Former Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Fashola has advised Governor Adams Oshiomhole to shun the temptation of initiating new development projects in Edo state, unless they are very critical to the well-being of the people but should rather concentrate on completing ongoing projects before the end of his tenure in November 2016.
Fashola told the Edo Governor that he can’t completely rebuild the state within eight years, as it is practically impossible for any administration to initiate and execute all the projects needed by people in the state.
Speaking as Guest Speaker at a 3-day retreat for members of Edo State Executive Council and Permanent Secretaries holding at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja to brainstorm and re-strategise on raising the bar on governance in the state, with the theme, “Finishing Well”.
Fashola said: “this gathering is auspicious because for me, it demonstrates the focus of your government. You are clearly mindful that the time is up. Let me emphasise that time is up, time is not running out, it’s up, the government is finished. What you have now is the process to walk out. So I would bear that in mind that the time is up, government is finished.
“Let me put it in a different way. I read somewhere when I was first elected Governor that the Americans elect a President to govern them for 4 years, but oftentimes, their President spend the first one year getting to know how Washington works, so one year is gone. He spends the second and third year trying to govern and he spends the last year, seeking re-election. So ultimately, they get only two years of governance.
“Very quickly, one of the things I did was that we were going to govern for three years and we will campaign for one year. So, here you are at this juncture, it re-enforces my view that time is up, unless you can perform magic in three months.
“It is easy to say you haven’t finished the job. So in that sense, there is work to do, you must accept that and you must also be honest with yourself that you can’t finish the work. The reason is that, it is a work of people, a work of human beings and as long as the human civilization remains, work will never finish because it is a continuous undertaking.
“If the work could be finished, Ogbemudia would have finished it, he had more time than you and if it couldn’t be finished at that time, Ambrose Alli would have finished it and probably John Odigie-Oyegun, so in that sense, it won’t finish.
“In the last few days, there would be a lot of talk about what you did not do, and there will be people asking you, before you go, come and do this, but you must be honest with yourself and be honest with them, having regards to the realities of your resources.
“The pressure can be enormous, but don’t see that it as a negative, it is not. See it as a positive because they are asking you to do it only because they trust in your ability to do it, that is why they are asking you.
“I would advice, you should resist the temptation of starting new projects unless, and unless only, they become defining in terms of timing, and in terms of so many other considerations and all of these must agree that this one or two projects are so defining, we can start them.
“So that takes us back to those that will be saying, we want this, we want that and what the adversaries will be saying, you haven’t done this, you haven’t done that, the danger is that you will spread yourself thin but contractors who finish a project, who get paid are going to be your army of voters. Awarding contracts that you can’t mobilise are only going to cause more pain and disappointment and shattered expectations.”
“Your political opponents and adversaries will likely highlight those things that are yet undone so you must expect it but really, that is all they would be able to say, what you did not do but I would strongly recommend, that you do not fall into the error of succumbing to the temptation in trying to do more than your resources can allow. You may end up doing little or nothing.
“The more of what they say you haven’t done, the more of what you have done that is what your discussions and commentaries should be about. Emphasize those things you have done well as proof that you can always do more, if time is afforded.
“So, all of what we are doing now is to make the process of getting out easier and I must tell you that getting on to the seat of government is simpler than getting off. Closing down is harder. So it seems to me you are doing the right thing by seeking to take control of the exit rather than allowing your exit to take control of you.
“I am very proud to be associated with your team, not only because of our political party affiliation, but more importantly you have demonstrated the capacity to change things in Edo for the better and I think you must all be proud of yourselves and I say so, not only because I was in Edo during your election petition so I saw things first hand and I have been in Edo subsequently and I saw change being wrought slowly but purposefully.
“We can now all look back at the infrastructure that has been built, people can drive around Ugbowo, they can drive around Akpakpava, New Benin and so many other parts. They can see the red roofs, the children can sit down comfortably in their classrooms.
“You may not have covered the full distance but clearly there is a difference from what was, to what is. I know about the interventions in rural water supply, the boreholes and the drills that move around from community to community and I was also privileged to be invited to commission some projects in other parts of the state apart from Benin, so it is difficult for any fair-minded Edo State resident to say that there is one community where your impact has not been felt.
“Going forward, when the time to make a choice comes, they must see clearly, if they want those things that they have seen to continue, the sensible place to cast their votes is with the team that delivered those things because part of ending well is also planning transition and election and for me, I believe you are already on the right track as is evidenced from the theme of this retreat which is “Finishing Well”.
“I really have nothing useful to add that is new, some of what I have said you already know but perhaps it may be useful in the sense that it re-enforces your belief that we are on the same page and that we are responding to the same stimulus and coming to the same conclusions and that means we are doing something together.
“You have identified the right objective; how to end, it is not something that is common, at least not yet in this part as a way of life and we have seen governments end almost without notice as it were and that is why we have seen that transitions have been difficult.
“So, the objective for me is a right objective as it seems from the purpose of this retreat, so what I will only contribute will be quantification and examples because you have chosen well but again, I will repeat, I cannot know Edo State better than you who have handled it in the past 7 years, I couldn’t. You wore the shoes, you know where it pinched, you know where you felt the pain and you know where they were comfortable.
“The first key policy that we must all re-enforce our attention to is law and order. It’s very important. No development, no prosperity, no progress will take place without law and order and everybody must agree about that and following through from there, I will take one critical law just as an example; the appropriation law, the budget.
“That is the article of faith of any government and if you see what we have endured and dealt with as a nation for the past eight years, our budget typifies what has happened to us. So it must be taken seriously by everybody and I believe it has been taken seriously but it couldn’t be taken too seriously really because once it comes out, that is what everybody sees and say this is where government is going this year and people positions themselves.
“That is why I could never imagine why a Chief Executive of a state or a nation will not go and present his budget. That is your opportunity to talk to the world because all over the world, everybody is reading the budget, those who will advise investors are reading the budget and they will say, remove your money from X state and take it to Edo or, we don’t think Edo has enough money to spend in capital again, so move your money because they won’t be spending money again, so move your machines out.
“As the machines are moving, work force is following it, and as the workforce is going, your tax income is going. So that is one example.
“So, for me, at this time of the year in your administration, budget 2016 in my view and as I said, I don’t know Edo as much as you do, but I think they should focus on completing existing works and projects that can give service and relief to citizens and voters in a year of decision making; that is my recommendation.”