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Is Lagos Still Working? Fashola Struggles To Sustain Tempo by mitofag: 2:04am On Oct 13, 2011
Is Lagos still working? Fashola struggles to sustain tempo
on OCTOBER 13, 2011 · in POLITICS
     
BY CLIFFORD NDUJIHE & OLASUNKANMI AKONI



LAGOS State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) began governing the state on a promising note in 2007. Within a short while, he made appreciable impact on Lagos landscape. He got the avalanche of refuse dotting most parts of the metropolis permanently cleared, cleared drainage and illegal structures, fixed the roads, returned sanity to dangerous areas like Oshodi, beautified the Marina, Falomo and arteries of major highways.

He also improved the standard of education by recruiting and training teachers and providing quality free education, improved healthcare and embarked upon massive urban renewal of many parts of the state. He commenced the reconstruction of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway into a 10-lane highway with railway lines, to open up the Lagos-Badagry corridor.

Then, the governor counted every second, minute and hour he spent in office and gave account of his stewardship every 100 days. Fashola made a huge impact within two years in office such that many Lagosians declared their willingness to hand him a second term if he so desired.

By the time he was three-and a half years in office and had declared his intention, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) leadership had no option but to hand him the ticket.



While endorsing Fashola for second term last January and quelling months-long speculations about the governor’s political future, ACN leader and former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, urged the electorate to re-elect Fashola because voting Fashola for a second term guaranteed “brighter, rewarding future” in Lagos.

The endorsement was done after the party’s National Executive Council meeting held at ACN’s Lagos secretariat. Tinubu raised Fashola’s hand in front of thousands of party loyalists, who had painstakingly waited to see the end of the political speculations.

Awarding Fashola 85 per cent score, Tinubu said, “Fashola is the best man for the job. I’ve endorsed him for second term. He has done us proud, he has set standard of governance for others to emulate,” adding that Fashola’s performance had not only been commended by Lagos residents, but also by most Nigerians and the international community.

Tinubu dispelled comments that he was clay-footed in endorsing Fashola because of political jealousy, saying “He is my son. Those that were peddling the rumour are those that did not know how I knew him (and) what endeared him to me.

They said I was jealous of his achievements and all sort of things. If you have a son that has surpassed your records, you celebrate him. I am the pathfinder, he (Fashola) is the navigator. I am the one that identified the talent.”

Indeed, Lagos voters listened and returned Fashola to power with an overwhelming majority in the hope of having “brighter rewarding future.”

Less than four months into Fashola’s second coming, there are now mixed views on his performance as the government seems not to be in a hurry to gauge its pulse on the per second basis as it did in its first term. When Vanguard posed the question: “Is Lagos still working?” to some stakeholders and residents the response was a far cry to the near unanimous approval of three years ago.

While some said the governor was still working, others said he had slowed down. And yet, many others said he was not working.

Among those, who spoke on the issue are Second Republic politician and one of the founders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Guy Ikokwu; Third Republic Presidential aspirant on the banner of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Dr. Abel Ubeku; Management Consultant, Chief Cliff Mbagwu; Lagos PDP Chairman, Mr. Setonji Koshoedo; Lagos ACN Publicity Secretary, Mr Joe Igbokwe; and Chairman of Lagos State Public Works Corporation (LSPWC), Gbenga Akintola.



Lagos rehabilitates 470 roads in 12 months – Akintola
Chairman of Lagos State Public Works Corporation (LSPWC), Gbenga Akintola, disagrees with insinuations that the government is not still working, saying that the state government is on course with its plans of making the state roads pothole-free.

“We have done quite a lot in the area of effecting or removing pot holes from Lagos State roads. In the last 13 months, we have addressed or maintained more than 470 roads. The strategy is such that we have the right equipment and tools. We have the right manpower. We have moved from 12 gangs to 37 gangs,” he said.

Fashola is working – Ubeku
For Dr Abel Ubeku, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Third Republic presidential aspirant on the banner of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Lagos is still working.

