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Tinubu and Fashola! Who does Lagosians deserve?

Source: huhuonline.com

Since the inception of the government of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola into office in 2007, Lagosians have rated his style to be primarily against the downtrodden who actually brought him to power. Huhuonline.com gathered that Fashola had been acting on Tinubu's instructions to milk Lagosians, an attempt which had almost destabilized and ruined the economic fortunes of Lagos state, as Lagosians now pay through their nose as a result of the severe tax regime introduced by Fashola and Tinubu to the state.

Meanwhile, Fashola having gained so much sympathy and support from the elites in Lagos later realized that the state can no longer be run as 'Banana Republic' he accordingly turned down all the proposals of his god-father and predecessor, Bola Tinubu. According to huhuonline.com checks Bola Tinubu has lost bulk of his financial fortunes to the crashed Nigerian capital market, and as a result of that he has been looking for everything possible to turn things around for himself at the detriments of Lagosians. Some of the steps taken by Fashola to reduce Tinubu to where he ought to be were the decisive steps he took in the issue of Alpha Beta, a tax consultancy firm saddled with responsibility of collecting tax for Lagos state. Fashola abruptly slashed its monthly N3billion fee to N500million. This does not go down well with Tinubu and his cohorts, who are like wolves in the Raji Fashola's kitchen cabinet. Huhuonline.com also understands that this defiant and recalcitrant attitude of Fashola has caused him so many hard times, some of which included impeachment threats, and denial Fashola to run for second term in office as Governor.

Tinubu has however, been preparing his long serving commissioner of Environment Dr. Muiz Banire who he undoubtedly believed could dance to his tune having been ''tested and trusted''. Investigations revealed that when Tinubu was Governor, Banire had helped him many times to launder money for Tinubu to his off-shore accounts. It was also gathered that Banire has procured for himself many properties in choice areas of Lagos, no wonder he has remained the longest serving Commissioner in Lagos, with no achievements but with best tactics in money laundering.

The advertorial in the Press and its impact
However, in an attempt to put a stop to the faceoff between these two gladiators (Tinubu and Fashola) huhuonline.com was hinted that the Lagos Monarch, Oba Rilwan Akiolu has been working painstakingly to settle the impasse between them so that the state would not be torn apart in the course of their squabbles. Apart from the monarch other members of the mediating group consists of prominent Lagosians, most of whom are not partisan politicians, but their efforts so far have not yielded any purposeful impacts. Huhuonline.com can confirm that despite the fact that the duo, Fashola and Tinubu had severally denied any misunderstanding between each other in the last one year, the media, and the political sycophants have not back out bit to expose their anomaly. Consequently, the worst came precisely on Thursday (Jan. 28) when an advertisement was placed in the newspaper which detailed several offences based on financial malpractices against the Fashola led administration. The advertisement was said to be engineered and sponsored by a group known as “The True Face of Lagos” and was signed by one Dr. Tunde George and Mr. Kasali Martins who are believed to be working on behalf of the former governor of the state, Senator Bola Tinubu. They also accused members of the state House of Assembly of complicity in the offences as the legislators were said to have been bribed by the executive. Some of the allegations made by the group in the newspaper advertorial are:

•That Fashola spent N1.5 billion to demolish the Bank of Industry (BOI) building, paying a company introduced by one Tunji Olowolafe in cash transfer only for him and his cronies to claim the land adjacent to it.

•That Fashola government awarded part of Western Avenue (Funsho Williams Road), about two kilometres road for N7.7 billion without the construction of any bridge. The project was carried out by Julius Berger.

•That the Fashola government awarded the construction of a road and drainage inside Gbagada General Hospital for over N1.8 billion to DEUX Projects Limited owned by Dr. Tunji Olowolafe, a close friend of the governor.

•That the sum of 1.5 billion naira of un-appropriated fund was claimed to have been spent on demolition of Oshodi without approval.

