FOR A TIME LIKE THIS, ASIWAJU BOLA AHMED TINUBU IS CRITICAL TO OUR SURVIVAL.
By Petra Akinti Onyegbule.
I wish to begin this piece by saying I am not oblivious to the disappointment felt by many supporters and members of the All Progressives Congress based on the performance of the last couple of years from an administration we invested so much in. I am also not so conceited to dismiss the discontent felt by many citizens of Nigeria on the state of insecurity and indeed, our economy. To be clear, the major reason I have been critical of APC at the federal level is because I know a day like this was imminent, when we would go back to the people to solicit their votes. I am of the firm opinion that an incumbent must work not only to establish a legacy but to also preserve the integrity of the platform upon which he or she got into office.
The Presidential Primary of the APC has produced Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as our candidate and I hereby wholly and unreservedly endorse and support his candidacy in my personal capacity and on behalf of members of my political family. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is a leader of the APC and fairly or not, some of the blames for the state of the nation has been placed on his doorstep. While it will be unconscionable not to demonstrate empathy for citizens’ angst fueling this pointed finger in the direction of those presumably close to the corridors of power, I believe that after putting all his support behind the President to ascend to the Presidency, Asiwaju will not necessarily micromanage the running of the affairs of state and therefore, the buck stops on the president’s table. It thus it would be disingenuous of me to put the blame for my disappointments on any other table than President Buhari’s.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was Governor of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007. One of his lasting legacies in my opinion is the legal standoff between the Federal Government under President Obasanjo and Lagos State Government which stemmed from the creation of local council development areas (LCDAs). How Asiwaju navigated the state till it survived federal hammer in the illegal withholding of allocations due to the state spoke of uncommon resourcefulness.
His administration increased the internally generated revenue from N600 Million monthly in 1999 to N8.2 Billion monthly in 2007. As Nigerians grapple with shrunken income outweighed by needs, we urgently need such a man at the helm of affairs to assemble an economic team which can look inwards and pull Nigeria out of this economic near-catastrophe as well as generate the needed funds for infrastructural development.
The following are some of his enduring achievements in governance:
First was a free health policy for children below 18 and adults above 65 years that the Tinubu administration introduced, knowing the importance of healthcare delivery as an integral process in the building of a healthy society.
Prior to his ascension to office, Asiwaju had set up a Transition Working Group to look into the problems of health sector in the state.
The drugs for patients were heavily subsidized. Under the Blindness Prevention Programme, millions of Lagosians were saved from eyesight infirmities. There were free eye surgeries and glasses (Jigi Bola) were distributed to patients for free. To reduce the scourge of HIV/AIDS, the Lagos State AIDS Control Agency intensified its enlightenment programme targeted at youths.
The administration’s ‘Roll Back Malaria’ programme complemented the Eko Free Malaria Treatment programme under which millions of people were treated. The government also combated dreadful diseases, including tuberculosis by setting up clinics devoted to the disease and polio through the immunization of millions of children.
His intervention in the health sector saw to a total revamp and success in the Control of HIV / AIDS primarily via the Lagos State AIDS Control Agency (LSACA), Roll Back Malaria Programme – Free Maleria treatment, distribution of ITNs etc., National Programme on Immunizations, School health Programme, Control of Tuberculosis DOTS regimen, Hospital based 24 hours free emergency services (LASEMS), Pre-hospital ambulance service accessed from the 123 emergency hot lines (LASAMBUS), Marine Rescue Unit, Drug Quality Control Laboratory, Task Force on Counterfeit, Fake drugs and Unwholesome Processed Foods, Private Hospital Registration Authority, Free Health Programme, Blindness prevention Programme, State Environmental health monitoring Unit, Rural health ambulance boat Service, Drug Manufacturing Unit, Continuing Medical Examination Programme, Completion of the abandoned hospital projects at Akodo and Igando, The Eye Clinic, LASUTH, structural rehabilitation of facilities at the Lagos Island Maternity Hospital, Initial Phase of the LASUTH developmental projects, Provision of a drug revolving fund for People Living With Aids (PLWA).
To cap it all, the LASAMBUS scheme was initiated. Dozens of ambulances were provided to ease rescue operations. Tinubu introduced reforms, which led to the decentralization of the health management board, the revitalization of the primary healthcare system, the establishment of the Lagos State Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency to ensure quality assurance, the establishment of the Hospital Services Commission and the promotion of partnerships in health between the government and the private sector.
His numerous accomplishments in the health sector earned him an award as the Best Provider of Best Health Services in Nigeria.
