I used to be a keen observer and admirer of the Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola (SAN). Apart from the visible progress he might have made in governing Lagos, I believe he is an astute and tactful politician. That could go as the most outstanding part of his personality. For almost eight years, he worked out a very rare but functional arrangement where he focused more on the day-to-day running of the state, while he allowed his former boss and Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria now All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, to hold sway and take full charge of the political arena. Do not take my word for it but it takes a man of considerable political acumen to function effectively under the shadow of a maverick politician larger–than-life politician like the “Lion of Bourdillon”, as many call him, and yet be able to create a remarkable political niche for oneself. Managing overbearing political bosses is a virtue that many of our politicians have not developed. Fashola not only achieved this but managed to create an impression of a visionary leader on anyone who visited Lagos recently.
However the controversial deportation of Nigerian citizens of Igbo extraction resident in Lagos by giving them an emergency destitute status has brought Fashola’s true divisive and odoriferous tribal personality into the public domain. It is unarguable that many admirers of Fashola are rankled and startled and now see him in a different, largely uncomplimentary light. Apart from the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, Fashola is one other governor who has demonstrated, in my view, that he has a direction and who anyone can hold a conversation with about good governance and development. My admiration for the conduct of these two used to be so boundless that I would nominate them without hesitation for any bigger national assignment only if I had the slightest opportunity. But not anymore, at least for Governor Fashola.
For the benefit of those who do not know the details. A Lagos State agency known as the Kick Against Indiscipline, obviously on the orders of the state governor, was said to have arrested some people predominantly from Igbo extraction about two years ago on the suspicion that they were leading destitute lives. They were detained in several locations in Lagos under some dirty and largely inhuman condition. Many of them allegedly died in the process out of starvation and sickness. A few who survived were later packed into a lorry like cows and deported to Onitsha where they were dumped near the head bridge at Upper Iweka and abandoned there. There is a possibility that not all of these hapless deportees were doing meaningful things before they were caught. However, some of them reportedly confessed to be petty traders and roadside food hawkers before they were nabbed by some overzealous KAI operatives. They disclosed that much when they were interviewed. But those are all by the way. How come they were interviewed to find that if they spoke Yoruba language before bundling them into prison? How come they bundled all of them into Onitsha even when some of them might have been from Calabar, Yenagoa, or even Uyo? Was it a pre- rehearsed attack against a perceived enemy ethnic group? When and where were these hatched?
As the debate continues to rage, many informed minds have continued to condemn Fashola and his government. However, a few ethnic jingoists have tried desperately to justify the action of the governor, who I am sure might have realised the import of his mistake by now. But I am certain that such arguments as indigene/settler, host/guest conversations have become anachronistic. And so I will not waste valuable time on the contribution of one tribe or the other to the growth and development of Lagos State as some have been preoccupied with.
However, I want to point out some personal views for all of us to consider, extrapolate and draw conclusions. The first point is a short story. During my days at the University of Ibadan, I used to spend time with a relation who lived in the Mushin area of Lagos. I remember it was a storey building and I often came to the narrow balcony to watch a mammoth crowd hurry across to Isolo, Idi-Araba, Surulere and other parts of Lagos. I recall vividly how I helplessly watched hoodlums on several occasions snatch bags and valuables from unsuspecting passers-by. If you are in doubt, try to walk around the area in the evening. You will notice some people following you and singing praises initially and appealing to you to “bless” them. If you hesitate, they will turn violent and “bless” themselves by force by dispossessing you of your valuables. They are still there as I write. Now, if a destitute person is someone who is poor and does not have the basic necessities of life. If the goal of the KAI campaign is to rid Lagos of poor, homeless beggars and non-taxpaying individuals as someone opined, then their destination should be Mushin. There, they will find trailer loads of such individuals but of course the destination of such vehicles will never be Onitsha. If the Lagos State Government was talking to its Anambra counterpart, why did it decide to drop the “deportees” at the Onitsha head bridge in the dead of the night, not in Awka or any government establishment?
Besides, how come the Lagos State Governor decided to contact, as he said he did, only the Governor of Anambra State on a matter as sensitive as this? Why did he not write other state governors in the South-East and South-South?
