If Tinubu is not your candidate in the next election, please, do not read this. I understand that like Selectivity Theory in Mass Communication, Nigerians will be selectively exposed to candidates in the 2023 presidential election, they will selectively assess them and they will selectively choose them. If another candidate is your choice, I am not angry. You have not wronged me. But don’t be angry or feel wronged when I tell you Tinubu is my candidate. I have my reasons. You have your reasons. Even if Tinubu doesn’t win, I will not be angry. But if he wins, don’t be angry too. In politics, someone must win, many must lose.
Why am I supporting Tinubu to be Nigeria’s president? It is not so much about him per se. I am looking beyond him and what he has done for now. I will return to it later. I am looking at his team. I know who will likely serve as his CBN Governor. My instinct tells me it is Yemi Cardoso from Lagos State. He would have nominated him as Vice to Buhari in 2014. My instinct also tells me Wale Edun will be appointed as his Minister of Finance. He would have nominated him as Vice to Buhari like Yemi Cardoso. That is a winning team if economy is our focus. Godwin Emefiele wasn’t the original choice to run our CBN. Bisi Onasanya of First Bank it was waiting for just GEJ’s signature. But Niger Delta connection swayed the president to appoint Emefiele. The rest they say is history. I know supporters of other candidates are saying Tinubu will die tomorrow as if they own life. No problem for me. Kashim Shettima has shown he can run the country if the owner of life takes that of his principal suddenly. The last time both Wale Edun and Yemi Cardoso worked with Tinubu, Lagos worked. And it is still working. But not for everybody. You have to calm down, think positive, give positive vibes to reap positive harvest.
I know this is not a generally accepted view. But who cares? Anybody whose parents cooked food with “Stove Abacha” prior to 1999 will know that Lagos is working. Anybody who listened to Col. Olagunsoye Oyinlola say “there is no bitumen to fix the Lagos roads” prior to 1999 will know Lagos is working. Anybody who witnessed how Abacha’s Operation Sweep was creatively turned to Rapid Response Squad to tackle insecurity will know Lagos works. Operation Sweep was in other states. Where are they today? The problem is most of those who know are not active on social media and most of those who are active on social media are either too young to know and don’t know at all. But thank God I witnessed it all pre 1999 and I have worked with one of the people who formed that government with Tinubu in 1999. I have read documents and listened government’s programme execution strategies. I have participated in some. I will not blame those who don’t know. There is level to these things.
In June 2011, immediately after Governor Babatunde Fashola was sworn-in for his second term, he commissioned our team, led by Professor Idowu Sobowale, to organise a 5-day workshop for the Lagos State civil servants. Adeyemi Bero was the venue. Participants were Permanent Secretaries, Directors, Deputy Directors and Assistant Directors. The title of the workshop was “Energising the Civil Service for Better Performance”. The Governor and his deputy declared open the workshop and thereafter left so the civil servants could be free to talk to us about the problems confronting Lagosians, the extent to which they had solved them, the challenges they faced while solving the problems and what government must do. Prior to the workshop, between 2008 and 2011, we had researched the length and breadth of Lagos and its residents on various government policies and programmes. The workshop served as the second leg capturing the civil servants’ perspectives. We produced a 74-page report on how far Lagos had come, where it was and what must happen going forward. When the cabinet was formed, Governor Fashola also organised something like orientation or re-orientation for the new cabinet members. He asked us to collate the results of those past studies and that of the workshop and present to the newly appointed commissioners and SAs at the Council Chamber in order to prepare them for the job they were coming to do.
Insights from our report show Lagos had improved since the military returned to the barracks in 1999. Studies after then till date also show the state government has performed well in many areas but need to improve in some other areas. Although these areas continue to expand with people arriving daily from different parts of Nigeria and West Africa. You can’t stop people from coming in anyway. Of course, it means more investment will be required to cater for those whose state governments have abandoned the basic essence of government. All the 35 state governments are guilty of this. There are pieces of evidence to point to the fact that the Lagos State Tinubu left in 2007 was not the Lagos State Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Buba Marwa left in 1999. Governors Fashola, Ambode and now Sanwo-Olu have taken the state even beyond what Tinubu left. But all Lagos State administrations are interconnected. None works/worked in isolation. For instance, there is a reason Bola Tinubu brought Professor Idowu Sobowale back 1999. He has been working on education since 1978. He worked with Jakande in from 1979 and continued with two other administrations before returning in 1999. Today, public school system is the bedrock of education in Lagos State and by extension, Nigeria. When others say their states became number one in education, you ask why not? They don’t have to do anything than copying the Lagos strategy. If they say their states have been number one at some point, ask them with how many students? As communication scientists, we usually use Difference in Proportion Test (DPT) to determine the strength of the difference between two proportions. If we divide the number of students who register for WAEC exams between their states and Lagos, we will see that their claim has no meaning.
