23rd March, 2011
In the last few weeks, several ethnic groups in Lagos State, southwest Nigeria, have been drumming up support for the re-election of Governor Babatunde Fashola. These groups seemed united in their support for the incumbent governor above others. They have thus mobilized thousands of members to garner support their cause.
Such groups include the Arewa, Ndigbo and South-South communities living in Lagos. They allÂ endorsed Fashola for the April 16 governorship election in the state. At a mega rally held at the Trade Fair Complex, Lagos-Badagry Expressway, the communities trooped out in their thousands to support Fashola and the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.
Leaders of the diverse ethnic nationalities such as the state Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Ben Akabueze; Abia State ACN governorship candidate, Chief Paul Ikonne and Arewa leader in Lagos, Hon. Ahmed Kabiru gave a nod to Fasholaâ€™s re-election on behalf of their members.
Before the solidarity rally, a group of Igbo professionals spoke with Fashola on Victoria Island, during which the governor explained his plan for Lagos residents irrespective of their ethno-religious affiliation if elected in the next governorship election. Considering how Fashola had transformed Lagos in the last four years, the group also pledged their support for him.
Lagos also witnessed a bountiful harvest of Fasholaâ€™s endorsement last weekend when Sisters Forum, a non-government group in Lagos, made up of young women of Igbo extraction organised a solidarity rally at the Sam Shonibare Centre in Surulere for Fashola. At the rally, the founder of the group cited Fasholaâ€™s achievements as the rationale for giving him support for a second term.
The last three weeks have been a season of endorsements for Fashola and the ACN from different quarters and groups, both within and outside the state. The endorsements climaxed at the International Trade Fair ground where the coalition of Arewa, Ndigbo and South-South indigenes in Lagos came out to openly voice their support for the governor whom they believed had performed well.
According to Kabiru, the Arewa leader, a poll was conducted among more than one million members of Lagos State Arewa Community with a view to adopting a candidate the group would support in the next governorship election. The Arewa leader explained that Fashola â€œranked first among other gubernatorial candidates from other political parties.â€
Kabiru explained how Fashola got the endorsement of Arewa community after a committee was set up a committee â€œto assess Fasholaâ€™s performance and scrutinize the credentials of all governorship candidates in the state. The committee conducted an opinion poll among Arewa residents in Lagos State,â€ and the committee scored Fashola 72 per cent. His cumulative average was put at 68 per cent.
The assessment report also showed that Fasholaâ€™s administration â€œperformed 73 per cent in education sector, 78 per cent in health, 74 in public works, 58 per cent in transportation and 52 per cent in environment. His performance in transportation and the environment was due to the excesses of officers of the state Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) brigade.â€
Mrs. Chinyere Anokwuru, who is the founder of Sisters Forum, said Fashola â€œhas fulfilled all his promises by constructing several roads such as Cele Okota Link Bridge, the Sabo Yaba road and the LASU-Iba road. Fasholaâ€™s administration has also given succour to thousands of women who have been trained at the various skills acquisition centres across the stateâ€.
Anokwuru cited the credit facility scheme of the state, from which she said a good number of people â€œhave benefited through the Lagos State Micro Credit Finance Institution (LASMI) just as public schools have been renovated and many new ones constructed. On the strength of his achievements, Fashola deserves re-election due to socio-economic transformation he has brought to the metropolis.â€
Based on the opinion of the different ethno-cultural leaders in the state, Ikonne, Abia State ACN governorship candidate, urged all residents of Lagos to sustain the broom revolution in the state, saying Lagos State â€œhas been a reference point for all states of the federation,â€ which is why, he said, all Lagos residents irrespective of their status and groups should vote for Fashola.
Ikonne urged the partyâ€™s supporters in the state â€œto sweep away the government of kidnappers. We must sweep away the government of bad roads. We must sweep away the government of fraudsters. We sustain the broom revolution. We can only do that by voting and defending our votes. This is the only way the on-going socio-economic transformation in the state can be sustained.â€
At the rally, former Governor of Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who addressed the large crowd said he was at the campaign rally to thank the people for believing in him and the party as they did in 2007 when he brought Fashola as a young man before them.
