By Rotimi Fasan
THERE are few qualities to define a purposeful, goal-oriented leadership as clear-thinking, careful planning and execution. The amount of these qualities a leader and/or government possesses should at most times be indicative of their/its preparedness or otherwise for leadership.
These qualities can be employed in examining the diverse approaches of the Yarâ€™Adua and Fashola administrations to governance. While one is not by this comparison equalising the enormity of work involved in governing a federation and a state within that federation, there is no doubt that the qualities required in running one is what is required in running the other.
This is not even considering the enormity of work necessary for managing a complex state like Lagos which could be a good testing ground for anyone wanting to be president of Nigeria. When the Yarâ€™Adua administration came into office in May 2007, it took it a couple of months to settle down to work.
After one or two appointments of principal officers of the administration, it would be many weeks later before the cabinet would be constituted.
The government in due course would start talking of a 7-Point Agenda that administration officials were quick to hold up as the blueprint guiding its activities when Nigerians started to worry and give voice to their worry about how the pace of governance had been greatly slowed, almost halted.
At the same time the government mouthed its 7-Point Agenda, it sought to explain away its non-performance by its desire to move Nigeria in the direction of â€œdue processâ€ and â€œrule of lawâ€, a good enough reason in its estimation for bringing the countryâ€™s development to an unnatural halt.
The government would continue in its ad-hoc ways, drunkenly drifting from one point to another until it stumbled upon its â€œNigeria: good people, great nationâ€ rebranding programme, two years into its presidency. When that programme was launched in March this year, the government sought to make Nigerians and the world believe that our problem was one of poor image.
If we are to accept this kind of thinking, then our state of infrastructure collapse, energy crisis and the situation in which we now find ourselves where nearly all sectors of the society is on strike is also a problem of image. That PHCN does not provide more than a few minutes of electricity to many parts of Nigeria in weeks is also a matter of poor image requiring rebranding.
This despite governmentâ€™s claims to increase power generation from a paltry 1000 megawatts or less to 6000 megawatts in five months.
Contrast the Yarâ€™Adua approach, however, to that of Raji Fashola whose government also runs a rebranding programme anchored on the slogan, â€œEko o ni bajeâ€. That the Fashola approach was not an afterthought is clear from the fact that the government had adopted the â€œEko o ni bajeâ€ slogan right from the campaigns.
Like Obamaâ€™s â€œYes we canâ€ slogan, Fashola didnâ€™t wait to be elected before adopting a plank on which to run his administration.
The government hit the ground running, making it clear to Lagosians that their state needed rebranding, not in the fashion of empty sloganeering, but as a mnemonic mantra to remind the forgetful that things needed to change from the Lagos of the immediate past where roads were blocked for merrymakers; a Lagos in the desperate hold of dirt, unplanned and environmentally polluted to one nursing the hopes of a twenty-first century mega city.
The present minders of Lagos knew the history of the city, where it was coming from and how it came into the unfortunate situation of dereliction that has held back her development. But more importantly, they had an agenda of what should be done to halt the slide in the fortunes of the state and bring it to the standard of cities of equal status around the world.
â€œEko o ni bajeâ€ is not a language game to mask the inefficiency of a purposeless cabal, or an administration that lacks a sense of direction.
It is, in the context of what the Fashola administrationâ€™s aspirations for Lagos, not the usual talk by politicians to hide behind empty or meaningless words to confuse the thinking of the people.
We are not where we want to be yet in Lagos, but we are getting there. Getting there because the Lagos government came into office prepared. Yarâ€™Adua has been described as a reluctant president foisted on Nigerians by Obasanjo.
Itâ€™s not enough justification, however, for a leader who came into office prepared not to perform.
This much is obvious in the case of Fashola who some say was Tinubuâ€™s candidate. His emergence, indeed, angered a few persons who imagined their being buddy-buddy with Tinubu was the qualification necessary to govern Lagos.
In retrospect, Lagos has been lucky while Nigeria needs to pray that things change in Abuja. And the difference between the Lagoa and Abuja example is how prepared each was before coming into office.