Fashola is not a saint, he is a Nigerian metaphor

By Sunny Igboanugo on 18/10/2015

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Buhari

I have never been in short supply of answers whenever people ask why I remain such an unrepentant pessimists against the success of the anti-corruption war in Nigeria. Never. This is because I believe that the disease that kills oturu, the tree, lives in its roots. The complete eradication of corruption in the Nigerian society today, I’m convinced, lies not in our desire to sustain the culture, but our inability to recognise that it lies at the root of our very existence as a people.

It is neither an understatement nor overstatement to infer that virtually every Nigerian carries this deadly poison. It is obvious. Yes, those who do not inherit the poison as part of the DNA transferred from their roots at birth, soon enough get infected with the poison by a pervasive societal bug whilst grappling with the vicissitudes of life. Attempting to live in denial, as we have been trying all these years and the penchant to force-feed the belief that corruption could be eradicated in one fell swoop, can only achieve the same effect seen in the obvious futility of Americans trying to get Afghan women go to school at all cost. Our country must not grind to a halt in trying to deal with the menace. Period.

The case of former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, has just jolted this reality, more than anything else in the Nigerian political trajectory.

Make no mistake about it, I confess my complete admiration for this accomplished Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). Nothing, in my estimation is likely to detract from rating him as one of the richest minds in Nigeria at the moment, in terms of erudition, eloquence and wits. But I must quickly add also that these are equally some of the elements that are ingrained in the most celebrated brigands around the world, past or present. Nobody, from what I have read about men of the underworld gets to the zenith of a Mafioso without being societally sophisticated, politically suave and, or intellectually savvy. It is therefore given that people like Fashola are capable of employing such high degree of intellect and enthralling sagacity to both sides of the divide depending on which side appeals to them more as we just witnessed.   

However, I’m more inclined to believing that he has shown a propensity for applying his great gift to the service of humanity – the doctrine of doing the greatest good to the greatest number. That alone informs my deep admiration for the former Lagos Governor, rather than the extreme position that he is free from this abiding disease resident in the bloodstream of every Nigerian.

In fact, on more than one occasion, I not detested the attitude of BRF but publicly spoke about them as much as my little corner in the society permitted.

For instance, I believe that as a governor, Fashola, had very scant regard for the poor and suffering masses. I hated his several policies that seemed to make the poor the direct butt of his administration. Whenever I watched his agents swoop on a set of Nigerians, to whom condition, as we say here in Nigeria, had confined to merchandising their trades by the roadsides, to cart away these wares or destroy them, in the obtuse megacity concept, it usually left a blister in my heart. Where it would be imprudent to speak out, I either walked away or watched with the tell-tale signal of hands clasped against the chest, head shaking and teeth grinding in utter pity and deep contemplation, like our elders are wont to respond to a typical tragic scene.

It was so as I watched the public crushing of thousands of motorcycles, used as okada, during the hoopla that trailed the ban of the activity of the ubiquitous commercial motorcycle operators in the state, shortly after using them to win his second term election. Then, I never stopped wondering how a government could have the presence of mind to invest billions of naira in acquiring machines that would crush those machines without adverting the same mind to investing same towards finding solutions and alternatives to the conditions that made okada riding a lucrative business in the first place. I protested when he knocked down the business places of small-time suffering Nigerians on the excuse that they were defacing the “city” of Lagos, wondering whether a city was not more defined by functional public structures like good roads, running water and adequate transportation system, than it is impaired by roadside shops. I protested, when on the orders of the governor, security operatives swooped on the thousands of inhabitants at the waterfront along the Third Mainland Bridge and dislodged them, destroying in the process, hundreds of years history and means of livelihood, which in other climes are enhanced and ornamented by specific and special government interventions.          

Regardless, I believe this rather criminal detestation of the poor was adequately compensated by other bigger and bolder ideas, especially when it did not have to do with the poor.

Of course, like many other admirers, I never believed that Fashola was corruption-free. There were quite a number of signs that gave him away. But, those were never my major problem. Rather, I liked those activities and ideas, which seemed to give the impression that Lagos was working, even though sustaining that impression was not without a clear dose of propaganda.

Even those who were clapping and eulogising the former governor for his “stellar performance,” at the Senate screening on Wednesday, must have known or at least suspected that the N78million contract for the construction of his official website and another N139million to sink two boreholes are just a tip of the iceberg, for the simple reason that there is no virgin in a maternity ward. In fact, these and many other supposed acts of malfeasances, which began tumbling out in torrents, before there was a sudden hush was thrown around the whistle-blowers were issues of public knowledge.

What is my point? Nigerians must find expression from the context that no man is blameless or irreproachable, in driving their desire for building the superstructure of their dream country and must therefore go for the ideal as happens elsewhere. It is a pipe dream to expect a Nigerian not to use his position to make himself and those around him happy. My countrymen must therefore must moderate their expectations, look for men, whose good sides overshadow the bad and move on.

We must begin to look for good men, but not saints, men with capacity and leave these pristine preaching to those in the pulpit. Yes. With men like Fashola with bold ideas, Nigerians could enjoy a transport system capable of making it possible for them to come to work daily from as far as Ibadan or Benin to Lagos with as less as N500 per month, return to the era of the children of ministers attending the same schools with those of peasants, ensure that someone on a salary of N20,000 could comfortably feed a family of four and create the climate where people stay out of good jobs out of choice rather than resulting from the debilitating situation like the current scorching unemployment climate. That’s what other countries do. Without that we might as well have a prison in every family to contain the number of corrupt people in the country.

Fashola

The virus of corruption, must be disenabled by the antivirus of processes and institutions. I’m sure that even President Muhammadu Buhari must have come to this sudden realisation, albeit, bitterly by now that no human being can be an angel because angels are made in heaven. Perhaps, that’s why we have started hearing quite less about the anti-corruption talk these days. Perhaps, the fruitless search to have 36 angels from 170million people must have wisened him up. This his realisation must, thus, impel a fresh impetus from hence.

If we must focus on fighting corruption, it must not only be taken as a matter of course, but must be imbued with the desire to make the society better using acceptable templates that has worked elsewhere.

Come to think of it, how could Buhari have become President without benefitting from the slush fund put aside by the likes of former Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and the All Progressives Party (APC), governors, who also contributed in various degrees? With the quantum of dollars said to have exchanged hands at the party convention, would he even have made it beyond being a mere aspirant, given his own, but rather implausible admission that he borrowed the money to obtain his nomination form?

Methinks that it is high time Nigerians stopped lying to themselves. With Buhari’s failure to find saints amongst mere mortals, I hope the era of deliberate profiling of certain elements in the society must also go with it. Yes, the stratagem of unleashing the most venomous diatribe on ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and his government as an act of patriotism or activism only to turn round and describe a milder version of same as hate speech when used against Buhari, might have worked in electioneering campaigns, but it is not so in running a government.

That was exactly the point the likes of Bishop Mathew Kukah, tried to make a few weeks ago, for which they were assailed to no ends. But now the reality has become evident that all have sinned, we must be compelled to the real change – change that is meaningful and sustainable, not a phantom change of do as I say and not as I do.

It is a critical choice we must make, especially now Buhari is about to form his cabinet.

 

 

 

 

Source Whirlwindnews.com

Posted on October, 18 2015

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