I have always wondered what Lagos would look like without the transformation it has witnessed within the last eight years of exemplary leadership. No doubt, even the blind can see the revolution that has become the standard for Nigerian politics as far as state governments are concerned. The Babatunde Fashola-led Administration has burned its candle at both ends to see a megacity with world class infrastructure delivered to ordinary Nigerians. Little wonder it irked some persons when individuals constituting ‘social nuisance’ were repatriated to their home states sometime ago. These enraged fellows felt that Lagos had begun oppressing non-westerners and depriving other Nigerians of the comforts and economic prospects that come with residing in Africa’s largest economic city (leave it or take it – that’s my take). However, sentiments aside, the state government must be immensely commended for standing out of the crowd and putting its people first in its agenda.
Time and space would fail me to make mention of the thorough revitalization of the educational sector of Lagos. Not only were the physical structures of public schools giving an overhaul cum facelift, the human capacity has also received a lot of attention and upgrading. The health sector was not left behind as it also got a big boost with the Local Government General Hospitals project, constructed with state-of-the-art facilities. Need we mention the high level of security beef-up in the state with an attendant drastic drop in crime rate? Is it not also possible to connect the dots between the creation of an enabling business environment by the Fashola administration and the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria to commence the cashless policy framework and operation in Lagos?
How about the scholarship and skills acquisition programmes, the thousands of job created by the Lagos Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) and the several other agencies? We give kudos to Dr William Fowler, the pioneer Chief Executive of LIRS, Dr Kadri Hamzat, the Honourable Commissioner of Works and Infrastructure and other astute administrators who have have worked round the clock to see Lagos work. This throws up the subject of having right-minded people around a political for I believe that if the President of Nigeria is surrounded by politicians with non-superficial national interest, we would not be the object of ridicule that we are before the international community. It is high time we trashed the practice of appointment by regionalism. People should get what based on their ability and not what geopolitical zones they are from. Until, we get this right, our trial-and-error approach in politics will keep dragging us behind other Nations. I could go on and on but let me flip to the other side of the coin.
One area where the state has continued to receive knocks is the exorbitant fees paid by undergraduates of the Lagos State University, Ojo. With ordinary Nigerians being asked to pay between 200,000 and 350,000 naira as school fees, one begins to wonder if the government has forgotten that “you never throw stones if you live in a glass house”. That policy alone (whatever the rationale behind it) is tantamount to creating a huge social gap between Nigerians by making education available only to the rich class.
Education, needless to say, is primary responsibility of a government to its people and as a fundamental right, it has to be enforced, even if it means providing it at a hugely-subsidized fee or provided free to the people. With the incessant internal crises within a state university adjudged the best state-owned and state-run University in the country, one begins to wonder how these titles are won.
We might just be experiencing another internal strike by lecturers over salaries, allowances and retirement – age discontent, if reports and insinuations by Moyosore Elesho, a budding young leader, radio presenter and undergraduate of LASU, are about anything to go by.
But topmost on my mind is, “what happens to Lagos after Fashola’s exit”? Someone must definitely step into that office as a governor come mid-2015. With the perturbing silence of the APC leadership in the state over a successor and the allegations of an imposition of party candidates, by so-called political party hierarchies, there are definitely signs in the cloud that we are in for troublous times. As 2015 general elections approach rapidly, Lagosians must rise up to take active roles and play their part in the political process if we must get someone credible to carry on with the Fashola legacy and take our ‘Eko’ to greater heights.
If APC will not produce a credible candidate who truly is the representation of the peoples’ choice, then the opposition might just be our next choice. We must put sentiments aside and go for the best man for the Lagos job come 2015. Lagos is our home and what becomes of it is ours to decide. We can begin now by registering with our preferred parties, taking part in the voting process, protecting our votes and monitoring the entire process. With these, we are sure to get on the next level. While we do these, let us continue to pray that our abducted girls return, safe and sound. #BringBackOurGirls
Joshua Oyeniyi, a writer and radio presenter, writes from Lagos via email@example.com 08164847800