While growing up, the saying; “The rejected stone is now the corner stone” only played out in the movies, but never in real life. However, in the last seven and half years of our dear Lagos state, these sweet old words are now playing out big time and clearly one such rejected stone is Babatunde Fashola, the Executive Governor of Lagos state.
The shining light of my dear nation, the man that has been able to prove that indeed government in Nigeria can be responsible and there can be governance without fear, mediocrity or sentiments in a state as heterogeneous as Lagos.
Prior to 2007 election, I was a good supporter of one of Action Congress’ (AC) gubernatorial aspirant Rahman Akani Owokoniran (RAO). I have a passion for youth development and the first time I was led to Rahman’s place by one Alhaja (of blessed memory) his words touched me. I was taken by his charisma and passion for change and immediately I declared for him. I went back home and immediately started preaching his gospel amongst youths in my local government and ward in particular. Before the primary elections, we heard the incumbent governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, had little trust in most of the aspirants and he unveiled one man who had SAN as a suffix in his name. The man, Fashola, was said to be a lawyer to Tinubu during his NADECO’s trials and BRF was able to manage his properties and his accountability was excellent while Asiwaju Tinubu was in exile.
The first time I set my eyes on Tunde Fashola was in 2006 at the Adebola House in Ikeja. I had received calls a night before with a message from Colonel Ajala that there will be Justice Forum (the biggest caucus in AC then) emergency meeting from all members across the state that I should be present. On getting there; we saw banners with the inscription like; “Justice Forum Endorses Tunde Fashola (SAN) For 2007 Lagos Governor”. Getting into the hall, we all sat down and the endorsement messages rolled in from leaders of JF and they presented the young, gentle and calm man as the Governorship Aspirant of AC and they urged all JF members to vote for BRF at the primaries. We all rejected him, we shouted “NO, NO, NO!”… but the group’s leaders had made their decision; BRF was their man.
Alhaja Omobolanle Adetutu Akinyemi Obe (the incumbent Chairman of my LGA) was the first person that brought BRF to Surulere and due to her hard work before the primaries, BRF posters were everywhere. Fashola won at the primaries and the rest is history.
BRF got to work fast. From the day he was sworn in as the Governor, we knew change had come to Lagos. He began road constructions, intensified the beautification of the city, initiated the rehabilitation of hospitals and built new schools. Oshodi, which used to be a nightmare, became a delight. BRF gave us the hope that indeed government can deliver.
People from the opposition parties admired his style; other political parties endorsed his efforts. By the time he was seeking a second term in office, some of those who contested against him the first time recognised the futility of attempting to unseat him and stayed away from the contest. They knew they were no match to his intelligence or ability to deliver and inspire. The United Nations had adjudged as the Most Responsible Public Servant in West Africa. BRF touched everything a responsible government should; Education, Health, Security, Infrastructure etc. He never exhibited bigotry; he mixed freely with people from all ethnicities. He appointed Muslims, Christians, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba in his cabinet. He attends church events, he observes his solats as a Muslim and never discriminates.
BRF is the first public officer at his level that doesn’t use siren in Nigeria. His convoys obey traffic rules, thereby setting good examples. He gets the job done. No wonder the National Leader of APC tagged him as the ‘Best Man for the Job’ and indeed he’s the best man for the job. Lagos has witnessed ‘real transformation’ since he took the baton from his predecessor.
In a perfect society, Babatunde Fashola should be automatically elevated into the Presidency in a Federal state like ours, but unsurprisingly, most Nigerians are not seeing this due to religion and tribal sentiments. He has the capacity to be a far better President than the one we are currently saddled with. The speed of his thoughts and actions, his ability to mobilise and energise his team into action makes him more than adequate to lead Nigeria at this time. For me, Fashola should be on his way to Presidency and I’m ready to campaign for him with my money and strength. BRF’s composure is just too presidential.
It is imperative for me to add this; I must commend his swift reaction to the Ebola outbreak. Like a Professor in the University of Lagos told me; ‘Lanre, had we not have someone like Fashola as Lagos Governor, we might all be wiped out by now as he has no room for mediocrity.” Thank you Gov. Fashola.
The Babatunde Fashola that I rejected in 2006 is now the cornerstone that I want as President come 2015. This is the man I am most proud of and I declare that I’m a Fasholamaniac. A performer without excuses like him is what we need in Aso Rock.
My Governor, you are too good to just go like that. After reading your last Independence Day speech, I cried in my room as I know we might not have the opportunity to have someone like you again. You have raised the bar of governance.
Please, Uncle Tunde, tell your wife and children that we want to borrow you again, this time for Presidency. Fashola, you MUST run for President! You are the cornerstone with the capacity, will, charisma and favour to kick start the New Nigeria Project.
Run, BRF! Run! ________________ Article written by Lanre Oguntoyinbo @lanreneville
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