The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, Monday, 8th September, 2014, blamed loss of value system and policy inconsistency for the nation’s lack of sustainable development saying in order to ensure continuity in the policy implementation, officers of government must be made to learn the ropes of governance by experience.
Governor Fashola, who spoke at a political debate with the theme “Fixing Nigeria: The Nuts and Bolts”, organized by the Kukah Centre at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, said a situation where an individual was brought in to head a government without first learning the modalities of governance was tantamount to failure.
The Governor, who featured at the programme alongside his Jigawa State counterpart, Alhaji Sule Lamido, said there is no problem with Nigeria or the Presidential System of Government being practiced in the country adding that the problem lies in the people themselves.
He said the problem of Nigeria lies in the lack of value system pointing out that whereas the value system that guides the American Presidential System is what binds the American people together and guides their political parties, the political parties in Nigeria are not guided by any such value system.
Explaining further on the issue, Governor Fashola said as a matter of national value, the Americans agree that everybody who earns an income must pay tax pointing out that the ideological difference which the parties use for electoral campaigns centre on who is to pay more.
“Those are the electoral issues. So you won’t hear a political party in America saying ‘vote me in and you won’t pay tax’. That party has automatically lost the election”, the Governor said expressing regrets that some political parties in the country are promising that if voted into power the people would not pay tax.
He declared, “If you sit down and read the manifestoes of all the parties, they are the same. The reason is not far-fetched. It is all about people wanting the same things. So every manifesto will talk to you about healthcare, it will talk to you about education.
It will talk to you about food security, it will talk to you about housing and all these are the things the people expect to hear”.
The Governor said where the ideological difference between the parties lies is in the methodology for implementing those policies adding that Nigerians have come to value money more than ideas.
“We have valued honours and awards more than reputation. We are looking for unseen interventions in our lives instead of hard work so everybody is looking for a miracle. People need title and award to validate their names. I think it should be the other way round; people should use their names and reputation to validate their title”, he said.
Governor Fashola maintained that if the nation must attain its full potential among the comity of nations, Nigerians must go back to values pointing out that if there is a common value then Nigerian political parties would have very robust bipartisan political engagement.
“What is our value about law and order, is everybody equal before the law? Once we agree to that then we will not hear ‘oh he is our son when an individual goes against the law of the land’. When we agree that a national honour should be for people with integrity who have served the nation honourably, then we must stand up and say no when a person of questionable character is in the list of those to be honoured”, the Governor said.
On the issue of policy inconsistency, Governor Fashola advocated the use of experience as criterion for making choices of political leadership arguing that there is need to ensure that whoever is to be entrusted with the leadership of the people must be made to grow through the ranks of governance.
Citing himself as example, the Governor said before he became governor, he had served in the state government as Chief of Staff for four years adding that when he became Governor, he retained two thirds of his predecessor’s cabinet while he chose only one third from outside, who, according to him, had to be further trained in the act of governance.
The Governor said the state has made tremendous progress as a result of policy consistency adding that Lagos remains Nigeria’s best way forward on many scores in spite of the fact that the state, more than any other part of the country, represents Nigeria’s diversity.
“It is in Lagos that the Nigerian diversity is represented most. That is the first home or the second home of many Nigerians. That is where many of their assets and investments are kept and that is where many people also received especially their tertiary education”, he said.
“So it is home for a lot of things; therefore the mix of diversity you find there is extremely challenging for any leadership and I have often said that this is not a time to be a leader; because the leadership now across the world is extremely challenging but again when leadership responsibilities come we cannot abdicate”, he said.
On his experiences and successes in governance, the Governor attributed it to the support from the people of Lagos as well as the fact that he knew the terrain and the people adding, “That was a place that I have lived all my life, I saw it develop, I saw its past, I saw its present and therefore, I had some understanding of what went wrong and what was possible to fix”.