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OPINION

When blackmail becomes a tool: NTDC incessant workers’ strike, By Olajide Unde

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In sane climes, workers unions are partners in the organizations development  ensuring amongst others, good working environs and welfare for members of staff. Far from

antagonism or troublemaking, Unionism is majorly to serve as a platform where workers can collectively federate their observations, opinions and suggestions and pass it through their leaders to the management which cannot because of time, situation and circumstances allow a regular convention of the management and the workers.

After several of such conventions have been exhausted; strikes, sit outs or protests are embarked upon. Note, these are legitimate tools created by law and as vistas for workers to peacefully and decently express their worries, call attention to their welfare, caution the management, make suggestions and call the attention of the management to progressive correctional issues. This right is even an internationally acceptable recognized one sanctioned by International Labour Organisation, ILO.

So it came as a shock to industry practitioners when workers of one of the parastatals under the Ministry of Information, National Orientation and Culture being superintended by Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Nigeria tourism development Corporation, NTDC, embarked on a protest that shut down the office located at the old Federal Government Secretariat, Area 1 Garki , Abuja.in the absence of the head of parastatal and without any forewarning or past dialogues with the Director General, Mr Folorunsho Coker.

Not undermining the right of workers embarking on a protest, strike or lockout, the onus here is the motive behind such and whether it is honorable or mischievous considering the timing.

With this in mind, industry watchers are of the belief that this particular strike action smacks of blackmail, which is so sad, particularly for a Director General who has spent less than one year in office and one who understands the importance of human capital development as highlighted in the organisation’s CHIEF plan introduced by Coker. H is Human Capital Development.

Fastidious in pursuing this path, Coker reiterates the need of developing new ways of making tourism work by working with people that can work effectively through their expertise to bring innovative and workable ideas to grow the tourism industry.

This he is presently pursuing by making sure his members of staff are up to date with happenings in the tourism community worldwide and also what it takes to operate a tourism agency in the age of new media. No small feat but one he his doing already.

If only NTDC Union leaders realise the joke is on them, blackmailing or intimidating the management will be relegated to the backburner.  What tourism generates in Nigeria is nothing compared to what fellow African countries like Seychelles, South Africa, Kenya etc generate yearly. A big shame for a country like ours.

Union leaders need to take a cue from their counterparts in other climes who are supposed clinical about their purpose, steering off sentiments and personal loyalty when it comes to union issues, welfare and condition of service.

Now, more than ever, it is important they realize, they are first employees of the organisation before being a member of the Union and the essence of their employment is to serve the organization not to play politics and know where to draw the lines between playing Union duties and being dutiful at their post of responsibility.

Going by these propositions, one has no tiff with the fact that the NTDC Union leaders called their members to strike. Of course they have the rights, however, going by the past trend, it has now become a sequential occurrence and modus operandi of calling sudden ‘Strikes’ as a means of blackmail and that has to STOP!

Those familiar with this trend can attest to the fact that the urge to strike reared its head immediately Mrs Sally Mbanefo was appointed as the Director-General, NTDC in replacement of Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, a media practitioner and a rambunctious personality who has the history of fighting three tourism ministers to a standstill.

Her appointment gladdened not many hearts especially with a predecessor who worked more on the pages of the newspaper than on the job. His affection for the media through his over-the -top generosity was returned with splashes all over the media but at the expense of the industry that suffered no growth. Despite, several junkets to travel markets in almost all continents, our tourism arrivals enjoyed continuous decrease and domestic tourism was at it’d lowest ebb.

Also, Mbanefo appointment came at a time of  economic recession leading to shrinkage of fund available to the corporation thus putting paid to access to free fund which can be employed and deployed to be a good DG either to the press, to staff in form of foreign trips and unnecessary free largesse and frivolous allowances and claims. If that wasn’t bad enough, there was bitterness arising from the abrupt sack of her predecessor who seemed to be angry that Sally lobbied him out of the job whilst nursing secret ambitions of returning to the job he was unceremoniously removed from while on assignment out of the country.

With constant interaction with the workers and the Union leaders who Sally inherited, the intrigue of the bitterness of a displaced DG who still has a lot of blind followers in NTDC with the union leader and workers who were not happy that things were not the same again, the era of strike crawled in. An examination of the reasons, modus operadi and demand of the workers will show that the whole strike actions being embarked in NTDC are out of tune, totally unwholesome and unethical.

