His recent posturing has revealed the governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola as much of a politician as an administrator. Ojo M. Maduekwe writes
Has anyone noticed a trend with the Governor of Lagos State, BabatundeFashola, lately? Have you wondered why he’s taken every occasion to criticise the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan? Perhaps, Fashola the administrator is now as much a politician.
Not only Jonathan, Fashola’s two notable but brief spat with the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, points at a man learning how to and not play the game of politics, and also reveals a man who may have accepted Aristotle’s propagation that “man is a political animal”.
In the beginning, Fashola was not always this outspoken on issues of politics. Tinubu chose him as successor, perhaps because those in the know, among other reasons, alleged that the former saw him as a good administrator and not a politician. And on that, there is no playing to the gallery. Politicians are always viewed as ambitious, sometimes too ambitious and unlikely susceptible to control.
As an administrator, not only was Fashola expected to do a good job at administering the developmental blue-prints of Lagos as designed by his predecessor and improved upon by himself, he was however expected not to question the manner in which the blue-prints were to be administered.
But when Fashola the administrator felt he had come of age, and metamorphosed into the mould of a quintessential politician, he was not the one they used to know. Effort to curb him failed and the resort to blackmail was inevitable. Does anyone remember the series of organised protests staged in Lagos and Abuja, against Fashola, by the group ‘True Face of Lagos’?
Said to have been sponsored from within and by elements in Fashola’s party, reports were that Tinubu was out for Fashola because the latter was set to right the many wrongs allegedly perpetrated by Tinubu and his allies.
At the end, the attempt to be his own man came with huge carrying cost, which of course Fashola did not mind. A few of those who also allegedly showed support and sympathy were allegedly felled by the political bullet of the leader.
When Fashola again attempted to confront Tinubu, it was because there were now several persons weary of Tinubu’s unbridled influence in the government and party in the state. A majority of the APC members and governorship aspirants felt betrayed that Tinubu, had used them and did not find them worthy to be the governor of Lagos State.
Like the first, the second confrontation hit a brick wall. The squabbles may have taught Fashola that “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. He probably knows now that it is worth the trouble challenging one’s godfather. Not only that, he has also learned to, like former President Olusegun Obasanjo, to pitch one’s tent where the wind blows or so it seems.
Like Obasanjo, Fashola is relying on public dissents against the President Goodluck Jonathan administration to criticise the president. Some of the masses and supporters of the APC consider his outbursts as patriotic but politicians know what it is. Behind a politician’s action is the need for political survival, they seem to reckon.
The rate at which he is in the news reminds one of the period before Femi Fani-Kayode was appointed the Director of Media and Publicity for the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organisation. An ardent critic of Jonathan then, Fani-Kayode now sings the president’s praises.
It is believed that at the end of the tenure of some elected officials, the trappings of office and life after office, causes them to ponder their political future. While some say this is the phase Fashola now finds himself as his tenure sets to expire, a lot others disagree because he is said to have a second address, not just as a lawyer but a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) at that.
In other words, if his party the All Progressives Congress (APC) wins the presidential election, it may pay off for Fashola. Political appointments are understandably not applied for but handed those party members considered loyal, which in most cases requires establishing your presence.
But why the case of Fashola has attracted interest is because on several occasions, he has been forced to contradict himself. If he’s not saying the Lagos State governorship candidate of the PDP, Jimi Agbaje, is old, he is defending the APC presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari at 72.
If Fashola is on the one hand disparaging Jonathan’s failure to transform Nigeria in six years, his Special Adviser on Media, Hakeem Bello, would be defending his boss in areas he is believed not to have done well, much as that is also subject to debate as BRF as he is fondly called remains one of the poster kids of this republic.
But the irony is that Fashola and the APC do not allow Jonathan to make the same excuse for failing to meet some of his campaign promises. From the look of things, the past failures of Nigeria, and that of the PDP is being heaped on Jonathan alone.
“After six years, without being able to articulate what he is doing and what he will do and he keeps blaming everybody, forgetting that he is the Commander-in-Chief. If the kitchen is too hot, as it is becoming of late, you must get out of the kitchen”. Fashola made this comment in January.
No doubt, some of the perceived inconsistencies in some of these exchanges are what is making people ponder the new Fashola from their respective perspective.
Even then, a majority of the people still consider Fashola a good administrator, but not as much a good politician. Maybe in assessing the governor’s many remarks on national issues, one was to rely on the alleged comment by the governor of Niger State, BabangidaAliyu, that lying was an integral part of politics then Fashola could be considered a good politician.
Much more is that Fashola has an enviable ability to defend convincingly, any cause he believes in.