I was born in the late 1980s to face the many challenges Nigeria as a country has come to be identified with. I easily fell out of love with the country and wanted to travel out. I fell in love with the United States and at a time wanted to be an American soldier, and thanks to the movie Airforce One I wanted to become the president of the United States. For this I learned to talk American, I wanted to be everything American, I had a camo and a kaki, I had a jungle boot and an American flag. My dad used to work with the government of the United States at the American embassy in Lagos, thus I had access to the American declaration of independence, the American constitution, the American history and the American flag.
When Presidents Bush, Clinton and other top American officials visited Nigeria, I was at home, in front of the TV, clothed in military attire, with a stick that served as a rifle and an American flag hanging somewhere on me, can’t remember the actual placement. In my mind I was General Jones and I was commander of the American military base in Nigeria, the AFRICOM that is now located in Liberia. I loved America.
That love translated to my way of life. My dream was to leave Nigeria and never again return to a land where we had more blackouts from NEPA than sunlight from the heavens. I hated Nigeria with burning passion. Then came Fashola.
Fashola did not start my love for Nigeria, he only emphasized the love as a true inspiration to what Nigeria can actually be, the best and brightest. After attending Covenant University for two months, before my WAEC result was released and I had to leave since I did not have a minimum of credit in my English paper, I saw for the first time in my life people loving a country where everything seemed not to work. I attended service at the school chapel and saw people pray for Nigeria and clapped and hailed and danced at the mention of Nigeria. I did not think that was any possible and for the first time my heart flushed away the hate as I walked through the wilderness that is Nigeria in search of a way to love again.
Fashola become governor and without words in the affirmative I saw myself submerge in the love of him. He was not an angel and did not appear to me in the dream. I have never seen him face to face or had a one on one meeting with him. Never have I received any direct favours from him, and personally feel everything he accomplished in Lagos any well meaning Nigerian could have accomplished, even more.
Why the great respect for him? I cannot tell. But it was and was stronger in his first term as governor. He seemed to know his work and pursued it. He seemed to be the one governor that was not just intelligent enough for the office, but seemed to have raw passion for the state and country. I do understand that he sent packing some Igbos and made some mistakes here and there, but the people just like me loved him the more, even the Igbos, and since result is the rule of the game, I joined the masses to have him praised to high heavens as it seemed situations in Lagos was transforming for the better at amazing pace. Thus the mantra, Fashola is working, Lagos is working.
Then the allegations.
Governor Ambode from the same State Ruling Party, as Fashola, published some allegations ( which need clarification s) and had everyone asking the same questions, is this true? Is Fashola this same person referred to in these revelations? Before Fashola handed over the state, I as a person thought in my heart that Fashola was the least corrupt official in the country, and that is if there was any corruption in him. Was I wrong? I am trusting and keeping hope live he is the same man I know trusted. He seemed straight and seemed to have a coordinated team. There was result, people seemed touched by his style of leadership and in my area I should be able to gather a thousand boys that can give their life for him. True love.
But would he still be the Fashola we thought loved us dearly and did everything to keep us as a state in good shape and above poverty? Was he honest to the word, was he really a man of integrity or did he spend more of the time and gestures making us believe that he was the dream whereas he was not any close to the promise of a messiah.
When his administration negotiated with striking doctors and told them Lagos as a state could not afford a better welfare package, was he honest to the word? Was Lagos that poor, so poor we could not afford to pay doctors or afford better roads in some quarters? Or so poor we could not get chairs to secondary schools and had students sit on bare floor to take classes and write exams? That we could only afford a computer laboratory with just two computers to feed a school with population of over two thousand?
If Lagos was that poor and there was no money to have the citizens feel some basic dividends of democracy, what do we say of alleged ‘borehole projects and government house renovations as well as Car parks issues?’ I can get boys who will relocate these cables for just one thousand naira or free, just mention Fashola and the red sea will part.
What about the alleged 175 million naira to replace the railings of a pedestrian bridge, 220 million naira on the facility management of the Lagos State University College of Medicine, 619 million naira on the surface repair of a road, 1.2 billion naira on the construction of an unidentified multi-story building, and 1.6 billion naira on the construction of a 48 bedroom hotel. From this same Lagos.
How do we judge Fashola, or where in history will be his place after now ? Is Governor Ambode a liar, or would he have published such news without any iota of truth or did he just do this for the purpose of black mailing his predecessor? I still have one thousand boys who will give their lives for the king, he will still be praised to high heavens, and if he gets charged to court market women and many other folks will protest at the court entrance the prosecution of the former governor, who regardless of evidence they will profess as their hero, lord and personal saviour. But the question in my mind remains simple. Is this the same Fashola or where is the connecting dot?