By Olasunkanmi Akoni
It began as a rumour which was stridently denied by the principal actors in the alleged face-off, Governor Babatunde Fashola and his immediate predecessor and mentor, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Although the rumour mill has for some time given the impression that all was not well between the duo in spite of their pretension to the contrary, they had maintained that their father-son cordial relationship remained intact.
But the bubble burst last Monday when hundreds of placard-carrying demonstrators, all clad in black attire, stormed both the Lagos House and the State House of Assembly, Alausa, Ikeja to protest what they called alleged intimidation, harassment of the incumbent Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State by faceless groups.
The peaceful solidarity rally was organised by the Coalition of Youth For Good Governance (COYGG) in response to aÂ resolution of the State House of Assembly on January 28 to set up a six man committee headed by Hon Rasak Balogun, the Assembly Chief Whip, to investigate allegations of financial misappropriation levelled against the Governor by a group identified as â€œThe True Face of Lagos â€.
The groups, which included Lovers of Raji Fashola Forum (LORAF), started the man-march protest from Adebola House, Opebi and walked through Allen Avenue to Awolowo Way en-route Lagos Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja. Most of the protesters who are members of the Action Congress (AC) from various wards in the state, expressed their displeasure at the way Governor Fashola was being treated by the so-called godfathers in the state.
Their major grouse was an alleged recent impeachment attempt to remove Governor Fashola from office by the State House of Assembly members. Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: â€œGood Governance must be sustained, BRF carrygoâ€, â€œDonâ€™t destroy the gains of continuityâ€, Solidarity support for an achieverâ€, â€œWe have seen the scripts of the master being playedâ€, etc.
According to one of the protesters from Ikorodu AC division, who preferred anonymity, whatever may be the plans of the so-called godfathers against the Governor, they would definitely fail..
â€œLet us face the fact, Fashola was chosen by God and not by any man. I was initially against the choice of Fashola as a governorship candidate.Â But we all can see that he is an achiever and a performer. So why should anyone turn against him simplyÂ because he feels the Governor is not doing his bidding?
They are angry because Fashola did not allow them to loot the treasury; that is why they want to remove him. My candid advice to such people is to forget about it and let peace reign, because the people of Lagos State want Fashola back for the second term. Some of us, the AC members, are ready for them; they will definitely not succeed this timeâ€.
Bishop Olugbenro, who led the group, in his address at the House of Assembly, stated that while the group respects the constitutional right of the legislative arm of government to perform oversight functions and make laws, it was against where those functions are misinterpreted and used as tools of blackmail, intimidation and victimisation.
The group continued: â€œWe detest and reject the surrender of legislative functions to be exercised in perpetual appeasement of insatiable godfathers.Â We detest and reject a situation where the unfounded accusations of a faceless group take pre-eminence over the passage of the 2010 budget of a hardworking, visionary, and progressive and God-fearing leader like Fashola, which has been pending since 2009.
â€œFinally, we say no to any surreptious attempt to turn our shining light and hope for the future into darkness through godfather-induced impeachment.Â For the information of all the members of the House of Assembly, National Assembly and indeed the Action Congress, our destiny is in our own hands and our verdict is BRF has done very well and will continue to govern Lagos till 2015.
â€œDo not spoil Lagos for us, we have about one and half years to go. Fashola did not say he wants to be the Governor of Lagos State by force, if you remove him we the true son of Lagos State and the indigenes will be the ones that will suffer for it. He has been blessed. We should be in our offices now, but because of the love that we have for Lagos, we are here to register our protestâ€.
In his brief address, Ikuforiji who commended the demonstrators for their peaceful conduct stated that the house has the right and duty to investigate any allegation against the Governor or any member of his cabinet.
His words: â€œThere is nothing like impeachment move in the house. This house is for 18 million Lagos residents and we will defend the interest of all. The truth is that we read a publication where some people alleged that the house has collected money from the Governor and that the Governor has done many bad things.
â€œWhat we are saying is that if anyone accuses the house and our governor, this house will investigate in the interest of the state.
â€œWe will make the investigation public for everybody to see. All we are interested in is to clear the name of the house and that of our governor. No matter how highly placed a person is, that person cannot stop the house from doing its job. I want to assure you that we will go ahead with the investigationâ€.
Earlier, Governor Fashola had, during a television broadcast to the people of the state, maintained that there was no crisis whatsoever in the state, saying it was the handiwork of fifth columnists who are using the media to advance their selfish agenda