Instructively, during the last census exercise, Fashola and his fellow politicians were literally begging Ndigbo and other “settlers” not to go back to their states but rather stay back in Lagos and be counted. Now that they might have contributed to the mega population size of Lagos for which is a clear tool to bargain for national resources, these same people have become disposable street urchins. What could have inspired this state-sponsored hatred? Some say that the pre-civil war fear of Igbo dominance is still a factor. No. Not at all. The effect of the civil war on Ndigbo is so devastating that it will take many more decades to be neutralised, whatever anyone might think to the contrary. Many of the Igbo who left the East after the war went out in search of survival. After the war, they lost their jobs, money, properties and everything. Some of them who had millions of pounds in the bank had to forfeit them and were given only 20 pounds, on the orders of the Federal Government to start life. The only option they had was to continue to travel to places that were inhabitable to trade and farm etc. That was how the Igbo began to migrate to other parts of Nigeria in search of livelihood and survival. It takes a hard-working person to rebuild considerably from the rubble of war with only 20 pounds. Sadly, many years after the civil war, many other tribes with covert backing of politicians are still fighting against Ndigbo. Ndigbo are the least represented in everything Nigerian because, unfortunately, the divisive sentiments that pervaded during the civil war are still very active in the hearts and minds of many. If you look at the lopsided nature of the Nigerian civil service under the name of Federal Character, you will cry.
Since independence in 1960, ethnic issues have been deliberately politicised to give a clique of power-thirsty individuals, a dubious legitimacy. The civil war worsened it and politicians have continued to exploit it to their advantage. Amidst these sad and almost inescapable realities, one would only imagine that Fashola would have known and done better.
It must be noted out that the deportation saga has very tricky political implications. It has a potential of deepening inter-tribal suspicion with counterproductive political repercussions. For instance, Ndigbo constitute a majority of the non-Yoruba voting population in Lagos State that will be too difficult to ignore. How come Fashola mobilised these “street urchins” to vote for him only to remember towards the end of his last tenure that they are a bunch of nuisance that needs to be deported? Why did he not do it before 2011? What about 2015?
"We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, having firmly and solemnly resolve, to live in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation under God, dedicated to the promotion of inter-African solidarity, world peace, international co-operation and understanding. And to provide for a Constitution for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country, on the principles of freedom, equality and justice, and for the purpose of consolidating the unity of our people" - The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
When it comes to the constitution, Nigeria’s political class abandons discretion so stupidly. The legal impotence of the Nigerian constitution will likely rank first when compared to other developing nations of the world. Politicians, the corruptly enriched and powerful routinely find creative ways to simply side-step sections that they deem inconvenient or uncomfortable. The section dealing with fundamental rights of Nigerian citizenship had long been dust binned and completely forgotten. When convenient or supportive of some of their excesses, like the devil who quote the Bible to justify an evil scheme, these corrupt politicians recite the same constitution often violated at will.
Governor Babatunde Fashola toed this now predictable line, barely, twenty-four hours after trampling on the protected rights of ordinary Nigerian citizens. Fashola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, sought refuge in the principles of separation of powers when protesting a call for the national government to review his reckless acts. The validity of contested provision is not in doubt, yes Fashola have state police powers. However, he has absolutely no powers on earth to deport a fellow citizen! The right of citizenship is inalienable and remains the fundamental principle of society. Today, with evil power-drunk dictators, like Babatunde Fashola, those rights mean little in Nigeria.
Somebody should whisper into the ears of Fashola that the ultimate purpose of separation of powers is to protect the liberty and security of the governed, as opposed to giving him the unfettered discretion to decide who to forcefully kidnap and deport to any place of his choice.
To understand the game that Fashola is playing, we may have to take a big leap to the past to see how our leaders, treat citizens (citizens is often viewed as a derogatory term by corrupt politicians).
DEPORTATION OF ALHAJI SHUGABA ABDULRAHAM
My first encounter with this ugly fact was as an eavesdropper in a conversation between my father and a gentleman. The man, a radical (a term often used by the government to discredit social critics), had then asked my father, the worst possible thing that the government can do to a Nigerian citizen. My fathers of blessed memories, was quick with his answer, denial of the right of citizenship. In complete shock and horror, I listened as my father narrated the story of Alhaji Abdulraham Shugaba.
During the years of "Shagari –Democracy" a one-party dictatorship similar to what we have now, NPN was in power. Shugaba, a member of the opposition party, GNPP was a strong opponent of the all-powerful NPN in Bornu State. He was a very flamboyant orator whose populist agenda appealed to his constituents. Shugaba, became too popular and could not be rigged-out by the NPN (then with a slogan, NPN-POWER!). Shugaba was a huge challenge to the power of NPN to rig in any politician of their choice.
Through a scheme and a series of political intrigues that will even baffle a hard-core Machiavellian, he was labeled a citizen of a neighboring country, Chad. Undeterred, he blasted the NPN rigging machines and called them citizens of Hell.
Black-market court injunctions were hurriedly purchased by the NPN, preventing him from contesting elections based on lack of, Nigerian citizenship! A determined Shugaba, painstakingly and successfully challenged most of the early injunctions. His success at the tribunals outraged the ruling oppressors.
