For a nation in dire need to further the current infrastructural development, the incoming administration must have the audacity to hit the ground running, accelerating growth and development with the totality of its policy thrust on all critical nation-building pillars becoming a focal point of examination, review and possibly, adjustment. Nigeria, against its heterogeneous socio-cultural-religious and political diversity, has tended to operate with the avalanche of policy thrusts post-1960 independence to date. Some of these policy thrusts had been bequeathed by colonial masters with pre-determined biases. They had undergone some reforms, at various levels of nationhood, by the early nationalists.
To date, the quests to originate national fit-in model policy thrusts have not been totally successful, and at best, each sub-state structure has attempted a ‘copy and paste” model of each other. From economic policy thrusts to education, health to environmental, transportation, youths and social development to rural/urban integration and other significant areas of concern, the visioning for more comprehensive and acceptable policy thrusts keeps prompting up all national discourse in a way that a template is urgently required. But the search for an appropriate model for the Nation wouldn’t be an endless one because of successful experimentation that has been initiated and executed in Lagos State by the remarkable foresight of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT).
Ahead of his re-formative policy push on all fronts in Lagos, Asiwaju had, as far back as the aborted Third Republic, as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, established norms for progressive policy thrusts that were meant to address a series of gaps in national development. He had worked with other progressive parliamentarians to propel the nation towards valid federal fiscal policies that eventually gave birth to the 13% Derivations being enjoyed by the Oil producing areas in the country.
A leader with great foresight, Asiwaju can also be credited with the initial moves by the Federal House to enhance the Federal Allocation policy in favour of the States rather than the top-heavy distribution of incomes at the time. His legislative activities were also tailored towards, according to Lagos State, a unique position in revenue sharing of the Federation, having served as the federal seat at a point in time with the responsibility of maintenance of legacy infrastructures. Asiwaju is, therefore, vast in policy thrusts’ conceptualisation and implementation that can address the immediate, medium and long-term needs of the Country if elected president on February 25th, 2023.
Specifically, from his antecedents in the Federal House and leadership style in Lagos, Asiwaju’s presidency is bound to throw up a series of policy thrusts geared towards accelerated growth and development of parts of the country. That the country is blessed with an abundance of material and human resources is not in doubt, but harnessing them to the benefit of all and sundry, has been the missing link which needs to be urgently tackled. From the Lagos model, it is germane to highlight some of the few policy thrusts that are likely to be enunciated at the Federal level if Asiwaju clinches the presidency in February.
First is the economic policy thrusts of his administration which have been amply embedded in 2023 Renewed Hope Manifesto plans. Relating to the monetary policy thrusts at the centre (federal), Asiwaju believes that fiscal discipline is crucial to attaining the success of all economic policy thrusts. The need to save up funds from the surplus avenues and free them up for productive sectors has been a magic wand at the State level, and in more than any other requirements, the Federal is bound to benefit from the thrusts.
For instance, in Lagos, BAT saw a massive opportunity in a seedy waterlogged landmass and, from this, was birthed Lekki. The entire city was created when Tinubu was governor, and today, Lekki is a swathe of a sprawling metropolis inhabited by upscale Nigerians with a net land value that is above the average upscale environment in Nigeria. Today, Lekki has encroached on neighbouring suburbs around it like Ajah, Badore, etc., and its land value continues to soar with each passing day. Lekki was a product of Asiwaju’s creative thinking, his will to excel and his insatiable desire for excellence.
Equally phenomenal in discussing Tinubu’s transformational power is the Lekki Free Trade zone, which is today fondly referred to as the Nigerian Dubai. It remains an innovative concept Tinubu drew when he was governor and targeted the massive development of the Ibeju-Lekki virgin land into a world-class industrial, business and commercial hub in record time. Today, the Lekki Free Trade Zone hosts the world’s largest refinery, Africa’s largest fertiliser company, and a deep sea port, among many other heavy industrial concerns that directly impact the lives of millions of Nigerians. The Lekki Free Trade Zone is still embryonic, so the potential economic accruable from the zone at a complete stage of development can never be quantified.
The Eko Atlantic City that is gradually coming on stream speaks of the illimitable transformational capacity of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu with genuine gifts to harness resources for more outstanding economic goods. As governor, Asiwaju conceived the idea of chasing the rampaging Atlantic Ocean, threatening the entire Victoria Island and then deep inside its borders. He started the project, and successive governments now took over. Today, a sizeable portion of the ocean has been reclaimed, and a brand new choice city called Eko Atlantic City has sprung up. This city is noted for its high value as it is one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in the world today. The United States of America is building its largest embassy in the world in that city today! This is a result of Asiwaju’s deep creativity and transformational capacity. Just imagine the value Eko Atlantic City stands to add to Nigeria and the lives of millions of Nigerians, and you will understand why no one in the race for the Nigerian presidency today comes near Asiwaju in using the tools of government to transform the fortunes and lives of millions of Nigerians.
