Tunmise Olamiposi dismisses clamour by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State that the governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, should emulate President Goodluck Jonathan is rather an abnormality. It should be the other way round
The saying: “Fashola is working, Lagos is working” was not just a slogan for political purposes. It was a position informed by evidence of good governance in the state. In fact, it was better appreciated during the 2011 general election when it was subjected to a wave of colouration by the geniuses amongst us who had designed other versions to interpret the state of affair in some of the PDP states, albeit in the South-west region.
But it goes beyond the mockery of governance in those states; it actually captured the exact picture of what was obtainable in those states before they were roundly rejected in the election of that year. And in all of these, that the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola has raised the bar in the true essence of good governance has continued to resonate and indeed, formed the basis for campaign as well as comparison in other parts of the country.
Strangely, when sometime last week, the renegades in the PDP led by their “indefatigable leader” gathered in a safe and clean Lagos environment to run their mouth in an attempt to denigrate an indisputably performing administration, it was just an exercise for the discerning in the state to ease tension from the President Goodluck Jonathan disturbing confusion called administration. The PDP favour-seekers wanted the acclaimed performing governor of Lagos to learn from someone who is yet to distinguish between his right and left after about 14 straight years of active participation in government.
In civilized climes, the like of Jonathan would be an authority. The tendency to mistake his words for law would be high because he would not just be speaking with experience; his positions would be authoritative because of the possibility of giving such informed positions with near accuracy based on personal experience and involvement.
Sadly, the irony appears the case. Fourteen years on in government- from being deputy governor to governor to vice president and President, the PDP President is still learning. And so is a man that sycophants want Fashola to emulate, how?
Former National Vice Chairman of the PDP, South, Chief Olabode George, recently called on the Governor to review some of his current policies in the state with a view to ameliorating the suffering of the people. So he thought. He spoke at a rally in Obalende, to protest what he described as a subtle “stalemate” to delay the swearing-in of the PDP candidate in the last local government election, Obalende-Ikoyi Local Government, Mr. Babajide Obanikoro, who has since been declared the legitimate winner of the election by the Local Government Election Tribunal in the state.
George, who said his advice was informed by current realities as informed by the complaints of “some Lagosians”, said such review would allow the people to be heard and their complaints addressed though within the context of what were critical to the overall progress of the state. He noted that such policies of the government had alienated the people in such a manner that many are now jobless and others groaning for a fresh lease of life, adding that because government everywhere exists for the people, the state government should take urgent steps to review current policies to align with the basic interest of the people.
“Without doubt, I feel touched and quite obliged to appeal on behalf of our people that the state government have a second look at prevailing policies so that we can have a breathier environment. Lagosians are complaining and even if I have recently returned to the country, I have been inundated with such gory tales of hardship that we must look
into and tell our brother, Governor Babatunde Fashola, to review such policies that have made life pretty tough for our people,” he said.
His start was not bad when he said the governor should review the policies within the context of what is germane to the overall progress of the state. Excellent as that may have sounded, that he ended his speech with the fact he had been inundated with gory tales of hardship was unbecoming of any who is truly desirous of the Lagos of our dream.
Unfortunately, the submission by George and others that Fashola should emulate Jonathan is not only impracticable; it is also unfathomable because it just does not add up. For a President who has consistently remained under fire by Nigerians, especially elected representatives of his own party on the premise of non-performance, there is certainly no link between them. On the contrary, Jonathan is expected to hold brainstorming sessions with the Lagos governor and find out how he has been thinking well ahead for the unborn generation and in tune with the reality of this age.
From non-performing budget to poor security network, epileptic power supply and all manners of scandals rocking the different sectors of the economy, there is obviously nothing to learn from Jonathan. While many might be quick to adding that he did not create the problems, Fashola equally inherited loads of liability but has been able to manage them in the drive towards a new Lagos. A few examples will suffice.
