THE Fourth Republic second governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), will gleefully join the Golden Club (50), on Friday, June 28, 2013.
Preparations are in top gear to serenade the athletic governor. He may not stage a state bash but we have it no good authority that his 50th, a milestone can never pass unsung.
ENCOMIUM Weekly presents to you here the intimate secrets of the best performing governor of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN).
HOW HE MET HIS WIFE
IT was the governor’s father, Mr. Ademola Fashola, who saw and liked young Emmanuella. He was said to have been impressed by her behavior and carriage and decided to marry her for his son.
The governor, who bonded well with his father while growing listened to him and accepted his choice of woman to be his wife.
The governor and his wife, Dame Emmanuella are blessed with three children –all boys.
HIS SIBLINGS, PARENTS
His father is Mr. Ademola Fashola, a former journalist with Daily Times of Nigeria. He rose to become the Deputy General Manager, Advert Department of Daily Times before he left.
He also worked for Surulere Local Government Council before he relocated to United States of America, where he was for several years. He will be 80 in September 2013.
His mother is a retired nurse.
His siblings include Ms. Yinka Fashola, the General Manager, Lagos State Residents’ Registration Agency; Mr. Demola Fashola, Jnr of Lagos State Electricity Board; Mr. Bola Agunbiade, a lawyer, Mrs. Bisi Ikuforiji and Mr. Femi Agunbiade, also a lawyer.
THE SCHOOLS HE ATTENDED
The governor attended Sunny Field Primary School, Adelabu Street, Surulere, Lagos. Birch Freeman High School, Idi Oro, Surulere, Lagos; Igbobi College, Igbobi and University of Benin, Edo State, for his first degree in law in 1987.
HIS FAVOURITE FOOD AND DRINKS
The governor’s favourite food is sandwiches and a bottle of Coca Cola. His favourite alcohol beverage used to be Star lager beer. But in the last five years he has changed to Heineken lager beer.
The governor is not much into food, so he does not have a favourite restaurant. But he still hangs out with his close friends at Favourite, Ebute Metta, Eagle Club, Surulere and Island Club, Lagos Island, where he has been a member since 1992.
HIS FAVOURITE PASTIME
The governor’s favourite pastime is reading. Those close to him say he is a voracious book reader. That he hardly sleeps without reading a book.
His side of his Range Rover is always full of books.
HIS FAVOURITE SPORT
No doubt the governor’s favourite sport is football. Right from his secondary school days, the governor lived and breath football. Despite his tight schedule of work, he still creates time to play football every Thursday evening and Sunday morning.
Aside football, the governor also loves playing snooker, squash and lawn tennis.
HIS CLOSEST CONFIDANTS
Apart from his wife, Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has some close friends that preceded his coming into public service, as Chief of Staff in 2002 and governor in 2007.
These close friends of the birthday boy include:
ADEMOLA AZEEZ, a businessman who lives in Surulere, Lagos. Their friendship dates back to their primary school days at Sunny Field, Adelabu Street, Surulere, Lagos.
YOMI PEARCE, is another of the governor’s close friend. He lives in Parkview Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos.
SAHEED SANUSI, is another long time friend of the governor that they are still chummy. As a matter of fact, he was his best man during his wedding with his lovely and amiable wife, Dame Emmanuella Abimbola Fashola. Mr. Saheed Sanusi, also lives in Parkview Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos.
FEMI AYENI was the governor’s classmate at Birch Freeman High School, Idioro, Lagos and since then they have remained chummy and close.
ABIODUN WAHAB is another friend of the governor that has been with him for a long time. Although he is older than the governor nonetheless, they have been friends for a while now.
OLARENWAJU BABALOLA, the governor’s Chief of Staff since 2007 has been his close friend for a long time.
There are indications that they met on a football field back in their younger days. Today, despite their age and tight schedules of work, they still play football together every Thursday at Lagos House, Ikeja sport field and at Campus Square every Sunday.
Mr. Babalola, though much older than the governor, but the age gap has not in any way being a barrier on their chummy relationship.
HON. BABATUNDE OGALA, a lawyer and former member of Lagos House of Assembly, is also said to be another close friend of the governor. The two met in the course of their profession –law and for more than 20 years now they have remained best of friends.
The governor and his close friends usually hang out together at their regular joints in Surulere, Ebute Metta and Lagos Island.
