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Lagos: A plan matters

A master plan is special, serious and specific. Its implementation demands a sense of concentrated commitment. The question of a master plan and questions about its implementation were at the centre of the October 2 All Progressives Congress (APC) Lagos governorship primary.

Indeed, the issue of a master plan determined who lost the primary and who won it. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had 72, 901 votes while Babajide Sanwo-Olu had 970, 851 votes.

Why was the matter of a master plan so pivotal in the primary? A pillar of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, said in an illuminating statement on the eve of the primary: “Roughly 20 years ago, a corps of dedicated and patriotic Lagosians, put aside personal interests and rivalries, to put their minds and best ideas together for the good of the state. Out of this collaborative effort, was born a master plan for economic development that would improve the daily lives of our people. Bestowed on me was the honour of a lifetime when I was elected to be your governor in 1999. My administration faithfully implemented that plan. The government of my immediate successor, Tunde Fashola, also honoured this enlightened plan. Where state government remained true to that blueprint, positive things happened. During my tenure and Governor Fashola’s, Lagos State recorded improvements in all aspects of our collective existence, from public health to public sanitation, from education to social services, from the administration of justice to the cleaning of storm and sewage drains. Businesses, large and small, invested, hired millions of workers and thrived.”

Tinubu provided an insight into the defining principles of the master plan: “All Lagosians were to fully participate and justly benefit from the social dividends and improvements wrought by this plan. From the common labourer, to business leaders, to professionals and our industrious civil service. We all were to be partners in a monumental but joint enterprise. None was to be alienated. None was to be left out. And none were to be pushed aside. This is especially true for those who contributed so much to our development, whether as a business leader who has invested heavily in Lagos, the homeowner who struggles to pay his fair share of taxes or as someone employed in the hard work of keeping our streets and byways clean so that others may go about their daily tasks unimpeded.”

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It is interesting that Ambode had acknowledged the master plan implementation by his predecessors in a thought-provoking article published last year. Ambode’s words: “I am sharing my thoughts in this article, not necessarily as the Governor of Lagos State but as a Nigerian; a Nigerian who wants to see progress and sustainable growth in our country. I have been lucky to be administering over a state that has been put on the right track by my two predecessors, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN). I do not think I have done anything special except to bring my own style of leadership, my own experience and my vision.” Ambode’s failure in the primary implied that his style of leadership, his experience and vision were out of sync with the master plan he was expected to implement.

It is noteworthy that in 2017 Lagos was listed among the world’s 100 Resilient Cities (100RC). A project of the U.S.-based Rockefeller Foundation, the 100 Resilient Cities include places in Africa, U.S.A., South America, Europe, Asia and Middle East. According to a report: “President of 100 Resilient Cities, Mr. Michael Berkowitz, said out of the over 1,000 applications received and three rounds of selection process, Lagos was chosen for its innovative leadership, infrastructural strides and influential status not just in Africa but in the world.” The project has its definition of urban resilience, which provided a context for the listing of Lagos: “Resilience is about surviving and thriving, regardless of the challenge.”

To what degree was this recognition ascribable to implementation of the master plan Tinubu highlighted? To Tinubu’s credit, he had remarked realistically, “I make no pretence that the master plan is perfect. It can always be fine-tuned,” adding, “However, whenever a government departed from this plan without compelling reason, the state and its people have borne the painful consequence of the improper departure.”

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The crux of the matter: “To ignore this blueprint for progress in order to replace it with ad-hoc schemes of a materially inferior quality contravenes the spirit of progressive governance and of our party. Such narrowness of perspective does not bring us closer to our appointed destination; it takes us farther from that destiny. For reasons unknown to me and most Lagosians, we have experienced such deviations from enlightened governance recently.”

So, Ambode lost the chance for a second term. The lesson is that the importance of master plan implementation and the importance of having a governor who will demonstrate the desired intensity of commitment to the master plan cannot be overemphasised. If respecting the wisdom of the master plan was responsible for the positives of the Tinubu and Fashola administrations, disrespecting the blue print has been a costly adventure for Ambode.

Tinubu’s decisive endorsement of Sanwo-Olu played up the master plan and his confidence in Sanwo-Olu’s grasp of its supremacy. Tinubu’s words: “I am encouraged by the emergence of a candidate in this primary who has served the state in senior positions in my administration, the Fashola administration and even in the current one. While possessing a wealth of experience and exposure, he is a young man endowed with superlative vision and commitment. Most importantly, he understands the importance of the blueprint for development. He esteems it as a reliable and well-conceived vehicle for the future development of the state. He also knows the value of reaching out and working with others in order to maximise development and provide people the best leadership possible.”

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It is creditable that the development of Lagos since the Tinubu era has been based on a master plan, allegedly downplayed by Ambode. It means that the city’s progress is planned. As Sanwo-Olu prepares for the governorship election, with the advantage of his progressive candidacy, he represents the superiority of planned progress.

About Chrisjames Favour

Name is Chrisjames favour and keeping you updated and well informed is my everyday happiness. I'm a creative writer,content writer and also a poet.

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