TINUBU- meet the pathfinder for the development of Lagos
By: Jide Ayobolu
A brief journey back into the fiscal, physical, economic and social conditions of Lagos some 13 years ago will reveal the following: a city buried in heaps of rubbish, a city almost swallowed up in crime, a people choked up in traffic, millions of unemployed youths, thousands of area boys on the prowl, decaying infrastructure, dwindling internally generated revenue and a city of over 12 million with hopelessly bad and damaged roads. The armed bandits also ruled the day and night. Lagos was Nigeria’s nemesis. Everyone loved Lagos, but no one, not past military and civilian governors could do anything about it. Not even the federal government was willing to tackle the problems of Lagos. The narrative of Lagos was that of an abandoned and neglected former capital city which had become a no man’s land.
Then the military with their jackboots exited power and stepped in one man who changed the face of Lagos. That individual was Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He came in as an elected governor in 1999 after years of democratic struggle and a wealth of experience in the business world as an accountant and oil industry expert. Soon after he took over, he stamped both his vision and authority on the state of Lagos and in 8 years, the face, reputation and face of Lagos changed. He re-wrote the rule book, broke away from development stereo types and against all odds, inspite of detractors and political enemies initiated and implemented policies that laid the foundation for the infrastructural renewal of Lagos. The Lagos we see today had one chief Architect- Governor Tinubu supported by a cast of competent technocrats and progressively minded individuals, one of whom now occupies the Alausa government house-Governor Raji Fashola. The story needs to be told and there is no amount of hatchet job or sponsored write ups and paid online advertorials that can change the solid legacy that was built.
The virtues of courage, determination, commitment, vision, focus and strong sense of purpose that have characterized Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s politics were no doubt responsible for this extraordinary politician’s emergence as one of the country’s most successful governors since Nigeria’s return to democratic governance 12 years ago. On his assumption of office as Governor of Lagos State in 1999, Asiwaju Tinubu inherited a state that was practically bankrupt. The country’s commercial nerve centre was one of the worst victims of the previous one and a half decades of military dictatorship and neglect.
Public infrastructure had disintegrated abysmally. Delivery of social services had collapsed in virtually all sectors. The environment was in chaos as Lagos was routinely described as one of the dirtiest cities in the world. The state was largely dependent on insufficient financial allocations from the centre as she lacked the capacity to generate adequate revenue internally to meet her numerous challenges.
The public sector was demoralized and ill-equipped, psychologically and logistically, to effectively perform its functions and achieve set objectives. While the citizenry was alienated from the state and thus de-motivated from paying taxes or the ones they paid being stolen making the state technically bankrupt, the organized private sector had little or no incentive to partner with the government in meeting the immense developmental challenges of the Mega City.
Assembling a team of accomplished technocrats, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Administration drew up a Ten-Point Agenda, which it began to systematically implement for the re-vitalization and re-invention of the state. The total budget size of Lagos State at the inception of the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu Administration in 1999 was a little over N14 billion while the state’s Internally Generated Revenue was approximately
N600 million monthly. Yet, the monthly public sector wage bill was N800 million. The implication was that Lagos state was entirely dependent on allocation from the centre, which was grossly insufficient to meet the huge challenge of re-building a state that had been neglected and allowed to decay for over two decades.
Eight years later under Asiwaju’s astute guidance, Lagos had become financially viable and autonomous of the federal government; lives and property had become more secure; public infrastructure was being aggressively modernized and expanded; there had been a dramatic improvement in the quality and efficiency of public health care, education, the environment, water supply and public transportation; Lagos was attracting new investment in diverse sectors on a daily basis despite the depressing national economic climate.
The Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration from inception drew up a clear and focused Action Plan for the state in conjunction with critical stake holders including the Organized Private Sector, civil society groups and the public service. The result was the evolution of the Ten-Point Agenda focusing on Education, Health care, Job creation/poverty alleviation, Power and water supply, Public transportation/Traffic management, Physical Planning/Environmental renewal, Infrastructure renewal, Justice/Law and order, Food security and public sector reforms.
Tinubu’s visionary administration re-structured the machinery of government creating new ministries such as Housing, Physical Planning Sports and Youth Development as well as Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation for more effective policy implementation. Asiwaju Tinubu brought seasoned and accomplished technocrats into government as Commissioners and Special Advisers in their areas of expertise. Through meticulous planning and disciplined implementation, the Asiwaju Tinubu Administration grew the budget size of Lagos State from N14.200 billion in1999 to N240.866 billion in 2007. It is significant that at no time under Tinubu’s stewardship did budget implementation performance fall below 60%.
In a similar vein, the Tinubu Administration consistently maintained an annual budgetary ratio of at least 60-40% in favour of Capital over Recurrent expenditure to ensure rapid infrastructure development.
