2nd June, 2010
There were great expectations in 1999 as Nigerians ushered in the Third Republic in our repeated attempts to join the democratic nations of the world. Great expectations because of the ultimate price Nigerians paid to chase the rampaging men in uniform out of office in 1999. Great hopes because some of us felt that our politicians would have learnt all the lessons needed to have been learnt for nearly 35 years of military interregnum in Nigeria.
As the rogues in uniform were being chased out of governance, the words on every lip of the deprived, robbed, and dehumanised Nigerians were NEVER AGAIN will Nigeria be misruled by a bunch of scoundrels and charlatans, deficit in honour, deficit in character, deficit in integrity.
Eleven years after, Nigerians are yet to begin to beat their chests that they are getting the dividends of democracy. Eleven years after, our economy is still in ruins; we are still in darkness, our educational system is still in ruins; we are still being confronted with the menace of decayed infrastructure; violent crimes are still with us; the world still sees Nigeria as a shrine of corruption and citadel of debauchery; our electoral process remains the worst in the world, and Nigeria still remains among the poorest countries in the world.
But in the midst of this confusion, Lagos State, Nigeria has been making steady progress in the past eleven years. From a solid and unparalleled foundation, our own Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu laid for 8 years despite all the troubles from the buccaneers in Abuja led by former President Obasanjo, Governor Fashola has moved on to bring Lagos to the attention of the world. I have not forgotten the near 40-man Transition Committee set up by Asiwaju in 1999 to chart the way forward for Lagos and I have not forgotten the prodigious work they did. The holistic implementation of the Committee Report with Catholic devotion by Asiwajuâ€™s government for 8 years provided the elixir and the roadmap to the journey of a thousand miles. Through commitment to the democratic ideals, and economic blueprint left behind by the man, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Governor Fashola started a silent revolution in Lagos that today, the land of aquatic splendor, the economic hub, the head and pride of all Nigerians, the home of all Nigerians, has joined the human race.
Those who left Lagos few years back could not believe their eyes and ears when they step into Lagos these days. Thousands continue to call to tell me that Lagos is working beyond their expectations. They tell me that the government of Governor Fashola in Lagos has proved to them that with good leaders, Nigeria can be the pride of Africa and the world. They tell me that Fashola has proved to them beyond reasonable doubt that Nigeria is not a hopeless case. They describe Fashola as the face of the new Nigeria .
They tell me that through actions and deeds Governor Fashola has proved to them that leadership goes with responsibility. They see what is available to the government at the centre in terms of material resources and cried that if only we have got the right leadership since 1999, this country would have been transformed for the better.
Friends of Fashola who cut across the length and breadth of Nigeria irrespective of culture, religion, tribe, or tongue insist that he is getting it right and they therefore declare that he is man of the moment in Lagos and Nigeria . Elated by his breadth and depth of his knowledge in governance and service delivery, they say that if Nigeria gets 40 of his type in positions of authority in Nigeria things will begin to shape up. They say that what fascinated them is not about the big projects but the government of small things in Lagos. They tell me that nobody will look at Lagos of today and call it a jungle as OBJ did few years back.
Lovers of Fashola in Lagos have asked me to tell him that they see the massive road projects going on everywhere in Lagos that this has opened their areas and added value to their property. They say under their very eyes they see the gradual recovery of under bridges which used to be den of hoodlums and street urchins. The total declaration of war on criminals in the metropolis has yielded huge dividends as Lagos is now the safest city in Nigeria. Climate change brought about by global warming had brought fears to Lagosians that flood may render them homeless someday but Fasholaâ€™s massive investment in drains and canals is allaying those fears, giving the confidence that something is happening.
Fashola may not have satisfied everybody in Lagos but decisions are being taken to better the lot of everybody. History will forgive us for taking wrong decisions but it will not forgive us if we fail to take decisions at all. Fashola is not beating his chest because whatever we see in Lagos today are normal things every responsible government owes her people.
There are still many bridges to cross and Fashola is not done yet. The little praises he gets fires him to strive to greater heights. The little that we have seen in Lagos may not have come without huge sacrifices from Lagosians. Nobody enters into a hospital operation theatre without pains of the knives and yet from the pains we get better. Governor Fashola is not unmindful of the pains brought about by the actions of some government agencies in the course of discharging their oversight functions and he deeply appreciates these huge sacrifices. Fashola is the man to watch.
â€¢Igbokwe wrote in from Lagos.