ODUMAKIN: Fashola Failed Lagos
THE Fashola administration was an offshoot of the Tinubu reign in Lagos State and it was no accident he was called ‘the actualiser’, He was able to inherit the heavy propaganda machineries of his godfather, which he further oiled to create a mystique.
Under him the revenue of the state soared and he had every opportunity to make real and fundamental changes in the state to leave lasting legacies. In real terms, where Lagos budgeted N650 billion in Tinubu’s eight years, the state has done over N4 trillion under Fashola. This was enough to change the face of Lagos in all sectors for good. But because Fashola did not really know Lagos and did not play politics before he was handpicked as governor, he was unable to set the welfare of the people as the foremost priority of his administration.
At the end of his eight years, he was unable go make the kind of impact a Lateef Jakande made in Lagos under four years with less than three billion naira –– a peanut to what is available to Fashola even with inflation factored in.
Everywhere you go in Lagos, 32 years after Jakande, the people are still talking of Jakande Estate and Schools. Hardly can you hear the everyday people mention Fashola Estate, It’s only the rich who have such privilege in Fashola’s Lagos.
The governor himself was pointedly asked why he did not invest in low cost housing and he responded that “there is no low cost cement.” From day one, he never hid his disdain for the poor in Lagos. From Oshodi, through Makoko to Lekki, it was a merciless war against the poor people. It was an era of heartless demolitions without compensations. The position of the United Nations (UN) that squatters are firstly citizens did not reckon in Fashola’s bulldozing regime. The poor could go to hell was the motto. It was the first administration in Nigeria that packed citizens like heap of rubbish to dump them in their states of origin.
A government that had such financial rake also became the highest debtor in Nigeria, but without much impact in the social sectors. In one fell swoop, fees in the state university were hiked to as much as N350,000, whereas the N18,000 minimum wage was not fully paid in the state. In fact, Lagos workers get their salaries without slips. The fees were not reduced in spite of many protestations until the All Progressives Congress (APC) was humiliated at the polls in Ekiti State. Pupils sit on bare floors, tyres and broken benches in schools even in the capital, Ikeja.
A cesarean operation in the state hospital costs as much as N350,000, as medical personnel would have been on strike for nearly two of the eight years of the administration .
In terms of the investment climate, a World Bank report listed Lagos as one the worst states to do business in Nigeria, given multiple taxation, shake downs and hurdles in getting titles for property.
In spite of the billions of dollars that the World Bank gave to Lagos for water projects, most parts of the state don’t have water to drink leading to widespread water borne diseases like typhoid across the city.
On top of all these is the profligacy in governance and serious allegations of corruption that tainted the administration. The type of vehicles that are driven as official cars in Alausa are not even the choice of oil companies in Nigeria. The administration made a culture of not disclosing the cost of its projects. Even the FOI requests on the finances of the state were shunned with impunity.
Are you saying there is nothing exciting about the administration?
Given the level of revenue available and delivery to the people, the Fashola administration could not be said to be a qualitative improvement on that of Tinubu. Many Lagos communities around Ayobo became completely cut off from Lagos due to collapsed bridges. Minus about three roads done under Tinubu and a few added by Fashola in Victoria Island and Ikoyi; all other roads in Lagos today are craters and bumps. In the early years of Fashola, there were attempts to reduce the menace of area boys, who had a free reign under Tinubu, but his inability to invest in social security has led to a greater unleash with cult clashes and gang wars across the state. The massive investment in the security trust fund has not yielded much fruits because the production line of crime has not been affected.
The positive side of the administration for me was the attempt to clean up the state and bring about some orderliness. The beatification project was okay, if we close our eyes to the cost, which is very ugly.
The strengthening of the Lagos State Transport Management Agency (LASTMA) was positive, although we could do with less of the fascist tendencies.
What would you describe as the most disappointing?
The most disappointing phase was when Fashola hid under some judicial shenanigans to evade accountability on the allegations from a group called ‘True Face of Lagos,’ which detailed reckless and mind-boggling financial heist of the administration. A morally sound governor would have defended himself against those chilling allegations of scandalous misappropriation of public funds. Those aerations will trail Fashola for the rest of his years in public life.