Secondly, the integrated transport policy thrusts envisioned by Tinubu’s Administration have stood out in Lagos regarding the composite infrastructure of necessity. As to how Tinubu employed his transformative capacity to change lives, we cannot exhaust the narrative without looking at the massive transformation of the Lagos transport sector. When he came in 1999, Lagos was reeling under a messy, turbulent, chaotic and riotous transport system which impeded the growth and progress of the state. He had to set up Lagos State Transport Management Agency (LASTMA) to cleanse the heavily stuffed face of the sector but most critically enforce discipline in road usage. He then reeled out the codes for road usage and set a timetable for the phasing out of rickety buses that were the face of public transportation in Lagos. He then started the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) scheme, which was operational in progressive cities and metropolises worldwide, and vowed that the face of Lagos transport would change in record time. Today the BRT scheme is very successful and running effectively in Lagos. More routes are being added to the scheme, and more innovations are being made to attend to the increasing needs of Lagosians.
What’s more, the ubiquitous rickety giant molue buses have been totally phased out of Lagos roads and the smaller yellow buses, though still there, are on their way out. Lagos roads are today saner and more unrestricted, and road usage is more disciplined and responsible. Today, Lagos is about to start intra-city rail transportation near the completion of the blue and red rail lines, thus making Lagos the first city in Africa to build and run its own intra-city rail transport. Equally, Lagos today runs a very innovative ferry transportation service that transports hundreds of thousands of Lagosians across the vast Lagos water spaces daily. Lagos is today running usable land, rail and water transportation systems; the only state in Nigeria to enjoy that privilege. All these add up to the Lagos transport transformation that has not only seen the transport sector migrate from its odious primordial past to a new and more friendly system that keeps expanding by the day and empowering millions of Lagosians.
Thirdly, Asiwaju’s deep insight into grassroots governance management also birthed renewed local government policy thrusts that devolved into creating additional local government (LGs) councils in Lagos State. From just 20 LGs, BAT engineered legislative machinery to increase the number to 57 to bring governance to the grassroots. It was another way Asiwaju impacted the lives of millions of Lagosians. Being a consummate democrat, Tinubu believes in the exploitation of the tenets of democracy to effect positive changes in the lives of the people. That was why he was the first governor that took the gauntlet to create other local councils not only to take governance closer to the people but create viable life-changing employments and empowerment for Lagosians. He designed local councils as a vehicle to reach more people and empower them. Given its myopic understanding of governance and the abject pettiness that ruled it, the PDP federal government did not have the privilege of sharing Asiwaju’s grand vision. It, therefore, clamped down on Lagos and impudently seized the state’s local government allocations for the eight years Asiwaju was governor. This never deterred Asiwaju as he instituted winding legal challenges to this obnoxious action. He won all the cases though the Obasanjo/PDP government resorted to blatant illegality by still withholding the Lagos LG allocation despite the Supreme Court judgment that ruled the action illegal. This, however, never deterred Asiwaju, who went ahead to run the new local councils as the Local Council Development Authority. Today these LCDAs are thriving and bustling administrative councils, offering various administrative services to Lagosians and boosting the economy of Lagos while employing hundreds of thousands of Lagosians. That is yet another of the critical transformative capacity of Asiwaju, backed by a tremendous will to get things done and get results. This was why he didn’t give in to the bullying of the Obasanjo/PDP federal government, which was determined to frustrate his efforts to create these additional centres of governance that today greatly enhance the economy of Lagos and the fortunes of Lagosians.
Fourthly, Tinubu, understanding the nerve centre of economic workings fully, pushed for energy policy thrusts that were meant to galvanise the economic landscape of Lagos to a higher pedestal. On election as Lagos governor, Asiwaju saw a grand vision of breaking the vicious power crisis that riddled the activities of the state power section. He came up with the idea of diversifying power generation and distribution. He brought Enron, a United States power company, to kickstart the privatisation of power generation and distribution. The PDP federal government stood on the way and frustrated the Enron project while claiming that power was the sole responsibility of the federal government. With this, Nigeria lost the considerable opportunity of having private participation in the power sector, thus leaving the state power company unscathed in its hegemony over the power sector. With the loss of this Tinubu initiative, power has consistently degenerated, and the state power company has no answer to this consistent decline. There is little doubt that if the Enron project had been allowed to thrive, Nigeria would have by now solved its intractable power problem. Undoubtedly, Asiwaju’s vision is within his great mind about understanding the future of work. Nigerians can use this and others as signals, a timeline to trust that Asiwaju will indeed deal with the issue of poor power supply if he is elected president, thus solving a problem that has defied a solution over a long period of time.
