Two years ago, as Fashola’s second tenure was about to round off, I sent a message to a senior official in his team requesting for a meeting to enable us discuss an idea my partner and I were mulling.
The meeting did not hold due to scheduling reasons and the moment passed but the idea we had in mind was to start a campaign for the Mo Ibrahim prize to be given to state governors since there was emerging what looked like a paucity of deserving ex-presidents. In our thinking, Fashola, was a deserving recipient for the prize.
What a difference two years can make!
Today, it seems the Fashola we thought we knew is nowhere near who he is, well, as his traducers will have us believe.
Last week, social media was abuzz with rumours that Fashola spent N78m upgrading a website. The figure was mind-boggling and denizens of social media had a field day with quips and memes.
It really must have rankled because yesterday, Fashola, the immediate past governor of Lagos state, the one who took over from Bola Ahmed Tinubu and handed over to Akinwumi Ambode, issued a statement ostensibly intended to clear the air.
In his statement, Fashola, a muslim, likened his traducers to pigs; strong words and a telling choice of metaphor.
But that was not all; Fashola tried to clear up several issues that have floated around the internet. Here are highlights:
- In so far as the allegations of paternity are concerned, they are wicked and false. I have no biological children other than my two children.
- As far as my alleged involvement in the National Assembly elections are concerned, they remain only the products of the imagination of those who made the allegations.
- As far as debts of Lagos State are concerned, the fact is that Lagos had always had debts…All the debts contracted in my time were approved by the Parliament in the annual budgets, some have been paid back and the financial status was healthy and stable when I left.
- As far as the website contract is concerned, yes there was a contract. It went through procurement and was approved by the Government agency authorised to do so….One of the services was an “upgrade” quoted for N12.5 million but awarded for N12 million. There were other services that were new; like a handover countdown clock, mobile Apps for Google, for IOS and ipad, for Microsoft, and for Research in Motion (Blackberry), which the existing website did not have, as well as the annual maintenance cost for managing the website. It was for all these services that the contract was issued for N78 million, which the Lagos State procurement agency gave a No Objection based on the advice of the Ministry of Science and Technology, who are the Government adviser on ICT matters.
- To date, there have been 27.666 million hits on this website, with 1,844 videos, 34,381 photographs, 2,531 Press Releases and 595 Speeches, among other items of public communication.
Fashola’s explanation does not fully exculpate him from the allegations made. It is nobody’s business whether Fashola has a child outside wedlock or not. He was elected to run Lagos and as far as we could see, he did a pretty good job. But his explanation regarding the website falls short because there is no justifiable reason for a N78m website upgrade.
What, however, stands out is the reason why Fashola is being attacked and the timing. The story is that President Buhari is set to appoint Fashola as either his Chief of Staff or Minister of the Federal Capital. So, these allegations are ostensibly timed to ‘pour sand’ in Fashola’s garri.
But Fashola made it clear in his statement that “I am not looking for a job…I am taking the rest that I believe I have earned.”
But will these pigs who wallow in the mud let him rest? Not very likely even though they fail to realise that by attacking Fashola, they are merely “cutting their nose to spite their face.”
Fashola, urbane, sophisticated, intelligent and a fine renaissance man is discovering a tad bit too late that politics is dirty business and it appears that in all his reading he never came across this Irish quote – when you lie with dogs you get up with fleas.
And fleas are pesky things, oga Fash.