•Says president does not surrender to challenges
Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
Erstwhile Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN), yesterday said that the fact that President Bola Tinubu waited patiently for eight years for Muhammadu Buhari to serve out his term before throwing his hat in the ring showed he’s a ‘long game’ political player.
In a keynote he delivered at the 2023 Standard Chartered Treasury Leadership Forum (TLF) themed: “The Blueprint for Tomorrow” at the Mike Adenuga Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos, Fashola stated that those who do not fully know the president will soon see him unfold.
He admitted that though the Lagos gathering was not political, but when confronted with challenges, nobody can avoid an assessment of the role of leadership in any country.
Describing leadership as a critical factor, the former Lagos governor stressed that Nigeria has just elected a new president who “will reveal himself to those who do not yet know enough of him by the leadership he will offer”.
He maintained that if morning shows the day, some of the decisions taken so far, especially on the economic front, are already impacting the market and exciting investors.
The senior lawyer and ex-Chief of Staff to Tinubu, reminded his audience of how Tinubu came to power by forging a merger of political parties in 2013 with Buhari, arguing that it would be the first and only successful merger of political parties in Nigeria for a long time.
Recalling that the result of the merger unseated an incumbent president, a rarity in these parts, he stressed that everything the then opposition said was impossible, Tinubu and his party proved them wrong.
Fashola noted that these remain important leadership traits that impact business and investment .
“The merger indicates his ability to forge partnerships, waiting for eight years for his partner to run his term before seeking office shows that he is a faithful partner and can sustain policy.
“The reforms he is initiating are not a fleeting fancy, he is here for the long game as permitted by Law. An example is the Judicial reforms led at sub-national level in Lagos which have gained national acceptance,” the former governor stated.
Nigeria , the largest democracy on the African continent, he assured, has just produced a political leadership whose record shows a capacity to thrive against the odds.
“It would be a very hard search to find a leader who won an election against such odds. That kind of resilience and resolve must stand the country in very good stead as she confronts tomorrow with a leader who does not surrender,” he added.
Despite the many criticisms of the last administration, he stated that Nigeria committed to an aggressive investment on her public infrastructure to support enterprise and her youthful and growing population.
He mentioned the expansion and upgrade of five major international airports in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Kano, Abuja which, as strategic human and enterprise hubs, and an important statement of readiness for tomorrow.
Fashola stated that Nigeria is also expanding its gas supply infrastructure, including the Ajaokuta – Kaduna – Kano project stretching across 614 Km at $3.2 billion.
He further said the broadband infrastructure deployment on the Abuja-Makurdi 220km highway and the Kano-Maiduguri 560km were done without fuss and that the ducts to lay fibre optic cable are being constructed and have been completed respectively.
In addition, Fashola said the new refinery capable of processing 650,000 barrels of crude oil per day has come on stream and about to commence production, inclusive of a petrochemical plant and fertiliser plant.
Also worthy of mention, he said, is the complementary new sea port in Lekki area of Lagos, with the two projects alone accounting for $22 billion dollars of local and international investment.
At the last count in his handover notes in May 2023, Fashola stated that the ministry he headed had over 13,117.09 kilometres of roads under construction and rehabilitation.
“This is equivalent to driving from Abuja to Johannesburg and back and at handover over 9,000 km had been executed, and the number grows daily as work continues kilometre after kilometre,” he noted.
As at May of 2023, the former minister stated that a total of N3.929 trillion had been committed by eight companies to build 85 roads covering 7,830.71 km under the Tax Credit Policy. “This is money not yet spent but committed,” he noted.
In just eight years, he said Nigeria has doubled her infrastructure to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 20 per cent to 40 per cent, explaining that another event that went unnoticed was the number of Nigerians who gained access to electricity.
“That number was 96.9 million people in 2015 and rose to 112.63 million in 2019. I know that reliability of supply is still an issue and for some, this may be a matter to be cynical about,” he noted.