A first class financial strategist, Asiwaju Tinubu, through creative and innovative financial engineering, took Lagos from a yearly Internally Generated Revenue of N14.64 billion in 1999 to N60.31 billion in 2006. By March 2007, the state had achieved a monthly Internally Generated Revenue of N8.2 billion.
This impressive revenue performance achieved by the Tinubu Administration in Lagos State did not happen by chance or luck. It was due to carefully thought out and effectively implemented policies such as the introduction of the Electronic Banking System/Revenue Collecting Monitoring Project, computerization of the revenue collection process, introduction of Electronic Tax Receipts, re-organization and professionalization of the former Board of Internal Revenue now the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service, tax administration reforms and the creation of robust data base of tax payers.
Lagos State under Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu became a pace setter in sound and innovative public sector financial management. In September, 2002, for instance, Lagos State was the first government in Nigeria to raise funds from the Capital Market for infrastructure development. This was in recognition of the fact that long-term funds were necessary for long-term projects. The state raised a N15 billion Floating Rate Redeemable to prosecute such development projects as roads construction, millennium housing, water works, construction and rehabilitation of courts, waste management projects and millennium class rooms among others.
The bond has since been fully redeemed and other states and even the federal government have copied the Lagos State model. Again, in 2003, the Tinubu Administration invested N3.84 billion in Celtel (now Airtel) and by the time the state divested from the company in 2006, asurplus of N19 billion had been reaped, which was invested in the provision of infrastructure. As a result of its financial ingenuity, prudence and discipline as well as extensive public sector reforms for improved service delivery, the lasting legacy of the Tinubu Administration in Lagos State between 1999 and 2007 are still there for all to see. They include:
• Massive roads construction, dualization and modernization across
Lagos State such as Kudirat Abiola road, Oregun; Awolowo road, Ikoyi; Akin Adesola road, Victoria Island, Adeola Odeku road, Victoria Island; Agege Motor road; Ikotun-Igando road; Yaba-Itire-Lawanson-Ojuelegba road; LASU-Iba road, Ojo; Ajah- Badore road, Eti-Osa; Oba Sekumade road, Ikorodu; Adetokunbo Ademola road, Victoria Island and the ongoing expansion and modernization of the Lagos-Epe Expressway as the largest concessioneering project of its size and compexity in Africa among several others.
• Reconstruction and upgrading of the Lagos Island Central
Business District including the modernization of 16 roads in the area and the historic Tinubu square.
• Upgrading of the buildings and facilities at the Lagos State
University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) to world class grade; expansion and rehabilitation of old General Hospitals in Lagos, Gbagada, Epe, Isolo, Ikorodu, Badagry, Agege and the Island Maternity; building of new General Hospitals at Mushin, Shomolu, Ibeju-Lekki and Isheri-Iba as well as upgrading of existing health centres to full fledged hospitals at Ijede, Ketu, Agbowa and Agege among others.
• Provision of free health services for children under 12, the
aged above 60 and free ante-natal care for women; Free eye screening, eye treatment, eye surgery and provision of free eye glasses popularly known as ‘jigi Bola’, free treatment for maleria, tuberculosis and leprosy, free Limb Deformity Corrective Surgery, free Cleft-Lip Corrective Surgery and the introduction of the Quarterly Eko Health Missions that provides free medical services including free heart surgeries to local communities.
• Elimination of mountains of refuse that used to deface and
disgrace Lagos through the introduction of community-based Private Sector Participation (PSP) in refuse collection and disposal, expansion and modernization of land –fill sites, construction of Transfer Loading Stations, establishment of waste-to-wealth facilities in Ikorodu as well as re-organization, modernization and re-equipping of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).
• Massive construction of new drainage channels as well as the
creation of Drain Ducks as well as the Emergency Flood Abatement (EFAG) to clear existing drains and respond to flooding.
• Rehabilitation of primary and secondary schools in all Divisions
of the state through the Schools Rehabilitation Programme, massive construction of school furniture and equipping of laboratories; provision of free education in all public primary and secondary schools including payment of WAEC/NECO fees as well as all internal examination fees to ensure that indigent children do not drop out of school.
• Construction of 6,000 housing units such as Abraham Adesanya
Estate, Ajah, Ibeshe low income housing scheme, Oba Adeyinka Oyekan Estate, Lekki, Ayangburen Phase II, Ikorodu, Gbagada Medium Housing Scheme, Amuwo-Odofin Housing Scheme, Abraham Adesanya Estate, Phase II, Ojokoro Millennium Housing Scheme, Alaagba low income housing scheme as well as the Oke Eletu and Oko Oba low income housing schemes among others.
