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AKINOLA: Fashola Ran A Good Race

24 May 2015   |   12:20 am
Richard Akinola is a Lagos-based lawyer and activist. Speaking with KAMAL TAYO OROPO, he gave the Fashola-led administration a pass mark, adding that the administration has set the template for the incoming government.


What will you say is the highpoint of the Fashola-led administration in terms of infrastructure?
LAGOS State is a mini Nigeria. Managing a population of about 18 million people with little landmass, is not a tea party. The high population is putting heavy tolls on infrastructure,  no matter how the government tries to address the situation. For example, Fashola did quite well in terms of infrastructure for the health sector, but the pressure from the humongous population may not make it evident. Running the state is like running four states put together. I believe Fashola has done well. Though, there is room for improvement since governance is a continuum.

In particular, what areas are you referring to here?
Road construction, particularly the inner street roads. While l acknowledge that these are local government roads, we all know that if anyone waits for the local governments to tar inner roads in Lagos, one would wait till eternity. So, I believe this is a challenge to the incoming government in the state. Most of the inner roads are in unmotorable state. Yes, Fashola did lots of inner roads in Surulere, but a vast majority of inner street roads need serious and urgent attention.
But some are uncomfortable with policies like the hike in Lagos State University (LASU) tuition fees, high cost housing, multiple taxes and failure to curb street urchins of the Fashola administration

In the case of LASU, l disagreed with the hike in the school fees and told the governor this much. However, by returning the fees to its original amount after all the protests, should be a plus to him.

On the issue of multiple taxes, l listened to him in one of the television programmes where he challenged those who accuse him of implementing multiple taxation, to come out with the facts. I think the confusion has to do with the state and local government tax regime, which seems to be overlapping.

However, I believe the governor would be in a better position to address the issue. On the issue of street urchins, it is a deeper societal problem. Most of these guys are on drugs and until that issue of drug is addressed, the government would just be scratching the matter on the surface.

Few years ago, many of these guys were arrested, taken to court and jailed at Kirikiri till the prison was brimming with over bloated inmates. The prison authorities had to cry out that the prison was not meant for only street urchins. And after serving their terms, which usually was three months, they were back on the streets, more hardened.  So, until the drug problem and unemployment issue are addressed, we will continue to live with the menace.
What’s your view on the toll plazas?

In principle, I’m not against toll collection. It’s the best practice world over, particularly if it’s public/private partnership. There are even purely government projects like the Lagos airport toll. My misgiving on the Lekki tollgate is the heavy amount, particularly when there is no viable alternative route. If someone, for example, has to take his or her child to school outside the tollgate, and then add to subsequent drive in and out to work, that is really heavy and excessive. To that extent, I’m not in support of the amount being paid at the Lekki-Epe tollgates.
What do you consider the lowest point of the administration; the most regrettable?

The repatriation of some destitutes. Though, it was over bloated and politicised, but l think it was absolutely unnecessary.
It seemed Lagos was only following footsteps of other states that had taken similar steps. Why would someone supposedly stranded in Lagos and needing help to get back to his/her village not be helped to do just that by the state?

The fact that some states like Anambra and Akwa Ibom States did it, doesn’t make it right. Those guys were not stranded. They were beggars.
Some have said the Fashola-led administration is a huge improvement on that its predecessor. What’s your take?

I agree. Bola Tinubu laid the foundation and Fashola built on it. Even Asiwaju Tinubu himself acknowledged this during the last campaign.

What areas would you expect the incoming administration to pay priority attention?

Road construction and maintenance. The numbers of cars on Lagos roads are more than the whole of what they have in Ghana. So, the pressure is much more on Lagos roads, leading to incessant repairs.