Governorship Elections And Lagos: Lest We Forget BY Bolaji Adebiyi
POLITICS DIGEST- The next elections in this cycle, which are for Governors and Members of State Assemblies will come up on Saturday 18th March 2023. For all of us and most especially older Lagosians, the prospects of the outcome should remind us, yet again, of where we are coming from. This Fourth Republic which birthed in 1999 was after many years of military rule (1983-1999). Every election, therefore, should be time to reflect and reexamine the state of our development and progress since the return to democratic rule. Such deep reappraisal should be a guide for us in reaching a decision on who to cast our votes for.
TINUBU YEARS 1999 – 2007
In 1999 our President-Elect today, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu inherited a Lagos State that was signposted as severely insecure; with heaps of refuse that was an eye-sore and clearly a threat to public health; a chaotic traffic environment that was agonizing and stressful for commuters and with monumental adverse effect on the economy. Major roads were in impassable conditions and indeed the infrastructure deficit was very concerning.
During the Tinubu years, Lagos State witnessed accelerated development and progress. He commenced the reconstruction of major roads vis. Awolowo Road Ikoyi, Agege Motor Road, Mushin, Yaba-Lawanson Road and several others across the state. He established Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to control traffic and reduce gridlocks in the metropolis. The Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) was also established to formulate transport policy initiatives and ensure effective implementation. He also reorganized and launched a new and more robust waste disposal and management system. The new Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) today, works closely with privately owned companies to remove the tons of waste generated, daily in the city-state. Tinubu established the Rapid Respond Squad,(RRS) a special unit in the state command of the Nigerian Police Force that went after criminal elements in the state, laying the foundation for the remarkable safety that we enjoy in the Lagos, today. On the economy, he established the Lekki Free Trade Zone that has propelled the rapid growth and development of the economy of the state. It is Tinubu that conceptualized the Eko Atlantic City Project. He raised the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of Lagos State from N600 Million to N6 Billion during his tenure. With improvements on his template the IGR today is over N50 Billion, monthly. Without doubt, Tinubu laid the foundation for today’s
THE FASHOLA ERA
Fashola in 2007 contesting on the same political platform and ideology of progressivism with Tinubu, was elected Governor of Lagos State in both 2007 and 2011. i.e., for two terms of four years each. For him, continuity was the watch word. He built on the foundation laid by Asiwaju and took Lagos to greater heights. Fashola with his performance in Lagos State and now as a minister of the Federal republic is an embodiment of an exemplary public office holder. He is hardworking, knowledgeable,approachable, humble, and responsive. He was Chief of Staff to Tinubu and before his foray into politics, a brilliant and successful legal practitioner. He is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
Fashola opened up the Lekki Corridor that we enjoy today. He built the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge, rehabilitated all roads in Lekki Peninsula Phase 1. He inaugurated the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system and gradually, Molue was eradicated from Lagos roads. Lagos State Security Trust Fund was launched in his time in office to ensure adequate and constant provisioning for the RRS. Fashola constructed housing estates across the State and initiated a mortgage scheme for home ownership purposes. He took indisputable giant strides in healthcare delivery and the education sectors and promoted sports and the arts. Several mini sport stadiums were built and an annual end of year musical show was instituted. His most remarkable achievement is probably the commencement of Phase One of the Red Line of the Metro Rail System. This project was commissioned, recently ,by President Muhammadu Buhari.
AKIN AMBODE 2015 – 2019
Akin Ambode succeeded Fashola in 2015, and though of the same party, his greatest undoing was his decision to derail and abandon the Blueprint of his party. This Blueprint which was initiated by Tinubu is a 20- Year Lagos State Development Plan. Though he did well in infrastructure development, he abandoned all projects initiated by Fashola. Most fatal was his decision to abandon the Red line Rail Project and also tinker with the existing refuse disposal machinery. This posture cost him his job. The party in 2019 decided to replace him and in his place nominated Jide Sanwo-Olu as the flag bearer for the 2019 Governorship Election.
SANWO-OLU IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS
Apparently, he had his job cut-out for him. He knew the mistakes Ambode made and therefore avoided them. He stuck to the Blueprint of his political party. Sanwo-Olu since 2019 has completed and commissioned many projects commenced by his predecessors. One after the other, he has completed several housing estates and handed over homes to lucky Lagosians. Recently, he brought President Muhammadu Buhari to Lagos State to commission three legacy projects namely the Lekki Deep Sea Port, the Imota Rice Mill and the Phase One of the Red Line Intracity Rail Project. He has promised us a continuous and faithful implementation of the laudable projects of the party including the construction of the Fourth Mainland Bridge and a new Airport in Lekki, amongst others.
HERE WE ARE
This is the state of affairs in Lagos as we go to the polls on Saturday 18th March 2023, to elect our Governor. The major contestants are the incumbent, Governor Jide Sanwo-Olu, Mr Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of Labour Party, Dr. Olajide Adediran, Peoples democratic Party (PDP) and Mr. Akin Braithwaite. The question that comes to mind is, do we re-elect Mr Sanwo-Olu, so he can continue with the job he is doing or take the risk of electing and bringing in a new person with totally new ideas and agenda. To come to an informed decision, two things should come to our minds. What are the the personal records/achievements of these individuals and their plans for the State.
WHO ARE THE CONTESTANTS
Sanwo-Olu apparently has paid his dues. He was a successful banker before introduced into politics. Since 2003, he has been in government as Special Assistant, Special Adviser, Commissioner in a number of Ministries and as Chief Executive Officer of a government parastatal. He became Governor in 2019 with more than two decades of cumulative experience in governance.
Mr. Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour is an Architect with no experience whatsoever in public service. Truth is even in his profession he has not presented any achievements.All we are fed with is his ancestral pedigree and civil rights activism.The same with Mr. Adediran. Though he claims to have understudied Governor Fashola in office, he never made clear in what official capacity. You cannot lay claim to government expertise simply because you were a member of the media team of a serving governor. Incidentally it is Mr. Braithwaith, who is less known amongst these three, that comes with a rich private sector background having worked for years, for some Telecommunications companies including MTN at senior Management level. None of them unfortunately has a detailed and convincing manifesto!!!
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is President-Elect of Nigeria, today, majorly because of his records and legacy in Lagos State as Governor. He left Lagos in good hands and that is why governance in the state, for so many years now, has been virtually in cruise control. It would be suicidal to jettison what we are enjoying today, which is guaranteed to be better in the years ahead, to now embrace uncertainty. It is very instructive that we put all sentiments aside. Religion or ethnicity have no roles to play in this election and indeed in politics. Good governance should be all that matters.
Let us vote Governor Sanwo-Olu on Saturday March 18, 2023 so that he can continue the good work that he is doing. All factors considered, it is the proper vote to cast.
Adebiyi, retired Federal Permanent Secretary from the Ministry of Labour and Employment and indigene of Lagos, writes from Lekki