By Philip Agbese
It takes a courageous man to admit the failings of his generation. It takes even greater courage to set about making amends for such identified failure by presenting oneself in service to the people for the sole purpose of turning the failings of the past into success stories. This is exactly what President Goodluck Jonathan did when he declared that his generation has failed.
In saner climes, the admission by no less a person than the nation’s number one citizen would be greeted with sober reflection that will galvanize the entire nation into a solution seeking mode particular to figure out what went wrong and also decide how to end the circle of failure.
Unfortunately, the likes of Lagos state governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola are allergic to raw truth as he apparently would prefer that truth be told according to templates he subscribes to and not the universal concept of truth and full disclosure. When President Jonathan declared the failure on the part of their generation, Fashola’s base reaction was to immediately switch into desperate mode of trying to absolve his person of complicity in the failure that has brought us to where we are. Such instinctive reaction is to be expected but resorting to name calling signalled that President Jonathan must have touched some raw nerves.
This attitude of the Lagos governor smack of attempting to deconstruct what people know as the truth and in its place erect a shrine to deceit and falsehood for the sole purpose of assuaging a conscience that is long dead. It is sad that Fashola, in pursuit of his own version of truth, refuses to see the deceit that his government has unfurled on Lagosians and by extension Nigerians with the failed projects and programmes of his government. A simple Google search of Lagos state with key words like ‘strike’, ‘protest’, ‘fraud, to name just a few will throw up the reality or otherwise of Fashola’s claim to sainthood.
He presides over an empire that boasts of a failed health system except, of course, one wants to rate healthcare delivery in Lagos state from the viewpoint of the Ebola fight that was largely made successful with federal government intervention. The strikes in Lagos health sector only has a contender in the state’s education sector where poor quality education is only matched by outrageous school fees that Fashola has no reservation about save to latch on an additional ten thousand naira as admission fee.
If the hike in fees are outrageous then one need not think of the sadistic multiple taxations that are in place chiefly to satisfy the fiefdom to which, it will seem, successive Lagos governors now serves. In this regard Fashola failed in the electoral promises he made to the people in terms of improving the quality of life. Fashola goes about basking in the euphoria of achievements rated on the basis of questionable self-assessment that cannot stand the scrutiny of a truth seeker while the subject of his umbrage, President Jonathan has remained quiet. He prefers that his projects speak for themselves and become basis for Nigerians to deliver their verdict on his administration.
Beyond the presenting physical structures – listing them here will take up too much space, to the credit of his administration, rebasing the economy and presenting Nigerians the unique opportunity of being citizens of Africa’s largest economy is a feat for which President Jonathan should be hailed similar to his admission about his generation. KPMG and other international groups recognise the result of the effort that produced the rebasing and scored the administration high on this score.
Instructively, a latter day progressives convert and Rivers state governor, Rotimi Amaechi once warned Nigerians to be careful of people that walk about carrying brooms and their houses are still dirty. Given that Amaechi made this assertion before his judgement became beclouded, it offers insight into the warped mind-set that allows an esteemed public officeholder to be in chronic denial.
A pattern does emerge here. Fashola may be allergic to the truth but the reality is snaking back to his house, his political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) that Amaechi once described as dirty despite all its residents parading around with brooms. They are behind this narrative of denying the failure of a generation that failed to take Nigeria places. The problem here is not that this band of self-righteous men are refusing to admit responsibility for failing the generations after them and those unborn, the problem is that refusal to accept that things are not right and that they rightly have blames for the sorry state of things. How do you fill a cup that is already up to the brim with putrid liquid if you don’t first empty the corrupt content and rinsing out the decay before pouring in something new?
This is what Fashola and other men who opt to go down in infamy will find difficult to do because accepting failure means they must do away with their present conceited self. Accepting failure means they must acknowledge that they un-necessarily enslaved their states and a people to a godfather who instigate them to implement draconian tax regimes. Accepting failure would mean Fashola and his puppet master will have to give up the lucrative concessions to shady companies spanning several generations.
The foregoing underscores the reason for discerning minds to leverage on the forthcoming elections to demand that those who occupy elective public office or any other public trust for that matter are not people who would make truth to be scarce because for some of us truth is sacred.
Philip Agbese is a public affairs commentator and contributed this piece from Abuja.