Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN)
By Gboyega Akinsanmi
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has expressed a divergent view on the 1999 Constitution currently under review, saying there is nothing practically wrong with the country’s legal instrument.
He took the standpoint in an address he delivered at the annual Christmas Eve dance, which was organised by the Island Club in Lagos where he observed that the antidote to Nigeria’s challenges “lies more with the people”.
The governor, who addressed traditional rulers, top government functionaries, captains of industry and diplomats, among others, therefore argued that Nigeria could succeed with the “worst constitution”.
He also faulted some radical views, which have ominously predicted a revolution as a way out of Nigeria’s socio-economic and political problems, adding that the resort to revolution would not bring about a better life.
He specifically explained that the current challenges confronting the country “lie more with the people of Nigeria themselves and the value choices that they make as a people in their day-to-day living.”
He said: “There is nothing wrong with the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is the people that make the constitution and not the other way round. I think that with the right values, we can succeed even with the worst constitution. The constitution can only be as good as what we put into it.”
He cited Ghana and Dubai as examples of places, which the governor said, had really made meaningful progress because their people decided to change their country through hard work and dedication, pointing out that the only thing which the countries “had was the will to have a change of attitude.”
“It is instructive to mention these things because they are easy to do if we resolve that we want to do it. I know it is possible because we can all see what has happened in Ghana. We can see what has happened in Dubai.
“There is nothing that they have that we do not have. But there is something we have which we must change,” he said.
“I have seen the turnaround of many societies and history has shown clearly and consistently that it does not take more than 10 years to do so and within two years, when people resolve to change what they do not accept, you begin to see results that propel them to that which they desire to achieve.
“Law and order must be our gold standard. No revolution will bring a better life for us either, because I have heard the various calls for a revolution.
“But the revolution we need is in our hearts. No leader can also force us to do that unless we are persuaded that it is necessary and I believe it is necessary,” he said.
Fashola urged Nigerians to decide what they want and work hard towards achieving it, adding that the time “has come for Nigerians to replace finger-pointing and blame trading with individual, family, community, state and national action to resolve and work hard to change the things we as a people do not accept.
“Sometimes, I struggle to understand where we want to go. But I am clear in my mind the kind of society I want to live in, grow old in and die in. In my lifetime, I want to see reliable electric power supply in Nigeria. It is not just praying about it. It is about talking about it and doing something about it.”
He explained that the state government had in that vein not only started “to produce transformers and downstream electrical equipment to take advantage of the distribution aspect of the Federal Government’s electric power sector reform when it comes on stream, but also built an independent power project (IPP) to supply constant electricity to some health and judiciary institutions in Lagos Island.”
He named other interventions his administration had made to improve the life of Lagos residents as including the elevation of Gbagada General Hospital to the State’s University Teaching Hospital annex, to serve as a cardiac and renal centre, kidney centre and burns unit; the construction of the light rail project to improve transportation; as well as improvement in security through the establishment of the Security Trust Fund, among others.
According to him, if Nigerians want things to get better, its citizens would have to change themselves, adding that the nation would also make tremendous progress if Nigerians resolved to adhere to the rule of law.
In his welcome address, Chairman of Island Club, Prince Ademola Dada, commended the governor for the positive reforms and development in the state, including the building of roads and the huge investment in security as well as the promulgation of the Road Traffic Law.
He said 2013 would be a busy year for Fashola, adding that the club would work with his administration to complement its efforts “in making Lagos remain the leading state among other states of the federation.”