â€œUnder him, Lagos has become a reference point which has driven home the point that you do not have to depend on luck to have good leaders. Lagos has become a home for all residents despite their origin and I urge you not to listen to the divisive messages that are being peddled by PDP, as Lagos will continue to remain a safe home for all.
â€œThe PDP, since coming to power has introduced kidnapping into the life of Nigerians, leading to a situation where many Easterners do not travel to their home states any more, because of fear of being kidnapped. I urge you to remain very resolute on the date of elections by ensuring that you get there early and cast your votes by checking for the symbol of the ACN, which is the broom.
â€œThis has become necessary because the photographs of candidates may not be provided on the ballot paper, and you must ensure that after casting your votes, you stay back to monitor the counting,â€ he stated.
Chairman of the 15-Man-Igbo Mega Campaign Rally, Dr. Christian Nwachukwu said the rally was to show the communitiesâ€™ total support to Fashola for his love for non-indigenes and minority groups in the state.
He stated that Fasholaâ€™s inclusion of one of their own sons, Ben Akabueze, in his cabinet as well as involvement of non-indigenes in other governments showed a de-tribalized government concerned about the progress of Nigerians as a whole.
Dressed in Igbo traditional attire at the event, Fashola enumerated the promises he made to Lagosians which he had faithfully kept.
He recalled that his administration while seeking election in 2007 promised that it would rebuild the Lagos-Badagry Expressway into a 10-lane highway with light rail in between. He said the administration was currently doing this.
He added that the LASU-Iba road was completed by this administration, just as the Igbo-Elerin road which would provide succour to those who ply the Lagos-Badagry Expressway currently being reconstructed, had been completed and is currently in use.
Fashola stated that roads like Opeloyeru, Cardoso Era, Shibiri have felt the impact of the state in the Ojo and Badagry zones, just as work is almost completed on a Maternal and Child Care Centre in Amuwo Odofin.
â€œContractor has moved to site on the new Iba Housing Estate on 500 hectares of land that will provide houses for both the rich and the poor. What is expected of the allottee is to pay 30 per cent of the value of the house and get the keys while the balance can be spread over a period of 10 to 15 years through mortgage.
â€œThe state government will provide a light rail that will run from Eric Moore to the Trade Fair Complex and the ASPAMDA Complex to convey customers with ease to transact businesses. I promised the people of Lagos in 2007 to ensure the setting up of a Free Trade Zone. This has crystalised into the Lekki Free Trade Zone that will generate thousands of jobs.
â€œI have consistently made promises and fulfilled them. My administration has awarded the contract for the construction of the Ago Palace Way. The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP governorship candidate in Lagos is a failure. For three years, he presided over the Nigeria Maritime Safety Agency, NIMASA, yet the country has countless issues of shipwrecks to contend with many around the Lagos waters,â€ he stated.
He said for the past 12 years, PDP had failed to provide electricity to Nigerians just as the roads that lead to the Eastern part of the country has become death traps due to the nonchalance and lack of ideas of the party, adding that while Nigerians had shown a yellow card to the PDP in 2003 and 2007, what should be shown to the party through the ballot box this time around should be the red card.
Fashola accused the Federal Government of ineptitude, saying that despite branding itself the giant of the sub-region, the PDP-led government has failed to construct the Lagos end of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway while Togo and Ghana had completed their part of the road.
He told the crowd that the PDP should never be given the opportunity to return to power again as it is a party that is lacking in values and might end up destroying the nationâ€™s values if given the opportunity. He added that the party had failed to fulfil its promise to make Nigeria one of the 20 most developed nations in the world, though it relishes branding Nigeria on the pages of newspapers. The real branding, says the governor, is taking place in Lagos.
â€œLagos has become a home for all as no one asks of anybody’s ethnic background before offering services to such people in Lagos. Some days back, 507 new graduate teachers were hired by the state to beef up the capacity of students in public schools who would soon take final examinations, in some core subjects without considering their states of origin,” he said.