Let’s read excerpts from some newspapers on the previous strike

 

On February 25, 2015, National newspaper under the Headline “NTDC workers’ strike enters the second week”, ‘The workers have vowed to continue with the industrial action until the agency’s director general, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo, is removed from office.

Last week, official activities at the parastatals Abuja and zonal offices were stopped.

The workers, through their union, Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), have made several allegations against Mrs. Mbanefo.

They accused her of starving the agency of fund under the guise that the Federal Government was no longer funding the parastatal.

The workers accused her of “going behind to collect huge allocation from the Federal Government”.

The NTDC Chapel Chairman of AUPTCRE, Sam Unwuchola Okpomo, said as at July 2014, the Federal Government released N52,014,821 as capital budget and N342, 654,807 for training and other logistics to the agency.”

In September 3, 2015, in the Hallmark newspaper under the Headline, “Fears of sack forces NTDC boss to back down …as workers call off strike”

“It would be recalled that the protesting staff, led by Comrade Anthony Benjamin, in a memo obtained by Hallmark accused the DG of not properly mobilizing funds for the activities of the corporation as it relates to administrative functions.

They accused her of incapacitating the staff with the claim of a shortage of funds to perform the statutory functions of the corporation but overhead will be released and go out through other sources.

The staff said,” the DG does not fund the zonal offices, she will visit the zone and stop at the airport to insult the staff of the zone to their integrity by asking them to go and source for funds from affluent individuals for the running of the office. She did not even appreciate the efforts of the staff in ensuring the success of her visit to the state.

”We are tired of a DG who claims to be promoting domestic tourism but will not fund the zones offices where tourism potentials are domiciled organization but will tell the staff there in no money for official works but there is money for other fictitious travels by herself and her associates to different destinations.”

Daily Trust Sept 3 wrote: Striking NTDC workers call for DG’s removal By Mustapha Suleiman | Publish Date: Sep 3 2015 5:47AM

‘On their demand, Comrade Kunama said: “We want her removal. She is killing the tourism sector. Except the government is not serious with tourism, but if the government wants to tap into the potentials of tourism to diversify the Nigerian economy, they have to remove her and bring in a professional that has a vision for the sector.”

The Federal government seemed to have seen through the malevolent and malicious intent of the unions or the workers and refused to pander to the unreasonable demands of the workers and refused to relief Sally of her job. Though Sally was removed in November 2016, it should be a matter of curious logic and interest that between November 2016 and May 2017 three DGs were in quick succession appointed and removed. Two of them, career officers and the other an outsider, none of them were accepted by the Union

And according to a presidency source, they were all removed majorly “due to the unnecessary antagonism to their appointment by the Union who was being used and manipulated and workers who engaged in writing acrimonious petition with some outsider who was willing to come back to NTDC who took solace at sponsoring media attack against the appointees’.

And the Federal Government brought in Coker, who has distinguished himself in the public sector, government and a memorable tenure as Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism. The problem with Coker according to an investigation commenced shows that his preference for domestic tourism as against the floundering of the meagre fund of the Corporation on foreign fair and Travel markets.

In December 1 2017 in the Nation’s online, under the headline “Protesting workers seek sack of NTDC’s DG’

‘Activities were paralysed at the headquarters of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), on Wednesday, following a protest by workers who called for the sack of its Director General, Mr. Folorunsho Folarin Coker, for incompetence. The workers accused Coker of highhandedness, saying the DG had not improved their welfare since his appointment.

They said they were disappointed by the “ugly development” in the corporation. The workers noted that Coker illegally set up a project unit, which, they claimed, is not part of the NTDC’s line of activity. They said the unit was a conduit to siphon public funds.’

A few online publications graced their platforms with this news under different slants. A cursory examination and contextual synthesis of the grievances of the works or union under Sally Mbanefo and Coker extensively exposed the rut of a corporation. The sole reason is “The removal of the DG without any concrete allegation or advocacy for workers!“

During the tenure of Sally Mbanefo, it is shameful that none of the allegation levelled against were strong enough to convict her till date. All allegations were unfounded and malicious. The lady was never found wanting or guilty.

Going through the protest letter sent out in 2017 against Coker, one can see that it is not only watery but of no substance. The fault is in not in the workers being teleguided sheepishly by a Union which is being sponsored and used by some external elements who believe NTDC is their birthright but shame of the successive superintending Minister who watch as NTDC is hijacked by the Union who seems to find listening ears and cooperation of the said  Minister. The fact is that NTDC needs urgent and prompt surgical operation. It is a corporation full of old doldorous pantaloons and deadwood evil servants who are loyal to persons, not the office. Some of them have no particular assignment or solids scheduled duty.

