Lagos State, Gov. Raji Fashola and “work-chop-cracy”

By Seyi Osiyemi

As we know, a group of individuals known as the ‘Face of Lagos’ recently, through paid newspaper advertorial, accused Gov. Babatunde Fashola of financial recklessness and impropriety. Following these allegations, the Lagos State House of Assembly (LSHA) in a swift response constituted a panel to investigate these allegations.

As I write, the motive of the investigation panel is still been queried by members of the public. Some have described it as the proverbial “hand of Esau and voice of Jacob”. Some consider the investigation as the first step in the plot to impeach the state governor. There are insinuations that the disagreement between the godson and godfather is because the former has not allowed the latter to have an unfettered access to the state vault. There have even been comments about why the LSHA has not probed the 8-year rule of the supposed godfather.

For me, I’m not interested in delving into the motive behind the panel investigation. As I’m not privy to the facts behind the disagreement of these individuals, I don’t think its right for me to add to the current speculations.

What I find baffling however, are the comments that Gov. Fashola should not be investigated because he is a “performing” governor (!). For such commentators, they would rather have the “Fashola type” alleged corruption, because he built new roads, implemented new public transport initiatives, cleared Oshodi and planted flowers.

The view of such people is that systemic looting of the state treasury can be justified, if the alleged culprit has performed beyond their expectations. Performance to them is a justification for treasury looting? Na Wah! You may want to ask, what their expectations are. Such individuals lack basic understanding of what is required of people they have elected into office. It’s like an employer who engaged a staff without a job description or key performance indicators. So it would be very easy for such an employee and his employer to develop a false sense of achievement. Anyway, that’s an aside issue.

Interestingly, it seems deepening rift between the Lagos State Governor Fashola and his estranged godfather Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has created a new type of governance model, which I will describe as “Work-chop-cracy”.

So what is “Work-chop-cracy”? This is a type of government that allows a leader, that is perceived to be performing well, to also engage in looting of the treasury – albeit at a lesser scale when compared to the “do nothing” leaders.

In the Work-chop-cratic government, the masses accept corruption as a way life. And as a friend noted recently, corruption in governance is regarded as second to the air we breathe under the model. The principle is, everyone elected into public office must “chop”, however the public officer must justify his chopping through “hard work and performance”. Hmmm….!

The acceptance of work-chop-cracy as a style of governance further highlights the delusion among the Nigeria masses. In the past, I’ve always been critical of the nation’s leadership and their role in encouraging corruption at levels of government. However, following some of the public comments on the alleged feud between Gov. Fashola and his predecessor, I’ve come to realise that we the masses are the biggest problem affecting Nigeria.

The question I asked the promoters of “work-chop-cracy” is, if the same allegations were raised against Gov. Alao-Akala or Gbenga Daniel, what would have been their response? Obviously, because these Governors have no track record of performance, they are always easy targets. We shout to high heavens when we hear of allegations of corruptions against those we consider as non-performing.

We are happy to see James Ibori, Lucky Igbinedion, Orji Kalu go to jail, but we are not interested in investigating allegations of corruption levelled against Fashola because we think he his performing. Such attitude smacks of hypocrisy.

If we decide not to take the allegations of corruption against Gov. Fashola seriously, what moral standing do we have to take the allegations against Gbenga Daniel seriously? Where is it written that an administrator can mismanage taxpayers’ money simply because he has implemented people-oriented projects? Is that what we define as dividends of democracy?

So what exactly is the big deal about investigating a sitting Governor? Is it not taxpayers’ money that he is been accused of misappropriating? Or may be I’m mistaking. Instead of whipping unnecessary sentiments, why not let’s focus our attention on the panel itself. Our energy should instead be directed towards urging the LSHA to conduct the investigation in a fair and transparent manner. And if they don’t, we can start making noises.

Probity, accountability and transparency are the key tenets of democratic governance. The taxpayer has the right to demand for information on how his taxes are been spent. No matter how good a governor performs, he still needs to be held accountable. After all, it’s not that he has invested his personal wealth in the development of the state.

And don’t get me wrong. I’ve not said that Gov. Fashola is guilty of the allegations. Until proven guilty, the Governor remains innocent. However, I do not support the argument that he should not be investigated because of his performance in office. Irrespective of the motive, I consider the allegations raised by the Face of Lagos group to be very serious, hence need for ‘thorough’ investigation. These allegations cannot just be swept under the carpet.

Eko o ni ba je o…….!

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