The All Progressives Congress (APC)’s mantra of ‘Change’ flaunts a supreme theme: that of the remarkable radical – or reformer if you like. Babatunde Fashola, former governor of Lagos State, impressively rose to become the poster-icon of the ‘Change’ movement. In APC-speak, he actualised the development master plan facilitated by his predecessor, Bola Tinubu, a two-time governor of Lagos State and leader of the APC. Fashola soon became the worst nightmare of Lagos’ brutish crowd. Parts of the coastal city that erstwhile listed like a vessel bearing the coastal city’s rejects cum worst elements, cleared out to the purge of Cyclone-Fashola. Oshodi for instance, pulsated in the throes of the brilliantly rigged catharsis – a paroxysm that rid the transit township of the city’s worst’s elements, to birth an enchanting vista of change. Lagos had a no-nonsense governor. There was bound to be change. There was.
Armed robberies, the Ebola scare, impunity of Lagos motorists, educational hiccups, dwindling revenue and infrastructural collapse were some of the maladies Fashola faced and tackled with admirable zeal. Large segments of the citizenry were of course, appreciative and enthusiastic of his radical and transformational style of governance, despite its shortcomings. Fashola thus enjoyed the resounding applause of a turbulence-weary citizenry that earnestly acknowledged his significant contributions to the progress of the coastal city.
Citing Fashola’s achievements among others, the APC campaigned for its presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari and Lagos governorship candidate, Akinwumi Ambode, before an increasingly critical Lagos electorate. While the APC campaigned, Fashola was a sight to behold; memorable punch lines and poetic depiction of facts and pro-APC slogans leapt from his mouth to persuade and titillate the consciousness of a wary and increasingly critical electorate. The responses were habitually awesome, particularly when platitudes meshed with facts to substantiate the party’s promising imagery of change.
The polls took place and the APC’s candidates emerged victorious with the party claiming gubernatorial victories in 22 of Nigeria’s 36 states. The party was ecstatic; the future seemed promising for the new power bloc. But like Ola Rotimi would say, “Joy has a slender body that breaks too soon.” So does change. If anything, the APC’s much hyped change suffers the affliction of prodigal vigour, in Lagos State to be precise.
Fashola, the APC’s prodigious prince of change soon evolved to become primping peacock in the estimation of certain interests within the party. Scandalous snippets of a ‘progressive’ rebellion drifted from the party’s circuits, spilling beyond its ideological walls and sullying its promise of change. In the ensuing drama, Fashola is serially pitched against Tinubu, the man widely acknowledged as his benefactor and mastermind of his ascension to power and political acclaim. But like his staunch loyalists would say, Fashola rode to acclaim on the wings of his excellent performance as Chief of Staff in Tinubu’s cabinet and two-time governor of Lagos State.
“Therefore, asking him to man the driver’s seat was arguably on merit…Those who settled for him knew they merely gambled for obvious selfish extrapolations,” reads a recent diatribe against the political machinery that produced Fashola. The article, titled, “Fashola’s indestructible record,” makes an interesting read on web and social media.
This comes in the wake of the former governor’s rebuttal by a press release, of what he considers “manipulated and unsubstantiated allegations of wrongdoing.” According to his statement, “They range from allegations of extramarital paternity of children, to mundane and phantom conspiracy in the National Assembly, a debt profile for Lagos State and lately a website upgrade contract of N78 million, which is being distorted.”
All is clearly not well with the APC’s golden boy. But he keeps an appearance of calm anyway, like a bejeweled idol, exulting, self-intoxicated in the electric moment before lightning strikes. Lightning struck the former governor recently as the APC’s top hierarchy and all its prominent governors stayed away from his recent book launch thus leaving him severely shaken and bereft of spunk.
The APC’s golden boy has lost his fabled swagger and equilibrium, what is left is a feeble attempt at valour, a necessary performance of will. But how did things degenerate to this point?
Are the rumours about him unfounded or is his recent rebuttal of the allegations a frantic quest for empathy and recapitulation of facts? Various unprintable stories pervade the social media and junk online publications. If his rumoured spat with Tinubu is indeed true, are the several versions of the truth worth acknowledgment? Has Fashola fallen to hubris or a chthonian overflow of the elements that entwine the fate of every promising politician?
There is no gainsaying he performed remarkably in certain areas of governance; Fashola no doubt deserves the applause he earned. However, contrary to the sentimental drivel of his army of self-confessed loyalists, Fashola hardly qualifies for a Messianic status. He is a leader still in process. But the former Lagos governor, sadly, is entangled in the designs of self-seeking characters around him. The latter spiritedly ply him with earned and unearned plaudits as a practiced lecher plies a starry-eyed maiden with exaggerated flattery. Like the proverbial maiden, they draw him into a maenadic dance of death. Not mortal death per se but the demise of his legend even before the exhaustion of its prologue.
Fashola is very much alive but the golden boy of APC dies by the sedition of his own fable; the intelligible momentarily loses to the irrational, manifested as a fiery ego, an army of intellectual thugs and habitual fops gratuitously fostered by an innate lust for acclaim. The APC’s golden boy, trapped by his tar-baby loyalists and burdensome ego thus mutates into a crusted corpse in the party’s garden of change.
The impending crisis may be averted once affected parties agree to sheathe their swords and rein in their attack dogs. It was hypocritical of camp Fashola to claim that he was appointed Chief of Staff to imbue the administration he served with credibility. If Fashola was truly a man of integrity, he’d steer clear any political environment that could sully his name and dignity.
It is an open secret Fashola would never have emerged Chief of Staff and proceed to become governor had he not soared on the platform of the one (s) who his attack-dogs claimed “merely gambled for obvious selfish extrapolations” by choosing him – whatever that was intended to mean.
Truth is, Fashola became governor because Tinubu took notice of him and enabled him.
As governor, he did what he was paid to do. And he was handsomely rewarded for being governor too. Fashola did Lagos no favour, he was simply doing his job as governor. Lagos however, did him great favour by allowing him serve despite the fierce antagonism initially accorded his candidature by interests allegedly in disagreement with Tinubu’s belief in him. Nonetheless Lagos appreciates Fashola but if he erred in his duty as governor, the law will make him pay. If not, he will experience the karmic onslaughts of the universe.
Those that pushed Fashola to rebel, goading him with sophistry and sycophantic allusions to his invincibility are urging him to his doom. In time, Fashola will learn that they simply see him and his estranged benefactor as meal tickets, projects to be exploited and profited from. It’s about time he extricated himself from the vicious grip of sycophant journalists, politicians and so on, deviously urging him to his end, in pursuit of their own meals. Tinubu is already yoked to such mad men and specialists in greed – but he seems to have mastered the art of navigating through the folds of their treacherous ways. Fashola should simply mend fences with Tinubu and retire to his law practice for a while. He would be stunned to see his self-confessed army of loyalists disperse to realign with fresh ‘projects’ or mugus to fleece.