His footprints in the annals of Nigerian politics are as crystal clear as the stars in the sky.
Like other great leaders across the world (past and present), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu brims with great ideas; great ideas that transform the society. That innate gift, without a doubt, explains his phenomenal success as Lagos State helmsman from 1999 to 2007.
In Lagos, his legacies dot the landscape. They remain imperishable, still.
This piece puts into perspective the ‘17 Firsts” of the Jagaban in Nigeria’s political landscape.
1- HIGHEST NATIONAL ASSEMBLY VOTES IN 1991
As the Senatorial candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the National Assembly elections held in 1991, Asiwaju Tinubu scored the highest number of votes in the country, polling over 300k, a record figure at that time. From that auspicious moment till date, there has been no stopping this titan in his political conquests.
2- TRANSITION COMMITTEE/LAGOS DEVELOPMENTAL BLUEPRINT
While other elected governors were still groping in the dark on what to do after being sworn-in, Asiwaju Tinubu quickly rolled up his sleeves after his declaration as Lagos State governor-elect in February in 1999 by inaugurating a Transition Committee comprising of first-class professionals to fashion out a blueprint for the Centre of Excellence.
The committee was further divided into sub-committees covering various sectors, including education, health, transportation, infrastructure, environment, sports, to mention but a few. After exhaustive deliberations and technical brainstorming, the Transition Committee delivered on its mandate within two months. Its detailed and comprehensive report is what is commonly referred to as the Lagos State Developmental Blueprint, which is still being implemented by successive administrations in the state.
3- APPOINTMENT OF CHIEF-OF-STAFF
Almost top every political appointment, most especially governors and the president, have a Chief of Staff. But not many are aware that the man who started that practice in Nigerian politics is Asiwaju Tinubu. Fashioned after the United States presidential system, the primary brief of the CoS is the effective coordination of his boss’ office and supervision of the apparatus of government. Put simply, he is the ears and eyes of his boss. The current Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed was the first CoS to then Governor Tinubu. He stepped down in 2002 to contest the Kwara State governorship in 2003. His successor was Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, the current Minister of Works and Housing.
4- CIVIL SERVICE REFORMS
As governor, Asiwaju was never scared of taking tough decisions. Confronted with a bloated civil service that was having an adverse impact on the revenue of the state and the possibility of not fulfilling his election promises to Lagosians, Asiwaju Tinubu took a painful, but necessary decision to rightsize and restructure the civil service. The resultant effect was the professionalism of workers, which turned the state’s civil service into a model for other states to copy. Today, the Lagos State Civil Service is, arguably, adjudged the best in the country.
5- ESTABLISHMENT OF LAGOS STATE TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT AGENCY
Tackling the chaotic traffic situation in Lagos required thinking out of the box. Sometimes in mid-2000, Asiwaju launched the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) to confront this menace. Before long, sanity returned to Lagos roads.
6- LAGOS STATE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE
To execute his lofty programmes for the people, Asiwaju realised early enough that the state must generate adequate revenue to fund his initiatives. Pronto, he established the Lagos State Internal Service ((LIRS) and introduced tax reforms that have stood the test of time. The result was mind boggling. From a paltry N600 million generated monthly by the previous government, the government of Asiwaju Tinubu raised the state’s revenue to a whopping N10 billion by the time he left office in 2007. Presently, the state’s Internally Generated Revenue is put at about N50 billion monthly, a testament to Asiwaju’s financial ingenuity and vision.
7- ESTABLISHMENT OF Lagos SIGNAGE AGENCY
The setting up of the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA) by Asiwaju Tinubu’s government was the first of its kind in the country.
The agency’s brief is to regulate outdoor advertising in the state, with a view to improving the environmental aesthetics of the state and boost government revenue.
Unarguably, the agency has, in the last 15 years, fulfilled its core mandate.
Today, other governors in the country have replicated this agency in their respective states.
8- SETTING UP OF LAMATA
Another revolutionary initiative of Asiwaju Tinubu is the setting up of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA).
This agency is responsible for planning, implementing, regulating and franchising public transport infrastructure and operations. LAMATA is also tasked with the responsibility of birthing an inter-modal integrated transport system for Lagos.