•That the helicopter deal was a big fraud. The helicopter was not built for any kind of emergency evacuation, rescue or to even combat urban fire. Over N5 billion has been spent on the two helicopters. And, the seal of Lagos State is not on it, and it is not even in Lagos but in the Niger Delta making money for some private people in government.

•That the Fashola government recklessly increased and paid over 60% increase on the LASU – Iba road awarded by the Bola Tinubu government for N6.2 billion but was jerked up to N10 billion less than two weeks after the incumbent governor came on board.•That the Tinubu administration awarded the construction of City Hall for N2.3 billion. Fashola's government which only changed the floor tiles to marble tiles, increased the contract sum to N5.2 billion. The cost of the project was increased by 126%.

•That the Fashola spent over N13 billion on planting of grass and flowers. Most of the money was spent to import Palm trees from Niger Republic, a sahel region when Lagos is in the rain forest which explains why most of them have dried up.

•That a CCTV project was awarded to Fashola's relation who claimed to be acting for CISCO. The contract was awarded for $62 million, while the rejected quote for the contract was $30 million.

•That DEUX PROJECT LIMITED was awarded 11 out of 19 contracts in the Lagos State Ministry of health between January and August 2009. Out of N5.6 billion contract in the Ministry of Health, Deux Project alone collected N5.1 billion worth and was paid 70% upfront in cash.

While reacting to all of these, one of the aides to Fashola who preferred not to be named said the feud was not about any inflation of contract cost or financial recklessness. He said it was a move to force the governor to renew the contracts between Alpha Beta, a revenue collection consultancy owned by Tinubu Bola. According to him the firm had been collecting all tax revenues on behalf of Lagos State government since the period the Tinubu government was in power. Meanwhile, when the firm's contractual expired last year (2009), Fashola was said to have refused to renew it because the commission is too big and he needs the revenue to build roads, schools and hospitals etc. One the other hand an associate of the former Governor said the issue of Alpha Beta should not be dragged into the case of a Governor who refused to follow due process and financial regulations in the award of contracts. Same Thursday that the advertorial by the group was published, the House of Assembly set up a six-man panel headed by Hon. Rasak Balogun to investigate the plethora of allegations and make recommendations accordingly.

Other members of the committee are: Mr. Sanai Agunbiade; Mr. Rotimi Olowo; Mr. Moshood Oshun, Mrs. Adefunmilayo Tejuoso and Mrs. Omowunmi Edet. Insiders in the Action Congress (AC), the party to which Fashola and Tinubu belong said that the investigative panel is the unofficial commencement of impeachment process. It is believed that the report of the investigative panel may either be used to get Fashola off the seat of Lagos governorship or may become a tool to finally subdue him and force him to fall in line in the ''business as usual syndrome'' . The source said: “Fashola is beginning to behave as if he got into that position only on his own merit. He forgot that he is a product of a process controlled by certain political forces. Some individuals, some of them non-politicians who claim to be Lagos elite are now building a ring around him, giving him false confidence that he has been doing very well and should cut off from the political forces which labored to get the people of Lagos State to elect him. That is actually the crux of the matter.”

The position of the AC chieftain who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue correlates with the views of the speaker of Lagos state House of Assembly, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji who while responding to the 2010 budget presentation by Fashola last year (2009) warned the Governor to tread with caution and not get carried away by praises from some people who do not appreciate the enormity of the problems in the state which the administration is yet to address. Although member of the State Assembly who were trying to save their face from this show of shame denied any plans to impeach Fashola. They also said it would be out of place that such allegations are leveled against the executive and the legislature would pretend as if it did not hear of it:

“What the House is trying to do in all of these is to set the record straight and sift the facts from the fallacy. If they are true, we will address it and if false, we will still address it. But it is amazing why people are crying wolf over non-existent impeachment moves. But this would not deter us. We will do our job satisfactorily as would be certified by our conscience,” the source said.

