Immediate past governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Raji
Fashola,(SAN) as a football enthusiast understands the pain star
player goes through when benched for a less skillful player. While the
star player would be concerned about his career, millions of fans
around the globe would be grappling to know why the coach fails to
show ‘Messi’ when the game became unbearable.
Most often, in the game of football , teams’ handlers and their
managers have genuine altruistic, not self-serving motive of resting
their bests. But in politics, it is a jungle game. Treacherous
intrigues and use of fiery darts are part of the rules of the games.
The foregoing aptly captured what I observed at the 10th Bola Tinubu
Colloquium held at the Eko Hotels on last Thursday.
It was astonishing to watch an erstwhile poster boy and the beacon of
hope of then opposition, Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN), which later
morphed to APC reduced to an ordinary spectator in a state he governed
for 8 years.
Fashola, an arguable super performer who raised the bar of service
delivery in governance in Nigeria watched the event from his seat at
the second row designated for ministers. But Fashola didn’t belong to
the second row at such an historic event.
Despite his shortcomings, he stood to be counted when it mattered most
for Lagos ruling political class. The bellwether minister who should
be a proud host of President Muhammadu Buhari was mistaken for a
grade-B guest in Lagos, his home state.
If the position of his seat was immaterial, the none-role for Fashola
at such an epoch event which had the President in attendance was a
rift taken too far. He was not even graced with honour to supervise
the cutting of the cake nor given the task for vote of thanks. Yet,
Fashola is the actualizer of modern Lagos.
If Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo unwittingly grouped Fashola among the
ministers while saluting dignitaries, it was obviously not an
oversight for the celebrator, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu not to specifically
recognize his successor. For Tinubu, there would not have been a
better opportunity to demonstrate to the people who scorned and
expressed doubt about his role as chief peace missioner in APC that he
This systematic degrading and humiliation of the former governor
didn’t start last Thursday. On the occasion to celebrate Governor
Akinwunmi Ambode’s 100 days in office, similar treatment was meted to
Fashola whom was said not to have been invited by Lagos State
Government but for Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo who prevailed on him
to join his entourage to Lagos. He was not accorded the honour to
commission any of the projects not even the LASEMA Emergency Centre in
Cappa, Oshodi, which he (Fashola) had completed before he left office
as the governor.
The political stature and influence of Tinubu would have shrunk like
other governors in class 1999 if Fashola had not been a great
successor. The lion of Bourdillon could roar and expanded his
political conquest to other terrains because his successor was
succeeding at home. The former Chief of Staff turned governor was a
political bulwark for Tinubu.
Tinubu, perhaps would have ceased to be Jagaban of Lagos, not even the
touted Africa, if Fashola was like Theodore Orji, the successor of
Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State who schemed out the boss of relevance and
retired Kalu politically turning him to a stateman without a state.
There were ample opportunities for Fashola to retire Tinubu. But he
was benevolent to his benefactor. In 2006 in the run up to 2017
general elections, when the speculation of stopping BRF for second
term was rife, Fashola had the best chance to forever cage the lion of
Bourdillon politically but he deferred to Tinubu.
The popularity of Fashola occasioned by his sterling performance in
the areas of infrastructure, education, environment, health and his
respect for social contract that existed between the governed and
those in authorities was palpable and could not be denied by his most
vitriolic critic .
Fashola became a strong brand, a mass movement peopled and driven by
Lagosians. If he had jumped ship, victory was certain and that would
have signaled the political eclipse of Jagaban Borgu. For this
singular honour, Tinubu should be eternally grateful to a loyal and
competent protégé despite the recent fallouts.
Former governor Fashola was a great asset in dislodging the behemoth
PDP. He modeled a seemingly working template for other aspirants in
the then opposition to market to voters in their respective states.
Many rode on the crest of his popularity and exemplary leadership to
Again, despite the wrangling of the APC governorship primaries, in
2015 Fashola enlisted to campaign vigorously for a former Accountant
General in the state, Akinwunmi Ambode as the flag bearer of the All
Progressives Congress, APC in Lagos. He took Ambode round Lagos
assuring Lagosians of his credibility and ability to deliver. They
mounted rostrum together to canvass for votes. Unlike Ambode, Fashola
was a match for the PDP’s Jimi Agbaje who is imbue with great charisma
and gift of gab.
Fashola did the most of the talking all through the campaign trail.
Fashola fantastically marketed Ambode as yet another performer who
will consolidate his achievements and chart greater development path
for Lagos. While Fashola was firing darts at PDP-controlled federal
government led by Goodluck Jonathan, the former governor and the
campaigner in chief was hitting Jimi Agbaje below the belt in Lagos.
Shortly after Ambode emerged winner in a fiercely contested election,
an agenda and campaign to totally alienate Fashola from the political
landscape of Lagos was afoot. The first salvo was the revelations of
alleged odious multi-million Naira deals Fashola cut while in office.
The Ambode-led government regaled the public on how Fashola dug two
bore-holes for a whopping N139 million and designed personal website
for N78 million.
The alleged sleaze alarmed Lagosians who had earlier adored Fashola
as a saint. The image and reputation of the former governor were
irreparable shattered while he strove in vain shrug off the stigma of
a treasury looter.
Against all expectations, President Muhammadu Buhari ignored the
‘glaring’ allegations of corruption against Fashola and made him the
most influential and powerful minister in his cabinet saddling him
with onerous duty to oversee three critical ministries of Power, Works
As Fashola moved to Abuja, political associates and friends of the
former governor were wielded out of the Lagos State system. Permanent
Secretaries and heads of agencies perceived to be loyal to Fashola
including the sister of the former governor were rudely shown the
door. In the same manner, structures at the grassroots suspected to be
sympathetic to the minister were either dislodged or coerced into the
new emergent force.
In furtherance of the campaign to run the former governor out of
relevance and obliterate his achievements from the consciousness of
Lagosians, there were systematic efforts to undo Fashola’s feats. The
PSPs waste management scheme set up by Fashola was disbanded for
Visionscape, a foreign environmental services firm which is enmeshed
in controversies. Kick Against Indiscipline brigades was replaced with
Lagos Environmental Sanitation Corps (LAGESC).
The Ilubirin Housing Scheme which was under construction before the
former governor left office is abandoned. No single brick has been
added since Fashola left Lagos. This writer also gathered that
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is yet to allot parcel of land for Fashola
to build Federal Housing Scheme for Lagosians which many states have
The consequence of the Ambode/Fashola faceoff is dire on Lagos. A
bustling city plagued by huge housing deficit should not be denied of
a Federal-government housing scheme because of rift between two
leaders within the same political family.
Enitan Olukotun, a journalist wrote from Lagos