• Sunday, April 14, 2024
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BusinessDay

Babatunde Raji Fashola, the irrefutably astounding transformational leader

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Babatunde Raji Fashola, (SAN) was the Lagos State Governor from May 29, 2007 to May 29, 2015. As a candidate of the Action Congress party, now known as the All Progressives Congress, Fashola succeeded Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on 14 April 2007, and was sworn in on 29 May 2007.  He was re-elected on 26 April 2011.

He attended Birch Freeman High school Lagos and Igbobi College Lagos. He studied Law at the University of Benin from where he graduated with a Bachelor of Laws, LL.B.(Hon), degree in 1987. He is married to Abimbola Emmanuela Fashola and they have children.

He was called to the Nigerian Bar as a solicitor and advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in November 1988 after completing the professional training programme at the Nigerian Law School, Lagos which he undertook between 1987 and 1988. His legal career of over one and a half decades, commenced in the law Firm of Sofunde, Osakwe, Ogundipe and Belgore, where he cut his legal teeth as a litigator over such wide-ranging areas of specialisation as, intellectual property (registration of trade marks), commercial law, covering general contracts, company activities, mergers, acquisitions, right issues, ownership of shares and equity of corporations, as well as land disputes, criminal law and chieftaincy matters, in all of which he has come to acquire appreciable expertise and vast experience.

In June 2007, Babatunde Fashola appointed former Inspector General of Police Musiliu Smith head of the Lagos State Security council, a body charged with taking a holistic look at the anatomy of crime in the state.  The Babatunde Fashola Good Governance Group (G3) movement is a good example of Fashola’s commitment to reaching out to the people using various media channels.

During his tenure, Babatunde Fashola vowed to rehabilitate the state’s public schools, long being neglected with time. Among the schools being habilitated included the governor’s alma mater, Birch Freeman High School, which is located at a busy metropolis of Surulere.

The biggest task Babatunde Raji Fashola faced in office was his visionary project to transform Lagos into a mega city, the first of its kind in Lagosian history. Although initialised under the former governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in June 2002, the mega project task accelerated under Fashola’s governorship. Both private and public sectors are involved in fulfilling the project.

The crucial part of the mega city project is the rehabilitation of Lagos’ infrastructures and districts. Formerly taken care of by the federal government, they were immediately neglected, as Abuja was declared Nigeria’s new capital since 1991.  As part of the project, the Badagry Expressway, which links Lagos directly to the south-eastern border of Benin Republic, wasc rehabilitated by various contractors, with BRT and railway networks being established.

Another ambition was to recover lands at Victoria Island, being lost to erosion for decades. This artificial terrain is the location of the proposed Eko Atlantic City. This is also to support housing project that would accommodate up to 25 million Lagosians by 2015, a population growth from 15 million that could turn Lagos into the world’s third largest city.

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Babatunde Raji Fashola

In October 2009, Babatunde Fashola posthumously dedicated a garden personally, in honour of the memory of late professor Ayodele Awojobi at Onike Roundabout, Yaba, Lagos, with a statue of the famous academic erected at the centre .Artists of repute such as Oladejo Victor Akinlonu commended the former Governor on a job well done on the various value enhancement and beautification of Lagos state.

As soon as Haiti was struck by a magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, Babatunde Fashola launched an appeal to raise up to one million US dollars. The funds raised were used to assist the victims of the Haiti quake.

In May 2014, Fashola announced the compulsory use of life jackets on Lagos waterways.  In a 2012 accident, ten children from Ijora Awori, Lagos State, drowned while they were being ferried to school, because they were not wearing life jackets.

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) ended months of speculation over the second term ambition of the Lagos State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), when it endorsed him as the party’s sole candidate for the 2011 governorship election.

At the party’s secretariat, in Ikeja Lagos, Fashola’s predecessor, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu announced the decision of the party.

Before thousands of the party supporters, Tinubu, who flew into Lagos from Abuja because of the emergency stakeholders’ meeting raised Babatunde Fashola’s hand and said: “Today, by the power conferred on me by the ACN, in consultation and in agreement with all our party leaders throughout the state and at the national level, I am announcing to you, the final endorsement of Raji Babatunde Fashola for the 2011 election.”

He was re-elected on 26 April 2011 by a massive landslide victory. In Lagos, South-West Nigeria and Nigeria as a whole, Babatunde Raji Fashola remains a reference point in 21st century Governance.

Fashola, a Notary Public of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, has been variously honoured with awards and certificates of merit including the Distinguished Alumnus Award conferred on him by the University of Benin Alumni Association in recognition of contributions to the Alumnus association and humanity. He is also a recipient of Lagos State public service club Platinum Award for outstanding contribution towards development. As well as Alliance for Democracy “ Igbogbo Bayeku Local Government Award” in recognition of activities towards the success of the party among so many others.

Known with the slogan “eko oni baaje” meaning “Lagos will not be destroyed”, Fashola has indeed brought Lagos state to a level of excellence that cannot be forgotten even in years to come. He celebrated his birthday recently and the accolades haven’t stopped. After two successful tenures as the Governor of Lagos state, we wish him the best as he takes up other national responsibilities. A transformational leader per excellence indeed!

KEMI AJUMOBI