His words: “Until Fashola came in, this area (Lagos Island), all the streets had potholes; to move around was a big problem. The same applied to the Marina, it was muddy, nobody cared to make it good. But today, if you move around in this area and on the Marina, you will think you are abroad.”

Fashola is doing a great job but … – Mbagwu
Chief Cliff Mbagwu, Managing Consultant/CEO Simeon and Rose Associates, asserts that Lagos is not yet working in spite of Fashola’s efforts.

“There is no doubt that Fashola is doing a great job in Lagos but Lagos is not yet working. Lagos inner city streets are in their worst state since the creation of the state. Roughly 85 per cent of Lagosians have no access roads to their homes and may be 90 per cent have no access to running water. Most depend on private boreholes and wells.

Most hospitals are not yet what they should be. Kids still trek long distances to school as some neighbourhoods have no schools. It would appear no new schools have been built since the exit of Jakande.

But the point must be made that Fashola is doing a massive job but local governments have failed greatly in complimenting the efforts of the state government. The other problem of Fashola is that he met nothing on the ground as his predecessor spent eight years playing only politics. So, if you ask me, Lagos is not yet working but it will work if we continue to elect the Fashola type.”

Lagos no longer working as it used to be – Ikokwu
To Chief Guy Ikokwu, a lawyer, Second Republic politician and one of the founders of the PDP, Fashola had slowed down and needed to review the new rent law, throttle his activities and carry non-indigenes along in the task to make Lagos a mega city.

His words: “Lagos is not working as it was during Fashola’s first term. The government is not actually doing what it proposed to do. The rural roads and drainage in the local councils are bad. There is too much corruption at the local councils using the name of the government and  ruling party, ACN as if the government can no longer be checked by anybody.

“The government should review the Tenancy law, majority of landlords are against it and are taking their houses off the market. Majority of tenants don’t like it because it is making getting houses more difficult as landlords are not consenting and are charging more money for one year rent.

Landlords are not happy with the tenement rate, it is very high and most establishments can’t afford it. The state and federal governments should decide who controls Value Added Tax (VAT).

“Government wants Lagos to be a Mega City. It cannot be if majority of Lagos inhabitants are not involved. Majority of non-indigenes supported Fashola. They form 47 per cent of Lagos and have not been included in the government as promised.

There are a lot of professionals and technocrats among them. If they are not included, they will turn a blind eye to what is happening because they have been denied citizenship rights.

“Sections 14 and 192 of the Constitution deal with ethnic and interest groups representation in local and state governments. Those who pay levies and taxes in a state have a right to political representation and amenities. Some parties are now planning political and legal action on the matter because in a democracy every vote matters.

Fashola knows that the American war of independence started because of taxation without representation. It is against human rights and the constitution for the government and Lagos State House of Assembly to ignore 47 per cent of the population.

Some of these issues came up during the last election but people felt Fashola should be given a chance because he performed in his first term. These things could affect Fashola and ACN as a party in future elections.”

Fashola’s vigour has waned – Lagos PDP chair

To the Chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, Mr. Setonji Koshoedo, Governor Fashola is now complacent in running the affairs of the state. According to him, the zeal and vigour with which Fashola ran the affairs of the state in his first term had faded since he assumed office for the second term.

He noted that what the indigenes had been observing were political ceremonies rather than the actual work.

Asked if Lagos was working, Koshoedo said: “Lagos is dead. Lagos is dead because they have spent all the money to sustain themselves in power. And so, they cannot sustain development in Lagos. That is glaring from the tussle among them.”

The PDP leader said the way out was for “Lagosians to effect a change of baton and bring in people who will do the will of the people and not be constrained by godfathers.”

Continuity: Fashola remains on course – Igbokwe

However, Lagos ACN Publicity Scribe, Joe Igbokwe contended that Governor Fashola had remained focused and committed to duties and vision for the state.

