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14.01.2010 Nigeria

Dangerous antics of Lagos lawmakers-by Rotimi Fasan

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The news that lawmakers in the Lagos House of Assembly were contemplating the impeachment of the Governor, Raji Fashola, came to me as a surprise as I believe it did many other Nigerians who must have followed the activities of the Governor since he came into office in 2007.

But on hearing the reasons for the planned impeachment which has, hopefully, been set aside, surprise turned to incredulity at the ridiculous extent to which supposedly enlightened politicians elected to serve the larger interest of the electorate could go to destroy that interest in the name of politics.

According to reports, the Governor who by general consensus has but himself to surpass in the effort to transform Lagos and change things for the better in the State, has been accused of corruption, specifically over invoicing in the purchase of fuel for Lagos and, indeed, the amount budgeted for decorating public places in Lagos in the build-up to the Christmas and New Year holidays.

These charges are at best ridiculous, but at the worst they point at the destructive mischief to which some could lend themselves when they so feel obliged.

While this is not an attempt to excuse corruption in whatever form, the amount the Governor is alleged to have helped himself to looks too small beside what even local government chairmen in poorly resourced states are known to steal, to say nothing of the Governor of a relatively wealthy state like Lagos.

The story just couldn't add up and it was clear there was more to the matter than the concerned legislators were prepared to own up to.

It would soon emerge that these legislators are supposedly supporters of a former governor of Lagos State, the same man who stuck out his neck to see to the emergence of Raji Fashola as governor, Bola Tinubu.

The belief out there is that the former governor or his supporters feel his contribution to the on-going transformation of Lagos has not been acknowledged and that Raji Fashola is trying to be his own man. One wonders what else the Governor could be expected to be if not his own man.

And being his own man does not mean that Fashola is against Tinubu or does not recognise his role in what he might be doing as the governor of Lagos today. What we need to ask is, in what manner those who make this foolish accusation expect Fashola to defer to Tinubu- prostrate to him publicly or pay daily visits to Tinubu's home to report government affairs?

For many months now, there have been rumours that the centre can no longer hold in the relationship between Tinubu and Fashola and the most unflattering reason offered for this has been what some called Tinubu's overbearing interest in how Lagos is managed financially. Opposition forces have tried to play this up to no avail while both men have routinely denied any rift between them.

Personally, I'd been content to ignore the rumours believing that disagreement is normal to human beings and that the matter could not be so serious as to boil over into the public domain. The situation however changed slightly after the recent exchange of apparently innocuous adverts from both sides in the media.

And while the details of the supposed disagreement might not be known, the fact that matters had to get to the media, that an aide of the former governor and a commissioner in his administration, Dele Alake, would take newspaper pages to explain the achievements and legacies of his principal in Lagos confirmed the persistent rumour more than anything else.

For what is the point in enumerating the achievements of a past administration at a time when the present governor is being eulogised for his performance in office? Is Bola Tinubu contesting for the governorship of Lagos again?

Or what is the rationale for that advert if all was indeed well? Whatever was the intention of that advert, it was an unnecessary effort. What we must all get straight is that there cannot be two captains on a ship. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu's contribution to whatever is happening in Lagos today cannot be discounted.

Even if all he did was to identify a worthy individual in the person of Raji Fashola to succeed him, he deserves to be praised for his sagacity. But the truth is that the former governor truly did far more than just saw to the emergence of a capable hand to continue with his effort of transforming Lagos.

Be it in terms of the vastly improved revenue generation in the state or the beautification of Lagos, the foundation for these developments were set during the Tinubu period. One recalls the hot exchange of letters between him and former president Olusegun Obasanjo, on the question of clearing heaps of rubbish from Lagos or even repair of Federal roads that Adeseye Ogunlewe turned into a political matter.

Tinubu worked hard and, perhaps, his greatest contribution was that he rose above the demands of political jobbery and ensured that someone competent to continue the work he started took over from him. He was a bulwark to the new administration, providing necessary political ballast that a largely apolitical Fashola needed to stabilise his government and focus on the business of governing Lagos.

Without him things would have been pretty rough in Lagos, with the opposition bent on playing politics for the sake of it. Having done all of this, Tinubu shouldn't allow any shred of hubris to destroy what he started. He should rise above the immediate gratification of popular recognition.

Fashola is one person that has given hope that things can be done right in Nigeria and his effort is being copied in various parts of this country even by opposition parties that have had to acknowledge his example.

In years to come, nobody will speak of the Fashola era without talking of the Tinubu era.

Ousting Fashola would be bruising less for Fashola than Nigerians in general and Lagosians in particular, including the fumbling promoters of impeachment in Alausa. The foolishness should stop forthwith.

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