Fiftly, Asiwaju’s unparalleled skills in building firm human capital policy thrust out of the extensive vast talents of resources available have been amply demonstrated in Lagos with a formidable Team that has delivered on governance credentials, and such can certainly be extended to the nation. Early enough, Asiwaju has typified that in the choice of Kashim Shettima as his Vice Presidential candidate, which has aptly demonstrated his understanding of governance, the indices and persons that thrive in governance, as well as the power of having a competent, equally cerebral and proven achiever to compliment his own redoubtable leadership capacity. As the governor of Borno at a time, the state was ravaged by a crunchy war levied by the Boko Haram terrorist group. Shettima handled Borno’s affairs in such a stellar manner that saw to the rehabilitation of the war victims but saw to the quick rebuilding of the war-torn state. Like Asiwaju, he had a great succession plan that brought forth a very competent, efficient and gifted achiever, Prof. Zulum as his successor. Today, Borno is home to such incredible infrastructure that many doubt if Borno was the same state ripped and torn apart by a ferocious war that saw massive destruction in the state as the war lasted and the unleashing of millions of refugees, most of them have been rehabilitated and settled back to their everyday lives.
So Asiwaju made the best choice in a Shettima that understands very well the importance of leveraging the tools of governance to offer transformative impetus to the people’s lives. Both were resounding successes as governors of their states. Both have very competent successors that continued where they stopped; they governed states that continued to strike tremendous successes after their tenures ended. So the Tinubu-Shettima ticket is a loaded ticket of two tested and proven performers who employed transformative capacity to change things for the betterment of Lagos and Borno, respectively. They stand to do that for the country from 2023 if we reward them with our votes in the coming presidential poll.Tinubu/Shettima ticket contains so many packages rolled into one, and Nigeria would be exceedingly favoured to have such a knowledgeable and very competent duo managing her affairs. Their excellent results in Lagos and Borno resonate nationally today, and no contending ticket for the 2023 presidency comes near that ticket. So the powerful transformation ability packed in the Tinubu/Shettima presidential ticket is beyond doubt. The commitment and competence of the ticket are not in contention.
Tinubu is a proven transformational leader. Shettima is a proven transformational leader. They have the capacity, the brain power, the durable ideas, the vision, the political will and the practical, tested and proven capacity to change the lives and fortunes of Nigerians for the better. This is not empty optimism like other candidates who went through government with absolutely nothing to show, for it, are dishing out presently.
Tinubu and Shettima have results to demonstrate their competence for the job. Lagos and Borno today stand as undisputed proofs of their capacity to transform the lives and fortunes of Nigeria using the tools of governance. That is what Nigerians need today, and that is the ultimate benefit of government. So, if Nigerians really desire the bests from the government, the Tinubu/Shettima ticket remains the most credible and sure option Nigerians have in 2023. Both Tinubu and Shettima are able. They are capable, having demonstrated their capacities in navigating aftershocks in economics and governance by creating opportunities even in a spiral of uncertainty. They are proven achievers whose visions are exemplary for the future starting in 2023 for Nigerians. They are well prepared for the job and will hit the ground running as global futurists who know the pathways to create employment and jobs by focusing on helping democracy to grow exponentially and grow the national economy by solving current problems, as well as exploring emerging future, responding proactively to global opportunities, and identify and efficiently manage associated risks with governance on the horizon. Tinubu/Shettima remains the best the country can boast of to transform and change its fortunes for the better come 2023.
Sixth, the health policy thrusts in Lagos have become a model that others States in the Federation are lashing on, bringing health care delivery to the commoners. Asiwaju laid the modernisation of the primary health care centres in all the 57 local councils of the State, and subsequent Team leaders have further regenerated the numbers in a way that the care delivery has today gone beyond one centre to almost about 5 per local council. There is hardly any community in Lagos without the presence of the primary health care centre, which is further annexed under the highly equipped General Hospitals spread along the Divisions in Lagos. These are further complemented by the annexure of the specialist teaching hospitals in all the Divisions. This tells of the broader vision of BAT for health-related policies that the entire nation can benefit from.
It is sufficient to conclude that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is configured to hit the roads running once given the presidential mandate in February on the basis that his policy thrusts on all critical sectors of our national growth and development are in place, and we are urged to stand by him to bring these laudable thrusts into reality.
Prof. Ojo Emmanuel ADEMOLA