The Building of Lagos: Between Jakande and Tinubu
By O’seun Ogunseitan
A Lagos State governor who ran a Lagos State of some 10 million persons, definitely ran a state totally different from the one with only three million people, under another governor.
I had strongly posited that in all ramifications. Alhaji Jakande’s Lagos with less than three million residents, cannot be compared to the Lagos that harboured some 10 million residents on the same land area under Asiwaju Tinubu. Mr Bonuola is as detailed in history as any super-boss can be. To be sure, he was the one who educated me that the old Western Region did not stop at Jibowu as I had always believed, having schooled at what we thought was the border between Western Region and Lagos Federal Territory.
Mr Bonuola confirmed to me with proof too, that in fact Ebute Metta was originally part of the old Western Region and was only given the colonial authorities to build staff housing for middle-cadre officials who could not be accommodated in Ikoyi. He effectively provided the evidence that Lagos federal territory and effectively the Lagos that became the federal capital, was strictly the Islands of Lagos. He is therefore not in any way interested in choosing or taking any one of the sides in the debate of who owns or does not own Lagos or who did more or who did less with the development of Lagos State. He is apparently simply and purely interested in laying the facts bare.
Mr Bonuola is manifestly also only interested in not denying honour but giving honour to whom it is due… and that is exactly the spirit too, on which I keep arguing that just as a successor can never diminish the accolades duly given to a predecessor whose foundation the successor built on, no person can deny the roles different workmen played in putting up any structure, as many young men and women in Nigeria today, would want us to do to Tinubu and President Buhari for example.
It is logical that without a solid foundation at the beginning of a building project, there cannot be a decking or layers of decks subsequently. It is however important to recognise that every decking is a new foundation for a new floor in a building under construction.
The man who laid a solid foundation for a five-bedroom apartment, can however not be credited with the effort of the one who strengthened and expanded the original foundation to accommodate yet another apartment and multiple decks. The former foundation-laying is what Alh Jakande did. The latter foundation strengthening and expansion, is what Asiwaju Tinubu did.
Gov Raji Fashola who eliminated the eye-sore that Oshodi was, like he did in many parts of Lagos, also laid some new foundations which Gov Ambode was able to build on. Today’s Gov Sanwo-Olu who, among other great strides, is launching not one, but two metro rail lines in Lagos within one year, is obviously not just strengthening and expanding the old foundations like Tinubu did. He is also simply laying another foundation which will be built on by those who will be developing at least three more metro lines to surround Lagos with urban metro rail tracks.
Those who will create a number of new smart islands off and around the waters of the Lagos Lagoon, including one that may compete very well with the Eko Atlantic city, will obviously too, be taking Lagos to another level. In all these, I have been specific about the numbers of some future developments. That we can talk confidently about what will most likely be in Lagos State in 10 or 20 years from now, is because Asiwaju Tinubu led the development of a Masterplan for the development of Lagos State, including most importantly, the likely cost implications of the projects and plans for sourcing of the fundings. That plan is what all Tinubu’s successors since 2007 have been, following with slight modifications here and there.
Handing down the Masterplan for the development of Lagos State to his successors and having the grace of guiding his successors to follow through the plan, is what has today set Asiwaju Bola Tinubu apart from Alhaji Lateef Jakande as the lead creator of today’s new Lagos. Alh Jakande ruled for four short years which were very impactful. But he was unable to hand over to anybody, his visions and dreams for a continuity he could also not guide. Alh Jakande also had a Chief Obafemi Awolowo to run to for guidance in the execution of the home grown Masterplan for the development of Lagos State he executed while he was governor.. Of course he did run to the sage on more than a few occasions, since he became the governor of Lagos State, strictly because the sage wanted him to be – to appreciate him for his stoic resistance to the forces of darkness during the treasonable felony trials of the 1960s. He had many formidable political seniors whose support Papa Awolowo had to seek, sought and got to back his choice. After a few months’ wobbly steps due to political inexperience, Alh Jakande indeed succeeded in handling the assignment most creditably.
But Asiwaju Tinubu in 1999 had no such guidance luxury which Alh Jakande had in an Awolowo in 1979. Tinubu had to start from scratch. He had to build his team from scratch. He led the early wars like an infantry general on the war front, yet was always at home to debate strategy with those not on the war front. He had no Awolowo-like mentor to defend him too, aside from his politically well-connected mother the late Alh Abibatu Mogaji and a few very influential Lagosians the powerful Alhaja prodded and got to support Tinubu.
Even if on account of these differences in circumstances of their tenures and the extent of their deliveries against diverse odds, it will be unfair to deny Asiwaju Tinubu, the praise that he truly deserves as the governor who laid the foundation of the new Lagos we are now savoring. Clearly too, yes it is still morning. Lagos will still be much better than it is today. But while we begin trying to ensure that the labours of our past heroes will not be in vain, the labours of our heroes still with us, should not be rubbished or demeaned even in their lifetimes, simply because it suits the mood of many young uninformed persons and many older persons possibly lacking the grace of knowing how to give honour to whom it is due.
Eko o ni baje lai lai. (Edited)