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Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) has assured that the Nigerian Dream is not elusive but alive and capable of transforming the citizens to become whatever they want to achieve in the country.
Fashola spoke at the public presentation of a book, “Out of Africa: Fashola, Reinventing Servant leadership to Engender Nigeria’s Transformation” by Dr. John M.O. Ekundayo in Lagos on Friday.
According to him, the Nigerian Dream had seemingly been ‘elusive’ because Nigerians have not taken time to define and confront it as a national phenomenon.
“The Nigerian dream is not elusive. It is because we have not confronted and felt about what it has become for us. We haven’t defined it. The American dream is more attractive to us. But the Nigerian dream happens here every day. It is the Nigerian dream that makes me stand here”, the Governor said.
He said the Nigerian Dream manifests across the nation everyday in people of modest and humble beginning rising to become leaders in their own rights, adding that the opportunities Nigeria offers to her people was sufficient for all discerning, honest and hardworking citizens to become whatever they want to become.
“My mother is a nurse and my father was a journalist but the Nigerian dream has happened in my life time and the life time of all that are seated here. It is happening here every day and the earlier we embrace it, the earlier we multiply it, the earlier we sink it down and define it and say this is what it is; that if you work hard, if you learn, if you are honest, you can be all that you can in the land of your ancestors, that is the Nigerian dream”, the Governor said.
According to the Governor, “You can cling to the other dreams which are not ours, but I cling to the Nigerian dream. It has given me everything; it only calls for me to give back”. He said the only thing it takes to realize the Nigerian dream is to work hard on ones God-given talent and be consistent and dedicated.
Governor Fashola, who noted there has been an outrage among Nigerians over the death by accident of an academic on the Nigerian road as a result of an alleged reckless driving by the convoy of a state Governor, said the frequency of such avoidable carnages informed the decision by his administration to enact some of the amended traffic laws noting that the government’s intent at the time was unclear.
“Every state in the Federation is spending money to build good hospitals, they are building health centres. Our life expectancy is improving because things are getting better different from what it was several years ago. The place we are having tragic loss of lives now are on Nigerian roads”, the Governor said adding that the primary duty of every responsible government is to protect life and property.
Pointing out that the issue was not as much about the bad roads as about the attitude of people to road use, Governor Fashola said when the Road Traffic Law was enacted, Lagos was reporting an average of 640 motorcycle accidents on Lagos roads every month and about an average of six people dying as a result of the accident every day.
“Today, that number has reduced to a little over 110 a month. The deaths have reduced from 15 to one and in the last three months we have not had any deaths from motorcycle accidents. That for me is the responsibility of Government. Though it was a tough decision that was given political colouration, I was clear in my mind that this was the way to go”, the Governor said.
On the use of sirens by some government officials and agencies, Governor Fashola said the outrage being felt by Nigerians over the death of the University don and the manner of his death was of concern to him also but added, “the questions we should ask ourselves is, ‘do we manufacture sirens here?”
“We import sirens and fund other economies in Asia. We spend money to buy a horn with which to terrorize ourselves. Those who manufactured these things say they should be used as a call in times of emergency, are we living in perpetual emergency?”, he asked.
To those outraged at the manner of the accident of the late don, Fashola said “I share your outrage, I share your concern about human life. It resonates very deeply with me. But I think it is not all about isolating one figure. It is about all of us taking a holistic view of the whole thing and asking ourselves whether or not we like what we see”.
Speaking on the genesis of the book, Governor Fashola said it came about from the author, who was then studying in Singapore, sending him an e-mail with a request to be allowed to understudy the Lagos State Government as his thesis on Political Governance in Africa.
“Just because we have nothing to hide, I said ‘why not, come and look at Lagos State. It is not my personal property’. So, he came and by the time he finished his thesis, I saw he had produced this book”.
He expressed gratitude to the author, Dr. John M.O. Ekundayo for taking time to do the work adding that , “this book really is about Lagos and its Government and its institutions and its people. But in their generosity, they have allowed me to be their leader. And so if you see my name, Fashola, it is really “Lagos Out of Africa”.
The Governor also expressed joy that the book brought out the candid opinion of some people in some parts of the State who still felt neglected promising that in the remaining months before the end of his tenure the Government would endeavour to reach such areas with development.
Speaking at the ceremony, human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) commended Governor Fashola for being a leader who takes criticisms in good faith saying unlike some of his colleagues he had never by virtue of his criticisms been tagged as an adversary.
Falana added that it is exemplary that if Governor Babatunde Fashola does not use siren to terrorize residents of the state out of the roads, there is no basis for any state Governor to use siren to intimidate members of the public.
He described the book, “Out of Africa: Fashola, Reinventing Servant Leadership to Engender Nigeria’s Transformation” as a solid book which is not pictorial and which everyone should endeavour to read and digest.
Falana charged the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led by Chief Bisi Akande which discovered Governor Fashola to realize that though the Fashola phenomenon is still on as he wrote in the foreword of the book, but beyond Lagos, the country is in dire need of dependable leadership.
The Interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bisi Akande said there is a lot of despondency in the Nigerian nation today because of lack of leadership.
He noted that when a leader demonstrates an uncommon passion for service, he is bound to be recognized and prayed that God continues to imbue Governor Fashola with the wisdom to continue to deliver the dividends of democracy to the good people of Lagos.
Also speaking, the Chief Presenter of the book, Chief Kessington Adebutu, who was represented by Asiwaju Yemi Ajayi, said the vision of Governor Fashola in transforming Lagos was not new but noted that Fashola has tackled challenges in a new way.
“The Governor was a marked departure from others as “a leader who never looks down on people but is very approachable to everyone”.
In his message of goodwill, another co- launcher, Chief Pius Akinyelure described Governor Fashola as an extremely intelligent and gifted young man.
“Nigeria needs more of his exemplary leadership style to make the nation better. He prayed that when the time is ripe, the ruling party would be able to produce a similar gifted leader who would be able to carry on the banner of selfless leadership which Fashola has offered Lagos State.
He declared, “For some people, the aroma of public office is very attractive and could be very intimidating but for Governor Fashola, he is a leader who has demonstrated that he is not detached from his people”.
The representative of the Ekiti State Governor and Commissioner for Integration , Mr. Funmi Afuye, described Governor Fashola as a man of honour who is worthy of all the accolades poured on him by virtue of the book written in his honour.
In his vote of thanks, the author of the book, Dr. Ekundayo commended Governor Fashola and the State Government for the support provided to him during the course of the research work, saying the book is about leadership and followership and how the Lagos Governor has used leadership to reinvent governance in the State.
Dignitaries present at the occasion included Secretary to the State Government, Dr. (Mrs.) Oluranti Adebule, Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr. Wale Ahmed, his Information and Strategy counterpart, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, Chief Remi Makanjuola, Chief Pius Akinyelure, wife of the author, Mrs. Mary Anikeola Ekundayo, as well as his relations, friends and associates.