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But did Lagos really work under Tinubu’s governorship? The answer one will get will depend on who is answering the question. The grandfathers of Philosophy as a field of study believed that a wise man is a man who can draw meaning from experience. What meaning can we draw from our journey? The fact that what Abacha stole and stashed away in foreign countries are still being returned to Nigeria 24 years after his passing speaks volume. Paul Agbai Ogwuma was his CBN Governor. He may know one or two things about how the CBN became Abacha’s source of private funding with billions of dollars finding their way to offshore accounts. Imagine what we could have done with that money. Despite the efforts, where government has had to buy houses to make roads, some people think Lagos is the worst city after hell fire. I don’t blame them.
Now the question again, Is Lagos working? I will explain this by citing David Pilling who penned an article in 2018 titled “Nigerian economy: Why Lagos works” in Financial Times. David Pilling submitted in part about Lagos and Tinubu: “Since the federal government moved to Abuja in 1991, Nigeria’s former capital and commercial hub of roughly 20m people has taken off. Starting in 1999, with the election of Bola Tinubu, a former Mobil Oil executive, Lagos has had three administrations that have harnessed the private sector to turn the city into the most productive and dynamic part of Nigeria’s economy” (David Pilling, 2018 https://www.ft.com/content/ff0595e4-26de-11e8-b27e-cc62a39d57a0).
David Pilling continued, “the Lagos economy is significantly bigger than that of the whole of Kenya, East Africa’s most dynamic country, with a nominal per capita income of more than $,5000, more than double the Nigerian average. The population, just 1.4m in 1970, has nearly doubled from 11m a decade ago as thousands of people arrive each day to seek a better life.”
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When some people complain that Lagos is not Dubai, they forget that even till now, Dubai’s population is 1.3m people. That is the population of Mushin alone. Ironically, those who arrive daily to seek a better life which their states or regions could not give are at the forefront of the agitation for “Lagos is not working” advocacy. There is no doubt that Lagos has room for improvement. But it is not a failure by any stretch of imagination and it is by far Nigeria’s most important state.
Corroborating David Pilling, Zebulon Agomuo, writing under the line “The challenges of being Lagos Governor in times like these” said “In good times, a governor of Lagos State exudes confidence and walks with swagger. He has every reason to do so. Lagos is rated the most prosperous state in Nigeria. Whether it was during the administrations of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Babatunde Raji Fashola, or when Akinwunmi Ambode presided over its affairs, or now that Babajide Sanwo-Olu sits at the Oval Office in Alausa as the chief executive officer, Lagos has always been thick (April 19, 2020).
Similarly, Lamido Sanusi, our former CBN governor, said as cited by Zebulon Agomuo in Business Day (April 19 2020), “In the past 18 years (Tinubu’s time as Governor), Lagos has transformed. In terms of roads, in terms of infrastructure, in terms of governance, in terms of a general investment environment, in terms of security, the government has given people a greater opportunity to thrive.” Sanusi Lamido concluded that “Lagos has provided a template for the whole of Nigeria. That is what we need at the national level.”
I know not everyone will like this. But it is their problem. Sikiru Ayinde Barrister once sang in Fuji Garbage that a man who loves a single mother will love her child. People who don’t like Lagos or are envious of it will not like its governors. There is nothing anyone can do about that. Hunrun hunrun inside pigs usually die with them. As 2023 election beckon, the time has come for the designer of that template Lamido Sanusi referred to to assume leadership so he can use it for Nigeria. Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his men will replicate it if voted. How he will do, he will tell us at the right time.
Richard Adeyinka Alaba Emmanuel is the CEO of DataHome Research and Communications Ltd and an alumnus of Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos.
Culled from Orita.
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