From Ejike Chinedu, Lagos
Out of the many sins of the former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola, also known as BRF, his worst and perhaps unforgivable is daring to have his own mind and desire to have a say in who becomes the next governor of the state after him. The then governor was reported to prefer first, his commissioner for works, Dr. Femi Hamzat, then later, former attorney general of the state, Supo Shasore. But the man who as a matter of fact picked him, in similar manner, to be governor after him, Bola Tinubu, had a different plan which was public knowledge at the time.
It is not much of a surprise for keen watchers that Akinwunmi Ambode, since becoming governor on May 29, has been bringing down anything that points to the BRF era in positive light.
Insider sources told HOMELAND NEWS that BRF will be made to pay for even thinking of challenging Tinubu in Lagos state. It was gathered that BRF’s brand of politics eliminated many sourced of patronizing and rehabilitating political hangers-on in the state which made it easy for his more generous predecessor to keep his loyalty-base intact.
Without sounding as if one is making excuses for someone whose reign under-performed in the second term by its own standards set in the first term, one is persuaded to step a little backwards and ask, what exactly is the matter here? From the sack of permanent secretaries to sack of any government official perceived to have regards for the former governor, the current government in the state is not hiding its dislike for the former governor.
One of the most interesting steps by the current administration to rubbish Fashola is the planned payment of resident doctors who the state government refused to pay their salaries for the months they were on strike, almost paralyzing the health sector, during BRF’s regime. HOMELAND NEWS gathered that the process is near completed for the payment before the end of August.
Just last week, a group, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, led by Debo Adeniran, addressed the media where it urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore the former governor in the list of those he may be considering for ministerial appointments. The group alleged that Fashola’s reign was ridden with corruption.
“It is gratifying that you have promised at various fora that your appointments would be purely based on merit and that tested technocrats, with impeccable records, would be given their rightful places in your administration, as a way of ensuring good governance to the people of Nigeria. It is against this background that our organisation is appealing to you to please take the pains to dig deep into Mr. Babatunde Fashola’s record of performance as well as that of financial propriety on the part of his government while in office.” the coalition said.
But one may be tempted to ask where Mr. Adeniran and his group were when Adeyemi Ikuforiji pocketed the Speakership of the Lagos State House of Assembly even when he was being prosecuted by the EFCC for corruption. Mr. Adeniran and others like him went mute. Is it possible that the new voice found by the so called anti-corruption campaigner is induced by the benefits that follow his political alignment in the state?
The trending story of how BRF spent N78m on website upgrade will be very difficult for those who sympathise with him to defend as the amount is highly and unimaginably jacked-up. Such people including retained managers of the former governor should gear-up for more ear-tingling revelations.
Why Fashola cannot be allowed to become a Minister:
The outcome of the election into principal offices in the National Assembly is a simple indication that if APC remains a political part with the current spread it has, the over-whelming influence of its national leader, Bola Tinubu can be challenged and subdued.
In the House of Representatives, APC’s position when broken down was Tinubu’s personal commitment to ensure his political son, Femi Gbajabiamila was adequately accommodated. He lost out in the contest for the Speaker and settled for Majority Leader, due to Speaker Dogara’s disposition to amicable resettlement of the crisis.
In the Senate, whether Bukola Saraki completes the four-year-term or not, Tinubu has learnt that a master can be beaten on his own turf.
Now, the connection of all these is that Fashola becoming a minister increases the number of those who will not refer to the former governor of Lagos state and the leader of the opposition for many years before the 2015 elections around the President. Fashola will not only not consult or seek directive from Tinubu if he becomes minister but will have a platform to build a parallel power bloc within the APC in Lagos and by extension, the South West. Therefore, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will stop at nothing in preserving and sustaining his waning political influence at the national level but beginning from Lagos state.
EFCC should not ignore the call to look into the books of Lagos state government as failure to do so, will clearly fault and undermine the anti-corruption stance of President Buhari. But while doing so, it will be far-reaching to peep into activities of the state government during the 8 years that precede Fashola’s regime.