In the last few years, I have been a secret admirer of Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola for just two reasons:he has elevated governance in Nigeria to a very high pedestal so much so that were it not for our political system and its zoning system, he should graduate from Lagos (not to be Vice President to any of the political Lilliputians now riding our firmament like colossi) to Abuja as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Two, Fashola has managed not to be a part of the noisy babblers that are making Nigeria look like an ungovernable entity. He has the carriage and level-headedness of a statesman. If any achievement can be ascribed to Senator Bola Tinubu, it is that he is the only one in our era that has left a worthy successor after his less than first-rate outing in Lagos for eight years.
You can forgive Tinubu his political sins against Lagosians because he left a savvy politician (some say he is actually a technocrat), that is building Lagos into a world-class city. Opponents say Fashola is making Lagosians to pay heftily to keep Tinubu happy monthly and some political dogs and enemies far away from him; but that argument is neither here nor there. Let others do the same in some other states and improve the life of their indigenes.
The other person with the kind of grip that Tinubu has over Lagos is another All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, Senator Ahmed Sani Yariman Bakura, who not only succeeded in passing the baton in his Zamfara State to his deputy, but was strong enough to boot him out after one term for another candidate of his choice. I must admit that I do not know if his successors in the state can match Fashola with the amount of revenue at their disposal.
As 2015 draws near, however, Fashola is beginning to deconstruct himself, appearing more these days like his political godfather in the way he speaks on national issues. Never mind, for now, that he flew a kite to draw out Adams Oshiomhole, governor of Edo state, into the presidential race. Why Fashola will travel that route knowing that much of the North prefers General Muhammadu Buhari does not make any sense.
Many suspect that Fashola may have spoken the voice of his master, but the coming weeks will tell. Speaking in Benin City at a youth summit recently, Fashola explained why he would be backing Oshiomhole. “If Governor Adams Oshiomhole decides to run as president of this country, he will have my vote. He is the kind of leader that Nigeria needs. I say that because, I have spent five memorable years of my life in Benin City as an undergraduate and as a youth corps member and they are very fond memories that I hold dear in my heart today.”
I think my hero ran his tongue too fast in this position, but this is forgivable compared to his odious position on why he thinks the directive by APC to its members in the National Assembly to “sabotage” the 2014 Appropriation Bill, the screening of service chiefs and ministers. He said: “Rather than resort to violence, APC is resorting to a legislative tool to bring the executive back on the table to say let us talk. We must have a negotiated compromise in order to go forward. If you close that avenue, you are setting the expressway to anarchy. It is a legitimate tool. The Americans have used it. The British have used it. When it suited them in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, they told their government to invade Iraq. When it did not suit them in the spirit of non-cooperation to the government of the day, which was a coalition, they said you can’t go to Syria. We must open our minds and stop raising needless alarm. Now, perhaps, the PDP is no longer able to stomach the medicine it has dished to people over the years. But I have news for them: there is a stone for every Goliath. And this is one stone that we have found.”
Fashola needs to discuss extensively with his First Lady to know the true story about David and Goliath; then he will know the anointed one in the equation and the monsters that are gathering to decimate him are the Goliaths. And referring to the theory of the separation of powers among the arms of government, Fashola faltered again: “So in the process of these checks, institutionally and traditionally, the legislature has been found, as a legitimate weapon. That is the withdrawal of cooperation from the executive in order to bring a belligerent executive back on the negotiation table. As they said themselves, no person can claim the ownership of Nigeria. ”
If some forces have been pushing Fashola into the fray, and making him to play a game he is not suited for, he should not be naïve; he should simply keep his lips sealed, until the time is auspicious for him to come out and speak up. He should see how Senators Akin Odunsi (Ogun West), KabirMarafa (Zamfara Central), SaniSaleh (Kaduna Central), AtaiAidoko Ali (Kogi East), BabafemiOjudu (Ekiti Central), BindowoJubrila (Adamawa North) and AjayiBoroffice (Ondo North) ignored that unpatriotic negotiation tool. That is because such a tool can put you in the black books of voters.
Abdullahi wrote from Abuja. Email: [email protected]