Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) has declared that President Goodluck Jonathan-led federal government lacks the requisite knowledge and capacity to tackle Nigeria’s problems, saying that there is the need to effect a change at the centre in 2015 for the country to achieve positive development.
Fashola, who stated this during an exclusive interview with a team of LEADERSHIP editors in Abuja yesterday, was giving the rationale behind the ongoing merger talks by his party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) towards dislodging the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the centre in 2015.
Explaining that their push for political alignment was not only to seize power but to use it to better the lives of the people, he likened Jonathan’s government to an unskilled auto mechanic who consistently failed to correctly service a vehicle, causing it to continuously break down, a fallout that would necessitate the owner to try another technician.
"You buy a car and it breaks down and you go to a mechanic and he fixes it in the morning, and it breaks down again in the afternoon. You go back in the evening, he fixes it but it doesn’t take you home. You go and call him again; he tosses it up and says you should come back by 6am the next day.
"You take it at 6am and it doesn’t take you home. Are you going to stay with that mechanic?" he asked.
"Nigeria needs a new mechanic. The country’s problems need a new pair of eyes and pure heart that can see, and clearer minds that can articulate the problems better. That is the heart of the matter. It is now left for the electorate to decide whether they are satisfied with this mechanic."
Fashola insisted that the desire of the ACN and CPC to take power at the centre was to utilise it according to the general wish of Nigerians, who want the country’s myriad problems fixed immediately.
He described the ACN as an issues-based party which had a lot to offer, which is why it has consistently defeated the PDP in Lagos since the return of democracy 13 years ago.
"In Lagos, the PDP has been failing since 1999: in 2003 it failed, in 2007 it failed, in 2011 it failed again. The most interesting thing is that the margins get wider in Lagos due to the improvement of services," he said.
He further said that, with ACN’s recurring victories and exemplary leadership across the six states it controls, its leadership was taking proactive steps to salvage Nigeria from PDP’s misrule at the national level by going into a merger with the CPC ahead of the 2015 general elections.
Fashola gave the assurance that the ACN, with its issues-based outlook, would take Nigeria to the Promised Land, just like what is happening in United States, saying that "elections without debate won’t give value and the electorate needs people who understand their problems without pretence."
He noted that the Democrats in the US openly articulated the issue of tax while the Republicans were vague and the people swung to the side that convinced them.
"Anybody who wants to serve us must understand our problems; that’s why in America you have to debate before election. Lagos is a good example," he stated.
Governors not against Jonathan – Fashola
Fashola also refuted the insinuations in some quarters that the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) was working against the President Jonathan.
Citing the ongoing suit on Excess Crude Account, the Lagos State governor said that the governors’ occasional disagreement with the president on certain issues was in the interest of the country.
The governor further canvassed for a proper economic management through innovation and tourism, saying they were the key to crime prevention.
He also called for a diversification of the economy since 'what works today may not work tomorrow'.
"Thirty years ago, our economy was trading. The most prosperous people in our society were dealers. That was the economy of that time and it has changed. The new economy has emerged," he said.