Any serious government will not only refuse to harken to their silly demands but will go a step further by appropriately restructuring and rightsizing the workers by separating those who want to work for the nation from the goons who want to play cheap politics and those who love to be used as agent of destabilization. NTDC should be clean and straightened up, the time to act is now.

However , the symbolism of the recent phenomenal changes being injected into NTDC by Folorunso Folarin Coker via the ‘Tour  Nigeria’  brand which has recorded intracontinental acceptance and  acknowledgement with the historic passing of the NTDC Bill by the Senate should not be truncated. Let the process of laundering the NTDC starts now. Let’s reposition it for purposeful activation

Let’s create the ambience for  productive piloting for  Folorunso Folarin Coker has within 6 months demonstrated and signposted the ability and sagacity of a reformer.

The ball is in the court of the President Muhammadu Buhari and Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

I leave you with this: Nigeria tourism is beyond the concept of a single person. Is it not curious that  NTDC to some few minds cannot be a good corporation until a certain person or persons rule the place ? Or has not been okay since certain person has been removed ?  Why can’t we cast our minds on  this observation? Can’t we think beyond our personal and selfish consideration ? Why should we continue using the gullible Union leaders to  rock the  boat of NTDC and destroy the Industry just because the person there is not tending to our selfish demands or because the fellow there is not the person we would have loved to be there? The so called NTDC workers are only hitting themselves below the belt because they are only calling attention of the government to the fact that the place needs a surgical operation.

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OPINION

DSO Nigeria: Beyond Devil’s Advocates​,​ by Hamid Hendrix

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Freedom without responsibility continues to pose a great challenge to the realization of the full potentials of our democratic dispensation and it is rather unfortunate that foremost beneficiaries of such liberty are too often also the major culprits. Though measures have been taken to curb the excesses of abusers of civil liberties it is obvious that the more needs to be done to safeguard public interest.

One area where this menace continues to rear its ugly head is in the rowdy ranks of human rights advocacy groups which were once credited with facilitating the successful liberation of several African nations from the scourge of oppressive military regimes but are now becoming misfits in democratic settings due to loss of focus and desperation to remain relevant.

Rather than shifting their attention from the initial agenda of campaigning for democracy to the equally relevant aspects of ensuring free and fair elections and dividends of democracy, several of the advocacy groups have been overtaken by pecuniary impulses that turned them into rentable rabble-rousers, willingly lending themselves to the begrudged and disgruntled elements. Such groups end up mired in miscellaneous advocacy of discordant diatribes as they drift into charlatanism under the counterfeit canopy of human rights advocacy.

A typical example of such mischievous misadventures masquerading as human rights advocates is the recent statement issued by Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) claiming that “under the President’s nose a minister allegedly mismanaged N2 billion from the National Broadcasting Commission for digitisation of broadcasting but till now both the minister of information and DG of NBC are walking the corridors of power free.”

This single sentence of spurious speculation casting unsubstantiated aspersions on the unblemished reputation of the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the Director-General of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Malam Ishaq Modibbo Kawu and attempting to discredit the highly–rated successful switch over to digital broadcasting (DS0) in Nigeria was purported to be an exercise in human rights advocacy ! Incredulously, this fabricated defamation was an isolated insertion lacking relevance or corroboration in a libellous list of politically-motivated wild allegations against the person and administration of President Muhammadu Buhari contrived by one Emmanuel Onwubiko, coordinator of the so-called human rights group.

It is manifestly outlandish to portray the deliberate misrepresentation of the nationally acclaimed resuscitation and diligent implementation of the previously paralysed DSO project and callous assassination of the character of the two government functionaries responsible for such an achievement as a human rights infringement, just as it is absurd to smear the hitch-free scheduled switch over to digital broadcasting across the country with the brush of “mismanagement” of a bogus two billion naira. These malicious distortions of verifiable facts amount to gross violations of the principle of public accountability, which is a fundamental right of citizens in a democracy.

