Fashola: Power to the people

FasholaAt last, the much-awaited portfolios of the recently screened ministerial nominees were unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari this Wednesday (11/11/2015) and Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief. I can imagine how many Nigerians would be glued to their TV sets to see the suspense unravel before their very eyes in a way similar to how they followed the election results in the last days of March with keen interest.

Fortunately, except you are an Oliseh Metuh, who must just say something even before thinking deeply, the allocation of responsibilities is very good even if not excellent. A classical example is that of the amiable former Governor of Lagos State, the able and indefatigable Babatunde Raji Fashola (BRF) who is effectively the powerhouse (PWH) of Buhari’s administration.

If the Peoples Democratic Party emptily sloganeered “power to the people” for 16 years during which Nigerians were taken on a circus show and disempowered to be among the poorest in the world, President Buhari appears to be giving power to the people now. By giving a three-in-one portfolio, i.e. Power, Works and Housing (PWH), to a person many consider a three-in-one man (“Okunrin meta”), Nigerians have every reason to be optimistic that now they will have power.

In my “urgent task before Buhari”, which appeared on this page on June 25, this year, I identified four critical areas that President Buhari must give special attention to. After security, which is actually improving, I mentioned energy or power because it is the driver of the nation. “If Nigerians have constant electricity and the oil produced is affordable to all, it will have a multiplier effect on the economy,” I wrote. I also mentioned education and employment generation as critical areas requiring critical intervention.

With Brigadier General Muhammad Dan Ali (Rtd.) manning Defence and Lieutenant General Ibrahim Danbazzau (Rtd.) in charge of the Interior Ministry, our security appears to be in good and capable hands, both internally and externally. While the cerebral columnist and well-versed product of balanced education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, is in charge of education, supported by Prof. Anthony Onwuka, it is a round peg in a round hole to also have the redoubtable former Governor Chris Ngige in charge of Labour and Employment, supported by Barrister James Ocholi. These are outstanding individuals taking charge of crucial areas of national life for change.

With Fashola handling Power, Works and Housing, it is expected that the mechanic in him will roll up the sleeves again and start to work. He has started working already since he resumed office setting things in place immediately after he was sworn in two days ago. It is hoped that he will transform our power sector along with works and housing the way he transformed Lagos, which the current Governor Akinwumi Ambode is finding too big for his size with travelers like me spending four hours within Lagos and Lagos-Ibadan highway last weekend. Some successors suck!

The idea of Fashola being a mechanic at work is that of the mercurial Professor Wole Soyinka. According to the Nobel laureate, “I mentally call him a mechanic. He approaches things in a very clinical mechanized fashion. In other words, he diagnoses the problem and then goes at it like a skilled mechanic looking at the pieces. The ones which work, he puts back and those that don’t work, he sets out to completely eliminate or transform them. And he does it ruthlessly because he is not a politician.” I agree.

The ball is in the court of BRF not to disappoint the teeming Nigerians who vouch for his ability and now rejoice that their power problems will soon be over. He should learn that when former President Olusegun Obasanjo wanted to make an impact on the power sector, he defied all odds to appoint the equally capacious Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the late Chief Bola Ige. However, as capable as he was, he was not able to make any significant impact and it was barely a year later that he was relieved of his position.

In summary, President Buhari must have been impressed by how Fashola made Lagos work when he was in power. His expectation, which is tandem with that of millions of Nigerians, is that he is capable of also making Nigeria work. I wish Fashola all the best in his new role as a Super Minister of Change while hoping that he will still have any black hair on his head by the time he completes the current assignment.

Nigerians are winning with Fashola as the powerhouse and they can confidently say it is power to the people.


Last week, I quoted the words of the embattled Governor of Rivers State, Mr Nyesom Wike, on February 22, 2014 that they Jonathanians would block all air, land and sea borders in order not to let Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi escape after they were declared winners. I said Amaechi was enjoying his last laugh having been duly cleared for ministerial appointment.

But President Muhammadu Buhari seems to have a sense of humour that many people may not appreciate. He understood the irony of making Amaechi the Minister of Transportation so that the joke on Wike will gain more currency. The same Amaechi that was barred from flying just a year ago, the man who could not move on the road to reach his own office, not to talk of Ekiti, is now in charge of our transport system to drive as long as he wants.

Agencies and parastatals under Amaechi are listed to include Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), National Clearing and Forwarding Agency (NCFA), Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC), Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT), Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigeria Air Space Management Agency (NASMA), Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Nigerian College of Aviation and Technology (NCAT) and Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NMA). He is also in charge of Federal Road Safety Commission and All Federal Roads in Nigeria including the construction, maintenance, supervision and administration all that will make him work hand-in-hand with Fashola.

The afore-mentioned sectors employ over 30% of the Nigerian civil servants, as observed by Ngene Ukwenu. I join Nigerians in hailing the well-garlanded King of Ubina, The General of Commonsense, The Anaconda of the Creeks, The Nemesis of the Enemies of Nigeria and The Indomitable Lion of Africa, the Honourable Minister of Transportation, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Omenka Amaechi!