His detractors became more desperate that he could have ever imagined. NPN, purchased another decision with a deportation order, without procedural due process. Before, Shugaba could say, “appeal,” Security agents were in his house very early in the morning, all armed to the teeth. Before the embattled Shugaba could say "what-up?" he was whisked away in his sleeping clothes (half-naked, barefooted) and deported to Chad. The protests of the Chadian government, that, Shugaba is not from Chad, met the unsympathetic ears of the ruling class.
The sensibilities and conscience of Nigerians were agitated, that was then, before the current state of hopelessness. A group of people with similar political interests mounted a legal defense. It went all the way to the Supreme Court, thank goodness, the apex court overturned the deportation order.
Monetary damages were awarded to the obviously rattled Shugaba, no amount of money can compensate one for such blatant and traumatic ordeal. The sad thing is that, Shugaba had to overcome high artificial obstacles before he was given a fraction of the court award. The result was again surprised, oppressive leaders found a weapon of choice, deportation.
DEPORTATION AS A WEAPON BY IBB - PATRICK WILMOT.
When a professor in ABU, Patrick Wilmot, became critical of the excess of Babangida, the man called Maradonna simply laughed. Nigerians watched helplessly when without any due consideration to his legal status, Babangida deported the hapless professor.
GOV. BABATUNDE FASHOLA’S FORCEFULLY SEIZURE, AND “DEPORTATION” OF FELLOW NIGERIANS THE HEIGHT OF CITIZEN ABUSE.
Now, the ruling class is moving it notches higher, of course in geometrical progression. Deportation based on poverty, is even worse that the above cases and that is exactly what Fashola is doing, period. What the man who at the bare minimum understands the meaning of human rights is doing is unreasonable or more obnoxious to Nigerian constitution which he once swore to uphold.
When Gov. Babs Fashola started his new wave of violating fundamental human rights of Nigerians, he did by deporting, Northerners. His rationale for the deportation was "to free the state of the destitute and beggars, and who are mostly from the northern part of the country." Some of us cried out in shock. This argument remains the most heart-breaking argument proffered by any person anywhere in the world for an egregious constitutional breach. One of the most important duties of a government is to improve the welfare of the citizens, including the poor, rather than do that, Fashola is not only trampling of the rights of the poor, but committing mass-murder. Some of these people will die off out of frustration.
After listening for a while, and sensing that Nigerians have forgotten. Fashola then embarked on a new wave. This time just like in the first exercise, he looks at people faces, and decided that they are likely from Anambah State, and deported all of them.
Even if one grudgingly listen to Fashola’s belated argument of “Welfare,” what type of welfare is he providing by forcefully deporting them from a place they call home. Fashola is eager to welcome the rich who swell the huge purse of his godfather with monies taken through taxes, levies and penalties for unlawfully confiscated goods, yet he cannot even use a small percentage of the fund to provide basic amenities for the poor. The quick-fix is deportation.
THE WRONGFUL ACT OF FASHOLA IS NOT DEPORTATION BUT KIDNAPPING
Simple definitions with very little explanation:
The expulsion of an undesirable alien from a country! Therefore, to be deported, one has to be expelled from another country where he is an alien. Never in the history of mankind has a man been deported from his own country! If there is genuine dispute as to the citizenship of the deported, the court ought to resolve it, not the executive. That is exactly why we have anti-aggrandizement principle.
The crime of unlawfully seizing and carrying away a person by force or Fraud, or seizing and detaining a person against his or her will with an intent to carry that person away at a later time. See http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/kidnapping
The situation even when viewed in a light most favorable to Babatunde Fashola, will still be kidnapping. The formulation of illegal deportation decrees in these type of cases presents problems of considerable complexity. Any public policy consideration of appropriate goal of freeing the state of destitute must necessarily be subordinated to the primary question -- the constitutionality of a dictatorial state governor trampling in a most egregious manner, on the constitutional rights of Nigerian citizens. Such an act is a violation equal protection of the laws and the most basic right, fundamental human rights.
Obi Enweze was the Secretary General of NADECO –USA/Canada
CNPP cautions Obi over backlash
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State yesterday cleared the air on the controversies trailing the alleged forceful ejection of some Igbo from the state, saying only 14 destitutes were picked on the streets, ehabilitated and resettled back to their state.
Governor Fashola thus distanced the state’s government from the claim that those resettled were 67 or 72.
Fashola who also disclosed that he just ordered the rehabilitation of a mad woman who was allegedly impregnated by unknown person in Oshodi, said the state’s government’s care for its residents had no ethnic or political colouration.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State chapter of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) has urged Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State not to allow the controversy cause rancour between Igbo and Yoruba in Lagos.
