• Monday, July 15, 2024
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The Buhari Presidency and Fashola


In what has been described as one of the most surprising moves of President Muhammadu Buhari, he handed over a bouquet of portfolios – Power, Works and Housing – to Babatunde Raji Fashola (BRF), the immediate past governor of Lagos State. More surprising was that prior to this unprecedented appointment, BRF had to contend with bad press. It was essentially bad press that had all the trappings of simulation. All of a sudden, a shadowy group started to orchestrate what was deemed to be the ugly and unsavoury aspects of the Fashola governorship years.

Since in politics timing seems to be everything, analysts were of the view that the orchestrated mudslinging of BRF was to narrow his chances of being nominated as a minister. However, such indeed are the unexpected consequences of intended action that BRF appeared to have survived the onslaught on his reputation as the poster boy of positive governance in Nigeria.

Beyond much of the foregoing is that the bumper appointment also gives an insight into the mind of Muhammadu Buhari. Rather than succumb to the blandishments of BRF’s traducers, he decided instead to make him something of super-minister. Apparently, the mudslinging tactics of BRF’s accusers did not wash with him. Rather, Buhari could well have reasoned that the magic wand which BRF wielded in Lagos would be very useful at the centre in Abuja.

Needless to say, this is an astute move. It means that even amidst the media-orchestrated sins of BRF, President Buhari was able to view the issues through another prism. Even then, it is not impossible to suggest here that Buhari, having become president, was even seeking to widen his political base in the South West outside the usual and visible status-quo portals.

However, what is clearly beyond argument is that by the end of the four-year tenure of the Buhari administration, its success or otherwise will depend on the performance and competence of BRF. If BRF should succeed in managing these three critical indices of Power, Works and Housing, then we daresay that the Nigerian people and history would regard Buhari as one of Nigeria’s greatest leaders. On the other hand, if BRF should drop the ball in these important areas, then it possible to contend that the harsh judgment of history would also be swift and unrelenting. Therefore, the Churchillian phrase is very apt here that, in the potential sense, “never has so much been owed by so many to so few”.

If BRF’s initial pronouncements are anything to go by, it is evident that he is quite conscious of the herculean tasks ahead. His acute insight into the nature of the problems which beset Power, Works and Housing could be gleaned from his inaugural address on December 8, 2015. In a wide-ranging discourse, the minister took the media on a ‘tour-de-force’ of the issues and problems in the areas under his watch.

A close look at this briefing reveals that BRF appears to know Nigeria’s current status in these three areas and what should be subsequently done to take the country to the promised land as regards critical infrastructure. Till date, however, we are yet to hear anything about the updating of the National Infrastructural Master Plan which the minister promised would be retailed to all Nigeria down to the schools “so that everybody in every state knows what is coming in terms of infrastructure, where it will be, when it will start, and how long it will take”, among other lofty conceptions contained in that historic media briefing.

On this note, we urge BRF and his team, for the sake of focus, to go back to that soul-stirring document appropriately titled “Setting the Agenda for Change”. Should Fashola deliver on this agenda, he would not only have burnished the governance credentials of the Buhari administration but would also have unwittingly prepared himself for a more visible position as regards the running of this country.