• Massive construction of rural roads as well as rural
electrification and water supply schemes; construction of micro water works at Onikan, Ikeja, Iwaya, Igando, Oworonsoki, Atan, Bariga, Isolo, Shomolu and Iponri among others to improve water supply in Lagos state.
• Construction and equipping of new High Courts, computerization
of court registries, enhanced welfare for judicial officers to stregthen the rule of law, establishment of the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) to provide free legal services to indigent persons and the establishment of the Citizen Mediation Centre as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism.
• Establishment of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority
(LASTMA) for enhanced traffic management; establishment of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) to plan and manage an integrated transportation master plan for Lagos; initiation of the revolutionary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) scheme that has transformed the face of public transportation in Lagos State; construction of 55 bus stop shelters; construction of 25.9km of median barriers to enforce lane discipline and improve travel time on major high ways; fabrication and installation of 50,000 units various types of traffic signs to improve road safety; installation of at least 63 functional traffic lights at major road intersections among others in the transportation sector.
• Initiation despite stiff opposition by the federal government of
the first successful Independent Power Project (IPP) by any state government generating 260MW of electricity from Ikorodu to the National Grid.
• Completion of such abandoned projects as Teslim Balogun Stadium
and the new Government House at Alausa as well as finding a permanent solution to the erosion and perennial flooding of the Bar Beach by constructing an enduring shoreline defensive barrier.
• Creation of 37 new Local Development Council Areas bringing the
total number of Local Government Areas in the state to 57 in order to accelerate grassroots development. He successfully sustained and nurtured them to maturity despite the fierce opposition of the Federal Government that illegally withheld N24 billion of the state’s Local Government Statutory Allocation for two years despite a Supreme Court directive to the contrary.
In Y2007, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu successfully handed over the mantle of the state’s leadership to Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) who has continued to build on the firm foundation laid by his predecessor. In the just concluded general elections, Asiwaju Tinubu’s influence was a critical factor not only in his party’s retention of power in Lagos State but also its success in recovering the states it had earlier lost in the South West in the 2003 and 2007 elections.
For his excellent performance as the Executive Governor of Lagos State of Nigeria (1999 – 2007), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu received several awards.
• Best Governor in Nigeria for Y2000 by the Nigerian-Belgian
Chamber of Commerce;
• Y2002 Best Practices Prize in improving the living environment,
awarded by the Federal Ministry of Works and the UN Habitat Group;
• Citation by the New York based World Trade Association on June
12, 2002, as the symbol of progress in Nigeria. The only other recipient in Africa was President Nelson Mandela of South Africa.
Asiwaju Tinubu palyed key roles in Nigerian politics long before he became Governor of Lagos State. Tinubu was elected to the Senate from Lagos West constituency with the highest votes in the country in the Third Republic.
In the Senate he was the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Finance, Currency and Appropriations. In that capacity Tinubu initiated a far reaching probe of the finances of the National Assembly that set him at loggerheads with the legislative bureaucracy and the military regime at the helm of affairs at the time. Again, Tinubu was at the forefront of Chief MKO Abiola’s campaign for presidency in 1993. When the June 12, 1993 election, described as the freest and fairest in the country’s history was annulled, Tinubu emerged as one of the fiercest opponents of the annulment. As the arrowhead of the struggle to actualize Abiola’s mandate, the military junta reached out to him severally to jump ship and come over to their side. He was offered juicy appointments and contracts to no avail. He refused to betray his principled commitment to the sanctity of a free and fair election. Exasperated by Tinubu’s intransigence, the military viciously went after him. He was detained. His house was fire bombed. He eventually had to flee the country for his dear life. His wife, now Senator Oluremi Tinubu and her children had to be smuggled out into exile. Tinubu, while in exile remained steadfast in his commitment to the pro-democracy struggle making great personal and financial sacrifices towards this effort. A pseudo democrat would rather enjoy the transient benefits of economic and political power rather than risk his life fighting for truth and justice but not Tinubu who remained steadfast.
Tinubu’s re-engineering of the finances of the IGR of Lagos, remains a sterling contribution. The facts are clear. Lagos was earning an Internally Generated Revenue of N600 million monthly when Tinubu assumed office in 1999. Through deft financial engineering, Tinubu turned around the finances of state and by the time he left office in 2007, the IGR of Lagos was over N8 billion monthly. Governor Fashola has built on this strong foundation and the IGR of Lagos is today over N15 billion monthly.
Asiwaju Tinubu remains one of the most influential, courageous and principled politicians and statesmen in contemporary Nigeria. In a political culture where most members of the political class tend to gravitate towards the ruling party for pecuniary reward, Tinubu’s resilience and steadfastness in giving inspirational leadership to the opposition is remarkable. It is a testimony to the depth of the convictions that have motivated and sustained him in politics over the last two and a half decades.