Friday, 4 September 2015

Drama! Read What Happened To Fashola Yesterday In Muson Center, Lagos

There was mild drama yesterday, Thursday, September 3, at the 16th edition of the Bishop Mike Okonkwo Annual Lecture at which the former Lagos state governor, Babatunde Fashola was the guest speaker.

The event was held at the Shell Hall of the MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos Island, and was titled, ‘The Nigerian political Class and the Citizen’s Quest for Good Governance.’ Fashola talked about how Nigerians need to always hold their leaders accountable in all situations. The governor said most Nigerians fail to hold their political leaders to their campaign promises after elections.

The former governor during his speech listed his various achievements while in government. He specifically pinpointed the ban on commercial motorcycles, among other achievements. He went further to explain how good governance does not necessarily imply impressing everyone. He said good leadership entailed improving the general standard of living of the people. While defending his restriction on commercial motorcycles, he said: “Some people felt that we were anti-poor. But let us look at the result of the policy. The 15 deaths per month dropped first to three per month and later to one per month and later there were no reported deaths in the whole of 2014. The over 600 reported accidents dropped to about 100 accidents monthly (83 per cent) and the Commissioner of Police reported an 85 per cent drop in crime over a 10-month period of the enforcement of the law. For those who say this is not good governance, I will refer them to Section 14 (2) (b) and (c) of the 1999 Constitution.

READ ALSO: SGF: Revealing The Devious Plan That Excluded Fashola

Fashola also defended the money spent on his website, saying it helped him in bringing the people of the state closer to him. He noted that when he resumed office, only 500,000 people were paying tax across the state but by the time he left office, over 4.5 million people had started paying tax. He, however, revealed that there were still over four million taxable adults in the state not paying tax. The ex-governor said the state would be better off if people paid their taxes regularly and assisted the government.

However, a mild drama ensued during the question-and-answer session when a journalist from The Sun, Mr. Chika Abanobi, decided to use the former governor’s lecture topic in asking his own question. After giving kudos to Fashola for enlightening Nigerians on the need to hold their leaders accountable, the journalist asked Fashola to respond to the allegations of corruption levelled against him which included the N78m the former governor spent on the personal website.

This question clearly riled some of the guests at the high table. Dr. Mike Okonkwo, who is the presiding Bishop of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission, appeared uncomfortable that Fashola was put on the spot. Some people even signaled the journalist to keep quiet and sit down. However, the former governor who was stunned by the effrontery of the journalist answered by saying , “To the man in The SUN, I don’t respond to allegations on the pages of newspapers.” Also the popular comedian, Tee A, who was the master of ceremony, threw jibes at the journalist by saying, “Mr. SUN, continue standing in the Sun.”

A former Nigerian ambassador to the United States, Prof. George Obiozor, said that the event was to commemorate the birthday of Okonkwo who turns 70 on Sunday. Obiozor defended Fashola over the alleged N139m spent on two boreholes. Obiozor said, “He (Fashola) is one of those few people that God answered his prayers. I want to tell him that the game in which he is involved is called politics. Believe me, success is the beginning of threat. Nobody is after anybody who has failed.”

Meanwhile, Bola Tinubu, the ex-governor of Lagos state and national chairman of the APC, has reacted to the attacks on his successor, Babatunde Fashola.