27th September, 2021
Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Works and Housing has said the Nigerian president is not as powerful as many people in the country will want to believe.
Fashola, a former governor of Lagos is one of those being speculated to have interest in succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari.
However, the Minister has denied harboring such ambitions.
Confronted with the question of his alleged 2023 ambitions again in an extensive interview he granted THISDAY newspaper, Fashola said rather than the presidency, Nigerians should focus more on governments at the sub-national levels.
He therefore advised that rather than focus on who the next president will be, Nigerians should focus and be more interested in who will emerge as their next governor, local government chairpersons and their promises in terms of programmes and policies.
Fashola said: “You know what? I think Nigeria’s problems will be better dealt with if we all focus our attention on the right places and not the presidency. What is the appeal of the presidency? So, for me, given what I know and given what Nigerians seem to want and I addressed this in another forum; we are looking in the wrong place for the wrong thing.
“We were talking about the Jakande Housing Programme, it wasn’t the president who did it. A president can’t give you water, pack your refuse, give you foundational education, primary school, where you learn ‘A’ for apple. Federal government does not own one primary school, federal government does not own one primary healthcare centre.
“Those of you who manage public communication must begin to bring us back home to where the real issues are. We have the impression that our president is all-powerful, go and read the constitution. We are conflicting his duties with his powers, and his responsibilities.
Fashola added that though the President has powers to confirm, to appoint and all that, he’s not all that powerful.
He noted for instance that the Nigerian president can’t pass his own budget on his own.
“So how much of his agenda can he achieve if he can’t guarantee what his budget will look like? Is it not the budget that defines the outcome?
“So the presidency is overrated. There has been this single one-sided story, and this is one of the things I want to be addressing, as we go forward just to help Nigerians understand that the real deal is at the sub-national level. Be interested in who your governor is, be interested in who your local government chairman is, etc. When they come and tell you, we will do this, ask them how and who will pay,” said Fashola