By Farouk Martins Aresa
What Fashola and Obanikoro are trying to prove can only work to the detriment of the good people of Lagos State. This writer has to disclose his bias against Obanikoro up front. He gave the Yar’Adua Administration an excuse, not the reason, to ditch Bode Augusto for the position of Finance Minister. Lagos lost Finance Administration only to gain Ambassador to Ghana.
In this case Obanokoro thinks he has reason to oppose Fashola about sand filling Ilubirin for building a housing estate. Though, he is not the Minister of Housing like another Lagosian, Wahab Docemu that asserted Federal Authority in Lagos, during the Shagari Administration. It seems this Federal power goes into their heads against their states of origin. Docemu bragged then that he could declare any land in Lagos as a Federal territory.
Well, Fashola is not a saint either. He handed Tinubu the best of Lagos land. More importantly, Obanikoro raised a good point. Out of all the dry land that is flooded in every raining season, Fashola could not find any from Eti Osa to Ikokomaiko for urban renewal. Fashola did a good job in Isale Eko area when he called owners together reallocated some, financed and rebuilt their slum into modern apartments giving them the option to move back or rent. Omo-oko!
This is not the place to discuss Eko Atlantic, but reclaiming areas that would disturb adjacent land resulting in new flooding is worse than addressing areas already claimed as dry land. Of course landfilling is more capital intensive and calls for engineering capabilities that have to be sourced to foreign contractors leaving our graduates pandering to foreigners as we see today in Eko Atlantic. The cost itself as Obanikoro pointed out would be out of reach to our neighbors.
Jakande has laid a foundation for every Governor of Lagos State. He built schools and housing within, which Lagosians can afford. Apart from that, government should not build houses that working and medium income people cannot afford. The best we can expect from government if they are worried about degeneration is to build mix income housings where people of different classes can live in peace and harmony. If anyone messes up, he loses that privilege.
Unfortunately, decay of beautiful housing, schools and parks is not the handiwork of the poor or the uninformed alone, but lack of maintenance mentality. Watch how Surulere is going down or what happened to FESTAC. Anyone that knew Ikoyi and Victoria Island, woke up, would go back to sleep again. Fashola has certainly made a difference in the upkeeps of the new places he built. We must give him his dues. It does not negate the deep slums that still need attention.
We have to be careful about creating government sanctioned blogged drainage in the name of new housing. If Fashola did his homework and found Ilubirin suitable, there is no reason he and Obanikoro cannot work together to bring Federal presence to Lagos. The benefit of having a local representative in the Federal is to enhance local interest. But Lagosians and others, we must admit think they have to display Federal might to spite the home Governor.
Some of you may remember Joseph Wayas as Senate President with all the Federal accolade and guards when on a visit to his State. Another Federal power Sen. Christy Anyanwu tried it with Owelle Okorocha’s motorcade. We have to understand that working for one level of government or the other does not mean we should disrespect each other. We are all serving the same people without whom we are powerless. Our power comes from the people.
Farouk Martins Aresa public analyst