• Friday, June 14, 2024
businessday logo


Lagos governorship elections and age

The Voice of Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola (–a review of the book ‘Nigerian Public Discourse’)

It was unbelievable to read media reports that no less a person than the Lagos state governor Babatunde  Raji   Fashola SAN  has turned age into a campaign  and election  issue  in Lagos state. He reportedly said that PDP candidate Jimi Agbaje being the same age with the President Goodluck Jonathan is too old to be a governor of Lagos state. This was a very laughable assertion by the usually taciturn governor who exposed himself to the ridicule that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

Surely the soccer loving governor who built a stadium in the heart of Lagos   with tax payers    money for him and his cronies to play football at weekends when it was apparent they are overage for such expensive fun needs to be told that age has nothing to do with accountable, selfless and responsive leadership which Jimi Agbaje brings to the quest for power in this Lagos State guber elections of 2015.

Of course given the way that Governor Fashola got to power on a platter of gold at his young age, it was understandable for him to assert that anyone older than him is a Methuselah for the post he is presently occupying. That shows how myopic and egocentric he is even after two terms of office under the tight reins and leash of his predecessor.  That must explain why it was strongly rumoured that he had a candidate amongst the losers in the last State primaries of the APC who is a lawyer   and a SAN like him, but who was roundly beaten by the anointed APC’s Akin Ambode who was born in 1963 when Nigeria became a republic. Governor Fashola should be reminded that the best governor the state has ever had was a colleague of his late father and that is Alhaji Lateef  Jakande  who  made education  free and  funded  LASU so  that students  enjoyed  free  tuition. Unlike under Fashola when LASU students have had to riot over astronomical school fees under the rule of a government and party that got power by associating its name with the  ideals  of Awo  and  Jakande  who was  a dutiful executioner  of the free education mandate  that the late sage used to put Western  region ahead  of the other three regions when he was the Premier  of  the west .

Read also: Lagos guber election and age

A well-known statement says that the age of Methuselah has nothing to do with the Wisdom of Solomon. But Solomon specifically asked for wisdom from God instead of riches and position and it was as a reward for that insight that God gave him long life. Long life and ripe age there fore infer experienc, skills and knowledge gained from performance. This can only be appreciated by people who paid their dues by getting to the top through merit and performance. Not those who cut corners with the help of god fathers from whose apron strings they cannot free themselves even after 8 years of being CEO of  a state like Lagos  state .

This is why Jimi Agbaje ‘s candidature as PDP’s governorship aspirant is a huge departure from the caricature of succession that has become the logo of the APC under the aegis   of Bola Tinubu. He is over 60 but   he can easily manipulate inexperienced free riders   and nobodies like Fashola and shuffle them in and out of power like a pack  of cards . Yet Tinubu too paid his dues as Treasurer of Mobil in charge of millions of dollars, and vintage human capital. He cut his teeth in the corporate world before becoming the hand of god that has manoeuvred people like his successor into office and setting them aside when he liked. This is because he knows that given their    abject inexperience in politics and business they could never be a threat to him even if they tried as Fashola did and failed woefully. Now he has to campaign willy nilly   for a hand picked successor to his office on the platform of the APC.  I suspect the humiliation of irrelevance borne out of imminent departure must have confused him badly on the age issue. Of course the outgoing governor has to be told that had Tinubu picked a consummate businessman and leader of men and resources like Jimi Agbaje eight years ago the fate of Lagos state would have been positively different in terms of education, health , security  and even sports  where the governor  built a stadium  for his personal  pleasure with state funds . In addition there would have been no Joshua  case  in which  the governor  accompanied a man to the site  of a collapsed  building for  which  the man had  no approved  plan  from  the state . Agbaje’s sterling leadership experience from the hurly burly of Pharmacy, Marketing and business will just not allow that to happen. To a yoyo in business and politics that was to be expected and that is why Lagos needs experienced and tested hands not hand picked   governors, out going or potential still in the nappies of leadership maturity and incapable on their own to move the state forward. That is the turf of Jimi Agbaje  as this election will surely  confirm.

Babatunde Jegede