In a statement signed by the state’s chairman of CNPP, Hon Akinola Obadia, the group said that the issue should not be allowed to cause disaffection among the Igbo people living in the state with their Yoruba neighbours.
The CNPP also warned against tribalising the alleged deportation issue. The statement reads in part: “We in the CNPP have gone extra mile to find out the fact from government source on the issue of the return of destitutes in the state to their states of origin.
We decided to make a clean breast of the matter against the disinformation and rumour some people are making.”
Speaking during a visit of Aka Ikenga, Igbo community in Lagos to his office in Alausa, Ikeja, Fashola said what happened was indeed minor issue that had been exaggerated to score cheap political gain.
Explaining the genesis of the controversy, Fashola recalled that there was correspondence between the Lagos State Government and the Anambra State liaison in Lagos.
Governor Fashola explained that his Anambra State counterpart could not claim ignorance of the whole matter.
You were a reference point, some even compare you with Cassius Longinus- philosopher and rhetorician, described as a "a living library and a walking museum".
You define style, you were a syllabus other states study, your simplicity, style of governance, traffic management, road management, environment, water transportation, housing, metro rail line project, education, health, public service were areas other states in Nigeria tried copying.
With your Better Re-assuring Future to Before Retiring Finally in 2015, is Lagos State still working? Your 1st term was an endless footprints on the sands of Lagos State history You break barriers, you were honored locally and internationally, as the world stand aside to let BRF passes , because you knows where you were going.
In your second term, it seems Lagos all these giant strides has virtually left to be wallowed. Through political bickering and manoeuvrings, your erstwhile deputy governor was replaced, and possibly you could not worked with the present one.
BRF, Lagosians are still dumfounded! Eko tin baje o! [Lagos is no longer working}. The Atlantic City, Lekki Free Trade Zone, are indeed an endless footprints of yours on the sand of Lagos State. The street sign posts in some areas has been abandoned. Most people were actually swayed to ACN because of your attributes and accomplishments.
Your second term is indeed not as vibrant as the first term, the political bickering and manoeuvrings that is already playing itself out in Lagos State to some, may be the reason why you have soft pedaled on consolidating on your unrivaled accomplishments. You are not serving any semi-god or godfather, but your service is to Lagosians by leaving an endurable, unrivaled, undeniable endless footprints of BRF on the sand of Lagos State now Before Retiring Finally!
You surrounded yourself with intellectuals, you established yourself in the minds of Lagosians as a master of initiatives, your voice is strong and harmonious, your manly understanding is strengthened and adorned with study.
And for those who have tied down your advancement, remind them; it was just as certain Indian wise man had observed: "O King Alexander, each man possess just so much of the earth as this one which we stand; and you being a man like other man, save that you are full of activity and relentless are roaming over, all the earth far from your home, troubling yourself, and troubling others. But not so long hence you will die, and will posses just so much of the earth as suffices for your burial."
BRF, Before Finally Retiring, Is Lagos State still working? Eko tin baje o!
My hopes for 2015: BRF/Tambuwal Ticket!
Cells:+234  701-224-8573.
+234  816-950-3218.
How can Nigerians be governed with this high level of cruelty by means of obnoxious laws here and there? Why is it that laws are executed with the speed like that of an angry hunting lion when it has to do with the poor in this country but when it concerns the bigger criminals in the name of political leaders and elites every government begins to form committees that never find them guilty? Why this impunity of recklessness?
Why is it that Nigerian leaders at various levels are very insensitive to the cry of the people, but yet expect to win the war against crime and social vices? Objectively speaking, how can Nigeria’s “vision 2020” policy of being one of the world’s leading political and economical powers in 2020 be realizable when Nigerian average citizens still live under $1 per day and their leaders do not see them as partners but rather treat issues concerning them like masters and slaves?
"I do not know if Governor Fashola
is aware that as his agents destroyed
those thousands of 'okadas' that they
also destroyed many homes,
shattered many dreams, jeopardized
the future of many children and created
more hooligans and criminals."
What have we Nigerians done wrong to our leaders?
Who is advising Governor Fashola with this heinous law to ban commercial motorcyclists popularly known as ’okadas’ in Lagos State without first of all honestly providing an alternative? This law is nasty and has got no human face. I was shocked and felt sick when I saw thousands destroyed motorcycles proudly displayed to news men/women as an achievement by the agents of Governor Fashola as ’okadas’ of those that failed the traffic laws. Oh, my heart bleeds! I do not know if Governor Fashola is aware that as his agents destroyed those thousands of 'okadas' that they also destroyed many homes, shattered many dreams, jeopardized the future of many children and created more hooligans and criminals.
