“You see, this job is a tough job. When I took this job, at the age of 44, I was counting the number of white hairs on my head. Today, at 52, I am counting the number of black hairs on my head”- Fashola
In a few days’ time, the impressive tenure of Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, as Governor of Lagos State will come to an end. However, some of the achievements of the Fashola administration will, for a long time, remain indelible. Unlike other leaders who promptly derail as soon as they are elected into power, Fashola has demonstrated firm dedication to the fulfilment of his electoral promises to the end.
Initially, few gave him much chance of success when he was given the mandate of his party in 2007. Today, eight years after, he has invested tremendous time, energy and resources in enhancing development and providing good governance in the State.
There is no doubt that the Fashola administration has rebranded Lagos State as it has radically changed the profile of Lagos as a jungle city for good. That Lagos is a beautiful city is being reinforced not by rhetoric but with tangible developmental and infrastructural renewal projects that have won applause from all and sundry.
BRF is, without a doubt, a go-getter and a visionary man. Like the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, he is an ardent reader. The compartment of his car is filled with books on various subjects ranging from governance, public finance, and philosophy to social reforms. These are the books he consults regularly for fresh ideas that could help drive the development process of Lagos State. Awolowo is a mentor to Fashola.
When asked, sometime ago, about the things that inspire him, Fashola simply made reference to Awo’s books and legacies. Today, there is no doubt that like Awolowo; he has raised the bar of governance in the country.
Fashola’s dream of a new Lagos transcends the present. He wanted to build a Lagos that is similar to reputable international cities like London, Mumbai, Istanbul, Sao Paulo, Jakarta, Delhi, Dubai, Bangkok, and Cairo among others. His government worked with the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to realise the $1.5 billion Lagos Energy City Project as well as the audacious $3.5 billion Atlantic City Project which intends to accommodate over 250,000 Lagosians who are to live and work in the city.
Part of the objective for bringing the city on board is to relieve the pressure on the ever enlarging population of the state. Equally, the emerging city is expected to overturn the ecological harm on Victoria Island and environs brought about by years of coastline erosion. The interesting thing, however, is that the State is not resting on its oars as Fashola has conceived another development plan, Vision 2025, to move the State to another level .
To Fashola, whatever has been achieved now lies in the past. Therefore, the future remains the focus. This is the idea behind Lagos Vision 2025.
Presently, all indices point to a buoyant and flourishing Lagos. The state is leading in the delivery of embedded power and energy solutions with 4 completed power plants. The State now enjoys over 300 KW of public lighting by street lights. With regards to food security, Lagos has multiplied increments in Agricultural outputs in the area of poultry, vegetable, and Agro-processing such as rice and cassava milling, transportation. In terms of infrastructure development, the State government is currently implementing 6 simultaneous transport solutions namely; Mile 12 – Ikorodu, Lekki-Epe, Lagos – Badagry, Lagos Light Rail, Lagos Ferry and Lagos Cable Car.
In housing, government now delivers 200 Housing Units on a monthly basis with a 10-year mortgage and a maximum interest payment of 9.5 %. Public health has equally received a boost with seven Maternal and Child Care Centres (the eighth, ninth and tenth centers are already being equipped) , MCC, numerous Flagship Primary Health Centers (all operating 24 hours full service), Eko Health Mission, Eye Care Health System Development Initiative, “Eko Free Malaria Programme, Limb Deformity Corrective Surgery Programme, a well positioned Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Ikeja and functional General Hospitals across the state, the Fashola administration has, certainly, built a reliable public health sector for the State .
However, the task of governing a complex and metropolitan mega city like Lagos is quite challenging. Eight years on such a demanding job is enough to take its toll on any hardworking leader. One particular area where the burden of the job has become visible on BRF is his hair. Suddenly, his hairs are going grey. Many would argue that there is no scientific connection between challenging tasks and grey hair, but whenever we see young people with grey hair, we often ask them if they have been over working.
The relationship between work pressure and grey hair has not been clearly established. Research taken up by Tyler Cymet, concluded that those who have over-worked for two or three years had their hair turned grey sooner. It is a common belief that if someone had premature grey hair, then stress and worry could be the reason. And it is weird that it is still not scientifically established. The conclusion could be that this belief is transferred to us through our parents, who probably learned it from our grand-parents. Perhaps, our culture had already established the relationship between stress and grey hair without any scientific validation.
For any progressive and visionary leader, governance is a burden. It is not a tea party. One is talking of great thinkers who spend quality time to chart innovative course that would lead to radical transformation in the lives of their people. Not ‘Owambe’ (partying freaks) leaders who traverse the globe in search contemptible fun at the expense of their hapless subjects. Take a closer look at President Obama and you would see in him ample evidence of the huge burden of governance.
According to ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, excellence does not come by accident; it is achieved by habit and conscious commitment to one’s goals and objectives. This has, indeed, been the operational philosophy BRF ever since he assumed office on 29th May, 2007. As he often says: “there is the need to tackle old challenges with new methods”. His viewpoint is that if we continue to use same approach, which has not resulted in any significant positive results, we are bound to get same results.
As this inspirational leader takes a bow from office, after eight years of providing dedicated and inspirational leadership to Lagos State, Nigeria and humanity, here is wishing him and his family all the best in the years ahead. Au revoir!
Ogunbiyi is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.