According to him, “work is going on Lagos-Badagry Expressway, and many other roads like Adelabu, Akerele and Bode Thomas. Isheri Osun bridge is on-going, Idi-Araba road is on-going, Idimu-Egbeda Road is on-going. Bulldozers will soon move onto  Ikorodu road and Ago Palace Way Okota”

Igbokwe added that the governor was also working hard on his pet project to deliver low-cost housing estates to Lagos residents and that almost all the schools in Lagos were undergoing rehabilitation and reconstruction, and canals were being expanded to checkmate flooding of the metropolis.

On why the state did not mark 100 days in office as usual, Igbokwe said: “Even though we in Lagos do not believe in this idea of celebrating 100 days in office because some mediocre in government have made mockery of it, we know that 100 days is enough time for any serious government to kick start a process that will guarantee steady progress.

In Lagos there has not been any break in transmission in terms of service delivery. We told Lagosians during the campaigns that it is continuity of excellence and Governor Fashola has kept faith. Work is going all over Lagos. Fashola is still working and Lagos is still working.

“In Fashola’s government the first step is to go to the drawing board to look at the options available. The plans to tackle the problems are initiated, and then we move to intelligent execution of projects. There is also monitoring and evaluation and finally the commissioning.

Governor Fashola is proactive on matters of security.  He has made the right investment in security and we are getting results. He is building drainage all over Lagos. He is rebuilding almost all the schools in Lagos. He is building new roads in almost every LGA, and LCDA.

He is building low-cost housing units for the common people in Lagos. A practical example was the last week commissioning of Sir Michael Otedola Housing Estate in Odorangushin, Eredo, in old Epe Local Government Area.

He is rebuilding our markets to world class standards. He is reconstructing our hospitals and he is still changing the face of Lagos to a garden city. Governor Fashola believes that power must be used to add value to the lives of Lagosians and he is leaving no stone unturned.”

Why I didn’t celebrate 100 days in office — Fashola

Contrary to the usual tradition of celebrating every 100 days in office, Governor Fashola did not celebrate the first 100 days in office of his second term.

Demystifying the 100 days concept in governance, Fashola, who gave a brief history of the origin of the concept at an earlier forum during the first term, said the performance of any government could not adequately be assessed within such a short period in office.

According to him what could possibly be achieved within 100 days was to lay a solid foundation for future performance. “I have a mandate to serve Lagos State for the next four years. Hundred days is not a period within which one is expected to have achieved many things. It is rather a period to ask what we are doing.”

In his 2011 inaugural speech at TBS, the governor stressed that the cost of running government had escalated as a result of upward review of wages of staff, declaring; “while I am pleased that we made those investments in our public service and expect that they will reward you the tax payers with improved productivity and even better service delivery; our revenues have unfortunately not grown in such proportions and it therefore suggests that we will have less to spend on capital projects until we find other sources of revenue generation”.

Fashola directed enforcement of some new austerity measures aimed at cutting down cost of running government in the state. The executive order put an instant end to overseas trips organised for government officials, television set, TV decoders, petroleum subsidy, money spent on frills and jamborees T-shirts, caps, car maintenance and food among others.

Fashola struggles to sustain tempo

Despite paucity of funds, Fashola said his administration understood that Lagosians would not settle for less and he was committed to giving them nothing but the best, assuring that “ the new dispensation will continue to keep its electoral promises in terms of development in all sectors of the economy.”

On that impression that he had slowed down, Fashola explained that his administration was consolidating on the first term agenda because works are on- going where the last administration stopped in various sector which includes; education, health, housing, transportation, road rehabilitation and construction, environment, employment, waste to wealth, security among others.

“The minimum wage has depleted the fund available to the government for social services by N2 billion every month. From all computations, the Lagos government will need between N5.5 billion and N7 billion to pay its over 50,000 workers and political appointees against a monthly revenue profile of between N18 billion and N20 billion, salaries will gulp about 40 per cent of the state’s expenditure”.

According to him, the additional wage bill is depriving the government of the financial resources that were hitherto deployed to the funding of social services such as schools, water supply, waste management security and other amenities which helped to improve the lives of the citizenry.

…Adopts austerity measures

To free funds for development, has adopted austerity measures. He has scrapped the grants for private or individual problems, except for very deserving educational and medical causes.