The agency is in charge of the construction of the Blue Line light rail system from Okokomaiko to Marina, which has reached over 80% completion rate.
9- ESTABLISHMENT OF LAWMA
Until Asiwaju Tinubu assumed power in 1999, Lagos was like a slum. Refuse had taken over major roads and places within the city. It was an eyesore, to say the least.
This challenge gave birth to the Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA), which became a game changer of sort.
Almost 20 years down the line, LAWMA is still fulfilling its core mandate to the admiration of residents. The novel initiative has generated over 200,000 direct and indirect jobs for the youth in the state.
10- LAGOS STATE MOBILE HEALTH CLINIC
As part of measures to boost health care delivery system in the state, Asiwaju Tinubu’s government established the Lagos State Mobile Health Clinic.
This entailed stationing mobile health ambulances on strategic highways in the state, manned by health professionals to attend to accident victims and health needs of Lagosians.
11- SETTING UP OF LCDAs
To engender all-round, all-inclusive growth and development at the grassroots, Asiwaju created 37 local council development authorities out of the existing 20 local governments in the state, taking the total number to 57. That policy pitched the state government against the Olusegun Obasanjo-led Federal Government, leading to the seizure of LG funds due to the state. The success of this revolutionary initiative in the development of Lagos State is visible for even the visually impaired to see and feel.
12- LAGOS IPP
Another groundbreaking initiative of Asiwaju Tinubu’s government was the Independent Power Plant (IPP) project in collaboration with US energy company, ENRON.It was the first in the nation’s history. It was the belief of the state government then that the state, being the commercial nerve centre of the nation, deserves adequate electricity to power industries, both large, medium and small scale.
Though the project was frustrated by the Federal Government, it was a clear pointer that Lagos State has a thinking helmsman who sees well into the future.
13- SUPREME COURT TRIUMPHS
On a number of occasions, Asiwaju Tinubu had fundamental disagreements with the Obasanjo administration over constitutional issues related to fiscal federalism, devolution of powers and true federalism.
To resolve these issues in legal and constitutional ways, the Lagos State government took the FG to the Supreme Court 13 times, out of which the state won 12. The state’s legal team was spearheaded by the incumbent Vice President, Prof. Yemo Osinbajo, who served the state back then as the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, ably assisted by Mr. Fola Authur Worrey, the Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice.
14- CREATION OF NEW CITY
Hitherto, one of the biggest environmental challenges that confronted Lagos and initially defied all forms of solutions was the issue of ocean surge.
The possibility of the entire stretch of Victoria Island being swept away by the perennial surge was staring everyone in the face. For a fact, the whole of Ahmadu Bello Way on Victoria Island was on the verge of extinction.
But rather than resign to fate like some leaders are wont to do, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s government teamed up with a multinational private sector player, to reclaim the ocean and build a brand new city out of it. Now sprouting majestically on the spot is the Eko Atlantic City, boasting world-class facilities comparable with that of the most advanced cities across the world.
15 PRODUCING 3 CONSECUTIVE SUCCESSORS
A leader can only be deemed successful if he produces successful successors. Without an iota of doubt, Asiwaju Tinubu is not only successful, he has produced thousands of proteges who have become leaders in their own rights.
But most significantly, is the fact that the Jagaban Borgu has produced three successive successors, who all contributed immensely to preserving and improving on the legacies bequeathed by Asiwaju. No other governor in the class of 1999 to 2007 has achieved this remarkable feat.
16-INTRODUCTION OF LAND USE CHARGE
Asiwaju Tinubu remains one leader who is never scared of taking tough decisions for the betterment and overall development of the society. As governor, one of the toughest decisions he took was the introduction of the Land Use Charge, which came into effect in the aftermath of a long-drawn and exhaustive debate by members of the Lagos State Executive Council. Unarguably, that policy has shored up the revenue profile of Lagos State in multiple folds, with the state ranking as the highest earner in Internal Generated Revenue (IGR) among the 36 states of the federation.
17-ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SOUTHERN GOVERNORS FORUM
Unknown to many, it was Asiwaju Tinubu’s initiative that led to the establishment of the Southern Governors Forum (SGF).
The maiden meeting of the Forum was hosted in Lagos at the Eko Tourist Resort at Akodo, Ibeju Lekki