27 April 2009

A Few Good 'MAN' - Babatunde Fashola, Lagos State Governor

I never thought I would ever have to write a full article about a Nigerian politician, a very positive review for that matter. This was not for lack of optimism on my part, but for the lack of vision and purpose on their part. The reality is that a good Nigerian politician is difficult to come by. The vast majority of the politicians elected into government are self-serving, corrupt and worse of all visionless. They are corrupt nationally, regionally and locally. They are corrupt in the South and in the North, in the East and in the West.

The Governors in the North marry multiple wives, in the South-West; they publicly stick with one wife but go through young mistresses faster than mach 2. The Ibo Governors ingratiate themselves with royalty; the Yoruba ones think they are royalty, the South-South Governors lobby to become Knights, the Hausa Governors have too much time on their hands and Yar'Adua, the President, gives his daughters to two of them as third and fourth wives respectively.

Worse still, the legislators are clueless. Their main pre-occupation is junketing abroad on endless fact-finding missions. Yet they are concerned with how they are perceived at home and at the ready to threaten with arrest anyone that challenges their plain-to-see indolence and hopelessness.

Nigerian politicians are ego driven; they will commandeer an honorary doctorate degree from Universities to which they are the ‘Visitor’ and get their friends and families to congratulate them with full page newspaper advertisements. Annoyingly, they assault our intelligence and overwhelm reason with false eulogies in these congratulatory advertisements, many of which often share the same message. They celebrate 47th, 56th and other meaningless birthdays; they collect meaningless titles from any monarch. The Nigerian politician gives the impression that theirs is a gadabout government, purposeless yet whirling in self congratulation.

After the era of visionary and selfless leaders like Awolowo, Azikiwe and Ahmadu Bello, we are lumbered with the misfortune of having so-called usurpers who believe they are doing us a favour by carrying out what they are elected to do. So State Governors have their ugly photos plastered over the covers of notebooks distributed to school children, majority of whom have to contend with window-less, teacher-less schools. Some of the politicians also erect massive billboards with their photos and political slogans beside every road repaired and every well sunk. On being sworn to office, the vast majority of them took to corruption and the euphoria of office like a pig to filth. They stink to high heavens and they carry a lot of innocent blood on their hands and heads.

Refreshingly, Babatunde Fashola, the Lagos State Governor is a departure from this filth. He is a breath of fresh air compared to anyone who has held any executive position in Nigeria in over 40 years. He is so different that you can hardly believe he is one of us. He is genuinely and determinedly interested in changing the lives of his constituents for good. Like many other Lagosians, I have developed an air of breathless excitement as I watch Fashola transform the hitherto impossible city.

The recently introduced commuter bus systems have made travelling affordable and easier for a good number of people. Major road works are being carried out, drainage systems are being rebuilt. If you go on Mobolaji Bank Anthony in Ikeja or Akin Adesola in Victoria Island at night, you may think you are in London. Many roads in the Lagos metropolis now light up at night powered by solar energy. Fashola must have realised that the environment affects people’s behaviour, and has therefore engaged in a massive drive to beautify the city, left, right and centre. Lagos roads are now being swept almost round the clock.

The Lagos State Signage Agency has seen to it that posters and overhead fliers that hitherto deface Lagos roads are now a thing of the past.

Wherever you go in Lagos, you can see the government of Babatunde Fashola at work without seeing his face. He is rebranding Lagos State without making any noise about it. He just lets his work speak for him. Unlike many Nigerian politicians, he is not involved in any populist, short-term projects; he appears to be planning ahead for the next 100 years. Fashola genuinely has the interest of the people at heart.

Do not get me wrong, if you are visiting Lagos for the first time or have lived abroad for a considerably long period, you may not notice much. However, having lived in Lagos for over a year, the transformation is truly astounding. Fashola has proven that good governance is possible. He is also governing from a position of service. Never has he once made Lagosians believe he is doing them a favour. Fashola has class.