By Nigerian standard of governance and development, Governor Fashola is one of the very few governors in Nigeria that I still respect and that is why I am making my stand known. Can somebody please tell Governor Fashola that he has at this juncture woefully failed the people because the reason of banning ‘okadas’ is shallow and laughable? If part of the reasons of banning commercial 'okada' operators was because many of the riders were engaged in nefarious activities with their ‘okadas’, can we now say because of some people that may be thieving politicians in Lagos State government that we should stop to have a government in Lagos State?
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo said that there are rogues and thieves at the National Assemblies. Can we now ban law making in Nigeria because of many of these merciless Nigerian law makers in the National Assemblies whose primary interests as evidence has shown have always been to increase their salaries without recourse to its effect on the nation and without plans to make laws that could rehabilitate the shameful health system in Nigeria or to build railways or undergrounds in order to make the everyday agony life of the poor Nigerians easier that ignited the 'okada' business? Can we say because there are too many air crashes in Nigeria due to the fact that a few individuals assigned with the responsibility to certify that planes are in very good conditions before they are put in use have collected bribes in order to allow coffins to airlift Nigerians ban the use of aircrafts? Or can we because of numerous motor accidents in Nigeria as a result of the failures of government at various levels ban the use of motors?
"The ban of ‘okadas’ from
Delta State to Lagos State
or anywhere in Nigeria under
any guise is an economic
murder on the part of the
Governor Fashola said that it was because of many ‘okada’ accidents that made him ban commercial motorcyclists. What did he do to reduce the number of accidents before this unfounded action? Is it not the responsibility of every government to find out the causes of problems? Did Governor Fashola’s government try to find out why there were many 'okada' accident cases? Do the agents of the governor, ‘LASMA’ who is the body of the executioners of this unfriendly law have the ordinary alcohol testing instruments in order to examine and know who is driving under the influence of alcohol on Lagos roads especially when an accident occurs? Did the government of Governor Fashola provide standard traffic signs and speed limits on all the roads he has banned ‘okadas’? Can Governor Fashiola scientifically prove how many of these ’okada’ riders are qualified riders or that are mentally stable to use motorcycles?
Take sentiments and emotions away from the fact that there have been 'okada' accidents and ’okada’ related robberies and look at the issue critically. If Governor Fashola did not carry out all these vital elementary assignments, how sound would it be for him to stand up one morning and ban ‘okada’ operators? If Governor Fashola cannot comfortably provide answers to the aforementioned questions; can he now see that the people did not fail but rather the inability of the Lagos State government not to have thoroughly viewed the issue and come up with an impeccable solution that failed the masses? The social implication of this decision is devastating on the people and can never address the issue of accidents he raised until his government takes a very reasonable measure to control and discipline many Lagosians whom out of ignorance or stupidity have formed the habits of navigating bicycles, tricycles, motorcycles or motors under the heavy influence of alcohol, hard drugs or without licences.
What Lagos State government or other states where they have banned ’okadas’ should have done in this situation should have been to research first and then look for a fair and logical method of arriving at a resolution that should not be more harmful to the society than the problem/s they were trying to avoid after also due consideration that it was unemployment that led to the ’okada’ business in the first place. Because even up to the late 80s we did not have commercial ’okadas’, therefore, government agents should have figured out carefully on how a few miscreants in their midst should have been identified and dealt with accordingly without raising tension instead of this indiscriminate ban.
If Governor Fashola continues to refuse to reverse this anti-masses law, the governor may have indirectly advocated that Nigerian banks should be closed because there are some bank managers who cooperate with fraudsters to steal millions or some workers of some banks who work with criminals by informing them when, where and how to break their banks and steal monies. If this obnoxious law is allowed to stand, Governor Fashola has equally advocated that the Nigeria police should be closed because there are many criminals and bribe takers in their midst whose work also has been to gather false evidences against helpless poor Nigerians. Some Nigerian military men/women have been dismissed from service, charged to court and found guilty as criminals. Consequently, the military should also be scraped in Nigeria because they are equally a failure since some of them supply sophisticated arms to armed robbers to kill and wreak havoc on Nigerians in the night in return for money while some of them have been accused to be sponsors, informants and trainers of Boko Haram.
I feel pained to see that Governor Fashola has quickly started to play over our collective intelligence with a massive campaign that since the ban of commercial ‘okadas’ that the number of accidents has reduced in Lagos State, but decided to remain silent whether crime reduced or increased.
"... a day shall come when Lagosians
will remind him (Fashola) this issue like the way
Nigerians have kept on reminding IBB
the annulment of June 12 that has
irredeemably murdered his political
return to ‘Aso Rock’."