Tinubu’s administration fired on all cylinders, leaving no stone unturned, down to the housing sector. Between 1999 – 2007, his administration facilitated access to quality accommodation and succeeded in transforming the Lekki corridor to the fastest growing real estate investment haven. The former governor lamented the federal government’s failed housing policy and the neglect of the housing needs of the former federal capital territory (FCT). He restructured the ministry of Works and Housing by upgrading the Housing Department (or directorate) into a full-fledged ministry. The ministry was mandated to provide 500 housing units yearly and coordinate the activities of the Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC) and the Lagos Building Investment Company for more effective management. There was a turnaround in the fortunes of the LSDPC which had become insolvent before Tinubu assumed office. More importantly, the sector was repositioned to attract private sector participation.
In his first term, the moribund Michael Otedola Low Income Housing was completed. In total, 1059 Units of 2 Bedroom bungalows of low income housing Units at Abraham Adesanya Estate Ajah were erected. (The first phase was commissioned, year 2000], 160 Units of 2 bedroom bungalows at Ibeshe low income housing scheme. (allocated and commissioned, May 2005), 114 Duplexes, high income units at Oba Adeyinka Oyekan 11 Estate Lekki. (completed and commissioned, 12th Sep. 2003), 163 Units of 2-bedroom low income housing at Ayanghuru Phase 11, Ikorodu. (commissioned, 28th of June, 2001), 20 Units of Town Houses and 32 Units of 8 inl, 3bedroom flats at Gbagada Medium Housing Scheme 1, 56 Units of 8 in 1,3 bedroom flats at Awolowo – Odofin Medium Housing schemes, 1101 Units of 8 in 1, 3 bedroom flats at Abraham Adesanya Phase 11. (commissioned, 2007), 60 Units of 8 in 1, 3 bedroom flats at Ikeja, 640 Units comprising 1,2 and 3-bedroom low income flats at Ojokoro Millennium Housing Scheme, 204 Units of 12 in 1 two-bedroom low income flats at Shasha, 96 Units of 12 in 1 two bedroom low income flats at Alagba, 88 Units, comprising detached / semi detached and terrace houses at Lekki 11 (High income), 300 Units of 2 in 1 two bedroom bungalows at Oke Eletu (Low income). (commissioned, 2007), 138 Units of 2 in 1 two bedroom flats at Oko Oba, 200 Units of 2 bedroom bungalows at Ewu Elepe (Low income) PPP, 24 Units of 4 bedroom maisonette at Ilupeju PP (High income).
There were proposals for Teachers’ Village, Civil Servants’ Village and Judges Village.
The new peninsula is sitting on a 25km² area, 10km² land and 15km² water. Eko Atlantic city is expected to be at least 40 per cent larger than the existing Victoria Island and upon completion will accommodate over 250,000 residents and a daily flow of 150,000 commuters. It is expected to generate over 100, 000 jobs. Talk about visionary leadership for economic prosperity!
His giant strides in the transportation sector signaled a huge departure from old norms to a safer and modernized transportation system in Lagos State. He pioneered various reforms in the sector which saw to the birth of of Lagos State Bus Rapid Transport System Lagos with the first phase designed to commence from mile 12 to CMS.
Aside from LAGBUS, Lagos State Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) was created with 200 motorbikes, eight heavy-duty tow vehicles and modern communication equipment to enforce discipline on Lagos roads to manage both human behaviour and traffic towards safety.
During his stint in office, he also resuscitated the moribund Lagos State Ferry Service by rehabilitating the grounded five ferries in the fleet namely; MF Babakekere, MF Jubilee, MF Ologe, MF Topo, MF Illo, and MF Omu all having the capacity to transport over 1000 passengers.
Revival of the light rail network as part of the Greater Lagos Urban Transportation Project is another legacy of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The blue line of the project was designed to run 27.5km from Marina through Okokomaiko with 13 stations and an end-to-end journey span of 35 minutes. The redline is designed to run from Agbado to Marina, it will share the right-of-way of the Lagos-Kano Gauge.
Even as this is yet to be completed 15 years after he left office, his transformational leadership style is a pointer that it will come to fruition after he becomes the nation’s leader.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu also recorded landmark achievements in the education sector in Lagos State, part of which includes commencement of reform, rehabilitation, rebuilding of the education sector in the state with a view to making public schools, especially at the primary level, attractive to the populace;
Governor Tinubu repositioned the education sector through the creation of an enabling environment and the continuation of the teacher training programs as well as improved the welfare package for teachers in the state (My Achievements By Tinubu, The Vanguard, Tuesday July 13, 1999, Front Page);
Between 2006 -2007, Governor Tinubu activated the injection of massive funds to the tune of N1 billion for LASU;
Rehabilitation of primary and secondary schools in all Divisions of the state through the Schools Rehabilitation Program, massive construction of school furniture and equipping of laboratories;
In 2000, Governor Tinubu activated the provision of free education in all public primary and secondary schools including payment of WAEC/NECO fees as well as all internal examination fees to ensure that indigent children do not drop out of school.