He is also very wise. He shows deference to traditional and religious leaders, but he does not 'collect' titles from them. He received an award from a newsmagazine as one of the best performing governors in 2008 but returned it when he realised it was a Greek gift.

Fashola is also a cultured person who is not carried away by power. He is one of only three Governors in Nigeria who still carry the title of ‘Mr’. In an interview he gave a few months after he became Governor, he said he does not use the signature siren favoured by politicians and the ‘powerful people’ because he is not only averse to noise but also considers it in bad taste to live in a government house, drive government vehicles, yet terrorise the same people that pay for the luxury he enjoys.

Some people will argue that he is only able to do what he is doing because his predecessor and mentor Bola Tinubu helps to handle the political side of things. My response is whilst this may be true; Fashola can not do what he is doing if he does not have it in him.

I will like to share a story that in my view sums up the effort of Babatunde Fashola and showcases the new Lagos that he is trying to build. A man had been lying for consecutive days at the same spot on the central reservation of the road that leads to our Estate. I decided to stop and on enquiring from a nearby shop-keeper, I was informed that the man had been drunk and was hit by an Okada (motorbike).

On Friday 17th April, I placed a call to the Lagos State emergency telephone number ‘767’ to request for assistance for the man. This was my first time of using this service which is in itself a first in Nigeria. I was amazed when I got connected and I was afforded the utmost courtesy by the person who answered the phone. When we got disconnected shortly afterwards, I tried again, and yet another person answered on the first ring. She listened to my report asking for the full details of where the man was and promised that an ambulance will be sent forthwith. I was joyful not only for the man, but that something this good was possible in Lagos and in Nigeria. Without any deliberate prompting, my heart blessed Fashola.

A few days later, I noticed that the man was no longer there. My wife later informed me that she saw an ambulance parked at the same spot to ferry the man away for treatment as she drove past one evening.

Of course Fashola is not doing more than what he was elected to do, however, when the vast majority of our politicians care less about the electorate, Fashola should earn our admiration for differentiating himself so fantastically.

I have watched Fashola on the sidelines for over a year and I know he is no fluke. He has surreptitiously dragged us, Lagosians, to develop confidence in him and increasingly in government. I have come across many people who have chosen to pay their tax because they believe that Fashola will use it responsibly. This agrees very well with the proponents of the theory that Nigeria’s problem is a leadership one.

Fashola has proven that you only need a few good people to change the course of a nation; in his case, a few good ‘MAN’. Lagosians know that what is happening in Lagos is due to the determination of a single man and they truly appreciate this man and have come to trust him. Fashola is a leader, a responsible man, a genuinely good person. He is a few good ‘MAN’. And we all can learn from him.PostcardfromLagos


Thirty + said...

Fashola is doing a grand job, at first I did not notice, but after a couple of days of my arrival in Lagos, it did occured to me that Lagos had changed indeed. I did not see refuse dump as I expected, traffic was still there but there was actually order. What nailed it for me was seeing road cleaners doing their work and some folks I planting flowers at a big roundabout around the Island. I was like What!
To cap it all I was fortunate to pass through Oshodi, in short my mouth hung open and needed to be reactivated to close.

Well done Mr Fashola.

Eko o ni baje o

Anonymous said...

I seldom read blogs about Nigerian Politics.
But this one is unique, the writer painstakingly painted the true picture of Lagos and Governor Fashola.
We have that collective responsibility to give praise to whom it is due, most importantly our political movers and shakers. They can do and undo after being elected without any repercussion. Impeachment is not easy in a corrupt-ridden democratic system.
Fashola was able to showcase the exceptional beauty of simplistic way of governance.
I commend this writer and Governor Fashola.

Wole Akingbasote
Minneapolis, MN

Lagos said...

Yes o, we are celebrating Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN),the best governor Nigeria ever had on Lagosians.com. You are all invited.

Tola Gus said...

