Leadership succession is delicate and complex; it evokes deep emotions and fears. It raises questions of legacy, mortality and self-worth.
A salient lesson on leadership and the importance of appropriate succession was once taught from the story of Moses and Joshua, in the good book of the Christian faith, the Bible.
The accomplishments of Moses as a leader were staggering; he was a big-shoe for just anyone to fit into. It was Moses who yielded to the call to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. He was the one who challenged Pharaoh; the most powerful ruler in the world. He was the one who received the Ten Commandments atop Mount Sinai. He was the one who spoke to God panim el panim, face to face. He was also the one who knew how crucial succession was. Moses initiated a succession plan, recognizing his own mortality; he knew he was not going to lead and live forever. To ensure the Israelites reach the Promised Land, he needed a successor who understood the blueprint and could carry on the legacy. Only in achieving that could he be adjudged accomplished.
In the wake of the fourth republic in 1999, when Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, an administrator par excellence, governed Lagos State, between same year and 2007, the people-oriented legacy of the Tinubu administration in the Centre of Excellence has served as an enduring template for successive governments in the state to build on.
Tinubu inherited a Lagos State that was face to the ground; a Lagos that was buried in heaps of rubbish, a city swallowed in crime, a people choked in traffic, millions of unemployed youths, thousands of area boys on the prowl, decaying infrastructure, dwindling internally generated revenue and a city of over 12 million people, living with terribly bad roads. The story of Lagos was that of an abandoned former capital city, which had turned into a no man’s land.
Assembling a team of accomplished technocrats, Tinubu’s administration drew up a 10-Point Agenda, which it began to systematically implement for the revitalization and re-invention of the state. The total budget size of Lagos State at the inception of his administration in 1999 was a little over N14 billion, while the state’s IGR was approximately N600 million monthly. Yet, the monthly public sector wage bill was N800 million.
Eight years later, under Tinubu’s excellent leadership, Lagos had become financially viable and autonomous of the federal government; lives and property had become more secure; public infrastructure was being aggressively modernized and expanded; there had been a paradigm shift in the quality and efficiency of public health care, education, environment, water supply and public transportation. Lagos was attracting new investment in diverse sectors on a daily basis, despite the depressing national economic climate.
Tinubu’s administration from inception drew up a clear and focused Action Plan for the state in conjunction with critical stakeholders including the Organized Private Sector, Civil Society Groups and the Public Service. The result was the evolution of the 10-POINT AGENDA PLAN focusing on Education, Healthcare, Job creation/Poverty alleviation, Power and Water supply, Public transportation/Traffic management, Physical planning/Environmental renewal, Infrastructure renewal, Justice/Law and Order, Food security and Public sector reforms.
The achievements of the Tinubu administration underlined the importance of visionary leadership, and the power of planning and execution of the famed 24-Year Socio-economic and Political Development blueprint for Lagos. The Lagos blueprint also attested to Tinubu’s power of foresight and the import of succession. It is not out of place to remark that Lagos is a model state in Nigeria, because, it has evolved a standard that cannot permit unwarranted deviation by successive government.
Taking over the baton of excellent governance in 2007, Babatunde Raji Fashola (BRF), an astute technocrat, consolidated on the blueprint of his predecessor. His administration ran on the ‘LAGOS DEVELOPMENT PLAN’. Under BRF, Lagos became a mini Nigeria. By dint of hard work, Fashola transformed Lagos into a powerful destination, not only in Nigeria, but in Africa. Under BRF, the economy of Lagos grew to surpass the economy of some countries like Ghana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire and some other African countries.
Under him, Lagos became adjudged the safest place in Nigeria. You may succeed with committing crime, but it was certain you were never getting away with it. The dense population of the state notwithstanding, the city was well policed. Given the huge population, one would expect crime rate in Lagos to be alarming, but it was the lowest in the federation under him.
Massive reconstruction, rehabilitation and renovation of all schools in Lagos to meet the Millennium Development Goals benchmark happened under BRF. Lagos State University, LASU, moved from back position in University ratings in Nigeria to one of the best in the country.
The implementation of the innovative Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lite system that ferried passengers in high capacity buses on dedicated bus lanes was a major accomplishment of his administration. The BRT innovation introduced a culture of better understanding among the social classes on Lagos roads, as people of low, medium and high social classes rode on the same faster, safer, predictable, relatively cheaper and more comfortable buses from one destination to the other.
To curb flooding, BRF’s administration constructed a massive drainage system in Lagos. Every part of the state was captured in this bold, decisive and daring de-flooding project to ensure that flooding did not cause much harm to Lagosians. Roads and street corners were being crisscrossed with drainage to ensure that Lagos was free from chasing global flooding.
Under BRF, Road construction was also on the front burner. Lagos has nearly 10,000 roads to contend with throughout the state, and there was no section that did not witness holistic rehabilitation or maintenance under him. Every sector witnessed the excellent presence of Fashola’s government. So far, Asiwaju has remarked that Fashola was his biggest achievement in succession.
Although, the administration of Akinwunmi Ambode is a short-lived one, having lost his second-term in office bid to Babajide Sanwo-Olu; however, Ambode’s tenure that spanned between 2015 and 2019 has been underscored with a commendable level of good governance. Although, his administration has been berated by Asiwaju, for deviating from the Lagos master-plan, Ambode’s administration has contributed fairly to upscale development across the state, has improved areas around the city. Lagos is more desirable to live and work and better able to attract new people and businesses under his administration.
The incoming administration of Babajide Sanwo-Olu has unveiled “THEME”, as the five pillars of development agenda for a greater Lagos. THEME stands for Traffic Management & Transportation, Health & Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy, and Entertainment and Tourism.
As the Sanwo-Olu administration takes over the exalted seat at Alausa, Lagosians wait with bated breath to see how well he would replicate the legacy of excellent governance handed over to him by his predecessors.