In July 20, 1999, Governor Bola Tinubu ordered that his monthly basic salary be paid to four rehabilitation centres until further notice. The beneficiaries of this charity are: Pacelli School 1 and 11 (Surulere), Modupe Cole Children Care and Treatment House (Yaba) and The Spinal Cord Injury Association of Nigeria (Ikeja) Schools Complex, Ajeromi – Ifelodun;
Tinubu’s administration via the Ministry of Education, approved the construction of the Millennium Senior Secondary School, Egbeda;
Tinubu’s administration via the Ministry of Education, approved the construction of Babs Fafunwa Millennium Senior Secondary School, Ojodu, Ikeja;
From 1999-2003, twenty (20) two – storey prototype blocks were provided in 15 secondary schools across Lagos State at a cost of N130,000,000;
From 1999-2003, thirty – nine (39) functional blocks of classrooms were rehabilitated at a cost of N108, 689, 939.
In 2003, Tinubu’s administration via the Ministry of Education, approved the establishment of 10 new secondary school in rural and riverine areas of the state;
From 1999-2003, thirty (30) functional blocks with the 6-1 bungalow classroom blocks were approved and provided at a total cost of N54, 300, 000;
Approved the construction of 501 classrooms in 24 primary schools and 26 secondary schools at a cost of N1, 195 billion;
Approved the rehabilitation of 602 classrooms in 4 primary schools and 50 secondary school at a cost of N561 million;
Tinubu’s administration via the Ministry of Education, approved the completion of abandoned 68 classrooms in 4 primary schools and central workshop in 2 technical colleges at a cost of N347 million;
Tinubu’s administration via the Ministry of Education, approved the supply of 3,076 dual furniture desks and benches in various schools across the state;
Between 1999 and 2007, Tinubu’s administration via the Ministry of Education, approved the establishment of new schools (14 primary schools) across the state.
It is an open secret the level to which insecurity has eaten deeply into the solid foundation of Nigeria; from the North East being ravaged by banditry to the South East being choked by unknown gunmen and the South West being dragged around by kidnappers and marauding herders. As a practical person who has had a long standing experience in grassroots engagement via advocacy, I believe Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu brings to table such sterling capabilities for a reversal of our our nation from her current match to apocalypse. This is because his experience and intervention as the Executive Governor of Lagos State in ensuring security of lives and property of Lagosians through the funding and strengthening of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) a joint Army, Navy, Air Force cum Police crack teams to combat the then growing rate of crime. The RRS was a rebranded and reinforced security crack Squad of the former military Governor of Lagos State, Col. Buba Marwa, hitherto called “Operation Sweep”. Talk about Asiwaju with practical intellect not to dismiss good initiatives but to build on them if found potent and expedient in the interest of the good of all. While admittedly the state of insecurity still leaves a lot of gap to be filled, creating the Lagos State Trust Fund was a pragmatic and noble idea which if well implemented promises a relief of no small measure for Lagosians. It is worthy of note as well that citizens will always have a role to play in security as it remains our collective responsibility. If we enjoy plundering one another, then we have reduced our own communities and social ecosystem to an animal farm. There is so much government can do within a flock of citizens who suffer predatory clobbering from a section of us.
INDEPENDENT POWER PLANT:
Lagos State under the leadership of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu witnessed tremendous growth in the power sector which laid a solid foundation for successive administrations in Eko Aromi salẹgbẹlẹgbẹ.
Part of the foundation laid by Asiwaju includes partnership with AES Nigeria to build an Independent Power Plant to generate 270MW for Lagos residents. The power generated was consumed locally but later transmitted to the national grid due to some challenges in the operational framework in the energy sector.
The Island Power Project is to generate 10MW and is located on Marina, opposite the General Hospital. Two years ago, the Lagos State Government (LASG) entered into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Island Power Limited (a part of Negris Group) to build, own and operate a power plant to provide 24-hour uninterrupted power supply to the General Hospital, Lagos Island; High Court, Catholic Mission Street; High Court Annex, TBS; Magistrates Court, Igbosere Street; Island Maternity Hospital, Lagos Island; State House, Marina; and to power street lights for 20 streets within Lagos Island, an 18km dedicated underground distribution network, all being powered using gas engines.