This is facinating to read and a joy to know that at least there's still someone in Nigeria who is able to DO THE RIGHT THING.
I commend your effort to educate and inform us Nigerian abroad and at home of the current positioning of our various infrastrutures and also to to remind us of how blessed we are as nation.
I am hoping that your honesty and heart felt truth about 'so called' politicians would make us think deeply and gear us to aim for the best for our great nation; by supporting and fetching out many more of the likes of the current Lagos state governor to revamp and revitalise the greatest nation in Africa- NIGERIA by the Grace of God.

Anonymous said...

I am really impressed and enthralled to hear that there is someone who believes that whatever is happening in any developed world can happen in Lagos too.
May God continue to help the Governor and may his legacy outlast him.
Eko a tun madaa si

Anonymous said...

This article puts the "wow!" in my thought as I read it. I have also been watching this Governor for a while now and reading all I can about him and the "revival" taking place in Lagos. This is a good thing and I hope and pray it lasts and spreads through the rest of the nation.

Anonymous said...

Mr Gbenga,

Thank you for the true assessment of Governor Raji Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State. When I was reminding Nigerians on this same forum to call their people in Lagos State and tell them to vote for Fashola, some people were insulting me. My first cousin, Gbolahan Lawal Akapo (Tinubu`s ADC) was even detained at Abuja because of the coming gubernatorial election in Lagos at that time. I am glad Lagosians were ready to elect a man who would work to improve the state and not fool around like some celebrity politicians. I am also glad Fashola is not disappointing Lagosians and Nigerians because Lagos State caters for all Nigerians residing in Lagos State. What other forumites can do is to call their people back home in Ekiti to tell them to vote for a man like Fashola so that they can also enjoy the dividends of democracy as Lagosians are enjoying.

Tosin Mustapha

Oluwatimileyin Elliott said...

Not only is your write-up objective, but its also an extremely interesting read. It is underpinned with factual prove and personal experiences justifying your viewpoint!

Let's pray his exemplary leadership, enviable qualities and earnest desire to bring lasting change permeates not only his indigenes or "subjects" as Gbenga Daniel refers to them, but also other leaders - local, regional and even national.

Fashola's regime is a sure reminder to his counterparts and prospective leaders of the future, that a political platform is a mandate to SERVE, not a ticket to SELF-GRATIFICATION and PERSONAL ENRICHMENT.

People seem forget that popular acceptance is lasting if earned and not bought!

In passing Brother G, do you have any explanations for why people who hold offices use the Nigerian emblem, official crest, etc on nearly everything - from invitation, to all else for their personal functions - birthdays, daughters weddings, etc?

Just baffled by the lack of distinction between that which remains official and that which is private!

Titilayo M said...

Reading this article and comments written by others has confirmed to me that Fashola's effort in making Lagos a better place has not gone unnoticed. I salute his efforts and I hope by the time he has to leave office he will also be able to get someone credible who will carry on this good work to succeed him.

happy lagosian said...

Very well written and insightful as usual.


Anonymous said...

Dear Gbenga:
This note is to inform you that I?enjoyed reading the article "A few Good 'Man'
in your blog "Postcard from Lagos"
both now and when it was originally forwarded by Dr Awofolaju.
I would like to believe that the motivation for your blog and the article are similar to?? ?what informed the posting of beautiful pictures from Abuja and other parts of Nigeria a few weks ago.
The lovely pictures and positive articles? were not meant to give a false picture of Nigeria as it is today or in the past but rather what it could become if we begin to focus positively in the right direction by ensuring that we have more visionary leaders like Mr Babatunde Fashola, Executive Governor of Lagos State?at the helm of the affairs in Nigeria.
My only concern is that such positive articles and pictures of a 'rebranded' and 'rebuilt' or 'rehabilitated' Lagos might have some unintended negative consequences on some of your readers who live abroad. Some might develop heartburns while,?even worse?some might have heart attacks or strokes?arsing from sudden exacerbations of their long neglected hypertensive conditions. Any good news about Nigeria tends to raise the blood pressures in this small subset of vocal Diaspora Nigerians--sometimes to critical levels..
One of the reasons they are so upset about any good news from Nigeria might be the fact that such good news tend to chip away from their excuses for living abroad rather than in Nigeria where all of us truly belong. They are more comfortable with pictures from Idi-oro, Ajegunle and Oshodi in their former states than they would be if they are shown pictures of these newly reclaimed areas of Lagos.
I believe you made the right decision by moving back to Nigeria where you are now using your skills to help your own people. Some of us wish we had done that earlier in our careers and will no doubt follow your footsteps and those of hundreds of former well accomplished? Diaspora Nigerians, including the young, those in mid careers and more seasoned ones?who have decided to move back to Nigeria.
Young Nigerians like you might?end up being the proverbial early bird that ------------'
You might need to put some "Warning Labels" on your future articles to warn those who might be allergic to any good news from Nigeria!:)