To set the records straight, it is worth recalling that the DSO was formally launched in Jos, Plateau State, in April 2016, followed by the FCT, Ilorin, Kaduna, Enugu and Osogbo while the process of installation of equipment for the roll out in Gombe and Delta states have reached advanced stages. The NBC expects to achieve DSO roll out in 12 states soon. This impressive performance was the outcome of zealous commitment of Minister Lai Mohammed and NBC DG Modibbo Kawu to break the four-year jinx that stalled the project prior to the debut of the Buhari Administration’s change agenda.

For HURIWA to single out this glorious chapter in the remarkable record of progress in the nation’s broadcast industry for a vicious vendetta is a pathetic pointer to the ulterior motives that have hijacked the group and falsified its declared mission. In fact, a cursory review of its recent outings reveals a revolting surrender to the most ridiculous and irrational advocacies imaginable, such as campaigning against the ban on production of the much abused codeine cough syrups because it has “led to great financial misfortunes for over 30 legitimate pharmaceutical companies,” urging the Federal Government “not to stop expectant women and nursing mothers from participating in National Youth Service Corps (NYSC),” appealing to “ the government of the United States and the European Union to impose sanctions on Nigeria” and dismissing the terrorist classification of Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB “ as a charade and a plot to initiate violent crackdown on the members of this substantially unarmed and peaceful group”.

Even the EFCC has dismissed the occasional anti-corruption posturing of HURIWA as “ethnic and political agenda by some mischief makers masquerading as human rights writers” in one of its rebuttals of the pseudo human rights advocacy group’s capricious campaigns. This was also endorsed by Emmanuel Otairu of the Centre for International and Strategy Studies, Abuja whose article titled “HURIWA As IPOB’s NGO Arm” in The Nation edition of September 18, 2017 concluded that it was “ a tool for extortion, paid activism, ethnic propaganda mouthpiece and most recently a terror organization’s NGO arm”. The steadily expanding coverage of the DSO in Nigeria under the diligent implementation of Information Minister Lai Mohammed and DG NBC Ishaq Modibbo Kawu has surely switched off anomalous advocacy groups like HURIWA along with analogue noise.

-​ HAMID HENDRIX is a communications writer in Abuja

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OPINION

Repositioning the NNPC and Baru’s knack for openness

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By Kingsley Ukah 
It will take a great deal of sustained and concerted reforms to ensure that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) runs effectively and efficiently in line with global best practices; and for it to serve, without interruptions, the common good of Nigerians.

For decades, the oil corporation has consistently been in the bad books of Nigerians who see it as a behemoth that has been appropriated by successive administrations to service political interests and private ends.

However, the decision of the NNPC Group Managing Director (GMD), Dr. Mikanti Baru, to continually open up the corporation for public appraisal and promote transparent and accountable management is novel in the ecology of the Federal Government’s anti-corruption crusade. Baru is committed to seeking strategic partnership where necessary in a deliberate bid to erase the negative perception that the NNPC cannot achieve the desired results or apply standard best practices in operations.

There is no doubt that leadership is key to every organisation that seeks to succeed. Since coming on board, the GMD has committed himself to doing things that will give the corporation a positive outlook. But one must quickly admit that it is not always easy turning things around in a corporation where corruption has been entrenched and reforms frustrated for years. But what is going well for Baru is his willingness to take on challenges and search for solutions. Apparently, that is why he is succeeding.

That Baru has chosen not to grandstand over the recurring question on the actual volume of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol, being consumed in the country, says much about his ability to be above the fray.

He has not been imprudent in his disposition. He has not created any ballyhoo over the matter that has been understandably politicized.  There is a sense in which the management of the nation’s oil sector has become a political decision under the watch of successive federal government.

But credit must be given to the exceptional leadership and sincerity of purpose that Baru has brought to bear in the management of the NNPC presently. For instance, as part of its expanding strategic partnership, it is a welcome development that corporation has agreed to work with the World Bank and the Federal Ministry of Finance to finally lay these decades of concern about the opacity in the public finance management of the subsector in which the corporation plays a very significant role to a rest.

It gladdened the heart when I heard the Chief Operating Officer (COO) Downstream, NNPC, Mr. Henry Obih, say that the decision of the corporation to abide by the directive of the National Executive Council (NEC) to work with the finance ministry and world bank to finally unravel this mystery.  That such efforts have been frustrated in the pas attests to the financial discipline that President Muhammadu Buhari has inculcated into governance. On this score, the leadership of Baru has demonstrated its support for the president’s philosophy of prudent financial management. He has shown by his disposition that he has nothing to hide.

