"All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." â€“ I. F. Stone - Perhaps the most important political â€śsour grapeâ€ť of the current electoral campaign season in Nigeria remains the Lagos State Gubernatorial Debate. Ever since Oyo state had been taken over by warlords and â€śpolitical godfatherâ€ť, Lagos state has become the cynosure of all eyes when it comes to free and fair elections.
That state has now for all intents and purposes become the oasis of democratic dividends since the advent of the third republic. Thanks largely to its highly intellectual populace and urban setting, Lagos state is now the pace setter state in anything democratic and economic developments.
The Lagos state gubernatorial debate was therefore keenly watched by most Nigerian in Diasporas. I was fortunate to watch the debate posted by one of the â€śforumersâ€ť on Nigerian most popular soccer forum: The Cybereagles. Before watching the debate we had argued back and forth on the intelligent questions that we expect each candidate will ask their opponents. For instance, we had hoped that at least one of the candidates will acknowledge the good work being done by Governor Fashola with a follow up question on how he plans to reduce the increasing debt portfolio of the state.
You can then imagine our horrors, when in actual fact rather than ask sound questions about the management of the state, the contestants regaled the audience on who can shout the loudest and hurl the vilest abuse on each other. At the end of the day, Governor Fashola came out even better than he went in. He out-thought, out-smart and out-strategize all the contestants in tow. He understood the state like the palm of his hands and knows what the problem with the state are and the solutions to those problems some of which he is already tackling. Even the question one would expect to trip him, like the issue of striking medical doctors was sufficiently explained by the Governor with gusto! He traced the genesis to the lopsided revenue allocations between the state and federal government.
The most embarrassing participants are the one we had all expected will perform well, for example: Bashorun J.K. Randle. To call his performance a meltdown will be doing injustice to those words. First of all, to whom much is given much is expected. As an astute accountant, we all expected that he would have done his homework on the â€śballooning debtâ€ť of the state and as such will be able to proffer solutions on how to tackle it. Instead, he started out in jest talking in his opening statement about how his Chelsea football club beat Governors Fasholaâ€™s Manchester United that weekend.
Then, he asked a rather innocuous question about the lack of access to the state governor. On its face, this would have been a sound question if and when asked by a private citizens complaining about government neglect of a community initiative. It turns out that his complaint is entirely hinged on a pecuniary interest to him alone. He wanted Fashola government to bend the rules in his favor with respect to a house he had built on top of drainage. When the governor draws his attention to that fact, he drew umbrage.
From that point onwards he started sulking. He got unhinged, and started behaving erratically.
His answer to every other question often dovetails into an incomprehensible ranting and talks of lack of respect for elders. This is very common with Nigerian of all hue. Once we lost an argument we take refuge in age, as if the age of Methuselah has anything to do with Solomonic wisdom. To top it off, at the end of the debate, he refused to shake hands with Governor Fashola. Unbeknownst to him that he still has a live microphone on at the end of the program, he loudly rant: â€śAwon Omo ti o le koâ€ť which could literarily translated meant: â€śKids without home trainingâ€ť while refusing to embrace the governor.
And now, we learnt from a report in Guardian newspapers published on Friday March 11, 2011, that his latest grouse is that there are no more role models in politics. Well, he neednâ€™t look too far for that reason. All he needs to do is look in the mirror. There is a great need for us to respect the office we are seeking. You donâ€™t disrespect that office by publicly calling the occupant of that office a kid with lack of home training, just because you are older than the current occupant. He also twisted or out rightly misunderstood the governorâ€™s response on the lack of access to him.
The governor stated in that debate that building on drainage is a criminal activity and if Bashorun Randle wishes to resolve that case he should contact the attorney general of the state. Nigerians often speaks against nepotism but will look the other way when they are the ones perpetrating such evils. To erect a monument to honor a past hero, instead of going through your elected representative in the state assembly we often tries to up ended the process by going directly to the governor and then complain bitterly later when rejected.
Bashorun Randle has little or no temperaments that will enable him handle the combustible politics of Lagos.
Thank God for that debate, we learnt more about him in that debate than any other candidate on the podium. We know one thing: He is not fit for the office he is jostling to occupy.
Francis Adewale, F_adewale at yahoo.com, Spokane, WA USA
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