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‘I Have Kept Faith With The Electorate’—Fashola

Posted by The PM News on 2008/12/12 | Views: 1316 |

‘I Have Kept Faith With The Electorate’—Fashola


Lagos state governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN), in far away Cambridge, United Kingdom, enumerated an improved healthcare, transportation system, security and ongoing massive infrastructure renewal, among several others, as some of his kept electoral promises.

Lagos state governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN), in far away Cambridge, United Kingdom, enumerated an improved healthcare, transportation system, security and ongoing massive infrastructure renewal, among several others, as some of his kept electoral promises.

The governor spoke at the Debating Chambers of the 790-year-old Cambridge University, on the topic “Developments, Challenges and Opportunities for Governance in an Emerging Democracy: The Lagos Project,” as guest of the Cambridge Union Society.

Governor Fashola told his audience, comprising of students, lecturers and invited guests, that having emerged from a keenly contested election in which he attended seven debates and addressed 26 rallies, he owed it a duty to deliver on his promises to the people who gave him a chance because they wanted something fresh. To constantly remind himself of the promises, governor Fashola said he had everything written down.

His words: ”This participatory process of debates and rallies had a very positive effect which is not seen in many other states in Nigeria. It got people interested in democratisation and it imposed on me an even sharper sense of urgency and responsibility. I kept notes of every promise I made at those rallies in a book that a friend and I call the Black Book and I have recordings of each rally on my i-pod which I carry with me everywhere I go. I read those notes regularly to remind me of what I may have forgotten.“

Continuing, the governor, who was responding to a question on how much of his electoral promises he has been able to deliver, added that he watches the campaign videos from time to time as useful reminders of promises he voluntarily made to the people who barely knew him but were willing “to entrust their future to my abilities.”

Governor Fashola, in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr Hakeem Bello, said he realized from the outset that his promises to the people would demand only performance and not excuses, adding that even with the appreciation being shown by the public of the “very modest effort” of the administration, he had always impressed it on his colleagues in the state Executive Council of the need to do more because, according to him, “the only reward we will get for hard work is more work.”

Earlier, in his lecture ,governor Fashola identified the two broad challenges that confront Africa, Nigeria and Lagos as those of democracy and the rule of law which commentators describe as the challenges of democratisation and governance.

According to him, while democracy could ensure the enthronement of the government of the people, there are no guarantees that leaders emerging from the system will necessarily subject themselves to law, be efficient or resist the temptation to be corrupt. He noted that while scholars have identified institutions, rather than people as being capable of protecting individual rights, a contradiction exists in the sense that the institutions will still be run by men.

Noting that how well the institutions perform will depend on the ability of men who direct their affairs, governor Fashola said the magnitude of the challenge for Africa can be appreciated better with the consideration of the fact that most African countries are still grappling with the task of picking leaders without acrimony.

“They (African countries ) must tread the tortuous path of democratisation and hopefully, begin to create institutions and find leaders that will sustain democracy and development.“

The governor said though the process of achieving this is exceptionally difficult in Africa as portrayed by the experience in Lagos and Nigeria, sustained education, advocacy and civic engagement on the need to shun electoral fraud and avoid sales of ballot papers, could produce accountable leaders who will uphold the rule of law in governance as it happened in Lagos.

Governor Fashola also noted that while state and countries implode in the process of choosing their leaders, in Lagos state, success has been achieved with free and fair elections and true democratisation. An area in which Nigeria and Lagos, in particular, has recorded tremendous success, Fashola noted, was in the management of electoral disputes following general elections .

Citing several resolved cases across the country, including the petitions against his own election, governor Fashola said the Jos dispute was an exception because a religious conflict was unfortunately ventilated under the guise of politics because no dispute had emerged from the election process before fighting broke out in the state.

“Our success in the management of electoral conflicts has been demonstrated once again by the recent judgement of the Court of Appeal in Edo state installing a minority candidate against a candidate of the majority party in characteristic Nigerian judicial courage which the president said should be complied with,” governor Fashola noted.

He added that local government elections were held without violence in October 2008, in Lagos, despite deep and divergent constitutional differences between the Action Congress and other parties in the state.

“While admitting that our electoral process still requires reform, the role of the Judiciary coupled with respect for the rule of law has greatly assisted to ensure the sustenance of our democracy,” the governor noted. Speaking on the need for determination to overcome challenges in order to deliver social goods, governor Fashola said the democratic government must draw up and pursue its set goals with the people in mind.

In Lagos, such goals, the governor said have been set with rapid progress being made in spite of challenges which he enumerated to include the population size against a small land mass, the vehicular density, the steady inflow of migrant population and the virtual absence of any new major infrastructure like roads, schools, hospitals, shopping malls and markets, prior to the return of democratic government in 1999.

“To this end, we immediately set ourselves the task of reducing the infrastructural deficit in order to avert the total system collapse. We identified critical traffic bearing roads that needed to be rebuilt, we resolved to build new markets and modern shopping malls to assist our large population of traders; we resolved to upgrade existing health facilities and build new ones while we planned on the use of our vast waterways as an alternative transport mode,” the governor said.

Continuing, he added, “we also took on the challenge of building light rail tracks as possibly the most enduring solution to complement the dedicated bus rapid transit programme initiated by the previous government which we successfully completed and inaugurated in March 2008,” he said.

Shedding light on the unprecedented financial engineering which gave rise to the 2008 N403 billion budget of Great Leap, which devoted a greater percentage to capital projects, the efforts of raising development fund through much needed tax and the evolution of a mutually beneficial public/ private partnership model on security and other areas, governor Fashola gave progress report on landmark projects of his administration to the delight of all who gave him a standing ovation at the end of the presentation.

During the robust question and answer session that followed, governor Fashola provided clarifications on issues of Transportation, Rural Development, Environment, Flood Control and Power Supply, among others. He challenged the students to come back home and contribute their own quota to the development of their fatherland, noting that it was high time the country developed new power stations to relieve those built by the Britons, while the best brains of the country should also come and take positions of responsibility in the nation’s public service. To a suggestion that congestion charges be introduced in Lagos, as done in central London, governor Fashola explained that the option could be considered after all, adding that London, with its multi-modal transportation system in place, still experiences congestion.

Earlier on arrival at Cambridge University, governor Fashola and his entourage were received and taken on a tour of the Centre of African Studies by the Acting Director of African Studies, Professor Megan Vaughn, Professor C. Forsyth, Chairman of African Studies Management Committee, Mr Terry Ndee of the Development Office of the university and Dr Martha Cheo, a Nigerian Visiting Fellow from the Bells University, Ota, Ogun state. At the Cambridge Union Society Office, the governor was met by the president of the Cambridge Union Society, Mr Adam Bolt; president of the Cambridge University African- Carribean Society, Mr Olusomi Delano, and president of the Cambridge University Nigeria Society, Mr Louis Akanimo, among others.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.