by Suraj Oyewale
Of all the examples critics wield in support of their anti-Fashola elitism argument, the hike in fees of students of the state’s university is the hardest to defend.
I have written many adulatory articles on the governor of Lagos state, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola and I stand by the accolades. To me, he is the best elected public officer in Nigeria since the return to civil rule in 1999. One thing about Lagos state is that it is always blessed with decent governors. Baba Kekere Alhaji Lateef Jakande, the state governor in the second republic, is still highly acknowledged as one of the best elected officers in the second republic. Widely resented as Bola Tinubu is, his performance during his tenure was not bad compared to the other states’ governors in his generation, forget about the many insinuations about cornering the state’s resources.
Fashola is one governor you can’t help admiring. Maybe because he has Tinubu to do the dirty politics behind while he faces administration. I live in Langbasa, a community in the inner part of Ajah, and frankly, that was the last area I expected Fashola to be aware existed, while we lamented the bad state of the road that connects the community to main Ajah. Then came Fashola’s cranes and bulldozers one day, and within six months, it became a different sight – we now have good, well-lit road in Langbasa. This is perhaps the one that affects me directly. The transformation of Oshodi, and recently, Obalende, are other achievements of the lawyer-governor. I have seen a couple of friends complain that there are still bad roads in their own areas of Lagos, but what cannot be disputed is that the state government has done well in terms of road network in the state, maybe they need to do better in terms of drainage so that the perennial storms, especially on the Island, will be minimized.
A number of my friends have sent flak my way for my positive comments on Fashola, and their most recurring punch line is that his programmes are elitist; that his activities favour only the rich in the society. One of those critic-friends, Gimba Kakanda, is especially always quick to remind me that my positive review of the man is probably due to my belonging to the elite class too (he’s wrong though; not everybody working in Victoria Island is rich. LOL). I have devoted two articles to answer that in the past; one, which I entitled “Of Fashola’s Elitism, Okorocha’s Welfarism and Kakanda’s Misjudgment”, which was a response to my friend’s missile at me in his Blueprint newspaper column on same subject; and the other, “Fashola: Too Much for One State”, which was published in BusinessDay newspaper in October 2012. I will refer readers to google both articles and read as I don’t want to bore you with a rehash of my defence of Fashola’s elitism accusation here again.
Of all the examples critics wield in support of their anti-Fashola elitism argument, the hike in fees of students of the state’s university is the hardest to defend. And I have to align with the critics here. In this column three weeks ago I berated the authorities of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, my alma mater, for raising school fees of fresh students to as much as N100,000. This I described as dancing on the grave of the founders of that university whose vision was to provide quality education at affordable cost to citizens.
The hike in Lagos State University fees is even worse. I heard the fees were raised to as much as N400,000. I don’t think there is any acceptable justification for this. I’m aware that education does not come cheap but the least the government can do is to subsidize it. Education is a priority sector, if it will come to Lagos state government cutting down costs on other activities, like their beautification project, or the Eko Atlantic project, then they should do. I am a product of public education myself and I saw students that struggled to raise as little as N5,000 school fees when I was in Ife. And I’m not talking about decades ago, I finished from the university less than eight years ago. That is how bad the situation is. Even if OAU is reputed to be a school for the poor and LASU hardly, anything above N100,000 is still a lot of money for the average Nigerian parent.
This has dragged for too long and the students, commendably, are not backing down. I think it is high time Lagos state government blinked.
RANKADEDE, EMIR SANUSI LAMIDO SANUSI
I normally write this column on Saturday preceding the Tuesday of publication, but I waited till Sunday evening to pen this week’s. In fact, I hit the keyboard only after getting confirmation on Facebook where I had been since morning joining friends in following developments and speculations on who became the next Emir of Kano. Speculations were rife earlier in the day that the pendulum may not swing in favour of the erstwhile boss of Nigeria’s apex bank, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. But it turned out to be the former banker.
As an admirer of SLS (I wrote about him in the penultimate edition of this column) [READ HERE] I must congratulate him on the eventual achievement of his lifetime ambition. Only that deep inside me, I felt Sanusi was better off not being restricted to the confines of the palace, at least for now. I wanted to see more of Sanusi post-CBN. I wanted to see a Sanusi deliver lectures from London to Lagos, take up a column in a top national daily and write more of those punchy articles, contribute to more discourses and debates, and eventually write a book on his life. But who am I when the man wants something else for himself. Now that this lifelong wish of his has been achieved, I wish Mai Martaba, Sarkin Kano a successful reign. Sheeeuuuu.
LAST SHOT: The highly witty public intellectual, Professor Pius Adesanmi, threw this joke, in passing, actually, on his Facebook wall on Friday and I have not stopped laughing since then: If Sanusi can turn himself into Emir of Central bank by showing up in office in his turban and traditional regalia, I will not be surprised if he shows up in palace one day with his bow tie and suit as Governor of Kano emirate palace (paraphrased).
Suraj Oyewale, a chartered accountant, blogger and public analyst, is the Founder of JarusHub Career & Management Portal. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org and he tweets from @mcjarus
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.
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