However, to stave off the threat of impeachment against the governor, several groups have emerged aiming to launch mass campaigns to thwart any plan to distract Fashola from the performance of his duties as Governor. The groups have been sending out messages through telephones and emails to mobilise support for Fashola and to send strong signals that politicians in the state should strive to resolve their differences amicably instead of derailing the “good governance” that Lagosians have been enjoying under Fashola's administration. As part of the activities of the ad-hoc groups that have emerged to mobilise support for Fashola, a protest rally was slated for Monday February 1, as a show of solidarity for the governor who is believed to be vilified for political reasons. One of the text messages being sent around ahead of Monday protest reads:

“Yesterday, a faceless group writes in Punch newspapers, spurious allegations against our governor, BRF Fashola. Today, the House of Assembly begins impeachment proceedings against him. We, the people, need to rise up against this. We need to rise up against godfatherism like this. Lagos is the envy of other states. We need to put a stop to this or Lagos will burn. Our fate is in our hands.”

Another of such pro-Fashola messages also states: “Let's not fold our hands and watch evil happen in Lagos. Join us in a peaceful rally for BRF Monday morning, 8am in front of Adebola House, Opebi, Ikeja all in support of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN). Please, show up. Dress code: black on black. Eko o gbodo baje o.”

There is also the text message that states: “Here they go again!!! Playing politics with our lives as if our opinion does not count!!! No more!! They are trying to discredit and distract good governance that even a blind man can see in Lagos. It's time for the people to act and fight for our rights. Show your support for governor Fashola by pressing your horn for two minutes wherever you are at 7am, 12noon and 7pm from Monday, 1st of February to Friday, the 5th. Please, circulate this text to your entire network. Real power is in the hands of the people. Let's use it to deliver ourselves from the selfish games of the politicians. Eko o gbodo baje o!!!”

Reactions of the mediators and Pro Fashola Protestants

However, worried by the developments in the past one week in the state politics, the Oba of Lagos, Akiolu is said to have put machinery in place to ensure that the crisis does not degenerate. The Oba is said to have invited the speaker, Hon. Ikuforiji with a view to discussing the issues.

Although, the meeting is yet to hold as the speaker is said to have been out of town, it is believed that the duo would meet before the week runs out. The Oba's meeting may also be attended by some prominent Lagosians who are retired bureaucrats, former security officials, top professionals, businessmen and others. But a meeting was earlier scheduled which had the attendance of Governor Fashola and Tinubu, but it reported Tinubu angrily worked out of that meeting, an action which put Oba Akiolu in a apt shock.

Records have it that it is not the first time that the monarch would wade into disagreements between Fashola and Tinubu. Some of his calls for meeting bothered on the effort to build crucial infrastructures, to the Monarch Fashola's government has, perhaps inevitably, caused some grief to people whose lives are thereby affected by these developments. Houses and shops are demolished and victims deprived of their means of livelihood and ancestral homes, and some never get compensation or alternative accommodations. Already, property owners along the Lagos-Badagry expressway, where the government has earmarked buildings for demolition to make way for the proposed road project, say there are signs that the state is going to renege on its promise to pay compensations. They say since their properties have been marked for demolition government has neither appraised the buildings nor presented them with any Offer to Acquire. Soon, the bulldozers will come, and there are indications that the government is eventually going to pay only those with valid documents, especially the Certificate of Occupancy and building permits and land grants. A vast majority of the remaining occupants have no such documents, and will probably have to whistle for their money.