Declaring that the austerity measure would not affect bursary and scholarships to deserving students, he however, warned that conscientious efforts would be made to reduce the training of personnel home and abroad.

“While it will be necessary from time-to-time for us to commission projects, there must be a conscious effort to reduce cost related thereto by absolutely cutting down on frills, T-shits, caps and souvenirs and managing the cost of refreshments for guests in a justifiable manner.

All ministries, departments and agencies must pay more diligent attention to the cost, management and audit of products such as fuel for vehicles and generators including the cost of maintenance and repairs of vehicles,” Fashola ordered.

…Re-orders 2011 budget

In like manner, the governor also sought to cut down on frivolous spending in government  by re-ordering the 2011 supplementary budget forwarded to the state House of Assembly for consideration. Consequent upon this, the legislature approved the re-ordering of the N22.1b in 2011 budget as requested by the governor.

Presenting the report of the Seven-man Ad-Hoc Committee, its Cairman, Hon Ajibayo Adeyeye, said the governor sought  the approval of the House for re-ordering of priorities of government spending in the year 2011 Appropriation Law through  re-distribution of un-utilized funds to other areas of critical need so as to engender optimum budget performance in the state.

The sum of N198.182b and N252.593 billion is recurrent expenditure and capital expenditure respectively with the year 2011 budget size remaining N450.775billion as approved.

Indeed, the Mid- year performance witnessed low economic performances in the state due to disruption to the revenue drive caused by the elections, implementation of the new salary scheme and recurrent flooding, which necessitated the proposed re-adjustment of the budget.

…His achievements in 100 days

In spite of mixed reactions and financial constraints, the government insisted that it was still making its mark in the state in all sectors. The governor who received City Peoples 2010 Governor of the year in Nigeria Award, pledged  to deliver more to the people at the end of his tenure by leaving a worthy legacy.

The administration said it was briefly distracted by the effect of the July 10 heavy rainfall in the state in which several lives were lost and property worth billion of naira destroyed. This made the state government to dip its hands into scarce resources to provide relief materials for victims  as well as embark on various dredging of canals and other water channels across the state.

Aside signing  major bills into laws and patching of roads by the state Public Works Corporation, PWC, penultimate Tuesday, Fashola commissioned 336 units of Sir Michael Otedola Housing Estate in Odoguranshin, Epe, Lagos with the handing over to the community the rent-to-own pilot home ownership scheme.

The governor said his administration took the initiative with the setting up of the Mortgage Board to give legitimate hope of home ownership and ensure that low income earners have access to own their houses. He promised to spread scheme across the state and assured that more projects would be commissioned soon.

Since July 4, 2011, when Fashola swore in his 37 new cabinet members, the government’s scorecard among others include: payment of N149 million bursary award to 3,028 students; recruitment of 2,000 undergraduates and graduates for this year’s enumeration of companies, industries and small-scale businesses in the state under the Enterprises Registration and Identification Agents, ENTRIDA programme of the state government; provision of medicare for 12 beneficiaries its free Cleft Lip and Palate Corrective Surgery Programme in collaboration with Health, Education, Works and Shelter HEWS Foundation.

The governor also signed into law, the State Park and Gardens Law 2011, in furtherance of the environmental policy of the state government; embarked on massive dredging of water channels in the state aftermath of the July 10 flood incident; signed the State Tenancy Bill 2011 into law, to make life bearable for those who do not own properties; commissioned 336 units of Sir Michael Otedola Housing Estate in Odoguranshin, Epe;  approved the construction of at least 100 roads along with drainage channels in the 20 Local Government Areas of the state before the end of this year, 2011 aimed at combating various environmental challenges in the state; and plans to embark on the expansion of the Lagos–Ikorodu Road and the construction of a new road to link the town with the Lagos-Ibadan expressway at Ojodu Berger.

Indeed, 100 days may be too early to assess a government. Time will tell whether or not Fashola will sustain the tempo and improve on the fortunes of Lagosians in his second term.




http://www.vanguardngr.com/2011/10/is-lagos-still-working-fashola-struggles-to-sustain-tempo/

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