Anonymous said...

U are right about The lagos state governor. After my last visit from new york to Nigeria 10 yrs ago, i decided to visit last year, and i saw a new lagos state. My reason of not visiting all these yrs was fear of armed robbers and thugs. Suprisingly, lagos is the safest state today. I think all the other governors should copy Fashola's good deeds and do same for its citizens especially those all fathers like the governor of Ebonyi state, i do not even know one useful thing he has done since becoming a governor. Annie

Bola Adesida said...

I find this piece on Babatunde Fashola scintillatingly refreshing. it is devoid of any aggrandisement. Well done my dear Pastor.

Anonymous said...

Our Job now is to keep him in the our prayers. As we would really need it to make a greater impact.

Samuel Adebanjo

Unknown said...

As a believer in Project Nigeria - Nigeria will be Great ! Governor Fash is indeed God sent . All Nigerians have Good in them ( we were once voted the Happiest people) , just that the selfishness and self centeredness out weighs that goodness. For those of us who can pray we need to pray for the Gov. Fash's of country and that indeed those in the wings will come out and add their bit. As an Optimist I only want to believe - NIGERIA will BE GREAT !!! And i pray in my life time.

Eko o ni baje !!!!

p.s Olomi , a great article !

L. A. said...

Bless Fashola

happy lagosian said...

Good and uplifting read...

I posted this good read on my blog @ http://happylagosian.blogspot.com/

with credits of course....


Unknown said...

A house is not a home till the family that reside in it make it so. Thank God for those who see the potential of this house and are making it a home, from Mr Fashola, who set the ball rolling, to the men responsible for sweeping the streets. God bless you all. May this ball of progress gather much more momentum and suck in those who know they can make a difference, but lack the boldness to do so.
Gbenga, thanks a million for this.

Anonymous said...

Gov Fashola is a presidential candidate for the future. I visited Lagos in 2008 and the changes I saw were monumental. Pls contest for the presidency in 2011.Kudos to Gov Fashola. I love you.

Fidelis A. Idonije
University Kebangsaan Malaysia

Temiloluwa said...

It is likeb 'a dream coming true' and 'prayers answered" We thought our dream of Lagos by year 2020 as initially circulated by someone will never materialise. It is going to be fulfilled long before that year because God has brought Fashola in to govern Lagos as ANSWER to many people's prayer. My next dream is that he (Fashola) will be allowed to become Nigeria"s PRESIDENT for only one Term next!.GOD IS SMILING AT/ON YOU BROS FASH>>> Continue this good work!

Cheap Postcard Printing said...

Such a wonderful and inspiring post! This will really bring hope and much-needed improvements to his region. Commendable work! Just goes to show that amidst all the corruption and power-hungry governments, there is that one soul who shall uplift the people and be a beacon for a better future.

Anonymous said...

In a few words-Governor Raji fashola is underutilised: he needs to be at the helm of affairs in the COUNTRY.

Chiejina Alexander Chukwueloke

Anonymous said...

Gooday sir.
e kasan sa.

