28th June, 2010
“Men are developed the same way gold is mined. Several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold. But you donâ€™t go into the mine looking for dirt. You go into the mine looking for goldâ€. – A School of Thought.
From all the books I have read on leadership, the authors tell me that one of the primary responsibilities of a successful leader is to identify potential leaders and doing this is no tea party. It is like moving several tones of earth to get an ounce of gold. It takes courage, commitment, patriotism, drive, strategic intelligence, impartiality, commonsense, good intention and visionary zeal for a leader to pick a single successor from the lot without stepping on toes.
Readers, please, take note that I am just trying to refresh your memories on how Babatunde Raji Fashola was picked from the lot in 2007 by our own leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the crisis that ensued from that choice and how it was managed not only to restore peace to the large Lagos AC family but also bring progress to Lagos. We are all living witnesses today to why Asiwaju insisted that it was either BRF or nothing. The rest is now history.
Fashola has justified the confidence Tinubu reposed in him and that has translated to strings of wonderful results for Lagosians and Nigerians as a whole. The Lagos success story started in 1999 with a Ten Point Agenda called TPA, vigorously pursued by the Governor Emeritus, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The objectives of the TPA are, Transformation of Lagos as a model mega city, Creation of an enabling environment for private sector led growth, Stimulation and creation of gainful employment and the Provision of efficient and adequate social services and infrastructure.
Authoritatively, and without sounding immodest, I align myself with the school of thought that says that, from 1999 to 2007, all the targets set by the Ten Point Agenda were pursued vigorously and achieved by the administration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Since May 29, 2007 when BRF took over, the tempo of activities has increased with frightening speed and Lagosians believe that he is getting it right.
Now, judging from the monumental achievements recorded in Lagos in the last three years, no one is left in doubt that Asiwaju made no mistake in his choice of successor. It was the best decision ever made by any leader in Nigeria in recent history. He has spent just three years in power and has made such giant strides that Nigerians toast him as the face of achievement in our troubled democracy. He has brought class, finesse, panache and Ã©lan to bear on not only the governance in such a complicated, over-populated and greatly challenged state as Lagos but also on governance in Nigeria. Comfortably, he could pass as the best success story in the countryâ€™s present democratic experience.
What we have seen in Lagos in terms of progress goes to show that with the right leadership, hope can be restored in Nigeria again. Nigerians and Lagosians have seen that what decides a nationâ€™s progress is the strategic intelligence of responsive and responsible leadership and the willingness to learn from the experiences of others to implement good policies quickly and decisively through the deployment of efficient public service. In our very eyes, we have seen how BRF maximized the abilities, capacities and capabilities of those under him to register his name in the minds and souls of not only the 18 million Lagosians but the 150 million Nigerians. BRF is a story of a common and ordinary man, blessed with uncommon and extraordinary opportunities and experiences and he wasted no time to utilize the opportunities and the experiences. BRF has demonstrated through actions and deeds that government of small things can initiate a process that will lead to government of big things.
More than three decades of military dictatorship in Nigeria dealt a deadly blow to Lagos as the economic hub of Nigeria. Though a lot has been put in place in the past 12 years, when compared with Johannesburg, Singapore or Dubai, it looks as if nothing has happened. When I saw the gigantic road networks in Johannesburg recently, I kept on wondering when such structures will be replicated in Lagos. Connecting roads remain the greatest challenge in Lagos and if BRF wants to break the vicious circle, many houses will have to go.
Fashola is only forty seven but he is imbued with the wisdom of a centurion. He has the vigour of youth and the conviction of an unrepentant progressive to guide him to a result-oriented period as governor of Nigeriaâ€™s most important and most influential state. Of a free and clean spirit, Fashola represents hope in the mismanaged space we are presently wobbling through. He is the best advertisement for youth relevance in politics. He still has a great life ahead of him as his wonderful work as Lagos State Governor, well acknowledged by both friends and foes, recommends him for loftier tasks ahead. I say to our own Babatunde Raji Fashola, many more years of great and fruitful service to our fatherland. I say to BRF, may your tribe of great achievers continue to increase and may our much abused country Nigeria, continue to gain from the rare abilities of men like Fashola.
â€¢Igbokwe is the publicity secretary, Lagos AC.