Lagos too Important to be entrusted to those who want to experiment: Fashola


Lagos is too important within Nigeria, in Africa and across the world to be entrusted to those who want to experiment... Babatunde Raji Fashola


Tonight I deliver my valedictory Christmas eve address to you as Governor of Lagos.
I have done so consistently for 8 (eight) years since the first time on 24th December 2007 the year you elected me as your Governor.
I have never delegated the task because I enjoy coming back to my club, and because it provides opportunities for interaction and communication.
I come here again tonight with gratitude and with pride.
Gratitude for your support, for your counsel, for inspirations and for your useful criticisms all of which have been most defining.
I come here with pride about what we have achieved under a social contract in a democratic setting by which we have demonstrated that multi-ethnic, multi-religious, very diverse and multi-lingual people can co-exist harmoniously and develop in a democracy in Nigeria’s most populous state.
I am proud because we have worked together to explode many myths.
I am proud because Lagos is working despite the nay sayers.
Inspite of tumbling oil prices Lagos is not in arrears of workers’ salaries.
We can still pay our workers their salaries and also add a 15% end of year bonus.
This is not because we are not affected by revenue losses as a result of the Federal mismanagement of our economy which has affected all states, we are able to keep going because a party and a Government that knows what they are doing run Lagos.
Inspite of these challenges the national long-term financial rating of your State according to Fitch International rating agency is “AA+ (nga) with a stable outlook.
The rating agency also affirmed our long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings at BB- with a stable outlook and our short-term foreign currency Issuer Default Rating as B. As a further mark of investors’ confidence in our debt management strategy, our N275BN MTN Programme, together with the N57.5B and N80B Bonds, which mature in 2017 and 2019 respectively have been affirmed at BB- and AA+(nga).
Your State is the only state in Nigeria that has these ratings.
I am proud because many sectors of our national life show progress and results of the hard and dedicated work, of our public servants.
Our unemployment index is 8% compared to the national index of 24% and this is inspite of our size. The whole of Nigeria lives here.
Recent polls and studies show that confidence in our public schools is daily increasing.
53% of Lagosians now say they prefer to have their children in state owned primary school as against 47% who opt for private primary schools.
69% of Lagosians now say they prefer to have their children in State Secondary School as against 31% who opt for private secondary school.
When you understand that the ratio of private to state schools is 4 private school to one state school, you will appreciate the enormity of the challenge.
But let me be clear, we are happy to embrace this challenge because Lagos is working with your support.
Our WAEC results have improved year on year from 2008 till date by the number of students who pass with 5 (five) credits at one sitting from 7% in 2008, to 18% in 2009, to 21% in 2010, 19% in 2011, 38% in 2012, 41% in 2013 and 45% in 2014.
As far as our primary responsibility of providing security is concerned, 77% of Lagosians now say they feel secure and 89% say that crime has reduced.
This is inspite of the increasing global crime index and our national security challenges.
But your Government has not come up with excuses inspite of the absence of a State Police. We have been inventive, determined and unyielding as far as crime fighting and safety of lives and property is concerned.
Although we have had excuses and blame trading from the national government about its failure to deliver power, we have lit up public spaces in our State inspite of this national abdication of responsibility.
Businesses now run late into the night and some run for 24 hours which means that Lagosians get an opportunity to work and earn a living in the second economy.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I could go on but I will not.
You are the one who chose the change you now experience.
You are the ones to whom the responsibility to keep that change and consolidate it now falls.
Your vote is the power you have to do so.
Please ensure that you go and collect your Voters’ Card in order to protect what you have built in Lagos.
Lagos is too important within Nigeria, in Africa and across the world to be entrusted to those who want to experiment.
Our Party has held a well-organized and transparent gubernatorial primary in which the most popular candidate Akinwunmi Ambode emerged as our candidate.
Almost all of the aspirants have worked in our Government and with me in building the progress we now have.
Akinwunmi Ambode served with me as Accountant General for 6 years. He worked in the Local Government for many years.
He was part of the building process.
He understands how Government works, he will not be guessing on day one, if you elect him as my successor, because he is experienced.
The alternatives to him will be an experiment with your lives, your businesses and the future of your children.
When you look at the other side on the national level it cannot and does not inspire confidence.
No power, no security, broken economy, slogans and failed promises.
If I started to enumerate the list of broken promises, it will take a while and I know you all want to dance and enjoy yourselves tonite as much as I do.
I will only remind you that the party and government at the federal level inherited a whole country from us in 2011.
They are returning to ask for your vote with only part of a whole country having lost some parts by failing in their first and primary duty, which is security.
Yet all we continue to hear are slogans that transform nothing.
Nothing was too much, too sensitive, to important to them to play politics or slogan about.
They even sloganized about innocent girls held in captivity for months where they tried to play on the hashtag bring back our girls, until an angry public brought them back to reality.
We have heard slogans about how they made us the biggest economy in Africa.
Please ask them to tell you why smaller economies provide electricity for their people and they keep us in darkness.
Please ask them why smaller economies provide petrol easily for their people and why we have to queue for hours or days to get petrol.
Please ask them why we are trying to buy arms for our security forces from an economy that is smaller than ours.
Please ask them why our own Naira is trading at over N180 to the dollar, and South Africa Rand is trading at less than R12 to the dollar.
Please tell them that it is your quality of life and prosperity that matters, rather than the size of the numbers.
If you want to know how important this economy is to the Federal Government, please ask yourself when last you saw the President present the budget to the National Assembly.
I think that one of the lessons leadership must impart, is the lesson of example.
They almost turned Ebola into a political trophy even though they knew little about how the battle was fought and won in Lagos which was the epicenter.
For the record, let me say today that Lagos is not only the first urban centre experience of Ebola that was successfully contained, your Governor, is the first political office holder on global record to have met and embraced Ebola survivors.
This was later to be followed by the American President.
Your Governor is also the first head of Government to enter a medical facility where an Ebola patient was managed after it was de-contaminated.
This could only have happened because of the commitment of our dedicated public servants and health workers who assured me that the patients had been fully treated; and the facility fully de-contaminated. I had to lead by making myself an example and I did so because I trust the professionalism of these public servants.
I do not know about you, but I am clear that a vote for that party will be a vote for bad leadership and an own goal against Nigeria.
We need a fresh pair of hands, a fresh pair of eyes and fresh minds to take us to our promise. The All Progressive Congress with General Buhari and Professor Yemi Osibajo, SAN represent the leadership that Nigeria needs now. Their security, law and order and integrity credentials are urgently needed to rescue Nigeria.
For now, I will leave the story of failure of governance, of broken promises and dysfunctional administration, where only 14.4% provision is made for all of us in the 2015 national budget for infrastructure that is clearly in deficit, whereas Lagos has budgeted 51% for infrastructure.
I wish you all a merry Christmas and a prosperous 2015 that will be defined by your votes.
I expect that they will come here to ask you again for your votes.
When they do, please ask them why there is no Lagosian in the Federal Executive Council.
Please ask them why they have not done the road to Murtala Mohammed International Airport. They promised to do it at Tafawa Balewa Square in 2011.
Please ask them why they have not paid the N51b owed to Lagos for Federal roads rehabilitated by Lagos State.
I look forward to seeing you all next year.
God bless you all and thank you for your support and prayers.
Eko o ni baje o!
Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN
Governor of Lagos State

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