By Hugo Odiogor,Deputy Political Editor
To the average Lagosian who believes that Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), has performed creditably well in the past 1000 days in office, the attempt to investigate the governor, is an act of political radicalism taken to the extreme.
Such a person may be an enemy of some interest groups. But to those who believe that accountability in governance is the hallmark of political advancement, the unfolding political drama between the Executive and the Legislative arms ofÂ Lagos State government is the best thing that has happened to democracy since the end of military dictatorship in 1999.
This is important given the fact inÂ mostÂ Houses of Assemblies where the two arms are from the same party the law makers have been nothing but appendages of the Executive arm of government. As the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji said, â€œeverybody holds His Excellency in awe and nobody was expected to raise an eyebrow on the activities of the Governor.â€
So, when there was an attempt to look into what the Executive arm was doing, it was seen as a feud between the two arms.Â But it works well for checks and balances.Â For the two to do their jobs as stipulated in the constitution, there must be checks and balances, this is the only way the interest of the public could be served.
Against this background we could rationalize and appreciate the last minute conversion of Lagos State House of Assembly and its thinking in initiating an investigation into the allegation of financial recklessness leveled against the governor by a group known as the True Face of Lagos.
The lawmakers may be seen to be serving the need for the public to know how the tax payers’ money is or was been spent.Â But there is no doubt there is more than meets the eye in the on going cold war between the Executive and the Legislature which can be described as proxy war between the former governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and successor.
There is no hiding the fact that theÂ House of Assembly would not have found the guts to initiate any form of investigation of any form of infraction or constitutional infringement if there is no external influence. Both Fashola and Tinubu have howeverÂ denial any rift between them, but Chief Jimi Agbaje, a one-time governorship candidate on the platform of Democratic Peoples Alliance told Vanguard, only the two men know the source of their quarrel. Whatever their supporters are presenting to the public are mere insinuations, innuendoes, conjectures and rumours.
â€œNobody outside the two of them would get to the root of the matter. It is like feud between two friends or partners who transacted illegal business; they would only let out the secret of their feud at their own perilâ€. In such a situation, truth becomes the first casualty. What gains the upper hand is blackmail and propaganda in crude attempt to win public opinion and support. Those who stand to benefit are those who beat the war drums, those who sto
ke the embers of the conflict.
Watchers of the political development within the ruling Action Congress in Lagos attribute the on going crisis to the politics of 2011, where there is a clash of interest between the mentor and the protege. On assumption of office in 2007, BRF had on different occasion publicly declared that he would not shirk his commitment to develop the state on the alter of seeking a second term. Put differently, the governor was seen to be saying that he was not interested in the politics of second term when he had finished his first term.
Some political jobbers argue that there was a gentle man agreement between him and his political godfather.Â The Governor went about his mandate with ruthless determination to build a mega city but those who felt the pang of his concept of elitist model of developmentÂ regarded as being anti masses.
Sources inside the Fashola camp attributed the genesisÂ of the acrimony to the governor’ s preference to directly collect taxes in the state instead of outsourcing it to a private consultancy firm, Alpha-Beta, whichÂ is said to collect a princely sum of N4billion every month for its services . Alpha Beta is a company, which Lagosians alleged, has links to the former governor.
On December 29, 2009, former Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Dele Alake issued a full page advertorial in newspapers where he credited the company for lifting the IGR profile of Lagos State from N600 million in 1999 to about N9 billion in 2007. So far, none of the feuding camps have revealed brains behind the company and the Lagos State House of Assembly has not deemed it wise to look into that direction.
Second, Fashola is said to have voiced his growing dissatisfaction with the idea of the State being the major financier of the national activities of AC, at the expense of Lagos.Â He has made great efforts to nurture and financially support the Action Congress to be the only vibrant opposition party in the South-West and other States like Adamawa, Anambra and Edo States.
Third, the governor was said to beÂ displeased with the fact that he has no control over his cabinet which is made of Tinubu loyalists, which is the sameÂ with the State Assembly. For the resident of Lagos, who desire development Fashola made sense when he said that he would step on the toes of area boys, market women, artisans, road transport workers, the foot soldier that risked their lives to put him into power. The philosophy of BRF is that a mega city project will bring Lagos in the same purview with other big cities of the world. It was a concept that favours the elites at the expense of others.
The concept of pursueing the physical development of Lagos and neglecting the social imperatives of alienation probably causeÂ a disconnect between the Fashola administration and the masses.Â While it is good to have light rail tracks, eight lane motor ways Asphalt tarred roads with glittering street lights, the social imperatives reducing unemployment, promotion of education, quality health care among others cannot be over emphasized.
Chief Jimi Agbaje of the Democratic Peoples Alliance said development must take into account other aspects of human life. We agree that Fashola has done well in some aspects that he chose to emphasis, we also agree that no single individual can solve all the problems in one fell swoop, but we must also acknowledge the limitations of adopting a one-sided view of development in a state like Lagos.
Fourth, the ever present club of sycophants had gone to town with the story that BRF has accomplished more in 1000 days in office than Asiwaju did in eight years.Â Â At the recent 1,000 days celebrationÂ the governor offered civil servants 15% salary increase to enhance their welfare. He also reviewed the allowances of teachers and judicial workers.
The payment of hazard allowance was approved for non teaching staff in public schools. The governor equally approved the payment of clinical allowance and journal payment for workers in the health sectors.
There was approval of car and feeding allowances for the work force estimated at 114,516 as at December, 2009. Reviewing what his administration has done in the past 1,000 days in office, Governor Fashola said Lagos is no longer the jungle of concrete that is muddled with heaps of refuse as the streets are adorned with green lawns and flowers, traffic lights and vibrant traffic management.
There is nothing wrong in the Legislature carrying out its oversight function on the executive. It is however curious that allegations of financial recklessness leveled against the governor by the group called the true face of Lagos is the basis for the probe.