Imagine the old Oshodi, it was no less Banana Republic of sorts as it featured a series of anomalies that had been elevated as norm. The traders on rail track were fearless and derisive while different groups of thugs who engaged one another in violent confrontation over the control of parks reigned supreme. The highway was blocked and the sight beheld monuments of filth.
But the story has since changed. Fashola bulldozed his way through the blockages and freed up the dual carriageway from the grip of indiscretion by the citizenry and that onslaught, no doubt, ended the chaos and abnormality that Oshodi had represented. Yet, Fashola did not come by this easily. He came under serious attack with the same excuses that he had deprived the people of their means of livelihood as if government authorized the nuisance constituted on the road in the first place. But today, the story is different. Many a passer-by prays for the governor because of the respite that the place brings to both road users and residents.
This notwithstanding, the megacity status of the state has never been controlled by basic law and order that will ultimately knock it down to shape. Many will argue that the problem really is not as a result of lack of laws or relevant legislation to guide behavior, but enforcement and adherence. Nothing, however, says government should not show as much commitment geared in that direction. This, obviously, informed the new Lagos of law and order.
Importantly too, with the infrastructural drive of the government, it has become compelling that laws are put in place to ensure safety and maintenance of such infrastructure that would naturally up the status of the state.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the Fashola-led government has embarked on a series of transportation projects in its bid to transform the city into Africa’s model megacity. Several road rehabilitation projects have been executed while many road expansion projects are ongoing in different parts of the metropolis. The most notable of these efforts was the creation of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), which had recorded successes in delivering the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Scheme, thereby affording Lagos commuters access to a better bus transport system in the state.
But in spite of the successes recorded by the BRT Scheme, the need for additional mass transport system like the rapid rail transit system has become compelling. The need is made more urgent by decades of neglect of the Nigerian rail system, which was at a time regarded as the first well thought-through and funded railway system in Africa. As a result, LAMATA has developed a Rail Master Plan with an extensive network of rail lines connecting most parts of Lagos metropolis. Like the BRT scheme, the urban rail system will be implemented through a Public Private Partnership arrangement (PPP).
Although, the idea of developing a rapid rail transit in the state dates back to the 1980s, with the Lagos Metroline network conceived by the Alhaji Lateef Jakande Administration during the Second Republic, the idea was scrapped in 1985 by the Gen. Muhammadu Buhari/Tunde Idiagbon Regime. The termination of that contract and the epileptic performanceof the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) had left Lagos as the only mega city in the world without a rail-based mass transit (RBMT) system.
But the framework developed by LAMATA for the rail mass transit system would provide passenger rail services on the most heavily travelled corridors in Lagos. The first two lines being developed are the Red Line and the Blue Line. Both lines will be developed on a PPP basis, with the Lagos State Government providing all rail and station infrastructure. The concessionaire will procure and finance rolling stock, depot facilities, as well as provide operations and maintenance over a 25-year period.
The Red Line rail system is being developed on the North-South axis through some of the most densely populated areas in Lagos. Beginning on the island, the Red Line will run north to Agbado through a total of 13 stations. From the Marina to Iddo stations, the Red Line will share the alignment with the Blue Line. The shared infrastructure in these portions will be constructed as part of the Red Line project. From Agbado to Iddo, the Red Line will utilise the existing Nigerian Railways Corporation (NRC) corridor, thus ameliorating to a significant extent, the transportation challenge of the state.
With these put in place and obviously working, why are we craving retrogression? I am yet to see any major city in the world where Okada is a critical means of transportation. Even though our economies may not be on the same pedestal, it is not enough reason to stand on the side of inanity in the name of putting food on the table or any denigrating survival excuse.
Whilst government has not completely banned okada, it is not subject to debate that government has the right to restrict their movement by way of regulating their operations. That is what the Lagos government has done and anyone who means well should support the campaign and make Lagos a better place for all.
Fashola cannot learn from Jonathan, instead, it will do the President, a lot more good to learn from the Lagos governor. That is the only practicable thing in this case.
*Olamiposi lives and works in Lagos