Sunday, May 3, 2009

Who Is the Best Lagos State Governor?

Recently while reading discussions on a public forum, I came across a post titled ‘Who is the Best Lagos State Governor?’ Although, Lagos State has had four civilian governors and 12 military governors/administrators to date, the author of the post was specifically comparing the records of following state executives, Alhaji Lateef Jakande(1979-1983), Late Air Commodore Gbolahan Mudashiru (1984-1986), Brigadier-General Raji Rasaki (1988-1991), Col Buba Marwa (1996-1999) and Babatunde Raji Fashola (2007-till date). I will note that public opinion on this issue was somewhat divided, as people rated each governor based on their perception of each governor’s performance.

You will agree with me that these five state administrators have all left indelible marks on the face of Lagos - whether good or bad. The names of some these administrators are synonymous with some of the landmark projects/initiatives they implemented while in office. We can remember Jakande for ‘free education’, Mudashiru for his ‘prototype school buildings’, Raji Rasaki for the ‘third mainland bridge’, Marwa for ‘Operation Sweep’ and Fashola for bringing sanity to Oshodi.

It will however be difficult to compare the incumbent state governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola to the previous state administrators. The reason is that, although he has implemented major public initiatives and projects since his assumption of office, his administration is still in its early days. And also, it will be unfair to compare him with the previous administrators, most of who were in office for at least three years. But from my own viewpoint, I do strongly feel that best administrator to have ever governed Lagos State in my generation is Alhaji Lateef Jakande. And I will tell you the reason why.

For me, Alhaji Jakande was the best governor not just because of his ‘free education’, mass housing programme or implementation of ferry transport services. Having said that, these projects are yet to be surpassed by any other administration. They are thousands of people today, who will not have had opportunity to be educated or own a home if not for the Jakande administration.

My assessment of the Jakande administration is based on ‘vision’ and ‘sincerity of purpose’. I’m yet to see any state administrator (excluding the Babatunde Fashola), anywhere in Nigeria who had or shared the same vision with Jakande. I have also not seen any administrator who implemented projects/initiatives with same sincerity as Jakande. In terms of vision, the Jakande administration worked tirelessly to put Lagos State on the right path of development. The administration did not embark on headline grabbing projects that were only aimed at scoring cheap political goals but offered no value to the masses. He understood the importance of developing human capacity, hence his free education. He knew that ‘health is wealth’, hence, his free health programme. With little resources, he was able to create a pseudo social welfare system in Lagos State. He was also an ardent believer in the system he created. He did not travel overseas for medical check ups. His personal physician was a medical doctor from the public hospital. His children attended public schools. To demonstrate his commitment and sincerity, he ordered all his aides to withdraw their children from private schools and enrol them in public schools. This is a man that was willing to set an example. How many children of our state administrators are studying in Nigeria talk less of attending public school.

He was very sincere in his actions. He didn’t embark on projects to suit personal interest. His housing programme is a very good example. He was not just building houses to sell to his cronies, aides or members of his family. His housing programme was aimed at the poor masses. Civil servants benefitted immensely from this scheme. He never allowed any of his aides to purchase any of the housing units, except for those who did those through fraudulent means. I will be quick to point out that Alhaji Jakande wasn’t only the state administrator that has embarked on ‘low-cost’ housing programme. We all can remember Marwa Gardens, Jubilee Estate etc. But let’s ask ourselves, how many of these housing units were actually allocated to low income earners and working class. Most of these housing units were sold ‘off plan’ to government cronies, most of whom never had intention to live in such housing estates. Can you imagine someone living in a 5-bedroom house in Ikoyi, moving to Ajangbadi?

I can’s stop asking myself, how Lagos would have been if the policies/initiatives of Jakande were continued. This was a man who introduced ferry services in the early 80’s. He was on the verge of delivering a mass transportation system (metro rail) as far back as the early 80’s. This was when the population of Lagos was barely five million. For me, this is a man who had a vision; he understood the implication of rapid urbanisation on transport infrastructure. For those who may not know, the Jakande administration did all the ground work for the rail project now been proposed by the current administration. The government went has as far as acquiring the corridor for the rail project. Some of which have now been sold off to cronies of subsequent governments.

He was however criticised for building temporary structures as classrooms and taking over people’s land/properties to build schools? But the point is, he was sincere in his actions. He didn’t take over people’s properties to reallocate to his friends and allies. It was all for public good.

It is sad that 26 yrs on, state administrators are now been celebrated for implementing mundane projects. Governors are now awarded for things like routine road maintenance. But unfortunately, this is the ridicule we face as citizens. With the way these projects are sometimes celebrated, you want to ask yourself, is the Governor spending his own money or taxpayers’ money?

As for Babatunde Fashola, I must commend him for his work so far. Also, he still has 2+4 years to write his name in gold, and surpass the achievement of others.

Eko o ni ba je o!


Anonymous said...

i think jakande did very well, but lets wait and see the end of fashola, for now jakande is the best

Anonymous said...

They are all thieves....

Anonymous said...

Lagos has poduces alot of good Governor and Jakande is till the best governor lagos as produces but let wait and see how Fashola will end up EKO O NI BAJEOOOOOOOO


kunlebob said...

In my opinion, Fashola has been able to do what is expected of an elected governor of a state, though much beyond an average African governor. So did Alhaji Jakande while in office. It will be too earlier to compare the two eminent governors. Lets wait and see, time will tell...2011 is only around the corner; then we will have 4 years to compare with another 4 years