By Olatunji Oke
The quintessential Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN is 55 years-old today. You would be pardoned to assume he was older. In truth, his grey hair often depicts him so. The marked difference in his appearance prior to and after taking up public roles is quite striking. Your guess for what is responsible is true: it is the dedication and devotedness of a man who gives his all in anything he does. He often goes the extra length to ensure the wheels of governance rolls smoothly.
As governor of Lagos State from 2007 to 2015, Mr Fashola was hands-on and brought about a whole new dimension to public office in Nigeria. He had a vision to put Lagos in the same rank of such important cities like Dubai in the UAE, Jakarta in Indonesia, Rio in Brazil, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, among others. His era marked a historic turning point in the life of Lagos as the largest African city.
On assumption of his administration, the former governor boarded on a huge infrastructure renewal of Lagos metropolis. The main focus formed the key city highways. There was great reconstruction work going on at the same time almost all over Lagos. The result was that within the first four years of his term, Lagos metropolis wore a new look. The same could be said about his rural transformation programme, as several localities received government attention in real terms.
Mr Fashola showed great commitment to providing adequate security for the citizens of Lagos. His government not only turned most hide-outs and joints that previously serve as bases for impostors and armed robbers into beautiful environment. It also established the Lagos State Security Trust Fund to effectively fund the security needs of the state on a sustainable basis. Its contributions to educational level of the state became a standard for other states.
Curtailing the Ebola virus was arguably the greatest health achievement of his administration. It became the template for emergency situations in many states as well as national level.
Since the reward for good work is more of it, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as the Minister of Power, Works and Housing on November 11th 2015 – a position he continues to hold. How would you handle Nigeria’s most cumbersome government organisations except you have the capacity? So far, the ebullient Fashola has mapped out implementable strategies for the three ministries and Nigerians can expect delivery in no distant time.
Indeed, many people have often wished for more “Fasholas” within the Nigerian public space. Meanwhile, the subject himself has never behaved like a regular politician. Having distinguished himself in his law profession (as a Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria), he got an opportunity to serve the former governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Chief of Staff and the Honourable Commissioner to the Governor’s office. He was the first person to hold both offices simultaneously.
Born in Lagos on 28 June 1963, Babatunde Raji Fashola has surely come a long way. He had all his education in Nigeria – Birch Freeman High School and Igbobi College (both in Lagos). He studied Law at the University of Benin from where he graduated with a Bachelor of Laws, LL.B. (Hon) degree in 1987. His union with Dame Abimbola is blessed with children. He loves sports (mostly football) and is a giver.
I therefore use this medium to acknowledge a great Lagosian, whose impacts have become rather colossus not just in Lagos but all over Nigeria. Continue to be your great self.
Happy birthday, sir!
Olatunji Oke is a Project Monitoring and Evaluation personnel and Editor in chief, Nigeria Indicator Magazine.