Governor Fashola, do not forget that directly or indirectly you used the same ’okada’ people during your election campaign for votes. Why did you not ban 'okadas' before the 2011 election? Contrarily you made a law for all 'okada' riders and their passengers to be on safety gadgets before they could operate in LagosState? Which was good anyway? Could that law have been a mistake on the side of your government or a calculated attempt to deceptively win the confidence and the vote of the 'okada' riders? Most of the 'okada' riders who bought their motorcycles under credit or ‘higher purchase’ borrowed money to comply to your order and now that you are comfortably seating as the executive governor of Lagos State not only that you have stopped their source of daily bread but have also destroyed their production companies ('okadas') living them to gnash their teeth in pains and agony without anybody to turn to.
Because in Nigeria everything is possible, therefore, dear Governor Fashola, could it be that the idea of safety gadgets was not well thought of when you came up with the policy or that some people in your cabinet could have imported helmets without your knowledge and had mounted pressure for the implementation of the helmet law through advice so that their business could flourish? And now, perhaps the business of helmets seems no longer lucrative they have again channeled their deceptive policy somewhere and ‘okada’ operators and their families can go to hell.
Dear Governor Fashola, this is a message from your fellow governor who also happens to be in the same party “ACN” like you, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State , “I think it’s, for me, a class issue and I belong to the working class, so I cannot ban ‘okada’. First, I believe that ‘okada’ is a response to certain deficit in our intra-urban transportation system. From the 60s to the 70s to the 80s, we never had ‘okada’. If you ask a lady to take a ride on a motorbike it was like a taboo. Now it has became fashionable to have a woman and two children on top of a bike. It is not a culture choice. It is as a result of deficit in our intra-city transportation system.”
Dear Governor Fashola, I appeal to you like many others to please reverse this policy because a good leader must have good listening ears. Do not allow us to begin to compare you with the worst governor in Nigeria , Dr. T. A. Orji of Abia State who has unnecessarily channeled all his energy in social attacks against Dr. Orji Uzo Kalu instead of working for Abians.
A governor that one of his best achievements so far was the sacking of all non indigene workers from other eastern states because of bad advisers should not be the kind of governor we should compare Governor Fashola with. One hopes that Governor Fashola is not taking this direction and is listening to the voice of reasoning.
The ban of ‘okadas’ from Delta State to Lagos State or anywhere in Nigeria under any guise is an economic murder on the part of the poor masses. However, if Governor Fashola insists not to heed to the plea of the people, well, we will grudgingly and helplessly succumb to his wish, but he should understand that he has only used his position and might against us but has not won our respect and that a day shall come when Lagosians will remind him this issue like the way Nigerians have kept on reminding IBB the annulment of June 12 that has irredeemably murdered his political return to ‘Aso Rock’.
May God bless Governor Fashola, bless Lagos State and bless Nigeria !
A patriotic concerned citizen writes from Vienna , Austria
Being a paper delivered by Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, at the 2012 Achebe Colloquium on Africa held at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island USA on Friday December 7, 2012
AFRICA Rising - That is the headline of last week's cover of Time Magazine. It is for me an appropriate place to start my discussion on the theme "Governance, Security and Peace in Africa"; and if I might say so at the onset, it is a somewhat misleading if not patronizing headline.
I say this because, students of world history will know that the story of our planet is one of the rise and fall of civilization and empires.
Civilizations and empires have thrived and floundered on the basis of the challenges of their time, when they peak or fall; and what men or women do or fail to do. And I propose to discuss this in some fuller detail as I deal with the subject of institutions. But I must emphasize that Greece, which is one of the Europe's poorest and highly indebted nations today, was once at the zenith of human civilization.
The heart of the Roman Empire which gave the world one of its most enduring legacies of law, was situated in what is modern day Italy and is currently a struggling economy.
But we have not heard the last of Italy or Greece. In the way that Germany rose from the ruins of two World Wars to become Europe's super power house today, we have seen the renaissance of a Ming Dynasty that took almost 5,000 years to re-discover herself in the renaissance of China.
Africa is not rising; it is experiencing a renaissance again. The sustainability will be determined by what men and women do or fail to do
So contrary to a rising Africa, I see the renaissance of a region that once boasted the amazing engineering feats of the Egyptian pyramids when there were no super cranes and a place where Timbuktu in modern day Mali, was once the place to be for science, mathematics and learning.
Africa is not rising; it is experiencing a renaissance again. The sustainability will be determined by what men and women do or fail to do.
This is the platform from which I propose to address my sub-theme of "Regime Change, Ethno-Religious Insurgency and State-craft in the 21st Century with my focus on West Africa.
Let me start by submitting that I have read enough history and seen a lot of conflict in almost five decades on earth to come to the clear conclusion, that all conflicts are fuelled by the desire for dominance, territorial control, economic benefit for self or allies.