The plant comprises four units of 1.5MW MWM gas engines and units of 2MW MWM diesel engines. The Island Power Project was expected to increase the frequency of power supply to these facilities from 35 percent to 100 percent.
The project which was commissioned in May this year, is to help reduce environmental pollution as the plant runs on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).
According to the Lagos State Government, the development will lead to the eradication of 30 diesel and petrol generators of various sizes thus ensuring cleaner air and reduction in noise pollution.
Aside from the many restructuring of different organs and sections the administration achieved, it also pioneered novel initiatives in transportation, including the development of modern water transportation and the BRT system. LASTMA was established to ensure proper traffic management and deal with the chalenge of indiscipline on the road by drivers.
Under the capable hands of an obviously experienced public servant as Tinubu, Lagos blazed the trail in the Independent Power Project (IPP), which continually supplied 270 megawatts of electricity to the national grid. The project demonstrated the capacity of some states to generate electricity, if the power to legislate on it is on the concurrent list. Tinubu’s electrification project covered over 100 communities. In his first term, 53 rural communities were targeted. The projects were completed in Egan, Atewolere, Ifesowapo, Aboru, Agbado, Ayetoro, Akorede, Isheri Ikosi, Orile Aguntan, Rofo, Borokini, Omologbede, Araromi, Oke Agbo, Erekusu, Logberu, Okegelu and Ebute, Lekki. Others were Origanringan, Onigbolakowe, Oke odo Elemoro, Ipaja Isale Odo, Agenuba, Ajelogo, Mutaku, Egansando, Ayanfe, Topo and Ikola Agbenaje.
Tinubu created additional 37 councils, following the legitimate agitations of Lagosians for improved governance at the grassroots. The number of the councils rose to 57. However, the national assembly declined the listing of these councils in the constitution.
If there is anyone Nigerians should trust with rejigging Nigeria structurally as a more functional, result-driven federation, that person would be the Asiwaju and this is because his track-record speaks to the the restructuring of Lagos administration with the additional creation of LCDAs and how he translated the crisis it generated into opportunities culminating into resource control and exponentially harnessing the potentialities of Lagos State to her development. Lagos was able to weather the storm because there was a capable man in charge and that person is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
His midas touch was literally in every sector of human development which culminated in a plethora of credible awards from various organisations.
The awards and laurels include: These laurels and awards include the Best Governor for 2001 by the Nigerian/Belgian Chamber of Commerce, Winner of 2002 Best Practices Prize in improving the living environment (by the federal ministry of works and UN habitat Group), 2000 Best Computerized Government in Nigeria (by the Computer Association of Nigeria), 2003 Green Crystal Award for Enhancing the Value of the Environment (by Clean-Up Nigeria (CUN), 2002 Healthcare Award as the best provider of best health services in Nigeria, Presidential Merit Award for technological Development by the Nigerian Society of Engineers, 2001 National Literacy award for outstanding contribution to mas literacy, Co-winner of 2002 Outstanding Alumnus award of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), 2001 Distinguished Alumnus Award by Chicago State University, Distinguished Service Award for Exemplary Leadership by the Lagos State Economic Summit Group, Certificate of Commendation by the national Conference of Black mayors, Silver Jubilee Anniversary Award as Labour Friendly Governor by the National Union of Petroleum and Natural gas Workers (NUPENG) and Award of Recognition by Nigerian Berge Limited for the initiation of the independent power project (IPP).
Finally, we must always remember that seating on the fence has never yielded dividend in our quest for an egalitarian society. If all we do is sit and criticize just so we can keep donning the garb of activists, we cannot move this nation forward. Activism is best served when we translate it to our ability to mainstream our desires for radical change into effective policy formulations for good governance. The best way to do this is to get involved. You cannot influence power if you all you do is throw stones at it.
Nigerians, it is on this note that I want you to join me in supporting, canvassing and voting for a man who understands what our problems are and understands the solutions to them. At this critical point, we cannot afford to let someone who does not have vast knowledge and experience of problems to take charge for another four years, a mistake of such will be costly because this is not the time for experiments. It is my considered conviction that Nigeria needs the combined administrative acumen and political experience of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to provide leadership at a time like this.
I know I have friends here who may naturally disagree with me. Your disagreement is welcome once you do so decently. Divergent views are critical parts of a robust and healthy democracy. All I have to say is, let’s go as we collectively envision a better Nigeria!
Petra Akinti Onyegbul is the former Chief Press Secretary to Kogi State Governor.
Kogi State, Nigeria.