HIS KITCHEN CABINET MEMBERS
The governor’s kitchen cabinet include his long term friend and Chief of Staff, Mr. Olanrewaju Babalola; Mr. Adeola Ipaye, Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice; Dr. Femi Hamzat, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure; Mr. Ben Akabueze, the Commissioner for Planning and Budget and Mr. Tokunbo Abiru, the Commissioner for Finance.
CARS DRIVEN SINCE HE CAME TO STATE HOUSE
HIS JOURNEY TO GOVERNMENT HOUSE
Fashola’s journey to Government House, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos didn’t commence in 2002 when he became Asiwaju’s Chief of Staff. It dates back to 1990/91, when the former Lagos State governor was a treasurer in Mobil. His office, according to Fashola in the publication, Asiwaju, Untold Story of the Leader (a special publication of The News in commemoration of Tinubu’s 60 birthday) was at the Bookshop House at CMS, on Odunlami Street, Lagos. Fashola then a senior associate at the law firm of Sofunde, Osakwe, Ogundipe and Belgore worked with Wale Tinubu, Asiwaju’s nephew. It happened that one day, Wale Tinubu visited Tinubu with Fashola. And after lunch with his uncle, they got to know each other better.
Tinubu, in another account by Fashola would invite him in 2002 to be his Chief of Staff after Lai Muhammed resigned to pursue his governorship interest in Kwara State. An offer he had no choice, Fashola said Tinubu simply sent for him and told him he wanted him to succeed Lai Muhammed.
Governor Tinubu sent for me and said: “Tunde, Lai is going to Ilorin; he wants to be governor. I need help. You were part of the people who supported my campaign, you can’t leave me to do the work alone. So, come and join me. That was on a Wednesday. He scheduled the meeting for 4 p.m on Wednesday, but I didn’t get to see him until 1.00 a.m on Thursday. We were all there in his office. I got home around 2 a.m or so and went to my office in Igbosere. Later in the day, I got a call from the Head of Service asking for my address and before the end of the day, I got a letter asking me to resume in Alausa the following day, which was Friday, August 16, 2002. I called my partner and said: ‘I’m gone,’”
He had also thought he would return to his practice but in 2006, he was endorsed by Asiwaju as Action Congress of Nigeria guber candidate for the 2007 general elections.
“I remember in January 2006, I went to see him (Tinubu) and said: “Look, this thing is finished, I need your help. I want to go back to my chambers and I need money to buy some books and stuffs and he said, okay, that he would see what he could do to assist me. In the event, we bought the books and we are still locked up. I mean, we bought the books and was already planning for the office, furniture and all that, come back and practice in the bar and then the bombshell about governorship and here we are. So, nobody planned this. It was not on my radar at all.”
This is the sense in which Babatunde Raji Fashola’s journey to the powerful office of the governor of the most populated state in Nigeria is an inspiring story in God’s divine plan and purpose for a man.
The governor, who is now on the last lap of his second-term has, however, told critics who thought he came in through the back door that also had a hand in what he is today. His reason: “I didn’t just jump from the outside to become governor. I was in that office for four and a half years as Chief of Staff to the governor and working right inside the governor’s office. I was working 17 hours a day and this afforded me to see the governor at work, his pains, success and challenges.”
WHAT WE LIKE ABOUT OUR BOSS
“The man is just an embodiment of knowledge, who is passionate about transformation of Lagos State. He is a rare gift to Lagosians. I wish him many happy returns as he is welcomed to the Golden club.”
- Cornelius Ojelabi, Commissioner for Rural Development
“What do you say to a man who has over time become the reference point for passionate, responsive, responsible, effective innovative and committed leadership? A man who has refused to be carried away by the lucre of power but remains focused on set goals. The remark of a philosopher is apt in this situation. “At the end of it all, it is not the years that matter, but the life in the years.”
Happy birthday to our own ACTUALIZER, the beacon of hope to generation next.”
– Hon. Seye Oladejo, S.A on Commerce and Industry
“I like his dynamic sense of governance. His leadership styles, transparency and accountability are worthy of emulation by all and sundry.”
- Otunba Fatai Olukoga, S.A. Education
“What I like about him is his leadership skills. His steadfastness and commitment when he sets his mind to accomplishing a task. He is more interested in projects that have everlasting impact. And once he has accomplished one, he is ready to set agenda for those he has not done. He mobilize the best available skills and set task for every mission to be accomplished. He is very strategic and tactful in targeting a goal. And when he wants result, he drives you until you accomplish it.
“Above all, he is a man full of ideas and he is always experimenting.
