Hauwa Garba Magaji is a Kano State-born prodemocracy and human rights activist. The vice president, North-West Youth Coalition, Fashola for president, in this interview, speaks on the performance of the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, and why he should join the 2023 presidential race. WALE ELEGBEDE reports
How old is your this organisation and why is it rooting for ex-Governor Babatunde Fashola to join the 2023 presidential contest?
The organisation came to being after President Muhammadu Buhari constituted his first set of cabinet. Our objectives and mission then was to monitor the performance of the cabinet member with a view to monitoring them to know how they would be performing. But when the former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), was saddled with the responsibilities of three major portfolios of Works, Power and Housing, we decided to find out what the President saw in him that warranted such herculean task. And along the line, we started seeing in him ability to perform. It was then we went back to research into his past to realise that he had performed wonders in Lagos State as governor for eight years. The outcome of our research now convinced us that, he was a man to watch for future services for the country. It was then we decided to give him close marking. And interestingly, Fashola has not lowered his guard in terms of performance. He has been upping his games on daily basis. So, we had no option than to give kudos to President Buhari for fishing out such a unique man from the multitude and the country is comfortable with him.
Has Fashola confided in you that he would be running for any post in 2023?
Actually, no. he has not told us and we have not heard it anywhere that he has discussed any ambition with anybody. But our belief is that, if there is a product that can benefit this country in terms of good governance, all of us must be patriotic enough to approach such a material to come out for higher service to the country and humanity. It was however discovered later that Fashola has been so committed to the job given to him by Mr. President, so much that he doesn’t want to disappoint his boss. And more importantly, since infrastructure, which is the main focus of this administration is dear to the heart of the President, Fashola is seen as not want to give room for any distraction hence, his conduct of ‘when we get to the bridge we will cross it, is understandable.’
Don’t you see your call on him to contest a form of distraction to him?
No, not at all! I want to believe that we are already at the bridge edge and preparation to cross it is now imperative. You can see yourself, with due respect, that the political firmament is now bubbling with aspirants, both serious, unserious and those to be rightly described as jesters. That is why we are of the strong conviction that we should not stand akimbo and watch the political landscape in the country desecrated before the likes of Fashola should come out to claim their rightful space. And I can assure you that Fashola would harken to our voice of wisdom by accepting our patriotic call for more services from him as the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He has understudied his boss for about eight years now and experience so garnered coupled with his sojourn as governor for eight years, no sane clime would lose such a golden fish because he has no hiding place. Posterity would not forgive us, if this opportunity that falls on our collective laps is wasted away. So, as patriotic Nigerians who desire the best for the country, we have the right under the law in a democratic setting this country to air our views on the goings on in the country as co-stakeholders. I don’t think there is anything wrong in making a move towards anything that would benefit the citizenry. Fashola’s choice is borne out of his track record as I said earlier.
In specific terms, what are other qualities you see in Fashola that prompted you to zero on him for the job?
Well, all odds are in his favour. Talk of energy, talk of agility, talk of intelligence and performance, talk of age. He will just be 60 years old next year. That means, he will still be under 70 after two terms in office as president. More interestingly also is the gentleman agreement on rotational system and power shift that zoned the 2023 presidential slot to the South. I have the confidence that, if Fashola throws his hat to the ring, he will beat any other contestants going by his track record that has made him the cynosure of all eyes across the country and in the Diaspora. Already, we have concluded arrangement to mobilise all northern women and youths to storm the streets to call on the minister to join the race without further delay and I have the belief that he will not disappoint us. His emergence as the next president, we believe, will go a long way in the area of continuity as he would be at home to build on what the outgoing Nigerian leader had solidly put on ground for posterity. Remember his efforts in developing infrastructure across the nation as assigned to him by Buhari is instructive as a formidable vehicle for job creation for the teeming youths of the country. So, his presidency will consolidate on that and make available, jobs for the jobless and thereby reduce crime.
Can we have more insight into what Fashola will bring to the table if he becomes the next president?
If we start enumerating and itemising his achievements that qualify him for the coveted seat of president, time will not permit us and you also would not have enough space to accommodate them. What I can briefly add is that, to him, leaving great legacies behind for generations unborn to enjoy and build upon is an instructive phenomenon. That is the mind-set he would bring on board and if all other political players in the country key into such a belief, the country would have been an Eldorado for long. And since there is someone who has such a mind-set, we should not allow him to slip out of our fingers. I was present at a lecture he delivered sometimes ago titled: “Tragedy of leadership without legacy: Safeguarding the next generation of Nigerian leaders,” where he reinstated his resolve to always improve on whatever he inherited from what was on ground and pass it on to the generations coming behind him, just as he frowned at acts of apportioning blames and bulk passing instead of doing one’s part and leave the rest for others to do their parts too. Lest I forget, the man in question has won Integrity test several times. The test is a periodic one being conducted by an organisation that goes by the name, Campaign for Dignity in Governance (CDG). The leader of that group is one popular activist and social commentator, Comrade Razaq Olokoba. My organization has been following the activities of that organization and we have found its members credible and trustworthy. If that organisation can score Fashola high in terms of performance and character, it means our agitation for his presidency is not a misplaced after all. Against this background, I would want all well-meaning Nigerians both home and abroad to team up with us to persuade the minister to contest next year’s presidential election. With the numerical strength of women and youths in this country, Fashola can be rest assured that the whole world is behind him on this project.
Are you aware that nobody can force anybody to declare for any position against his/her wish?
Well, I may not be aware. But when we get to the court and explain why we want somebody to contest for the office of president for the sake of humanity, I don’t think any court will say we are wrong to wish our country well. We are not likely to be punished for wanting a better future for our country and generations yet unborn. I think the best thing the court will do is to just dismiss the suit and declare our intention fair conduct and not deliberate attempt to infringe on another person’s fundamental human rights. But, I have the inkling that Fashola will honour us with positive response. In a week or two, the whole world will behold a different scenario entirely when the biggest political masquerade storms the political turf with a bang.