Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Book title: Lagos Open Parliament: The true state of Lagos by Lagosians
Publisher: First Faculty Ventures
Page: 236 pages
Prize: Not stated
Edited by: Debo Adeniran
Reviewer: Agozino Agozino
Lagos Open Parliament: The true state of Lagos by Lagosians, is a no-holds barred revelation of the Lagos State government under the regime of Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN). It is a new book just launched last week in Lagos but its issues are serious. The authors claimed they write it for whoever wants to learn what the Lagos State Government under Governor Fashola will not let public knows.
The central issue is the apparent unwillingness of the Gov. Fashola’s administration to allow itself to be subjected to probity, accountability, transparency and due process, some of the basic tenant and ingredient of democracy and good governance. In the preface, it is clearly stated by the writers that the work was provoked by the dire need to bring the damaging allegations of financial impropriety which impinges on the Lagos State government as well as findings from data analysis to the public domain.
The alibi, the report consistently and intensely, wants to crack therefore is: Why is the administration of Babatunde Raji Fashola running a government of secrecy especially in the area of its public finance and expenditure?
Flowing from this, the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) provides fresh and refreshing insights on why things have been the way they are in Lagos. The book provide evidence through newspaper reports and other eye witness accounts that governance of Lagos, the so-called Centre of Excellence during the period, May 2007-May 2011, has been highly deceitful, riddle with massive corruptions like William Shakespeare’s depiction of life as like ‘a story told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, all signifying nothing.’ According to the book, it is basically in the midst of this general charade, and facade that propagandists of the government have erroneously claimed and believed that Lagos is working, Ekonibaje, whereas there is a litany of lack of diligent budgetary implementation, while 90 percent of Lagos roads are almost dilapidated even as the infrastructural facilities are decaying all over the state. Also highlighted in the book is the worrying condition in Lagos State Healthcare services that is meant to serve the rich only. This according to the book has led to untimely death of innocent Lagosians as well as the recent hounding of commercial motorcycle (aka) Okada, and tricycle operators without providing genuine alternative plan for their basic sustenance all in the mantra of building a mega-city.
The 237-pagework represents a painstaking efforts which involved data presentations, collection and analysis and findings which covered the 57 Local Government Areas (LGA) and Local Council Development Authority (LCDA) in the state. It is a research trove enhanced by the direct accounts of the victims whose experiences and lucids information deeply enrich existing knowledge on the governance of Lagos State. The report is as much suasion for the upbraiding of the entire Fashola administration, especially his commissioners fingered with all manner of corruption and bravagoaddo they runs the administration.
The book is made up of five chapters. Briefly, chapters one offers a background of the work, setting the genesis of the decay in Lagos State. Chapter one also focuses on the statement of problem, purpose of study, hypothesis, population and scope of the work. Chapter two chronicled 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 governments of the state. It traces how media publication proves Fashola’s so-called transformations are just mere propaganda. 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, Governor Fashola spars with Sahara reporters in London-denies Tinubu’s financial windfall, etc. Chapter three dwells on other television, radio and newspaper analysis, while chapter four enriched the report with data presentations, assessment of state of situation of Lagos as at March 2011.
Lagos Open Parliament 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 and the State Chief Executive.
As is demonstrated in this report, this is in contradiction with the styles of the administration which the writers says uses the print-media and electronics to bamboozle, hoodwink, and beguile the gullible public with fathom propaganda aimed at building the so-called mega-city. The real truth according to the book is that Lagos is not working at all. In economic terms, it shows that the state is not productive. In other words, it is not adding value to life of its citizens. It is misapplying resources and not transparent in its governance. It is amazing that Lagos has capacity to become one of the greatest cities in the world. Yet no one is bothering about the resources of the citizens who are being taxed by the administration. 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 crystallizes the private sector? The real truth argues the writers is that the administration is unviable, unproductive and riddle with huge corruption. The local council under Fashola is an economic drain.
The government bureaucracy, at the council level because of nepotism hardly adds any value to governance. Together, they constitute a big hole on the resources of the state. Instead of deploying the proceeds generated from state to productive ventures, our Lagos government has used it to finance themselves and their cronies. Yet, no one is bothered with the future of the state. All our dear Lagos government is interested according to this report is to keep milking the wells of the people.
“Our concern is that if the 290 million naira expended on text messages alone by the governor’s special assistance between January and June 2009, if the 5billion naira wasted on two helicopters which have now been discovered to be useless for any kind of emergency or rescue operation, if the 2billion naira doled out to several faceless organisations between January and June 2009, if the 600 million naira used for Christmas decorations, if the 100 million naira released for a soap opera on the governor, if the whooping 13 billion wasted on the importation of palm tree from Niger Republic, none of which can be seen anywhere again in the State because they all dried up, if the 5.2 proceeds from the sale of Maiyegun scheme has not disappeared without trace, if all the above and several other billions mismanaged and misappropriated for which space cannot permit us had been invested on education, healthcare facilities, roads and other critical infrastructures, Lagosians would have experienced real development and not scattered, isolated pieces of infrastructural window-dressing meant to bamboozle the general public, especially the electioneering purposes.
CACOL condemns in its entirety the perpetration of corruption in government at all levels and the resultant suffering and developmental short-changing of our people. We condemn government by grand deception and arrogant repression, extortion as perpetrated through LASTMA and KAI brigades. We call on Lagosians and all Nigerians to demand accountability from their leaders and not be deceived by mere political showmanship and glorified rot of Fashola,” the book states.
The work is edited by Comrade Debo Adeniran for CACOL and PAD.