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Lagos 2015: Why the next gov should be Ikuforiji

Published by Tribune on Fri, 12 Sep 2014

Fashola's leadership and extraordinary feat as governor of Lagos State for the past seven years is irrefutable and incontrovertible. Both adherents and critics alike have applauded what the cerebral governor has been able to achieve during this period, making Lagos State a reference point in Africa and the black man worldwide. Using the words of the cerebral 'igomigodo', Fashola's achievement in office 'is visible to the blind and audible to the deaf'.He came into prominence through dint of hard work, gift of organisation and mercurial administrative skills. He won several accolades as an innovator and welfare-state builder. He is not perfect, however, as his critics, especially from the opposition party, think much has been left undone. They fail to appreciate the rot and decadence in the system long before his emergence. Even the legendary Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore cannot claim to have resolved all his societal needs during his time. The verdict on this, however, is for historians to interrogate.The issue at stake at this period is who takes the baton from him come 2015' Who can project Lagos to a higher pedestal' Who is that proactive, forward-thinking leader Lagos needs for the next challenge'In one of his historic speeches, John F. Kennedy opined, 'it is time for a new generation of leadership, to cope with new problems and new opportunities, for there is a New World to be won'. The challenges of today's Lagos State can be handled by several men and women in the state as the state is immensely blessed with visionary people with uncommon intelligence. However, if we consider that one man who has the ability, good intention, impeccable record, fierce ambition and superlative achievements in public office, the net verdict is that inescapable Speaker of the Lagos State Assembly, Honourable Adeyemi Ikuforiji, stands out. Ikuforiji's democratic credentials, outstanding vision and sagacity are, no doubt, a beacon of hope to the people. His achievements as the longest Speaker in the history of Lagos State House of Assembly dwarf the accomplishment of virtually all the aspirants currently bandy around for the exalted position.It is pertinent to note that the stories of nations and states are usually woven round individuals. It is the epic tale of men and women whose actions affect the future of their nation for bad or for good. And when they are done, their exploits, successes and failures, become history that is told from generation to generation. The Spirit of Lagos will forever wander like a ghost and the labour of the founding fathers of the state would have been in vain if we fail to recognise and choose the leader for the future which Ikuforiji totally symbolises. From a humble background in Epe his hometown, he emerged as a legislative icon of reckoning through deft legislative engineering, diplomatic and judicious deployment of knowledge and resources as well as uncommon desire to effect change in the lives of the downtrodden, the ordinary masses.Ikuforiji belongs to the class of Lagosians whose intellectual estate cannot be questioned. He studied at the Babes-Bolyai University and the Academy of Economic Studies, Romania after breaking a four-year-old jinx during his secondary school days by becoming the only candidate that obtained Division one out of the 105 students that sat for the examination that year. Afterwards, he studied for a Master's degree in Economic Planning and Cybernetics and another Master's in Business Administration. He capped his education by studying at the Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. He has extensive leadership and managerial experience at the helm of public and private organisations spanning over twenty years. His political journey began in 1978 when he became the Secretary General of the National Union Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and this journey reached a crescendo when he emerged as Speaker of the House, Lagos State representing Epe constituency in December 2005. At the inauguration of the 6th Assembly, 2007, he became the first legislator to serve as a speaker for two consecutive terms. Now, a three-time speaker, his achievements in office are outstanding as well as intimidating.Under his leadership, the Lagos House has passed over 96 bills into law. He became famous for sponsoring and spearheading important bills and passage of same into law such as the law establishing the Lagos State House of Assembly Service Commission, the law establishing the Consumers' Rights Agency, the law according Lagos State a special, status, and so on. Also, apart from completing the building of an ultra-modern chamber and gallery which can seat at least 500 people at one sitting, the new office blocks for honourable members of the house and staff is almost completed. In addition, Ikuforiji has a large heart, donating block of classrooms, equipping laboratories, helping the needy and orphans in the state, giving local and foreign scholarships to indigent students, constructing boreholes, sponsoring pilgrimages to Mecca and Jerusalem, contributing to adult education and supporting sports in the state.His adversaries have variously criticised him for his peaceful and cordial relationship with the executive alleging that he was 'rubber stamping' most of the bills and budgets passed by the executive. But a keen observer of the Lagos political space will know that this is far from the truth and it is just the habit of calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it. His approach rather than create chaos has won him accolades locally and internationally including a visitation by Members of the Houses of Parliament, that is, the House of Commons and Peers from the House of Lords at the same time.Being the commercial hub of Nigeria with noticeable cosmopolitan features, Ikuforiji would be best utilised as the next governor of Lagos State. He brings to everything he does, his guiding ideals of orientation, preparedness, and discipline. As such, it is natural for him to accomplish his goals. The challenge is not if he can win a free and fair election in Lagos today and effectively rule the state in the coming years, the question is whether Lagosians are ready to take off their blinkers, and for once, in the interest of the people of the state embrace a cosmopolitan, visionary, educated and energised leader who is averse to political prebendalism and committed to uplifting the state. Ikuforiji is imbued with clear vision and messianic disposition to take the state to the next level. He will be the proud representatives of the new order. It's the burden duty of the Lagos State electorate to send a clear message that they an honour their own if he/she serves Lagos well. But the truth is whatever choice we make today we will have to live with tomorrow. It's all in our power. Lagos must be a smart political investor by choosing experience, loyalty and commitment which Ikuforiji represents.Oriyomi wrote from Lagos State.
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