I became a Lagos resident on January 25, 1993 after I had completed my postgraduate studies in University of Ibadan in November 1992. This means that I saw, first hand, the achievements of the following Executive Governors / Military Administrators of the State: Sir Michael Agbolade Otedola (1991- 1993), Colonel Olagunsoye Oyinlola (1993-1996), Colonel Muhammed Buba Marwa (1996-1999), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (1999-2007) and Babatunde Raji Fashola (2007 to date).
The administrations of Sir Otedola, Colonel Oyinlola, and Colonel Marwa typified transactional leadership. During their tenure in office, everything that should be a problem was a problem. In response, they employed palliative measures to what had become perennial problems in Lagos State.
Lagos State had challenges in the following areas:
Road transportation, the main means of transportation then, was a big challenge. Lagosians had difficulty commuting from one place to another. The roads were pothole ridden. Not only that we even had frequent challenges going through Third Mainland Bridge – the best road at the time. I recall spending 3 hours commuting the 12-kilometre bridge to the Oworonshoki end after closing from work sometime in 1995! We spent slightly lesser hours on the Bridge from time to time then.
Armed robbers had a field day in Lagos. It was a regular occurrence to see motorists abandon their cars and take to their heels because of robbers. I encountered this situation once and the experience wasn’t funny.
General Olusegun Obasanjo once referred to Lagos State as a smelling city. He was right in his assertion. The problem of waste disposal was particularly terrible during Sir Otedola’s administration. Overall administration was so slow during his tenure that he was dubbed ‘Baba Go Slow’.
There was a total collapse of infrastructure in the education sector. We had dilapidated school buildings, etc.
Healthcare delivery was nothing to write home about. The solid foundation Alhaji Lateef Jakande laid down in this sector and many others had disappeared.
Law and Order
Lagos was simply noisy and chaotic. For instance, motorists, especially commercial transporters, turned one-way roads to dual carriage roads without thinking.
Administration in Lagos was nothing to write home about. People dreaded having to go to Alausa for anything.
Transformational leadership debuted in Lagos with the election of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (ABAT) as the Executive Govenor. Before he was elected he made his intentions known and he did make good his promises.
Palliative measures, which had hitherto been the trademark of administration in Lagos State, gave way to the institutionalization of enduring systems under ABAT. He revamped existing governmental agencies and formed new ones where necessary. The achievements of LAMATA, LAWMA, LASTMA, Ministry of Environment, State Security Trust Fund, and many others are evident for all to see. I shouldn’t forget to mention the various initiatives under Free Trade Zone.
ABAT didn’t repair roads like his predecessors. He constructed new roads and reconstructed some existing ones. It is to his credit that Oregun Road became passable.
Under ABAT/BRF, Lagos became the safest place to live in Nigeria; not a mean feat for one of the most populous cities in the world! Recently someone remarked that the beautification of public spaces by BRF administration has ridden the State of potential hideouts for not only robbers but terrorists also. I agree.
ABAT’s biggest achievement was finding a successor in the person of Babatunde Raji Fashola (BRF). BRF commenced from where ABAT stopped and he’s since surpassed his predecessor’s achievements. In the area of transportation, BRF not only improved on the road infrastructure, he also introduced alternative means of transportation. For instance, Lagos State now has a cable bridge; Bus Rapid Transit is a huge success; Light Rail and cable car transportation are starting soon. One of the termini for the cable car trasportation is being constructed at Sandgrouse, opposite Mandilas. Mini power plants are mushrooming across the metropolis! The inland waterway transportation however needs to be properly regulated in view of recent accidents which claimed some lives.
Through the activities of ABAT and BRF, Lagos, the erstwhile forsaken city, has become the beautiful bride every politician seeks to court.
The sweeping changes brought into public administration is being exported to others States of the Federation. The transformation going on in Ogun State, Ondo State, Oyo State, Osun State, and Edo State has its origin in Lagos State. Talk of a fire that is lighting other fires.
ABAT and BRF are not saints
It is a statement of fact that ABAT and BRF are not saints; they are selfish men! You’re probably thinking: “Aren’t we all?” The only difference between them and the hawks seeking to have a share of Lagos pie is that they (ABAT and BRF) have enlightened self-interest. Whereas ABAT and BRF have ‘do and chop’ philosophy, the opposition have ‘chop and chop’ mentality.
There’s an urgent need to curtail the activities (and greed) of the current leadership in Lagos. They seem to play God in the way and manner things are done forgetting that they are mere mortals. Because Lagos State and indeed Nigeria were city/nation of the blind, ABAT and his team came as the proverbial one-eyed men. This gave them the privilege to ride roughshod over us. Unfortunately, they forgot the fundamental economic principle that ‘human needs are insatiable’. They have opened our eyes to what is possible and it is our inalienable right to demand more.
The only role the opposition has at this stage is to assist us in accentuating our demand for more growth and development. This should remain so until the opposition proves their mettle in the States they currently govern. Given their antecedents, they are ‘bad men and women’ we must be careful in dealing with. They (the opposition) make no pretense about their desperation, shamelessness, crudeness, and viciousness. Their current approach of using the aggrieved and the brigand in Lagos and the South West to blackmail the current administration is telling. We can only ignore these telling signs to our peril as ‘Lagosians’.
The saying that ‘power belongs to the people’ though true had not been our experience as Lagosians and indeed Nigerians. Now there is a prospect that the saying can become a reality in our time. We must not bungle it by not being discerning. ABAT and his team have done well; they have also enriched themselves in the process. Now is the time to demand a change, not necessarily of the captains but of the approach to steering the wheel of governance.
‘Eko o ni baje o!’