I am convinced that in whatever garment these conflicts are dressed, whether ethnic or religious, those cloaks are only designed to whip up a sense of identity and support towards a cause they often may not understand.
West Africa, as the name suggests is a sub region of Africa that has 16 (sixteen) countries who are independent nations. Collectively they have a population of approximately 300,000,000 (three hundred million)people whose lands are blessed with all types of natural resources such as oil, gas, coffee, cocoa, timber, gold, to mention a few and access to water especially the Atlantic Ocean.
It is important to mention this so that there is clarity about abundance of human and natural resources. Some of the oldest and foremost learning institutions such as the Fourah Bay College and the many learning centres such as in Old Timbuktu are located in this region.
In the last few decades they formed an economic block, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for short, almost like the European Union to deepen economic trade.
But ironically, this region has until recently made global headlines for the wrong reasons. Apart from hunger and poverty experienced by a people so blessed; and I am not happy to say this, peacekeeping operations have consumed several millions of dollars as perhaps the only successes that can come out of a region of such vast resources.
These are peacekeeping missions to end the mindless slaughter of innocent men, women and children who have been victims of mindless orgies of violence in the pursuit of crass and brazen ambition under the guise of attempted governance. Sierra Leone and Liberia once very free, peaceful and historic settlements for their roles in the end of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and the redevelopment of the African human capital through education, have lost their innocence forever.
While the healing process and rebuilding continues at a pace that encourages hope, there are scars that will never go away. My own country Nigeria faced a bloody civil war about which I will say a word or two,Ivory Coast was not spared; neither was Ghana, in the mindless toppling of regime after regime in the 1980s and several execution of leaders and the displacement of millions of citizens who became refugees outside their homeland.
Yes, many Ghanaian professionals became shoemakers, drivers, odd job men and women in my own country when I was a teenager because their country failed them. All these are now in the past. The old Gold Coast of Africa is back. The Ashanti Dynasty is not rising. It is experiencing a renaissance. What lies at the heart of all this conflict for me is a difficult question; and from here I have to be careful what I say so that I am not misunderstood.
Before the colonization of Africa in the late 19th Century, many of these nations were several kingdoms with kings and emperors.
We must remember that succession was by conquest and it is possible to rationalize what we have today on that basis. However, it is important to also explain what I think compounds the problem.
A good idea, whose frontiers are being tested to the limit. Liberal Democracy. In my view, there is yet to be a better form of organizing the affairs of a multitude of men than a representative democracy.
My worry is whether an idea conceived by men can last forever. Democracy has survived many ages. The Agrarian Age, the Industrial Age and it has merged with other philosophies like capitalism and moved into the age of information technology and now globalization.
It faces perhaps its biggest threat yet by the effects of technology and globalization which both test the limits of freedom. The success or otherwise of this model of governance has been the Achilles heel of the political stability of West Africa.
It is possible to argue that the African concept of communal existence, sharing and conciliation were shaken to their foundations by the winner takes all that elections produce in a democratic setting. While I may be wrong, and I hope that I am, it is a study that I hope will be undertaken. Those who are products of ancestors who ruled as kings and emperors may seem somewhat perplexed that they cannot share the Court of a successful winner after an election; and must, therefore, accept the economically unrewarding role of opposition, at least until the next elections are called.
Human endeavour and conflict
Really and truly, all human endeavor and conflict about a better life, but the irony is that the concept of a better life is itself amorphous and difficult to define. One might wonder for example why the people of the Western economies with all their infrastructure and progress, which are many miles ahead of what you will find in many parts of Africa are still agitating for a better life.
Happily for me, I am able to say that in spite of the difficulties many parts of West Africa are democratizing and with that, political stability is emerging and we are seeing development. Sierra Leone just conducted peaceful elections for the second time after many years of conflict.
The evidence of political stability stares every person in face as one witnesses the block by block rebuilding of a once peaceful country whose infrastructure was ravaged by conflict induced by regime change.
The question therefore is this:- In the light of the progress being witnessed in many parts of democratizing West Africa, is democracy the answer or the missing link to unlocking the vast opportunities in West Africa. Yes, democracy will, on the basis of the available evidence of what has been done under it, be critical to achieving the goal. On its own, it will not suffice to solve the problem.
In spite of democratic structures in Mali and with only a few months to general elections a few people still ganged up to seize power, with an official statement that they wanted to change things. The question on everyone's lips was: why not wait for the general elections that were so close; to effect the change by the ballot? The answer may be long in coming.
