Mr. Babatunde Fashola, minister of Works and Housing and former governor of Lagos State, is ranked one of the biggest names groomed from Tinubu’s political clan. He served in Tinubu’s government as chief of staff and served well to have been positioned to succeed his boss in office. His outstanding performance while in office as governor in Lagos again made a way for him at the federal level to carry one of the most powerful ministerial portfolios in the first term of the APC-led government when he was saddled by President Buhari with the responsibility of managing three ministries, works, power and housing.
Like everyone else brought under Tinubu’s sphere, outstanding performance quality was the meeting point. Fashola excelled in his legal practice of over a decade and made his marks in wide-ranging areas of specialization. He was loaded with appreciable expertise and vast experience in the legal practice that is rare to find by the time the political fisherman brought him into the boat.
Fashola played an extensive role in the government of Lagos State under Tinubu. He served Tinubu as his chief of staff and also dubbed as the commissioner to the governor’s office – the first person to combine the responsibilities of both offices. He also served in other capacities in Lagos State, including secretary of the lands sub-committee of the transitional work groups, member of the panel of enquiry into allocation of houses on the Mobolaji Johnson housing scheme at Lekki and a member of the state tender’s board.
Fashola also served as a member of Lagos State executive council between 2002 and 2006, member of the state security council and member of the state treasury board during the same period. He was also chairman ad-hoc committee on the review of asset distribution among local governments. The various postings prepared him for the ultimate position in Lagos State as governor.
While as governor, Fashola was able to run with the baton of leadership in a seamless manner that is lacking in other states and even at the federal level. Running early with a defined vision and having been schooled on how to optimize performance quality within the organs of government, he was a success story in Lagos.
Fashola’s job as governor of Lagos State was to begin to assemble the various aspects of the Lagos vision together. The big vision is to transform Lagos into a mega city- the first of its kind in history. Conceived by Tinubu, Fashola’s duty was to give speed to the mega city projects.
Central to the mega city project is rehabilitation of broken-down public infrastructures that followed the movement of the nation’s capital from Lagos to Abuja in 1991. Lagos rail mass transit is a crucial element in the plan under which light railways are structured to have outskirt blue-line and inner red-line destinations.
Another major plank of the project is the modernization of the Badagry highway, a direct international link to Benin Republic. The development of modern bus services – BRT is also a key aspect of the mega city project.
Adequate security of lives and property was given its fundamental place in the mega city project. Consequently, quite early in his administration, Fashola appointed former inspector general of police, Musiliu Smith, head of Lagos State Security Council. The body was given the task of taking a holistic view of the anatomy of crime in the state and to give it an effective treatment.
The Lagos vision incorporates housing development programmes for the rapidly growing population of the state. At the conception of the mega city project in 2002, the population of the state was projected to grow from 15- to 25 million by 2015. An elaborate housing programme was therefore admitted as a critical element of the project.
This gave birth to the ambitious Eko Atlantic City that involves reclaiming lands at Victoria Island lost to the sea for decades. The project involves the creation of an artificial terrain by driving the sea back to its original boundary. The project has provided the way forward for Lagos becoming the world’s third largest city.
Creation of new access roads and facilities as well as the development of value enhancement of public places under Fashola are the constituent parts of the megacity project. The priority he placed on rehabilitation of the state’s public schools is also part of the Lagos transformation agenda.
Fashola ended his two terms as governor of Lagos State keeping the state on track towards the megacity goal and keeping the baton ready for a seamless running of the affairs of government. He stands as a reference point in the 21st century governance – which earned him a big ministerial position at the federal government level.
Outstanding performance is a key denominator of anyone that comes from Tinubu’s leadership grooming. That is the basic criterion for ‘recruitment’ into the fold in the first place. There may be differences as to how the job is to be done but when the question is about what is to be done or the skill and competence to do it, Fashola, as any other Tinubu’s man, can easily scale through the court of public opinion without blemish.