In spite of the visible infrastructural transformation noticeable in Lagos, since Governor Raji Fashola assumed office, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, in a new book, Lagos Open Parliament, makes daring claims that will evoke political sentiments.
In a land of the blind, the ‘one-eyed’ man visibly becomes the centre of attraction, which is why the government of Lagos State under Babatunde Fashola, clearly ranks high in terms of democratic deliverables when weighed side by side with other state governments. But the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, does not share this view as evident in the 236 page book, ‘Lagos Open Parliament: The true state of Lagos by Lagosians, which the group has compiled to illustrate how the government of Lagos State has been running in the last couple of years.
Citing media reports and analyses, the book, edited by Debo Adeniran, takes a critical look at the different sectors of Lagos State, highlighting what it termed ‘discrepancies in accountability and probity’, while also criticising several policies of the government. The book is made up of five chapters. Chapters one offers a background of the work, setting the genesis of the perceived problem in Lagos and also focusing on the statement of problem, purpose of study, hypothesis, population and scope of the work.
Chapter two chronicles the genesis of failure of good governance and fiscal responsibility from sources that includes media reports and personal witness account from Lagos in different local government councils of the state. It traces how media publications classify Fashola’s transformations.
Some of the news headlines contained in this section includes: ‘Please, let democracy work for the people’; ‘Lagosians beg Fashola’; ‘Poor state of Lagos roads’; ‘a genuine worker’s and people’s government is the only way out’; Lagos rent law is not working’; ‘How heavy rains ravage Lagos roads’, ‘Resign now, 26 parties tell Fashola’; however the writers did not go a step further to illustrate that media in the country has also been politicized and more often are used to fight political battles.
Chapter three dwells on other television, radio and newspaper analyses, while chapter four broadens the report with data presentations, assessment of state of situation of Lagos as at March 2011.
For the avoidance of doubt, the book is a public parliament put in place by the Coalition against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) and People’s Action for Democracy (PAD) to encode and decode vital information on matters of public interest, towards arriving at a whistle-blowing role which would in turn promote good governance and participatory democracy in Lagos State. Lagos Open Parliament is a veritable forum where participants who are directly or indirectly stakeholders, gather, exchange views, share their plights, experiences and assess democracy in the state.
As demonstrated in this report, this is in contradiction with the styles of the administration which the writers say uses the print-media and electronics to make reasonable impressions on the activities of government.
In economic terms, the book also claims that the state is not productive. In other words, that it is not adding value to life of its citizens, by misapplying resources. Of course, the work raises a number of questions: What is the state doing to lift the poverty of the masses? What wealth and how many jobs are being created? What efforts have the state deployed to crystallise the private sector?
To this, the writers argue that the administration has not done much! But to the ordinary Lagos resident, the account by the book smacks of biases, because a book of this nature cannot assume not to have noticed anything positive about the government, a reason why some of the readers would easily classify it as a campaign against the government of Fashola. But the beauty of this is that it has set in motion a discourse that can also be extended to other states of the federation.