TINUBU OUR FRIEND, OUR FIEND
One of the beauties of the democracy we are trying our hands on as a nation, is the element of succession. Thus, if our political squandrels will allow, we shall soon have some respite from villain custodians of powers, who willy-nilly, constitutionally have to vacate their seats and allow some breathe of fresh air. Giving room hopefully, to better bloods to take the baton from them, inject renewed steam to whatever existing visions and projects, effect correction and run their individual programmes as promised to the electorate.
One man that Lagosians would for long appreciate, but would as well love to miss is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a man who undoubtedly is loved by the people for his obviously lofty programmes and show of concern for the people, but yet they would love to miss because of his anti ÔÇô people policies.
There is no denying the fact that Asiwaju did much to lift Lagos. Any person who contests it could appropriately be labelled an ingrate. Whatever the criticisms against Asiwaju, a trip to Ikotun, Ojuelegba Road, Awolowo Road Ikoyi, Victoria Island and of course Lagos Island would betray the colossal investment that the good guy made to give Lagos a facelift despite the troubles with receiving the revenue due the state's Local government councils.
A ready supporter for Bola Ahmed Tinubu would have been the Afro beat King Fela Anikulapo Kuti. If it were possible for the musical legend to resurrect from the grave, he sure would have composed some number in praise of Asiwaju over his transformation of Ojuelegba road. Is it not the same Ojuelegba that the musical icon once described as a place where there is such vehicular logjam with vehicles coming from left, right and centre, eventually leaving road users mercilessly sandwiched in unpredictable standstill.
Another area where the Tinubu administration deserves commendation is in the area of filth management. I remember that early in his administration, amidst mounting public criticism, the Governor made a frenzied visit to Thisday Newspapers and appealed to us journalists to give him some respite. In his view then, he was receiving what he had termed ÔÇśbelow the belt' criticisms over his abysmal performance in the area of waste management. He appealed for patience and promised to turn things around for the better. Interestingly, his administration thereafter evolved the now popular Private Sector Participation (PSP) scheme in waste management.
In not long, the idea translated to some magic wand to the ridding Lagos metropolis of the endemic refuse dumps that littered the nooks and crannies of the city - state. Whatever the shortcoming of the PSP initiative, there is no controverting the fact that it brought much respite to the citizenry. Besides, the popular reasoning in the progressive international commune is that initiatives be sustainable to be able to last. The PSP initiative is bound to outlast the Tinubu administration. It affords job for the boys and yet leaves the surroundings better than how Asiwaju Bola Ahmed met it.
Generally throughout his tenure too, Lagosians would love to remember him for his demonstrated humanism. We remember that he was there with us when the bombs unleashed a seeming Armageddon on the people of Lagos and forced down the suns of the lives of tens of hundreds of innocent Nigerians unexpectedly. He was always there at the slightest news of disasters. We remember the repetitive collapsing of buildings, the roasting of negatively adventurous fellow citizens who dared the tiger by the tail and of course ended up in the jaws of the unpitying man eater. What better way of describing the misadventure of fellow citizens seeking money illicitly by bursting petroleum pipelines. All said, as one popular Lagos musician would put it, Tinubu se won ba to le se, (meaning that Tinubu tried as much as he could).
On the sad note, much as Tinubu tried, there are aspects of the conduct of his administration that should have the people really regret committing such trust in him. For sure Lagosians will remember that he was a bad tax master. Most companies remember that he would tax them at every opportunity. He failed woefully in the area of taxing businesses, discouraging initiatives by the very people that were helping in ridding the streets off area boys. It would be recalled that he had running battles the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, to the effect that some simply moved their operations to saner havens.
A case in point is that of Nigeria Breweries Plc that had to move a massive project from Lagos to the east because of Tinubu's unreasoning tax policies. It is a thing of regret that there were several court cases over the unjust tax policies of the Tinubu led Lagos state government, which despite his political stake, Asiwaju paid poor attention to.
Lagos commuters will sure celebrate the exit of Tinubu. He set up LATSMA, a group that simply conducted themselves like the area boys. Rather than evolving virile initiatives for resolving the endemic traffic logjams of Lagos, the greater preoccupation of these Tinubu's cowboys was lurking and literarily setting traps for motorists. Usually, appeals for understanding and reasoning met deaf ears as they seemed to be more concerned with the monies that would swell their private pockets or meeting the targets to be delivered to Tinubu. The high handedness of Latsma was so condemnable and irritating that they had naturally had very little support when erstwhile Federal Minister of Works and Transport, Senator Seye Ogunlewe empowered FERMA to checkmate their nefarious activities on Lagos roads.
It appears Tinubu is not done yet. Even as he is exiting, he is painting the few available highways yellow, seeking again to entrap Lagosians through harsh penalties for crossing the Bus Route Transport (BRT) lanes. To say the least, the cudgel that Tinubu is visiting on offenders is callous and grave. Tinubu approves that motorists have to cough out as much as N50, 000 for such a minor offence. It would have made much meaning if the roads are wide enough. Painfully, as is customary with the Tinubu's anti people think tank; there is no alternative to the BRT initiative! They would not accede to the argument that in countries that operate the BRT system, motorists have alternatives. Even then, the penalties for offences are not as vicious. Curiously, the roads that the Tinubu administration is digging do not belong to Lagos state. Their incursion into Federal roads is tantamount to collecting rents from tenants in a house that does not belong to them. One almost wishes that Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe resurrects from political mellow down, assume some new control over Federal roads and check off Tinubu and his incorrigible rascals off Federal roads in Lagos.
