Tinubu Colloquium And The ‘Benching’ Of Fashola As A Spectator

Tinubu Colloquium And The ‘Benching’ Of Fashola As A Spectator

Sunday, April 1, 2018 10:35 am

Fashola: Minister of Works, Poower and Housing.

By Enitan Olukotun

Immediate past governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, (SAN) as a football enthusiast understands the pain a 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 , team 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 meant business.

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 expand 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 power.

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 and Housing.

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 plugged into.

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

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  • Titi says:

    Enitan and his convoluted poster boy story-story
    By Bodunrin Awosanmi
    Enitan Olukotun’s feeble attempt to whitewash the image of his Principal Mr. Babatunde Fashola appears to only compound his problem. If the former Lagos State Governor seeks forgiveness for his several misdeeds, he should come out frontally to plead for mercy instead of attempting to sneak in through the back door.

    Enitan seeks to portray Fashola’s alleged snub at the recent Bola Tinubu colloquium as one snub too many and blames Vice-President Osibajo, Asiwaju Tinubu himself and Akinwunmi Ambode for his recent travails and diminishing reputation as a former poster boy for the All People’s Congress. The so- called article which was obviously concocted by a misguided and misinformed “palace scout” underscores the reasons why the janus nature of Enitan’s principal has unravelled in recent years.

    Enitan chose to ignore the failures of his Principal at the federal level in handling his super portfolio but instead chose to allude to him as a star player who has been benched for a less skillful payer. A skillful player indeed who has been unable to score any significant goals in the there years of playing the federal match he has chosen to play in.

    The fictional 100 day in office celebration mentioned in the “article” apparently never happened as the present Lagos Governor is known to use quarterly town hall meetings to give account of his stewardship. Furthermore, the same delusion appears to seize Enitan when he says his principal completed the LASEMA Emergency Centre in Cappa Oshodi. If he had bothered to check his facts he would have known that the location previously housed a moribund bus manufacturing joint venture for Marcopolo buses during his principal’s tenure.

    The hatchet writer also alludes to the Fashola magic wand of governance and his failure to dismodge Asiwaju Tinubu when he had the chance to do so, as deserving of him being named a hero/messiah. The jury is still out on the so- called magic wand of governance especially with what is now known of the eight years of unbridled smoke and mirrors. The fact that his true story has not been told does not mean it does not exist. As for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, if Enitan revels in the fact that Fashola could have castrated and indeed almost castrated a man who blew away a crowded field of seasoned politicians for him – a political neophyte, then it is not surprising he is being snubbed and diminished today.

    Enitan again delves into the mystery of self imposed amnesia when he attempts to make us forget that it was the same Fashola who sought to install Supo Shasore and Obafemi Hamzat as candidates of the APC but failed woefully. It was only then he reluctantly signed up to the Ambode project in a last-minute attempt to curry favor and return to a state of grace. His spirited campaigns were self serving and designed to only ensure that a rampaging PDP with their looted funds did not get a beach head in Lagos and unravel his 8 years.

    Enitan further posits that Ambode is at the root of an insidious plot to diminish his principal by seeking to erase his legacies and give him land to build a housing estate. However, the misguided writer has forgotten that it was his Principal who was roundly honored like other governors during the Lagos at 50 celebrations but yet he still refused to be present at the State banquet where all former governors who had ever governed Lagos State and other state Governors were present, including Ayo Fayose of the PDP and his former opponent Jimi Agbaje. But it was this same Governor that story-teller Enitan seeks to demonise that received Fashola with pomp at his residence and visited him in his office to conclude the hand-over of the presidential lodge in Marina. That the word “KAI” with the throw-back to a military era is not relevant today should not be rocket science to even the likes of Enitan. A legacy of barracks -like low-income apartments on prime Ilubirin waterfront speaks volumes of the so- called vision and acumen of his principal, lionized by Olukotun in his hack piece of writing. In a city with the smallest land mass, space is usually in short supply and a State Government’s needs have preference over Federal needs; surely Enitan’s pay madters can understand this having exercised similar preferences during his own tenure.

    Anyway, Enitan Olukotun or whatever his real name is must be reminded that just being loquacious does not automatically translate to performance. The ability to mesmerize is usually temporary and the true performance index of the 3–in-1 is ultimately unraveling itself. Enu o she (it’s not by mouth), as the Lagosians would say!

    Bodunrin Awosanmi is a citizen journalist based in Lagos.

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