In a widely reported Nigerian Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition held recently in Abuja, the NNPC COO, said that: We (the NNPC) are presently in a joint project with the Federal Ministry of Finance. We are doing a study around consumption to determine the actual consumption by the people. He explained that “we have to put it on scale to see what we call the daily load or the evacuation, as against the actual consumption, that is, what people go to the pump every day to buy for their cars and generators at homes and for other uses.”

Obih said: “This is why the National Economic Council has mandated that we work with the Federal Ministry of Finance. We also had meetings with the World Bank about six weeks ago, and we are trying to progress in a global study that would help us get around the actual numbers of what we consume in Nigeria.”  This is forward-looking. While awaiting the outcome of the tripartite investigation, it is equally good that the NNPC has chosen to set some records straight against the backdrop of the ongoing campaign of calumny sponsored largely by the mafia in the sector.

Different consumption figures had been put out there in the social media to deceive the unsuspecting public. This tripartite intervention should, in the interim, put to rest the associated concerns while the investigation will, expectedly, assuage the frayed of Nigerians. Meantime, in terms of daily truck out from depots around the country and in terms of the records of the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) the NNPC trucked out 48 million litres daily in 2016 and 50 million litres in 2017.

The problem of rising volume of fuel is compounded by cross-border smuggling, because Nigeria remains the cheapest source of PMS in the West African sub-region. Unfortunately, Nigeria has a network of oil mafia that cuts across the entire chains of oil businesses in the country.  The mafia group is very big and powerful and has been operating for decades. It is also feeding fat on segments of the country’s pipeline network. It will take consistent and persistent efforts to defeat the oil cartel. At every point, it is fighting back and this has made the work of the Baru-led NNPC a little bit more difficult.

Obih, confirmed the challenges facing the corporation. Read him: “But again, one significant challenge is the fact that we have cross-border smuggling. Nigeria remains the cheapest source of PMS in the West African sub-region. All our neighbouring countries are selling at over 200 per cent high of the price that we pay at the pump. We have challenges in the pipelines that run through land, specifically, the System 2B, for instance; the one that runs around Lagos. It remains a big challenge, because there is a mafia that lives and feeds on those pipelines.

But it is not entirely bad news about the NNPC. Good things are happening under Baru as revealed by the COO, especially in the area of Joint Venture cash call payments. According to him, “What is heartening this year is that we can, at least, say that in a couple of the areas, we can see attempt to address them. For as long as I have been in this industry, we have been discussing cash calls as a never-ending issue. I think we were able to sit down together as an industry and government to try and tackle that issue and we should not underrate the importance of that.

“What is of significant today is that argument is off the table. For the first time, we finished a year without NNPC owing cash calls. That just essentially opens up the appetite. What that has done is that it opens up the appetite to have a conversation about investment. Nigeria is competing for capital with every other country in the world and sometimes we forget that and think that we are world unto ourselves, but the reality is that each of these companies operates in 20, 30, 80 countries and people are competing for capital. The whole JV process, we all need to put our hands on the plough to ensure it does not derail. We cannot take it for granted that we have a funding structure that works and assume it will continue to work.”

It is incumbent on Nigerians, especially stakeholders who have been yearning, over the years, for the NNPC to truly deliver on its mandate, to support the ongoing process to reposition the corporation. Baru can deliver with the right support and climate. However, the NNPC must now ensure that a strong technology-driven mechanism is put in place to ensure the real-time monitoring of the pattern of consumption in the country. This is what should engage attention and not petty issues that distract.

Ukah wrote in from Lagos
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OPINION

Managing crises: The Lagos example, by David Adegoke

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An oil truck explosion of apocalyptic magnitude occurs in Lagos, fatally charring a frightening number of lives and maiming several others. Many more vehicles are burnt, some to ashes, with scores of stampeding citizens severely bruised in the process. Pronto, denizens of social media go into action, sending pictorial, video and textual coverage of the gory scenes into the virtual space.

Soon, the phones of Nigerians begin buzzing with calls and messages from anxious compatriots in the diaspora eager to know the whereabouts of their loved ones in the country. Are they caught in the blaze? Are they close to the area of the accident? Are they safe? Where no immediate response follows, there is an urgent request to send back a message to reassure the agitated inquirer.

