His Excellency Babatunde Raji Fashola is a man whose political journey and story is a reference point of what dedication and uncommon commitment can do to a man. As Chief of Staff to the former Lagos state governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his meticulous and workaholic disposition to service did not go unnoticed.
From relative obscurity, he was propelled to become the governor of Lagos. Not only did he become governor of Africa and Nigeria's foremost commercial and financial hub, he came, saw and conquered the battle of good governance as he turned Lagos state to one huge construction site with rapid infrastructural development.
His expertise was sought from far and near. Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka described Fashola as not just a politician but a skilled workman who goes straight to the root to fix the problems of Lagos state. Such was the dexterity the "Eko Oni baje" proponent brought to governance as he rolled up his sleeve for 8 years in Lagos as governor.
It was no surprise to many observers that President Muhammadu Buhari could entrust 3 powerful ministries to the University of Benin graduate of law and senior advocate of Nigeria. His assumption of office as one of the most important public servants of this dispensation was the aftermath of the present administration's collapse of 42 ministries to 24 in its bid to cut the cost of governance.
The honourable Minister of Power, Works and Housing spoke to NAIJ.com’s Head of Government Relations, HC Anthony Eshemokhai and Miss Nnenna Ibe in Abuja.
Find the excerpts and video of the interview below.
Buhari's priority project for Fashola
The amazing thing Fashola holds dear about Mr President is that 3 years down the line, he has never referred anyone (friends or family) to his ministry for jobs, contracts etc. Neither has the wife or members of his family. This, according to Fashola is a huge departure from the plundering of the past where governance was simply a sharing of the national cake with nothing visible to show for it. There is no interference whatsoever on his job except mandating him at the onset to pay prime attention to:
1. The second Niger bridge
2. Lagos Ibadan express way
3. Ilorin Jebba Mokwa road and
4. Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano highway
This reveals how dear those projects are to the president, which is why work is ongoing in those areas among others.
Coping with 3 powerful ministries
The Honourable Minister explained that such challenges are not new to him because as governor of Lagos, he superintended over 30 ministries and 57 parastatals. At the federal level, he is not alone as minister but has 2 ministers of states working with him, they are Honourable Mustafa Baba Shehuri and Suleiman Hassan.
Also, there are very dedicated directors and permanent secretaries as well as controller of works in all the states of the federation. Such command structure made his job of coordination much more easier. Fashola revealed that there are road constructions currently going on in every state of the federation, housing projects in 34 states out of 36, incremental power generation and a 10 years road map to ensure adequate infrastructural development that will ensure uninterrupted power supply to Nigerians.
The minister assured Nigerians that plans to ensure this has already started and the road map is clear as enumerated in a giant drawing board in his office. "We know where we are going. It’s a journey. It's not a big bang like let there be and it shall be. It’s a gradual process and soon. we are beginning to wok the journey to be like those nations we want to be like" said Fashola who elucidated that advance countries like France, Britain etc have several nuclear reactors and alternative sources of energy. Such reactors cannot be conjured overnight but Nigeria is making steady progress. In 3 years, 3000mw have been added to the 4000mw they met, resulting in the 7000mw available now.
In summarising what was an explosive interview, the minister said even with so much work done and ongoing, there is still so much to be done. There may be challenges but things are definitely better now even in the area of security. The president never promised there will be no problems. He solved the insurgencies issue in the north east; today, many IDPs have returned home.
Fashola stated he recently drove from Yobe to Borno at night, which was not possible four years ago according to Borno state governor. He recalled that the recovery of the Chibok girls remain a huge promise fulfilled. Several jobless people are engaged in ongoing constructions, especially housing sites. Additional 6 million farmers have benefited from rice and wheat farming from the Federal Government. Finally, recent elections held in Katsina, Yobe and Kogi states showed that the president is still strong in his traditional political strongholds, so contenders will have to battle the president in their own strongholds.
Watch the interview below and share your thoughts and comments.