Former Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, is probably another prophet not accorded deserving honour in his home. But the joke has never been on him. With his lynx-eyed understanding of issues, he is not one to speak out of context.
Last Friday, at the Airforce Base, Ikeja, where as a guest speaker, Fashola addressed issues of leadership, he cited two current issues as quick examples of leadership and responsibilities: The Ondo and the Rivers States crises.
Speaking against the backdrop of calls for President Bola Tinubu to wade into the political crises in those states, he said as a matter of responsibility, the president had no roles in the states, because those were constitutional issues for which neither Ondo nor Rivers needed the president.
With experience and academic background, Fashola seemed to know crystal clearly that a presidential intervention, seeking political solution to a constitutional matter within a subnational, could boomerang. He was not passing judgment but questioning the inability of the otherwise independent federating units to resolve obvious constitutional challenges by themselves.
If it wasn’t bucking-passing, then it would be leadership on the line, he reckoned. This was not without regard to the fact that a president is required to take action in the event of a breakdown of law and order in any part of the country, in consultation with the National Assembly. That, too, is guided by the constitution of the land.
However, while it is arguable that the two states in crises might have headed in that direction, Fashola was convinced that not enough had been done locally to act independently by deploying every legal and constitutional means to contain the situations before running to disturb the peace of the president.
Unfortunately, those who had run to the president to intervene, especially in the Rivers case, had started to attack him for supervising a rather poor peace deal that seemed to have put the governor, Siminalayi Fubara, at the mercy of his estranged benefactor, Nyesom Wike.
Yet, it appears Tinubu’s inability to rise above self has tainted his judgment in the interventions, depicting his partiality in a sense. In both Ondo and Rivers, Tinubu’s interventions were undemocratic, to say the least, unpresidential.
In Ondo, while it would have been nice to watch events pale into a denouement that would test her constitutional and democratic strength, the president’s best bet in Rivers would have been to call the man under his command, Wike, to order, in the overall interest of all.
But to sit as though a principal in a matter concerning his students was beneath him and has made nonsense of his much-sought interventions.
Therefore, before anyone misinterprets Fashola’s patriotic counsel, they should first analyse the unfurling consequences of the president’s interventions.
Now, it is yam-pepper-scatter-scatter!