But in the midst of this bedlam, something else causes a stir: the sudden appearance of the governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, within hours of the tragedy, attired in simple short sleeves and trousers looking like jeans. Those around are surprised. Why? There are two reasons: Nigerians are not used to seeing their leaders arrive at locations of disasters just moments after such mishaps break.

Secondly, because he isn’t dressed in suit or agbada which is the ‘uniform’ of their leaders, there is more curiosity surrounding the presence of the man. Word goes around that Ambode has got to the scene without notice, without fanfare. That swells the crowd of onlookers. The entire development deepens the bond between the led and the leader who would make a difference in governance by his acuity of empathy when the people are bereaved.

A governor may build great bridges and roads along with other physical infrastructure. That would put him at par with others who do so too. A leader may deliver moving speeches such as the Gettysburg Address by US Civil War President Abraham Lincoln. But he would only be in the circle of other orators like the ancient Roman senator and late President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. None of these distinguishes him from the pack. You don’t excel if you walk the beaten track; history would trap you among the ‘also-ran’ group. It’s a footnote category, hardly reckoned with on the pages of a country’s annals.

When he showed up at the scene of sorrow, blood and tears (to quote the lyrics of one of legendary Fela’s songs), Ambode brought both hope, comfort and lessons in empathetic leadership that is missing in our clime. Assessing the situation, the governor commiserated with the victims and took solace in ‘’the fact (his government’s prompt response) was able to save more lives’’. He added: ‘’We will continue to do our best and ensure that we mitigate things of this nature in future…Nobody knows when this kind of incident will happen next but the most important thing is that our response time should be up and running and able to save lives.’’

Observers have commended the Lagos administration for putting in place a disaster management infrastructure that made it possible for rescue trucks to get to the scene within 10 minutes. This was fast, according to experts, who argue that given our environment and the choked traffic of the hour the casualty statistics would have been astronomical, exceeding the nine lives lost and over 50 vehicles burnt.

Truly, it could have been worse with a fuel truck carrying 33000 litres of PMS on the loose that fateful evening. “’That was death on the prowl,’’ as a commentator Tope Ajayi put it, even while he advised Ambode to continue to invest more in the personnel and agencies saddled with accident response functions. And seeing how the Lagos model has worked quite efficaciously, the writer admonishes that ‘’other states should learn from Lagos.’’

But as we said at the beginning, if you had all these security and rescue paraphernalia in place without a human face, you’d end running a normal system, undistinguished by the exceptional touch that makes a difference. That evening the Lagos State governor provided the uniqueness we need in leadership and governance in Nigeria.

Ify Onyegbule, a well known radio presenter in Lagos, captured the superlative performance of Ambode in these hardly exaggerative terms on her Facebook timeline: ‘’ If you ask me, I think AkinwunmiAmbode would do well as Nigeria’s President! He didn’t wait till morning before going to the scene of the disaster. He never went to put on his danshiki and buba plus fila to go there just so he looks nice on camera. He never asked that a red carpet be spread so he can walk on it at the scene.

Ambode didn’t get there blaming the tanker parked or the danfo thatthe brakes failed! In fact the presidency needs to come and the Lagos model…quote me on this! Enough of all the rubbish going on in Nigeria!’’

Our leaders must not pride themselves in adulation when they provide us the dividends of democracy as we often term them. No doubt we shall always hail them when they do so. But there is more to administering human beings, just as there is more to being a father in the home than merely supplying money for the upkeep of the family. How about meeting the emotional demands of the wife and children, which represent the fiber holding the home? Nigerians, like the spouse and her children, only honour the male head of family they can identify with.

They don’t cherish a distant leader, as it were. Of course, they expect he must fend for them. But the point is that he must be there, or show up for them at a short notice, notably when they are grieving. At that stage, nothing else matters, not even the multi-billion naira state-of-the-art projects you may have given them!

Ambode’s succinct understanding of these dynamics of leadership is what is earning him accolades.
But we should realise that in the long run, greater applause is for the government of which Ambode is a member. For, he without an equally committed group of administrators would have earned little praise. He has an accompaniment of capable accident management and rescue agencies that performed a yeoman’s job last week on Otedola Bridge.

What is the lesson here? Government must build on that success by strengthening such institutions for the security and welfare of the people of the state as they are poised to stand the burgeoning status of Lagos as Africa’s foremost megacity of our era. In other words, it is durable institutions of state that accord honour to government. That was what enabled us all to salute the Lagos government last week.

*Adegoke, a journalist, wrote from Surulere.

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