Tomi Fasina is the name.

i read ur "a few good man BRF LAG Gov" article.

i think it was beautful. liked the modest nice polite words that u used to qulify our so
called ultimate egocentric self thinkng selfcenterd leaders.

obvously as every1 can now see wit at least BRF there is so much talent and promise of
good governance and good life in thtat our nation.

i enjoyd ur article. i and mi friends.

i am in Havana cuba.
work and study.

i have heard so much and read s much abt this NEW LAG. was around in town december
2007-jan 2008.
i saw wat Oshodi looked lke; heaps of idoti makin up for sky scrappers, yellow tatterd
metal boxes hootn noises nothn lke an instrumental concert, voces hoaxed and shoutn at
the top to get any sort of item from food to shoe to seawater fish and even buses to
ijebu-ode sagamu ibadan ...oh God. and jamin into all grasdes of pot holes.
so now i have read over and over and someone whos been around oshodi told me recently that
OSHODI HAS GOTTEN S SEROUS facelft or better said redo or maybe trans4mation...i grow
goose pmples and shed tears to hear of dft tngs go on n the cty caled lagos....lEKO
wa..Eko ti o ni baje! no one took him serious when he was sayin that tng. am sure pppl
are beginin to undersatnd wat he used to mean.
the solar street lights, the clean roads, the cctv, that road discpline and law and
oreder wth regards motorsts and bus drvers an dall sorts and of cos many mo to come I DE

THIS BECOS we had been dscussn among ourseleves my colleagues and i if it were not the
media doin someting smlar to wat CNN FOXnews etc seemd to do to Barrack Obama and mkn too
much noise abt ll acheivements.
But wen i read an INDEPENDENT article like yours whom i dont seem to feel s a meda person
and another similar one whch was on nijaworld a while ago that made reference to tax been
pad and not receivn the rcept until after 24 to 48 hours after textin BRFs personal fone

i wsh cd call that nomba u called for the ambulance to pick that man up and ask them to
come and pck mi comatose soul from here so i can have a feel of this new dearly beloved
lagos even f for 1 minute. comatose becos of the nja we know status quo ante the
appearance of new Fasolas and other hard workin progressive nijan politicians and non
politicians alke.







Anonymous said...

Governor Fashola, more grease to your elbow. You are one of the very few that believes so much in their heart it takes one person to make a difference. Kudos to you on the new face of Lagos. I hope other Governors emulate the lofty ideas of Governor Fashola.

Basil Usiabulu said...

Governor Fashola, more grease to your elbow. You are one of the very few that believes so much in their heart it takes one person to make a difference. Kudos to you on the new face of Lagos. I hope other Governors emulate the lofty ideas of Governor Fashola.

World Wide Postcrossing and Stamps said...

Fashola rocks!

Anonymous said...

Hey ya Pastor!

Gbosa! Gbosa!! Gbosa!!!

E wi re. You have spoken.

I just hope people know by now that the only one you fear is God, and your integrity is important to you. Most importantly you are a child of God no reason to lie. If someone does good lets say it. We don't need to bless the governor, he is blessed already even his children's children but we need to pray that the evil in our nation will not overtake him.

Partner in profit UK

Unknown said...

First of all i'll like to express my heart felt gratitude to God for answering our prayers for good governance which i believe will put less performing governors under pressure. Having said this i hope people elected in public office will renew their focus from self service to public servie which is what the office about. Finally i will like to thank and encourage governor Fashola for the good work. God bless.

John M. O. Ekundayo said...

Thank you Mr Gbenga for this objective write-up. In fact, I was searching on the internet for academic resources online as I am concluding a PhD research on Fashola's leadership.
I am using this medium to further ask for your permission to use the write-up in my research. I have acknowledged you duely by fully referencing you in the thesis. Prior to writing this comment, I have emailed you as well.

Please kindly let me read from you soon.


John M. O. Ekundayo
Email: jmo.ekundayo@gmail.com