10th March, 2011
Former Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Communication, Professor Dora Akiyuli, launched a campaign to rebrand the country, attempting to give the country a new picture under the slogan “Nigeria: Good People. Great Nation”. It is a bold effort doomed to failure, just like the previous government’s campaigns (“Nigeria, Heart of Africa”). Not because the new slogan is wrong, but because you donâ€™t begin to build from the top. A house without a solid foundation will certainly collapse. And this is the tragedy of the Nigerian nation. We embrace hypocrisy, deception and falsehood fooling ourselves as a people towing the right path. The truth is that those that proposed the rebranding concept were mainly interested in the bottom line: â€˜what is there for the boysâ€™! Who cares about Nigeria? What has become of the various probes that have been instituted in an attempt to correct certain imbalances in the system? The truth is that those that instituted
and constituted such probes know from the outset that they were chasing shadows. But it is in such shadow chasing that their bread can be buttered! So, Nigeria continues to groan under the deceitful maneuvers of Nigerians. This has been the circle since 1960 and it wonâ€™t change until we embrace the truth by focusing on rebuilding the collapse walls of morals and truthfulness in all facets of the society.
Who needs rebranding when public funds are being misappropriated with reckless abandon at the highest place? Who needs rebranding when those that occupy positions of authority are full of deceptions? Who needs rebranding when basic infrastructures in the country have collapsed? Who needs rebranding when people wallow in hunger in the midst of abundance? Who needs rebranding when leaders deliberately impoverish the people in order to put them under their constant check? Rebranding? Common, letâ€™s talk about other things!
Fortunately, there are other positive things to talk all about in the polity. Thank God we still have very few leaders who have refused to tow the path of dishonour that leads to nowhere. This is what gives us a glimpse of hope about the country. I will like talk about the one that I know about. I will talk about the story of Lagos State under Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN). The story of transformation. The story of progressive continuity. The story of passionate and compassionate governance at its best. We are taking about a story that has been told and retold just because it gives a sweet melody to the ears!
In the past three and a half years, Lagos has been lucky to have in the saddle a leadership that has resorted to rebuilding as a key to rebranding. Today, in Lagos you donâ€™t need any slogan to attract investors to the state because everyone is aware of the genuine efforts being put in place by the government to encourage investment. Though security is the exclusive preserve of the federal government, nevertheless the Fashola government has through its creative and innovative style of governance successfully tackled the security question in the state. It has become more creative and daring in its effort to ensure a secure state where all could live, invest and interact without any fear. This is the motive behind the establishment of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund in 2007. Before the fund was established, crime rate in the state was alarming. But the trend has now changed tremendously as evident in the 2010 report of the Lagos State Police Command.
Equally, Lagosians now enjoy unfettered access to qualitative healthcare without geographical, financial, cultural or political barriers. This has been done through the building, upgrading and equipping of General Hospitals in all the Local Government Areas of the state and the sitting of maternal and child care centres in 13 locations across the 5 divisions of the state. This is in addition to the â€œEko Free Health Missionâ€, which is aimed at saving the lives of Lagosians by diagnosing and treating of ailments such as hypertension, diabetes, eye problems, and dental ailments as well as performing of basic surgeries free of charge.
Lagos has since 2007 become a huge construction site, with developmental projects being embarked in unprecedented proportion across the state, as the administration continues its relentless effort in making Lagos Africaâ€™s fastest growing mega city. In demonstrating its commitment towards the provision of an enduring infrastructure that will improve the economic growth of the state, in 2008 and 2009 alone, the state government committed a total of N91.96bn for the construction of new roads and rehabilitation of existing ones as well as the provision of other road infrastructure.
Also ,over 7700 have been employed directly into the medical and education sectors at the lower levels in the public sector while 102, 685 jobsÂ have been created outside the public sector, in such areas as micro credit finance, business support and field training. Over 98, 000 others are involved in various construction sites as sub contractors, employees of major contractors, in such projects as school construction and rehabilitation, drainage clearance and construction, construction of roads and bridges, hospitals and city cleaning. Similarly, 2,500 graduate teachers and 3, 000 NCE graduatesÂ have been absorbed into the stateâ€™s Teaching Service.Â The Lekki Free Trade Zone and Eko Atlantic city projects also offer tremendous employment opportunities to Lagosians while the poverty alleviation and empowerment programmes of the administration have empowered over 80,000 Lagosians.
The Fashola Administration has embarked on the construction of access roads to link up rural communities just as it has completed a total number of 165 rural electrification projects in addition to the provision of potable water to over One Hundred and Sixteen (116) Communities across the state.
Today, thanks to the new face of its environment, Lagos attracts more foreign investments, commands greater respect, brings in more tourists as it is has successfully shrugged off the tag of â€˜a notorious jungleâ€™ mischievously placed on in some quarters. What we need to move the country forward is pro-active and people oriented governance. We have had enough of rhetoric, theories and deceptions.
â€¢Tayo Ogunbiyi is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information, Alausa, Ikeja