are our own, our consultant, our big brother and, of course, with the assemblage of experts that you have, we want to learn from you so that we can see how we can generate that kind of revenue internally.”
During the visit, Lagos Executive Governor had equally canvassed improved investment in infrastructure across the country. Senator Mohammed was also reported to have replied that such massive investment would accelerate development by attracting foreign direct investment which would further boost more employment and income generation.
In addition to massive infrastructural upgrade efforts being witnessed across the state, the FCT Minister, in his remarks, actually acknowledged the fact that the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) profile of Lagos remains “the highest” in Nigeria. He informed Fashola that he and his team would like to “understudy the revenue collection strategy and other key initiatives of the administration for use in the FCT.”
Thus, a very useful lesson for the Presidency and other state governors in all this is that Governor Fashola has been able to impress it on all that “there is no magic wand” in the revenue profile of the Lagos after all. In other words, it is the people who have been empowered through his administration’s infrastructural renewal programme that pay income tax from which the revenue is generated -it is only people who have jobs and income that can pay tax.
Government at all levels must invest in social infrastructure that will attract businesses and prosperity to thrive in the country. With strategic partnerships between the Government and professionals in the private sector, there are opportunities to create jobs for the people who have Information Technology and knowledge-based economy to sell their skills.
And, for Lagos State Government to do more in creating benefits and dividends for Nigerians resident in the state, the challenges posed by the Federal Government properties and its dilapidated roads in Lagos make it imperative that the Federal Government supports Lagos by way of according it special status to be able to maintain these sprawling infrastructural facilities.