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$9.3 Arms Deal Tarnishes Nation’s Image International – Fashola


… Faults National Award Conferment


Ayo Balogun

Lagos Governor, Babatunde Fashola has decried the shame the nation encountered at the global level following the $9.3 million cash seized by the South African Government recently, as the nation is now a laughing stock in the comity of nations.

Fashola spoke at the 2014 Gani Fawehinmi Memorial Colloquium held at the University of Lagos, Yaba, which also had in attendance, former governor of Lagos State, Admiral Ndubuisi kanu, Professor Itsey Sagay and others.

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Cross Section of Students of the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Lecturers, Law Practitioners and other Stakeholders during the Gani Fawehinmi Memorial Colloquium

The governor, who was reacting to the alleged arms deal and what the late Gani Fawehinmi would have done if he was alive, decried that the issue has made the nation mere stuff worldwide.

“And this happened because of the value choices that we have made. Let us stop pointing fingers at those people, you all voted for them. They are representatives of the values we have chosen to live with.

“Will Gani Fawehinmi have stood by and watch without demanding an explanation on how the money was spent. And how N2 trillion was spent on oil subsidy without appropriation?  Also, how will he have reacted to the stories of the disappearance of the $20 billion or $49 billion depending on what side you believe?” he added.

The governor listed accountability, freedom of expression, justice and fairness among others, as essential elements for the consolidation of the nation’s democracy, saying the late Human Rights Lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi, was an embodiment of those virtues that would ensure credible electoral process in the country.

He said imbibing such virtues would bring the nation nearer to credible electoral processes.

In his lecture titled “Consolidating Democratic Norms through Credible Electoral Process,” the governor, however, warned that the consequences of not embracing such democratic norms would take the nation further away from achieving any credible elections in the years ahead adding that it would also endanger her democracy.

Noting that the nation’s biggest value challenge lies in the area of public accountability, Fashola insisted that accountability must go beyond the lack of corruption and embezzlement of funds to include the existence of a guide for recording value accruals as well as the right to know.

To illustrate this point, the governor cited the Landlord and Tenants Bill in which the State Government limited the payment of house rent to one year in advance, saying a society where people pay two to three years house rent in advance when they earn monthly salaries in arrears did not depict accountability.

“The reality is that these monies are paid and logic must tell us that something abnormal has taken place if you can bring forth in advance multiple of what you earn in arrears. There has been a huge debit or deficit somewhere and we all pay for it because the cost is transferred,” he said, adding that such costs often translate to crimes of corruption.


Lagos State Gov. Babatunde Fashola, (left), Prof. Itse Sagay, (2nd right), Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu rtd. (middle), Bar. Basirat Fawehinmi Biobaku (right) and Mr. Henry Ikwunemere

Fashola said a vibrant press with ethical editorial policy was also a necessity for the consolidation of democratic norms in order to achieve credible electoral process adding that to speak the truth to authority and maintain the purity of editorial policy was not only a matter of conscience but also a national duty since, according to him, it is in the national interest.

Recalling the inconsistent information being released to the public both on the abducted Chiboks school girls and the attack on Bama town, Fashola, who described it as injustice to the right of the public to know, noted, however, that the rating of any media as serious or otherwise was within the purview of members of the public who, according to him, “are their mainstay.”

Fashola argued that the nation would never consolidate democratic norms and achieve credible electoral process unless there is justice and fair play adding that it is also impossible to discuss justice and fair play without the rule of law which means that everybody must be equal before the law.

The Governor, however, advocated uniformity of values among the population, as opposed to the coercive authority of law enforcement, in ensuring justice and fair play pointing out that the coercive capacity of law enforcement is never equal to the total population of the people.

The Governor extolled the virtues of the late human rights lawyer, saying he was the embodiment of all that the nation needs to consolidate her democratic norms. Such virtues, according to him, include hard work, accountability and pursuit of justice and fair play for which he was celebrated both within and outside the country.

“Gani’s values turned him into a public figure and this is where the brand, Gani, emerged. It has become a most sought after brand by many people, some deserving and others, perhaps debatably less so,

especially those who did not understand him”, the Governor said.

On the recent list of national awardees released by the Federal Government, the governor said bestowing national award on a public office holder, encouraged mediocrity rather than merit, saying “how do we inspire people to hard work when a serving public officeholder is bestowed with awards?”

“You see the concept of serving public officers been given National honours; this simply offends me. This is because what do you give to that person when he is through with the job and he has done well. For instance in the game of football, when have we seen FIFA or other continental football bodies give Most Valuable Player Award to any player at the middle of the game. They ensure that such person receives the award after the end of the game,” he said.

Chairman of the occasion, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, said because the unitarized governance in Nigeria has sought to build a nation-state on  what he described as “a compromised constitutional foundation,” the result has been the “awful reality, manifesting in societal decay, mass poverty and such depth of systemic failure which tend towards a failed state situation.”

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