“To deal with him, make sure you have the facts to engage him otherwise you will look foolish. He is always ahead and thinking positively on what man can accomplish if given the opportunity. On the whole, you can only be his friend if you can work hard and fulfill the objective already set.”
- Tunji Bello, Commissioner for the Environment
“Very deep thinker and a goal getter, always puts you on your toes.”
- Bosun Jeje, Commissioner for Housing
“It feels good to be his cousin. Although, we did not grow up in the same place, he’s a good man, straight forward person and friendly. He is also a nice person, but very strict. Babatunde is very ambitious with future ahead and I am sure people would vote for him if he desires to contest for the president of this country. What I know about him is that he doesn’t give money. It’s not deliberate, that’s his nature. Even as governor, I am sure many people would have seen that. He, however, gives contracts to qualified people not on the basis of any sentiment. He would inspect the project and if the person didn’t deliver or execute it properly, it’s either he pays back or terminate the contract.
“I know he would remember this story. When we were young, one of their neighbour’s son bought a Benz as a 70th birthday for his daddy. Fashola’s dad admired the man’s car and said how he wished he had a son that would buy him a car.
“Years later, Babatunde bought Benz as a 70th birthday gift for his father. Although, his father had forgotten already, his son now reminded him of his wish years back. He fulfilled his father’s wish.
“He’s a social man, he loves dance a lot. Before he emerged the governor, I am aware he loves jazz music but now, I can’t really say. He loves football and we are both Manchester United fans.”
- TAJUDEEN FASHOLA, cousin
FASHOLA’S TEN MOST UNFORGETTABLE LEGACIES
Fashola’s six years as Lagos State Governor has been hailed as an era of uncommon transformation that has touched virtually every sector of the populace. ENCOMIUM Weekly chronicles ten of his many unforgettable legacies.
THE BRT SERVICE
Fashola’s full implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project which his protégé and predecessor, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu started, is one of his most enduring legacies as Lagos governor. Given the traffic situation of Lagos and inadequate transport infrastructure, the introduction of the BRT has really helped Lagos commuters.
OSHODI MARKET’S TRANSFORMATION
Before Governor Fashola came to power in 2007, Oshodi market was more like a hide-out for criminals and miscreants. But BRF has since cleared up the area for the benefit of all.
THE INDEPENDENT POWER PROJECT (IPP)
The dream of having 24-hour power in Lagos is no longer far-fetched with some areas of Lagos Island having constant power, courtesy of the IPP the Lagos State Government commissioned last year. This is one of Fashola’s legacies.
Fashola also introduced concessioning which encourages the private sector to invest in infrastructure development under the Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) scheme. Through the Lekki Concessionaries and many more others, roads that are key to the growth of Lagos economy have been transformed. The Lekki-Epe Expressway is a typical example.
THE MONO RAIL PROJECT
Also in the area of transport, the mono rail project that runs from Badagry to Ojo/Mile 2, Lagos is equally one of the critical infrastructures Fashola would be remembered for even if he leaves office. The Nmulti-billion rail construction project is being handled by a Chinese firm.
THE IKOYI-LEKKI LINK WONDER BRIDGE
BRF will also be remembered for the wondrous Ikoyi-Lekki link bridge. Touted as one of the most beautiful in all of Africa, the 1.2km bridge has also been described as an architectural masterpiece.
MASSIVE ROAD REPAIRS
From Epe, Lekki, Lagos Island to Apapa, Oshodi, Ikorodu and Ikeja, Governor Fashola has embarked on construction, repair and maintenance of over 10,000 roads in Lagos. And this is one reason he is widely loved and cherished by Lagosians.
THE MEGA CITY DREAM
Another initiative of the previous administration, the Mega City dream is what has inspired the various urban renewal projects the Lagos State Government has embarked upon across the length and breadth of the Mega City. And the process is still very much on course.
SECURITY TRUST FUND
One of the greatest threats to government anywhere in the world, security challenge has also been taken seriously by the Fashola administration. Given the fact that government cannot do it all, BRF introduced the Lagos Security Trust Fund which tasks individuals and the private sector to raise funds to help fight crime in the state. The success of this laudable initiative is also a credit to BRF who regularly supports security agencies in the state.
NO SIREN POLICY
Gone are the days when you know that a Lagos State Governor is in town through a blaring siren. As simple and humble as no other governor, Fashola’s convoy abhors siren, which is another legacy he’s leaving behind.
THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN ENCOMIUM WEEKLY ON TUESDAY, JUNE 25, 2013