Travelling on Nigerian highways these days can be suicidal. It is not just because of the deplorable condition of the inter-state highways. The problem is more about the madness of commercial vehicle operators, lurking bandits and other bands of criminals. The horrible condition of the vehicles also makes them contraptions that had seen better days and only fit for junkyards. Yet, the drivers flout traffic rules and regulations with impunity and speed as if on a race track and even while driving against traffic, since their belief that committing crimes in Nigeria is about cash and carry.
The madness is not limited to our roads. There is confusion everywhere, as social vices of unequal proportions have taken over. Indeed, the state, its agencies and hired hands have become what some have referred to as attack dogs to the citizens. Persons with questionable characters, donning on all manner of uniforms, harassing, molesting and physically assaulting millions of innocent and law-abiding citizens, lurk around nooks and crannies of our major cities. In some cases, the terror gang members are known faces within the neighbourhoods as hardened criminals and deviants, but who have beat all rules and regulations to be enlisted and hired by politicians, government agencies and mushroom organisations to foment trouble and further disorganise the society.
I have chosen the Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) as a metaphor in this piece to illustrate my deep concern on the ugly activities of anti-social elements across the country. I doff my hat for him [Fashola] for the appreciable strides he has been able to record so far. As a human being, he cannot claim to be perfect because a couple of his policies have been more injurious than helpful to the vast human Lagos population. But generally, he has played his part and one can only hope that his successor would consolidate on those gains.
But I am being compelled to ask, if Lagos metaphorically speaking is still working? Before now, the joke in many quarters was that Lagos was working, while other states are sleeping. Inasmuch as the joke is still valid, he and many of his colleagues in power need to take a look at one area I find quite horrifying and disturbing, which many of the governors, especially in the South-West must take a firm, decisive and courageous step before it is too late. It is the activities of the ubiquitous okada riders in the cities.
I was among those, who initially opposed the decision of some states to ban the activities of commercial motorcyclists by some governors, because of the high rate of unemployment in the country. I had also expressed reservation when the Fashola decided to restrict their movement to certain routes and parts of Lagos metropolis. My position then was that we needed to fix basic infrastructure, create more job opportunities and guarantee conducive environment for economic growth and development before taking some tougher measures. This was because most of the okada riders were artisans who have had to suspend their original trade because of the collapsed power sector. Others, including graduates from our higher institutions of learning, also had to resort to it after fruitless search for white collar jobs.
Whereas some of these challenges still exist now, we cannot continue to mortgage the peace, safety and security of the larger population because of the interest of the negligible population of okada riders in our midst. An outright ban on commercial cyclists from operating in our cities is necessary because of the havoc they wreak on the people. They are causing more harm to the psyche and body of the nation almost akin to the mental torture currently occasioned by the insurgency in the Northern part of the country. Their operations should be restricted to rural communities and properly regulated by the authorities as they intensify efforts at revitalising and reorganising the other critical sectors of transportation. It is obvious that incidents involving okada riders are being under reported going by the huge number of human casualties being recorded in public hospitals. Many people have gory tales to tell on their encounter with bandits posing genuine commercial cyclists.
Another menace on our roads in particularly Lagos and Ibadan, two strategic cities in the South-West is the swarm of motorpark touts at most bus stops and streets. Brandishing canes and horse whips, the touts harass and often engage drivers and passengers in bloody brawls even in the presence of regular policemen and anti-crime patrol personnel. While the sale and purchase of marijuana and alcohol is at their call and beckon at parks, their sources of lethal weapons during minor family disputes are a cause for worry.
It is difficult to ascertain the number of deaths resulting from the activities of Okada riders, but suffice to say that they have been more responsible for many avoidable crashes and killings in the country. Just last week, the editor of Daily Sun, Mr. Steve Nwosu, escaped death by a hair’s breadth when robbers operating on an okada attacked him as hot lead narrowly missed his skull. Just on Sunday in Lagos, the editor of the Nigerian Compass, Gabriel Akinadewo, was held hostage by bandits, who later made away with his invaluable.
Today, okada riders, motorpark touts, miscreants claiming to be agents of local councils and state government have swooped on the roads of Lagos, Ibadan and other towns in the South-West. Touts dictate fares to drivers and passengers, front for policemen by collecting money from commercial vehicles for ‘security,’ colonise bus stops, while okada riders rob with ease. In all these instances, these miscreants have succeeded in turning the Center of Execellence to heartache for the country. And one of the reasons is that we have continued to legislate even armed robbers to lionize themselves through all forms of amorphous s and associations. Now, we have associations for pepper seller, onion dealers, agberos, okirika [bend-down-select-boutique or tokunbo clothes] association, ewedu sellers, fura du nunu sellers association and name it, with each of them holding the rest of the population to ransom in their homes and sometimes committing gruesome murders!
Oderemi, 08023501874 (sms only)