Cameron’s Visit To Lagos: A Tribute To Visionary Leadership


Just very recently, the British Prime – Minister, David Cameron, led a powerful delegation of British Trade Mission to Nigeria and I could not but marvel at all the wonderful things he said about the state, which remains the premier state of the federation.

So flabbergasted was the British Prime Minister, that he could not believe what he saw in this exotic city of which he spoke in the most grandiloquent terms. It remains undoubtedly, a tribute to the visionary leadership of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former governor of Lagos state, and his able successor, Governor Babatunde Fashola.

Indeed, the fact that he restricted his visit only to Lagos, while the Nigerian leader, President Jonathan, had to leave his bastion of power in Aso Rock, to meet the British Prime Minister all the way in Lagos, speaks volume.

And of course, the president’s spokesman; Reuben Abati, couldn’t have expressed it better, when he said that the choice of Lagos, as the point of visit, was informed by its status as the bastion of commercial and economic life of the nation, hence, there was no point going down all the way to Abuja.

There is certainly no point over-flogging the fact that Lagos state occupies a special pre-eminence in the vast geopolitical space of the nation. It is the economic and commercial nerve centre, not only of Nigeria, but the entire West African sub-region.

Lagos was the place, where the elective principle first transpired in the heyday of the political evolution to independence.

Lagosians are also noted for their traditional hospitality, their remarkable sense of accommodation, unity, brotherliness and peaceful coexistence with other tribes and sub-ethnic nationalities, whom they treat and regard as their kith and kin.

Hence it is not surprising that this exemplary sense of liberalism of the average indigene of Lagos, which had so much been taken for granted, had given rise to the popular, but erroneous notion, that Lagos is no man’s land.

It is also common knowledge that this traditional hospitality, for which Lagosians are renowned was even elevated to a higher pedestal with the ascension of my leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to the Lagos gubernatorial saddle, and of course, emulated by his able successor, Barrister Babatunde Fashola.

Besides, Lagos is also what you could describe as a mini-Nigeria, in the sense that it is the melting pot of all the ethnic and sub-ethnic groups in Nigeria.

It is the bastion of modern European civilization in Nigeria; the seat of British colonial power in Nigeria, the hotbed of nationalist agitation for independence and former political capital of Nigeria, where the elective principle first transpired.

One salient point underscored in the foregoing, is that Lagos represents the symbolic actualization of the “unity in diversity,” which is a cardinal vision of our founding fathers.

And beyond the quintessential haven of peace and unity which it represents, Lagos is a state that conspicuously showcases the feasibility of the egalitarian project of our founding fathers.

Being a state with the biggest ports in Africa, as Cameron rightly described it during his recent visit; it is not surprising that Lagos is seen as a land of limitless possibilities, where people from various parts of Africa and beyond and of course, from various the states of the country, troop into continuously in quest of the good things of life; hinging mostly on employment and investment possibilities.

What this scenario eloquently bespeaks about this premier state of the federation, is undoubtedly a situation, in which the government is ever on its toes to grapple with the impact and consequences of the ever soaring number of people, by way of an ever expanding provision of infrastructure facilities and amenities, coupled with the attendant huge maintenance implication.

It becomes opposite to express that as a student of the “Jakande Political University of Ilupeju” in those era of the late 70s, I was privileged to learn from reliable authority, that Alhaji Sikiru Shitta-Bey of blessed memory, once moved a motion in the Senate, in which he requested that Lagos state be empowered with special federal grant to enable it meet salient needs, arising from the peculiar complexity of its situation, as earlier spelt out in this write up.

The motion was adopted without any hassles, and not only was it adopted, the NPN-led federal authority kept faith with the democratic resolution of the legislature, and never wavered in paying up as at when due, even at the most troubled times of crisis, in spite of the keen rivalry between the NPN which controlled federal power, and the opposition UPN, then controlling Lagos state.

In 2003, Obasanjo came in as president and would entertain none of that. Rather, the sadism he unleashed on Lagosians by denying the local government councils, the huge money accruable to their coffers through the federal purse, remains to date indelible in memory.

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However, while Obasanjo’s sadism was understandable, considering the negative personality, for which he is well reputed, Jonathan’s nonchalance has remained a puzzle; considering his weekly disposition, which has always conveyed the impression of a gentleman with a large heart to accommodate and parley with diverse interests for overall common good.

It is against this background that the gravity of Jonathan’s calculated negligence which among other factors had culminated in the devastating impact of the recent heavy showers could be vividly comprehended.

Fact is that rainfall is an occurrence of nature and to date, no scientific discovery had availed us of any means of technology to avert it. It is for this reason therefore, that common sense dictates the need to prepare to avert its impact. This becomes more so, in the context of a coastal city like Lagos, which makes it severely vulnerable to the danger of severe showers.

But Jonathan, either out of sheer naivety or deliberate misadvise by parochial people of questionable interest, or both, had succeeded in distancing himself from matters of grave concern to the people.

It is against this background, that the uncouth comment by the Lagos PDP against the Fashola-led administration of Lagos state over the flood episode deserves every condemnation as the ranting of a drowning man desperate in pulling down everything along with him.

Fact is that PDP is already dead and buried, as long as Lagos state is concerned, and members of the party know it is dead; so the only way they felt they could be relevant is by playing to the gallery and whipping up base sentiment, in order to hoodwink gullible ones, just because of the coming local government elections.

They should, however, know that they have already failed, because this is a party of charlatans, filled with comic jokers and political frauds, who are deficient of every iota of honour and integrity.

It should have dawned on them that they are born losers, and no amount of federal might or false propaganda, would earn them an inch in Lagos, be it in the coming local government election in the state, or any election whatsoever.

They (the Lagos PDP)) know this, but would not be forthcoming to confess it as they often tell themselves the hard truth about the sagacious grassroots leadership of the ACN leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the incredible success runs of the state governor, Barrister Babatunde Fashola.

And lastly but not the least for Jonathan. Does he know how many Ijaw kinsmen of his, that are gainfully employed and living happily in Lagos state? Is he not tickled by the nondiscriminatory broad-based government of unity and brotherly coexistence, which was the hallmark of Asiwaju’s style, and presently being ably emulated by our dynamic governor Fashola?

But should he be in need of tutelage, let him consult the masters and learn at their feet, because no amount of calculated frustration on the part of whatever power that be, would yield any inch of ground for the PDP, either in the progressive state of Lagos or the entire South-West. At least, he should know that even Obasanjo tried it, and he failed. And woefully too.

Allow me also to express here, without any shred of equivocation, that the move by my colleagues, brothers and fellow compatriots in the Lagos House of Assembly, to move a motion so that the National Assembly could grant Lagos State a special status, is a matter that is overdue and therefore warrants no debate.

It is not a special favour to Lagosians, if anything, it is rather a special favour to the president and the generality of Nigerians, because Lagos, as aptly argued earlier in this article, is the pride of the country and it showcases its beauty, possibilities and potentials.

It is the symbolic actualisation of the unity in diversity which is a cardinal vision of our founding fathers, just as it conspicuously showcases the feasibility of the egalitarian project of our founding fathers.

Our Lagos would soar from height to height and wax from strength to strength. It is forward ever and backward never. This showpiece will ever prosper and nothing will stop it because it is destined to lead. It remains forever the premier state of the federation and the leader of them all.


•KUNLE ADEMOYE, an ex-lawmaker, was Chairman, Committee on Housing, Lagos State House of Assembly.

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