If Tinubu does not slow down on his illicit activities on Federal roads, he sure would be making the roads rougher for his anointed successor ÔÇô Batunde Raji Fashola and the Action Congress. Who he disappointingly imposed on fellow progressives and of course in the wake occasioned massive exiting from the party. What demonstration of democracy from a self avowed protagonist of democracy.
Another sad aspect of Tinubu's politicking is that he is towing the familiar path of persecuting Deputies. Not a few Lagosians are unimpressed by the fact that rather than giving some recommendation or endorsing the candidacy of his Deputy Governor, Otunba Femi Pedro, he has put spanners in the works. We recall that Tinubu parted ways in very stormy circumstances with Pedro's predecessor Mrs Kofoworola Bucknor, uncharitably labelling her a frustrated Grandma. Well the Grandma may not have had sufficient arsenals to hit back at Asiwaju, but then, his handling of the affairs with Pedro are anything but a poor pay back for the good boy. It is to public knowledge that Pedro served without bringing rancour to the public as was the case during the time of Bucknor. More painful is that rather than allowing omo eko gan gan peace in his new found haven ÔÇô the Labour Party, Tinubu went dirty. One of Pedro's co-contestants Jimi Agbaje quoted Tinubu as implying that Pedro could not be trusted with funds. How bad, especially when it is realised that the Tinubu camp had earlier planned impeaching Otunba Pedro over trumped up charges that he was fronting for President Obasanjo. This kind of politicking is not has no space in our aspiration of seeing a saner political clime in Nigeria. Tinubu's crude politicking is best rested in the confines of rubbish bins. Even then, Pedro should convince us that his master was trifling or merely politicking.
Lagos civil servants and local government council workers would hardly want to wait till May 2007 for Tinubu and his ill advisers to pack their bags and baggages off the Alausa house for good. As one Lagos worker did reveal, Asiwaju would go down as so bad that despite the revenue accruing to the state government, the workers heard more of figures than having a piece of the action. Worse still, they were denied even of their entitlements and salaries.
How bad, even the Holy Scriptures has it that a labourer deserves his wages. Tinubu's poor handling of the welfare of his workers no doubt is creating worries for him and the Action Congress. I learn that Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and other candidates are giving them sleepless nights because Lagos Civil servants are determined to cast votes for the opposing parties in protest. One of them, Musiliu we learn is really thankful that Tinubu's wrongs to the Civil Servants will translate to some electoral fortune for him.
Not even the realisation that Obanikoro manoeuvred the PDP leadership to cheat a widow ÔÇô Hilda, wife of the late Engr. Funsho Williams, or even the alert by the Action Congress that Obanikoro's tenure at the Lagos city hall was marked by the charring of the building.
No doubt, the evil that men do live after them, Senator Obanikoro indeed has explanations to make to us Lagosians as to how our City hall was engulfed in fire in the era when it was popular to cover up and circumvent audit queries by burning offices ÔÇô remember the NITEL and the 25 storey Independent buildings? So sad, ever since the ugly infernos, both the Nitel and Independent buildings have not regained steam. Curiously too, smokes still adorn the Lagos city hall as if the building is awaiting the day it will slice a pound of flesh from Musiliu ÔÇô in being some political waterloo for the active ex- Lagos council chairman.
All said, one cannot but appreciate the contribution of Tinubu to politics in Lagos. He played well the politics of opposition. No doubt, his credible handling of Lagos in the first term had Lagosians believe he would deliver on his promises if given a second chance. He did reasonably well in my estimation except that we didn't see the promised fourth mainland bridge. Besides, he failed woefully in the area of housing. Lagosians really miss the true blood Action Governor Alhaji Lateef Jakande. Let us pretend too that area boys are off Lagos streets.
Tinubu's good governance enabled the checkmating of the landslide sweep of the Western Nigeria by the PDP. He reassured our collective psyche in Lagos that Eko o gba gbere (Lagos takes no nonsense). If PDP would have sweeping victories everywhere, definitely not Lagos.
The nation would also be grateful to Asiwaju for one other reason - his teaming up with political whiz engineers like Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi and Audu Ogbeh to give the nation a very virile opposition to the sickening elephantine headache called the PDP.
We commend the quality of the contestants that have demonstrated through debates and other fora that any of them could easily steer the ship at Alausa. However, by design, only one of them would by God's grace become the Lagos state governor, come May 29. Those who wouldn't make it should derive some comfort from the fact that someday, it will be their turn.
For now we salute Uche Ibukun Ohimai, Jimi Agbaje, Senator Tokunboh Afikuyomi, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, Babtunde Raji Fashola, Remi Adiukwu, Femi Gbajabiamila, Otunba Femi Pedro and others for the courage in presenting themselves despite the topsy-turvy nature of Nigeria's politics. Pray, may God save our heads from the Armageddon that some politicians are promising us in Lagos and other parts of the country. Thank goodness, God is beyond every man, whether they like it or not, May 29 would come and go.
A Media Practitioner,
FEAT Nigeria Limited
lagos, nigeria 4/4/2007