Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



A fight between a godson and his godfather

By Victor Osakwe

For sometime now, the media and grapevine are awash with the imbroglio between the Lagos State governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola (godson) and the former governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu (godfather). The political development in the state has put lie to the joint denial of crisis by the two politicians. It is widely believed that the investigation of allegations of corruption and financial misappropriation against Fashola which the House of Assembly had started before a Lagos High Court stopped it was at the behest of Tinubu. This is the pattern across the country whenever there is a face-off between godfather and godson. The last one decade of civil rule is replete with numerous examples. One would have expected a quiet reconciliation and eventual sweeping under the carpet of these allegations, but this is not the case because the disagreement between them has become almost irreconcilable.

The only reason why this kind of fight can come out to the public is simply because both camps, (the godfather and his godson) are in disagreement over the sharing of the state bootie and other privileges. Tinubu was hoping that as the builder of the political machine that produced Fashola as the governor he should be the person to get the lion share of the loot and privileges. Fashola will not accept this. Perhaps, he has other ideas. He too wants to feather his own nest. The aggrieved godfather therefore decided to expose the corrupt practices of the godson in order to bring him down. One of the sources of conflicts is the N3billion commission fee allegedly collected by Alpha Beta, a tax consultancy firm that collects tax for Lagos State and widely believed to be owned by Bola Tinubu. Governor Fashola had reportedly reduced the stake to N500 million after the contract expired in 2009. Bola Tinubu would not tolerate the reduction of his privilege; he and his cohorts had to fight back with some allegations that Gov. Fashola also engaged in financial irregularities and embezzlement of public funds. While the Lagos government is reputed for good governance, the people had been shortchanged by sharp practices by the Lagos state government, godfathers and their private collaborators.

The fight between Fashola and Tinubu is not a fight between principled people. It is a fight that shows clearly that AC is not different from the PDP. AC is also a party of money bags and business where the sole aim of political office holders is to accumulate wealth by looting public resources and or by paying private contractors outrageous fees at public expense.

The recourse to court to stop the probe of the allegation of corrupt practices by Fashola, though by proxy, shows that he may have some skeleton in his cupboard. If the allegations of the Tinubu camp are correct, it means that Fashola government is cleverly using the public projects as avenue to fleece the state and taxpayers. This has meant that resources that are enough to do two or more projects are only spent on one.

However, in a state where previously, beyond media hype and razzmatazz, it was extremely difficult to see the presence of government, it is not surprising that Fashola government is relatively popular among the people. But Fashola government cannot deliver the expectation of people because it is married to the profit-first free enterprise approach which allows for inflation of contract values. Under the guise of public private partnership, government’s resources are used to empower a few individuals to make profits. Everything is now contracted out and the ministry of works is dormant. Besides, the programme of Fashola government is largely elitist. Under the guise of a megacity project he demolishes shops and houses of poor people without providing alternative. While he is preoccupied with megacity project, most public schools in the state are in deplorable state with overcrowded classrooms without chairs, no laboratories, etc.

Therefore, in Lagos state and nationally, there is need for a working class political alternative that could win political power and truly use public resources for the basic needs of people and society like functional education, health care, affordable housing, good road, potable water, electricity, etc. To mobilize adequate revenue to actualize all this will entail putting under public ownership and democratic control of working people and professionals, the commanding heights of economy. It will also require that political office holders will receive the average salary of skilled workers as against the current jumbo pay which is a drain on the public treasury. Also, such government will not be that of contractors and consultants. The ministry of works could be well equipped and manned with competent professionals so that it can carry out some of the major projects with quality delivery. With democratic control of the ministry, it would mean that it can execute a multiple of the projects which the private construction firms would do with the same resources.