Fashola: Too Much For One State

at 07:26 PM, 22/10/2012 (5 years ago)
(10087 | Hero) (m)
«§» 22 October 2012

The title of this piece actually draws from the realm of slangs, but I couldn’t think of a more befitting title to sum the man that has continued to change the face of Lagos – the slang capital of Nigeria. But no, this is a serious matter. When Babatunde Raji Fashola was speculated as Bola Tinubu’s anointed successor ahead of 2007 gubernatorial elections, some of us did not give the man a chance. We had our reasons.

While other state governors and even the president are busy trying to convince us that one year is too little to reach conclusion on their performance, Fashola proved that you can make immediate, far-reaching impact within 100 days. When a Nigerian politician talks, you see barefaced lies oozing out. We are so used to such rhetoric that we hardly take them seriously again. I do not agree that Fashola’s power of presentation has much to do with his being a lawyer; we have had many lawyers as public officers. Like one commenter put it on Nairaland.com, Fashola has a way of letting you see situations from a logical point of view. He may not have the diction of Kayode Fayemi or the force of Adams Oshiomole, but I am not aware of any governor that has the intellectual capacity of Fashola. Whether we like it or not, we cannot wish away the importance of intellectual depth in governance. The best presidents of America are those with great oratorical prowess. This is the stuff of Fashola.

Fashola is the only governor I know that discusses on live TV what is happening in every nook and cranny of his state with facts and statistics, without any commissioner or special assistant whispering to his ears. With the ease with which the man discusses micro-details in practically every area, perhaps street, in Lagos, one would think he is a local government councillor. You can’t but agree that this man is on top of his job.

At a time when cheap populist stunts are becoming the order of the day among Nigerian governors, Fashola still remains focused on his job and appears to have outgrown this jejune political tactic. I cringe reading these populist stunts in newspapers, from one governor distributing kerosene to another waking up one day to announce ability to pay more than the minimum wage, but reneging on the promise when the time for action comes. Fashola is one of the few governors I don’t know for frivolities; you see this business-mindedness in the man. One thing that stands the man out is his resolve to do what is right, whether it will make him popular or not. This is why he could demolish and reconstruct Oshodi despite the initial resistance, why he could arrest an army colonel that breached the traffic law, why he could openly express disenchantment with a public officer that threw an unusually lavish marriage carnival for his daughter, etc.

Fashola is the only governor I know that freely discusses politics, sports, economy, law, environment, displaying mastery in each subject. His sense of history was legendary. He wasn’t campaigning for any position; he was rather expressing his opinion on how Nigeria can reclaim its lost glory in football, but I was convinced that this man has the magic wand that can revolutionise sports development in Nigeria.

It is not that Fashola is the only public officer that makes sense when talking; there are a few others that do, too, even if with less passion. But Fashola’s history of matching word with action makes it easier to believe him than any other elected public officer. On sports, this man has upgraded the many football fields that dot Lagos to mini-stadia.

When I think of the near-impossibility of a man like Fashola becoming president of Nigeria, I weep for this generation. I cry for my beloved country. Fashola is first an administrator before a politician, which is fine, but not being part of the behemoth that PDP is, this administrator par excellence may not get the chance to repeat the good works at the national level. This man is clearly too much for one state. All Nigerian states need him.

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