17th January, 2015
By Philip Agbese
It takes a courageous man to admit the failings of his generation. It takes
even greater courage to set about making amends for such identified failure
by presenting oneself in service to the people for the sole purpose of
turning the failings of the past into success stories. This is exactly what
President Goodluck Jonathan did when he declared that his generation has
In saner climes, the admission by no less a person than the nation’s number
one citizen would be greeted with sober reflection that will galvanize the
entire nation into a solution seeking mode particularly to figure out what
went wrong and also decide how to end the cycle of failure.
Unfortunately, the likes of Lagos state governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola
are allergic to raw truth as he apparently would prefer that truth be told
according to templates he subscribes to and not the universal concept of
truth and full disclosure. When President Jonathan declared the failure on
the part of his generation, Fashola’s base reaction was to immediately
switch into desperate mode of trying to absolve his person of complicity in
the failure that has brought us to where we are. Such instinctive reaction
is to be expected but resorting to name calling signalled that President
Jonathan must have touched on some raw nerves. This attitude of the Lagos
governor smacks of attempting to deconstruct what people know as the truth
and in its place erect a shrine to deceit and falsehood for the sole
purpose of assuaging a conscience that is long dead.
It is sad that Fashola, in pursuit of his own version of truth, refuses to
see the deceit that his government has unfurled on Lagosians and by
extension Nigerians with the failed projects and programmes of his
government. A simple Google search of Lagos state with key words like
‘strike’, ‘protest’, ‘fraud, to name just a few will throw up the reality
or otherwise of Fashola’s claim of sainthood.
He presides over an empire that boasts of a failed health system except of
course one wants to rate healthcare delivery in Lagos state from the
viewpoint of the Ebola fight that was largely made successful with federal
government intervention. The strikes in Lagos health sector only has a
contender in the state’s education sector where poor quality education is
only matched by outrageous school fees that Fashola has no reservation
about save to latch on an additional ten thousand naira as admission fee.
If the hike in fees are outrageous then one need not think of the sadistic
multiple taxations that are in place chiefly to satisfy the fiefdom to
which, it will seem, successive Lagos governors now serves. In this regard
Fashola failed in the electoral promises he made to the people in terms of
improving the quality of life.
Fashola goes about basking in the euphoria of achievements rated on the
basis of questionable self-assessment that cannot stand the scrutiny of a
truth seeker while the subject of his umbrage, President Jonathan has
remained quiet. He prefers that his projects speak for themselves and
become basis for Nigerians to deliver their verdict on his administration.
Beyond the presenting physical structures – listing them here will take up
too much space, to the credit of his administration, rebasing the economy
and presenting Nigerians the unique opportunity of being citizens of
Africa’s largest economy is a feat for which President Jonathan should be
hailed similar to his admission about his generation. KPMG and other
international groups recognise the result of the effort that produced the
rebasing and scored the administration high on this score.
Instructively, a latter day progressives convert and Rivers state governor,
Rotimi Amaechi once warned Nigerians to be careful of people that walk
about carrying brooms and their houses are still dirty. Given that Amaechi
made this assertion before his judgement became beclouded, it offers
insight into the warped mind-set that allows an esteemed public office
holder to be in chronic denial.
A pattern does emerge here. Fashola may be allergic to the truth but the
reality is snaking back to his house, his political party, the All
Progressives Congress (APC) that Amaechi once described as dirty despite
all its residents parading around with brooms. They are behind this
narrative of denying the failure of a generation that failed to take
Nigeria places. The problem here is not that this band of self-righteous
men are refusing to admit responsibility for failing the generations after
them and those unborn, the problem is that refusal to accept that things
are not right and that they rightly have blames for the sorry state of
things. How do you fill a cup that is already up to the brim with putrid
liquid if you don’t first empty the corrupt content and rinsing out the
decay before pouring in something new?
This is what Fashola and other men who opt to go down in infamy will find
difficult to do because accepting failure means they must do away with
their present conceited self. Accepting failure means they must acknowledge
that they un-necessarily enslaved their states and a people to a godfather
who instigate them to implement draconian tax regimes. Accepting failure
would mean Fashola and his puppet master will have to give up the lucrative
concessions to shady companies spanning several generations.
The foregoing underscores the reason for discerning minds to leverage on
the forthcoming elections to demand that those who occupy elective public
office or any other public trust for that matter are not people who would make
truth to be scarce because for some of us truth is sacred.
*Agbese, President National Democratic Front is a public affairs commentator and contributed this piece from Abuja.