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Drama, Nostalgia, as 'Fashola books' hit shelf

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Drama, Nostalgia, as 'Fashola books' hit shelf

Post  Admin on Sat Aug 22, 2015 3:21 pm

Tuesday's presentation of three books in honour of former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, had elements of a carnival, Akeem Lasisi writes

A documentary on the controlled demolition of the old headquarters of the Bank of Industry in Lagos unfolded like a thriller on Tuesday when it was shown at the MUSON Centre, Lagos.

It was one of the highlights of the public presentation of three books that capture the activities of a former Governor of the state, Mr. Babatunde Fashola.

All the rites of the book presentation had been observed, with many of the people in attendance awaiting final remarks.

When the documentary was unveiled, however, the hope and anxiety that marked the implosion in 2009 were returned so vividly that the audience could not help catching the fever.

The blow-by-blow account of the exercise in the documentary, which climaxed with the last 10 seconds countdown and final go-ahead given by Fashola, appeared scripted and screened by a professional film maker, thus giving the 'audience' the impression that they were in a cinema hall.

When the job was thus eventually done, with the building becoming a rubble without affecting others that surrounded it, it was greeted with applause for the former governor, who various speakers saluted as an achiever at the book presentation.

With two of the books compiled and edited by Fashola's Special Adviser on Media, Hakeem Bello, and the third edited by Bello and Position magazine publisher, Dapo Adeniyi, the publications document different aspects of Fashola's thoughts, policies and programmes, and dramatic circumstances that led to his emergence as the governor in 2007.

They are The Great Leap: Speeches by Governor Babatunde Fashola'; In Bold Print: Thoughts of Babatunde Fashola; and The Lagos Blow Down: West Africa's First Controlled Demolition.

For an observant journalist, it was an occasion to look out for who were present at the presentation and those who were not, based on the internal rumbling that currently characterises the All Progressives Party's family in Lagos State. As a result, it was easy to note that some party big wigs were not there.

But this did not rob the event of glamour. Besides, Bello noted that apart from the fact that eminent personalities witnessed the presentation, it was also not meant to be another political rally, as it was a celebration of literature and strides that Fashola had taken in governance.

Although The Lagos Blow Down was reviewed by a town planner, Moses Ogunleye, Fashola recounted the circumstances that surrounded the collapse of the building and the battle to get rid of it. According to him, it was during the census period in 2006 that the facility partially collapsed. He noted that if his predecessor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who was represented at the event by his (Tinubu's) former Commissioner for Education, Prof. Tunde Samuel, had not declared a holiday for Lagosians to be able to actively participate in the exercise, the collapse would have been tragic.

As Nigeria prepares for another census scheduled for 2016, however, he made a case for accurate census figures in the country.

Fashola said that despite the efforts made by the state government to ensure the population figure credited to Lagos was accurate, what was eventually released by the NPC was embarrassing.

According to him, the figure conflicted even with the process the commission adopted.

He said, "The NPC told us they were going to enumerate houses before the counting. They came up with about 4.5 million houses, which we took for households, since they were residential homes. Yet, at the end, they came up with nine million as Lagos State population. Does it mean that there are only two people – maybe a father and mother – in each house?"

Other dignitaries at the book presentation were founder of the Fate Foundation, Mr. Fola Adeola, who was the chairman; a former Deputy Governor of the state, Alhaja Latifat Okunu; Chief Judge of Lagos State, Hon. Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade; a former commissioner in Ogun State, Mr. Bimbo Ashiru, who represented Governor Ibikunle Amosun; a representative of Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki; members of Fashola's cabinet, including Mr. Supo Sasore; and other scholars, media executives such as Mr. Lade Bonuola and representatives of the Nigerian Guild of Editors.

Adeola saluted Fashola as a rare leader, noting that societies hardly produced his type all the time.

In his presentation, Dare, who was represented by a broadcaster, Angela Ajetunmobi, said Fashola's accomplishments had been universally acknowledged, citing the example of a global conflict-prevention organisation, International Crisis Group, which recently named him one of seven outstanding personalities worldwide to be honoured with its annual Stephen J. Solarz Award 'for his commitment to resolving social, economic and security challenges in one of the world's most challenging urban environments.'

Dare asked. "What is the secret of his spectacular success in an office he never sought – an office into which he was literally dragooned? Answers to this important question are strewn here and there in The Great Leap and In Bold Print. First was his conviction that if you seek public office, you must prepare for it. And if even you are dragooned into it as he was, or stumble into it, you still have to prepare yourself to discharge that office creditably. You cannot take office hoping to muddle through. Settled polities where relative contentment reigns can afford the luxury of muddling through; polities in a hurry to meet the basic needs of the people, develop and modernise cannot afford it."

Also reviewing In Bold Print and The Great Leap a lecturer at the Department of Dramatic Arts, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Dr. Wunmi Raji, sought to reconcile Fashola's recorded achievements with his leadership style, which, he situated in the context of some of the controversies that surround his position in his party and society at large.

Like Dare, however, Raji said that Fashola's was a case of a leader that knew what he wanted to do with power.

He explained, "Fashola made sure he prepared himself well for the responsibility attached to the position of the governor of Lagos State once he accepted his nomination. He took a copy each of the manifesto of the party, the document spelling out the 10-point agenda of the government of Lagos State, and the charter of Millenium Development Goals, and, having studied them closely, designed a roadmap titled 'My Contract with Lagosians."

While Fashola and Hakeem Bello also revealed how they met and the mutual understanding that governed their working together, the event ended on a dramatic note when the walkie talkie that Fashola used on the day the BoI building was demolished was auctioned.


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