President Muhammadu Buhari and Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, have both been hailed over the improvement in the power generation and electricity supply, and provision of infrastructure around the country; as signs of positive development under the current administration.
The improved power scenario, premised on the electricity supply system in Lagos State, was tipped to be widely replicated around the country, which will eventually translate to positive changes in other sectors and areas, with resultant positive impact on the services sector and both the industrial and informal sectors of the economy.
The commendation was made by Lagos-based former President, Catholic Young Men Association (CYMA) now known as Catholic Brothers United (CBU), Mr. Vincent Uba, in a statement he issued and sent to THISDAY, titled ‘Nigeria o ni Baje’.
The above title, when translated into English means ‘Nigeria must not spoil’; a title coined from the ‘Eko o ni Baje’ slogan which was the catchphrase for the Lagos State Government during the tenure of Fashola, while he was building on the legacy of his predecessor, Senator Bola Tinubu.
Uba, who extolled the virtues of the former Lagos governor for his activities in the transformation of the state in the areas of power supply, road networks, water provision and physical infrastructure, asserted that Fashola has brought the same drive for development into the sectors under his portfolio.
According to him, “In 2006/2007, Alhaji Babatunde Fashola came out to contest the governorship election of Lagos State with the slogan ‘Eko o nibaje’, which means ‘Lagos must not spoil’. The slogan didn’t sound captivating as a campaign slogan.
“However, in May 2007, he won election and took over from his former boss, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. No sooner did he take over than that slogan started to make sense to me. While his immediate predecessor left a visible legacy of transformation of Lagos, Fashola quickly showed that he is a man who has come to work and to serve, by keying into the transformation agenda of Tinubu and assiduously working to improve on it.
“He began to show that Lagos must not only remain the centre of excellence in the real sense of the word but also ‘must not spoil’. He started to make the impossible possible. Recall the dreaded traffic situation of some parts of Lagos before he took over as governor; Oshodi, Mushin, Ojuelegba, CMS bus stop, Iyana Oba, Mile 2, Agric after Trade Fair, to mention only a few.
“Fashola initiated action plans that eventually made these areas notorious for horrible traffic congestions, have free flow of traffic. Yes, the traffic jams in these areas magically disappeared and decency and discipline returned to these roads. Testimonies upon testimonies continued to mount on how traffic situations at other locations equally drastically improved.
“Recall that refuse dumps dotted almost every corner of Lagos, thus making Lagos to be rated among one of the dirtiest cities in Nigeria. Lagosians complained bitterly. When Fashola took over, those refuse dumps and heaps started to disappear. Today ‘filthy Lagos’ has given way to beautiful scenes and sceneries.
“Just two months ago, for the first time since the BRT came into operation, I boarded one of the buses. From the time I boarded to the time I reached my destination, I had an exciting experience. I saw a replica of European buses-neat and air conditioned interior. In fact I have had to abandon my car and started patronising the BRT bus since then.
“This man transformed Lagos roads. You cannot count the beautiful dual carriage roads at every part of Lagos. From Bank Anthony way (reconstructed and converted by Fashola), Iba, Iyana Oba to Idimu, Ogba, Surulere, Mushin, Ijesha, Cele, Orile Coker, Mile 12 to Ikorodu, I can only mention these few areas.
“Then the big one, the Lagos Badagry ten-lane road which he started and was still under construction before he left office, will be another interesting landmark achievement he (Fashola) initiated”, Uba added.
According to him, “Fashola made Lagos the real centre of Excellence. He made Lagos to become the pride of Nigeria and those of us who are not indigenes of Lagos wished that the same kind of development be replicated in our respective states of origin. In fact Fashola was the best and most hardworking governor from 2007 to 2015.
“When in 2015, President Mohammadu Buhari appointed him as the Minister of Power, Works and housing, I jumped up in joy. I did not know that Buhari, like I did, knew and saw what Fashola was made of. It was at that point I was convinced beyond reasonable doubt that President Mohammed Buhari means well for this country.
“For President Buhari to appoint Fashola to be in charge of three ministries, gave credence to the fact that President is indeed out to rescue this country. That singular act by the president should make us know that he is not sectional as people now suggest.
“As I was rejoicing over his appointment, I remember leading a delegation as the President of Catholic Young Men Association (CYMA), now known as Catholic Brothers United (CBU), to the then First Lady of Lagos State, Dame Abimbola Fashola at State house Marina in her capacity as a Patroness of CYMA now CBU.
“In my address to her, I acknowledged the good works of her husband (Fashola) and wished and prayed for the time when ‘Eko o nibaje’ will be taken to the next level – ‘Nigeria o nibaje’. For me that comment made in 2012 was not only a desire but also prophetic.
“Today it seems that that comment is becoming a reality. As a minister, in charge of works, we are beginning to see the hands of Fashola in Nigerian roads, despite the current recession in the country. Road constructions and rehabilitations are now on going.
“Also, today, there is marked improvement of power in ways never witnessed in the history of this country. Everywhere in Nigeria now, it is generally known that power availability has improved tremendously. Before now, I used to spend about N54,000 a month on fuel to run the generator with the negative health implications occasioned by air/noise pollutions. Now I save more than N40,000 monthly with added health advantage.
“In my village, we hardly had electricity, but now my village can have a day of uninterrupted electricity supply. Nigeria is without doubt witnessing the hand of Fashola in power. Thanks to the President for putting a round peg in a round hole. Even though we are not yet there, we’re heading to the time when if there were to be a power failure, it would be unusual as is obtainable in developed countries.
“I am convinced that by the time Buhari would have completed his two terms as the President of this country, we would be there. We should applaud Fashola for this feat and also applaud Buhari for choosing him”, Uba stated.
According to the statement, “Unfortunately, we Nigerians are not known to have imbibed this culture of praising one when he or she has excelled. We are only known for complaining when situations are bad. But if situations become better, we easily forget the past. The improvement we have recorded in power sector so far, I believe is a tip of the iceberg.
“Power as the most vital sector in this country is beginning to witness positive changes which will eventually translate to positive changes in other sectors and areas. Then, ‘Eko o nibaje’ will have been taken to the next level – ‘Nigeria o nibaje’. Yes, it is my firm belief that the foundation of ‘Nigeria o nibaje’ would have been laid by the time Buhari completes second tenure as the president of this country”, Uba added.