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Fashola As Mr. President’s Redemption Song

The dialectics of the second advent of President Mohammadu Buhari as head of the government of Nigeria would take off from the baseline of whether the President made history or history made him. Same would go for every other person in the political history of Nigeria, whether as Olusegun Obasanjo or as Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. In whatever way history must have recycled anyone, however, the same history would always measure its subjects of review in peculiar time charts.

For those of us who had reasons to be sceptical, or even cynical, about the second coming of President Buhari, given his human rights records as the author of a retroactive decree, which would rather run against the canons of latter day Section 36(12) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, which forbids anyone from being convicted of any criminal offence unless such offence is defined and the penalty therefor is prescribed in a written law(as at the time of its commission), the farthest one could go in accepting him to preside over Nigeria the second time was, to borrow the phrase of “Our Father who art in letters”, Wole Soyinka, to be “cautiously optimistic”.

Other tremors in our hearts included his open disdain for the press, his perceived nepotistic way of being ruthless with preceding political class of 1983 from the South while giving preference to their Northern counterparts, the invasion of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Apapa home, the whimsical cancellation of the Alhaji Lateef Jakande envisioned metroline, his refusal to show up at the Oputa Panel for national restitution, his refusal to participate in the National Debate, amongst others.

Then came Nigeria’s longest gestation period before the birth of a Federal Executive Council. Those who were attuned to Nigeria’s protracted malaise of corruption, and were sure that something must give to cure it, knew that the War-Against-Indis’pline General could hardly wait to add bleach to detergent and to antisceptic soap to clean the mess. Shorn of all the predilection for media hype and endless rounds of man-made ceremonies often associated with ministerial appointments, the President had to collapse ministries to tone down the age long overburdened recurrent expenditures that have always been the bane of the growth of the real sector.

The appointment of Babatunde Raji Fashola, (SAN), as trinity minister to mind three very important ministries of power, works and transport was remarkable. Yours sincerely was once asked questions relating to the common sight of containers on trailors falling over to kill innocent road users around them, I’d referred the reporter to ask Mr President to give the reason for his cancellation of Jakande’s metroline, given that such items were supposed to be transported by rail since the average Nigerian roads were not meant to carry anything more than 42metric tonnes. But when, upon the appointments of Fashola, I’d had to react to the president’s claim that he had put round pegs in round holes, I’d agreed totally with him on that score.

One, no one other than a lawyer is better suited to govern. And two, therefore, the President is pretty lucky to have a stream of lawyers in his government as a Vice President, and as Minister for power, works and housing.

Although I’d never been in Fashola’s or any other cabinet, I knew how handy a legal tool he must have been equipped with to tackle erosion and housing problems in Lagos. Take the canal from the gate of LUTH(Lagos University Teaching Hospital) to Kirikiri for example. A

ll a lawyergovernor needs to do is go to site, give ultimatum within which illegal occupiers of setback should evacuate themselves or face the consequence. When road contracts are awarded and there is failure of performance, the lawyer-governor knows what to dogo into litigation and demand specific performance. And since this persona was once a governor, having many ministries reporting to him, the question of being overwhelmed with three ministerial portfolios does not arise.

As for power, all the learned silk needs to do is give free pre-paid meters to all the houses in all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria and make their recharge cards available at everyone’s neighbourhood. If communication service providers could be raking in trillions per day, nothing stops the electricity distribution companies from doing the same. The multiplier effect is that there will be more job creation, more power generation and more power conservation.

By all these, one won’t be wrong to say that, in a manner of speaking, the President is making history as much as history is making him. Jimmy Cliff, the reggae exponent, says opportunity only knocks once, and that one either grabs it fast or one may lose the chance. With newly granted $200m loan to transform Lagos in a regime of probity, President Buhari might well be singing redemption songs to redeem his lost chances with Nigerians, especially the Lagosians, when we talk of roads, housing and urban renewal. We wish him and his team well.

– •Fasehun, wrote in via mcnezerf@ gmail.com Tel: 08037167464



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