Fashola’s Enduring Legacies In Lagos Revisited


By Joe Igbokwe

As Governor Babatunde Fashola moves gradually into the second phase of his second term and final term, history and posterity demand that we look at the last six years and set the records straight. Governor Fashola entered the Lagos House as an intellectual and a professional and throughout history societies demand at least these few attributes from intellectuals: character, integrity, honesty, discipline, commonsense, diligence. Napoleon Hill tells us that “The great men who have lifted the world to higher levels did not get there in easy circumstances but were rocked in the cradle of difficulties and pillowed in hardship.” Whatever transformation we have all witnessed in Lagos did not just come very easy. Through persuasion, dialogue, engagements and careful planning Fashola’s Lagos has shown the way forward for Nigeria.

The greatest achievement Governor Fashola has recorded in two years into his second term in office is firm and intelligent consolidation of the progress made in the last 14 years of our renascent democracy. Since he came to power in 2007 Governor Fashola has through dint of hard work made Lagos a powerful destination not only in Nigeria but in Africa. The economy of Lagos has grown to surpass the economy of some countries such as Ghana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire and some other African countries. Through dint of prudent management of resources and hard work, Governor Fashola has consolidated Lagos as an important factor in the emerging African growth for no one talks on the African economic growth without crediting Lagos as leading the way in this growth that is going to shape the global economic picture in the years ahead.

Now how did Governor Fashola achieve all he is lauded for? First the governor realised that the issue of security of life and property should be the number one priority if investors must take us seriously. He made real investment in security and today Lagos is reaping the reward by becoming the safest state in Nigeria. Governor Fashola has not claimed 100% success in the fight against crime in Lagos, however, the truth remains that you may succeed in committing crime but you will not get away with it. You will be caught. Lagos has been able to do this because there is capacity, commitment, passion and the desire to succeed even at all costs. Even with the huge population density of Lagos, the city is well policed that the crime rate in the state, which normally should be the highest given its huge population, is the lowest in the federation. The upsurge in crime, which should result from the huge population and huge economic potentials of the state has been so tamed that Lagosians sleep with their eyes firmly shut.

Massive reconstruction, rehabilitation and renovation of all schools in Lagos has been going on at full speed. LASU has moved from back position in university rating in Nigeria to 13th position in Nigeria. Lagos schools have been upgraded to meet the Millennium Development Goals benchmark and with this, Lagos continues to record increased quality candidates to public examinations in Nigeria. The upgrade of the state school system is complemented by increased engagement of the private sector in education in the state, with the continued establishment of high grade private schools that train the future manpower needs of the mega city.

To reduce the incidence of flooding in Lagos there has been massive construction of drainage systems in Lagos. Every part of Lagos is captured in this bold, decisive and daring de-flooding project to ensure that flooding does not cause much harm to Lagosians. Roads and street corners  are being criss-crossed with drainage to ensure that Lagos is free from the ravages of the increasing global flooding. The investment has been unprecedented and the speed is something else. It is a silent revolution and today Lagosians are feeling the impact of this huge investment to de-flood Lagos, even with the global alert on flooding. Last year, flood ravaged several parts of the country but Lagos escaped from that country-wide incident that sacked hundreds of thousands of Nigerians in various states of the federation.

Road construction is also in the front burner. There are more than 9,000 roads to contend with throughout the state and Lagos is living up to expectation. There is no section of Lagos that is not witnessing rehabilitation and reconstruction of roads. Every part of Lagos is witnessing the reconstruction, rehabilitation and rebuilding of roads in all nooks and crannies of the state, It may not yet be ‘uhuru’ for Lagosians. The work is still continuing, as the total urban nature of Lagos State makes it imperative that every road, every street in Lagos must be constructed to urban standard. This makes the work daunting  but Governor Fashola is moving in and by the time he rounds off his tenure in 2015, I believe that most parts of Lagos will be accessible through efficient road networks that criss-cross the entire state.

Let us not fail to also take into consideration that road construction in a congested, thickly populated state like Lagos is not a tea party considering the number of structures that have to give way for such road projects, the quality of the roads to meet the huge number of vehicular and human road users, as well as the coastal nature of the state. These combine to add to the costs of road construction, in relation to the costs in other states. When Lagos-Badagry expressway is delivered (God willing by 2015) the economy will take a great leap forward. Let us not forget the Ikoyi-Lekki bridge that promises to offload the huge traffic that use the existing access to that corridor, which is the Lekki-Epe Expressway.