However tensions heightened again on Monday (February 1) in Lagos State when pro Fashola group under the aegis of concerned professionals of Lagos State eventually made do its threat, and accordingly staged a protest, chanting songs and displaying placards to dissuading the state house of assembly from impeaching Governor Fashola under the guise of financial indiscretion and gross highhandedness. The group stated that it was confirmed that Fashola has been served with impeachment notice by the speaker of the State assembly Hon. Ikuforiji. In the heat of the protest the House speaker later came out and addressed the irate crowd and said, their agitations would be looked into and advised them to leave or they would be forced to leave having over stayed their welcome at the House of assembly premises. The group was also on the receiving hands of the chairman of AC, Chief Henry Dele Ajomale who assured them that there were no such plans to unseat Governor Fashola but he was very vague in all his comments. They however urged the assembly speaker to conduct fair hearing with the committee that would investigate the corruption charges against Fashola which they said are impeachable offences. The group stepped further to the ''Round House'' the Governor's office where the Governor himself addressed the crowd saying they should maintain calmness and ensure that they do not breakdown law and order. Governor Fashola was very diplomatic with his choice of words and still refused to mention whether any feud exists between him and his processor, Bola Tinubu.

What Lagosians don't know about Bola Tinubu
It is seemingly of no doubt that Bola Tinubu is a career criminal according to thorough checks made by huhuonline.com. Tinubu over the years could go all out to harness wealth to himself selfishly, whether legally or otherwise. During the Abacha era when a number of illustrious Nigerians like Professor Wole Shoyinka, Dr John Filani, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode etc, were exiled and placed on Abacha's death list, Bola Tinubu during this period was trafficking heroine in the United States, and made a lot of money through this nefarious deal. For the avoidance of doubt the abridged versions of his criminal records by the American governments are highlighted below:

''The United States of America, by its attorney, Michael J. Shepard, United States Attorney for Northern District of Illinois, for its verified complaint of forfeiture, states as follows: 1. This is a FORFEITURE action under 21 U.S.C , ss88 and 18, ss 981.....

2. The DEFENDANT funds are located in the above-described accounts and were SEIZED pursuant to PROCESS ISSUED BY THIS COURT....

4.... beginning as early as 1998, Adegboyega Mueez Akande, WITH OTHERS OPERATED a organiszation (sic) which DISTRIBUTED WHITE HEROIN, a controlled substance under Title 21 of the United States Code.

5.... this DISTRIBUTION OPERATION was conducted on a LARGE SCALE and the PROCEEDS of the operation SUBSTANTIAL. The defendant funds represent proceeds of this OPERATION of property involved in MONEY LAUNDERING.

6.... the defendant funds represent proceeds of NARCOTICS TRAFFICKING ... and ... MONEY LAUNDERING..... the funds are therefore FOREFEITABLE to the United States....JUDGEMENT: j... Neither a claim nor answer has been filed on behalf of the defendant funds.... accordingly, it hereby ORDERED that the funds in the AMOUNT of $460,000 in account.... in the name of BOLA TINUBU represents proceeds of NARCOTICS or were involved in financial transactions in violation of 18 U.S.C ss 1956 and 1957 and therefore these funds are forfeit to the United States...''

This is however not surprising to those who political spectators in Lagos politics . It would be recalled that in 2007 when Tinubu in an unconstitutional manner practically imposed Fashola on other AC aspirants, even at the expense of loyal and qualified party members for the position of governor like Jimi Agbaje, etc. It is obvious that it is not because Tinubu love the people of Lagos but it's just to protect his selfish interest. We hope these emerging facts will demystify Lagosians from the shackles of bondage and sheer ignorance.

Moreover, if the Assembly are keen on investigating Fashola on his corruption charges, which is good for our democracy, What about the 25 million euros that was recklessly expended by Senator-turned-Commissioner, Tokunbo Afikuyomi on "tourists ship" Sunborn Yactch? Nobody even the state assembly has done anything to investigate the issue; actions like this will in no way benefit the generality of the people of the state, because the assembly members are doing everything possible to shield all Tinubu boys who are neck deep in corruption. When EFCC was saying Tinubu is not clean many Lagosians are calling EFCC and Obasanjo dogs barking his enemies but it is now obvious who are real enemies are in the Lagos context.

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