Nobody is going to take it away from Governor Fashola that he brought back the beauty of parks, gardens and consequently recovered all public spaces in the metropolis. All over Lagos the story is the same – planting of trees, road markings, street lights, road managers at work, traffic control etc. Governor Fashola’s government is that of big and small things. These have restored the environmental health of Lagos, added to its aesthetic beauty and made life healthier and liveable in Lagos. One should also recall the tree planting campaign that has led to the planting of millions of trees in Lagos, as a deliberate measure to deal with the creeping effects of global warming as well as enhance the environmental state of Lagos. The many refuse dumps and garbage collecting points that existed in Lagos prior to the coming of civilian rule in 1999 have all gone and replaced with either public parks or gardens that add value to life in Lagos. The urban slums of Oshodi, Ojuelegba, Obalende, Mushin, etc, have all given way to well constructed parks and gardens that add to the grandeur of Lagos.

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Concerned with the safety of Lagosians, Governor Fashola took the bold initiative to ban the operation of commercial motorcycles on some major roads in Lagos. He did not stop there but took in the operators of these commercial motorcycles to well equipped skill acquisition centres to learn various life enhancing skills free of charge to improve their lives and for them to lead a normal and sedentary life, add value to themselves and their families as well as the economy. Five of such skill acquisition centres are running in various parts of Lagos and thousands of Lagosians including displaced commercial motorcycle riders and displaced area boys are learning various skills, free of charge, in these centres, with promises of employment in the various construction sectors of the Lagos State government.

With the first phase of the Lagos light rail project, running from Marina to Okokomaiko, Lagos is setting a pace in Nigeria, which other states may find difficult to catch up. This is a project with which Fashola wants to deal with the menace of heavy traffic jams and delays occasioned by too many vehicles in Lagos. The project, which is at about 60 per cent completion promises to be the most ambitious any state government has embarked on and promises to take Lagos up the notch of world mega cities.  What do we say of the huge contributions of the Lagos State government to solving the problem of insufficient power generation and distribution in Lagos? Lagos has built some power generating plants to generate needed power for the special needs of critical sectors in Lagos. We can mention the Akute Power Plant that runs the state water generating sector. What about the Marina Power Plant that generates power for critical formal and informal sectors on the Island? We know that the Alausa Power Plant is under construction and will soon be commissioned. There are other power plants spread all over the state to address critical areas that should not depend solely on the fluctuating national power grid. In the area of distribution, Lagos State government entered into a partnership with an Egyptian company to manufacture transformers for the state. These transformers are distributed free of charge to communities in Lagos and the project has been operational for years.

In the area of financial engineering, Lagos has achieved a tremendous success in showing that the state can function effectively without the pittance of monthly allocations. The financial engineering started by the government of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is today yielding handsomely for the state as the state generates most of its financial needs without bothering about the monthly allocations. With a tight, prudent spending culture, the Fashola administration has managed its resources well to score concrete, solid and impregnable achievements in various sectors of the Lagos economy.

Do we talk of the efficiency achieved in traffic management that has seen such a state of Lagos with astronomical volume of vehicles achieve some appreciable degree of sanity on road usage when other states with far lesser volumes have been crumbled by the challenges of road management. Lagos roads have been freed of the traditional encumbrances that hinder usage and constitute hazards to users. It is such that road users have been upgraded to adapt to the challenges, practices and information on road usage in Lagos. A swift and efficient rescue system is in place to tackle challenges occasioned by accidents and other obstacles that obstruct free flow of traffic in all parts of Lagos.

Lagosians know of the record-breaking achievements which the BRT has become such that not only have other states come to copy this brilliant concept from Lagos, other countries have come to copy it and apply in their home countries. The World Bank has been rating this project as a strategic project that must be encouraged and Lagos State is better for it in all ramifications.

We know the achievements in the health sector that have upgraded all state health institutions in Lagos. Lagos State University Teaching Hospital in Ikeja has become a reference centre in health delivery. All Lagos State hospitals and maternity have been upgraded to very efficient levels while health centres have been established in every part of the state to make primary healthcare accessible to Lagosians. We will not forget the five Mother And Child Hospitals established in strategic parts of the state.

No one can forget what Fashola administration regime has done to the judiciary sector, which follows the record established by his predecessor. All Lagos courts have been mordernised in terms of facilities as old court buildings and facilities have been replaced with newer and modern court rooms and facilities that expedite the justice delivery system. Judges and magistrates remain among the most remunerated in the country. The establishment of such departments like the Office of the Public Defender and many other departments that take up cases involving indigent citizens of Lagos, free of charge, has ensured that no one in Lagos is deprived of legal representation as a result of poverty.

One may not, in one piece, capture the many achievements of Governor Fashola in the last six years.  Governor Fashola may not have addressed all the problems in Lagos but he has boldly faced them head on, taking hard decisions and doing the unthinkable. Governor Fashola has shown that Nigeria can work with good leaders in charge.

•Igbokwe, is Publicity Secretary of Lagos State ACN

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