By Kelechi Deca
When the news filtered in that Mr. Funso Doherty, debonair boardroom wizkid and prominent face within the corporate Nigeria circle has declared to contest for the gubernatorial seat of Lagos State, someone asked via a tweet, whether Mr. Doherty is shooting for the Stars while aiming for the Moon. This was in reaction to his recent declaration to contest for the gubernatorial seat of Lagos State as standard bearer of the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
That question reminded me of the much celebrated debut album of the American rapper Pop Smoke titled; “Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon”, posthumously released about two years ago after the rapper was murdered during a home invasion. Born as Bashar Barakah Jackson, but known professionally as Pop Smoke, the highly talented rapper, singer, and songwriter had his eventful life snuffed out in a gruesome manner.
Societies troubled by high crime rates soon discover that crime infestation negatively impacts almost every aspect of life, thus people soon live at the mercy of criminals. Such challenges cannot be addressed by leaders whose nocturnal activities embolden criminals and engender such activities. In the absence of committed selfless leadership, all hopes would be lost.
I am persuaded to agree that for Lagos State and by extension the rest of Nigeria to make a dent on the pervading governance deficit across the country, there is need for men and women of goodwill to step out of their cozy cocoons and take that long overdue plunge into the recess of the deep waters of Nigeria’s politics. Nigeria has suffered the most from the near abstinence from political participation by most of its business and intellectual elite. As nature abhors vacuum, vacant spaces must be filled by those who showed up.
This, more than anything else, must have been behind the decision of suave, debonair Funso Doherty to offer himself to serve, as they say on the street, who else is more qualified than an Omo Eko that was born and buttered in Lagos, knows the state inside out, feels the pulse of its heart, and the yearning of its people.
Explaining to Lagosians why he presented himself, Funso Doherty said that “Worthy leaders must demonstrate competence that delivers results. They must also model personal integrity, fairness, justice and compassion”. He added that “Perhaps most importantly in Nigeria of today, they must be resolute and bring the courage, wisdom and tenacity that we know is needed to drive and institutionalize these values throughout government and the public service.”
A man who professed such deep commitment cannot be shooting at the Moon, from every indications, he strongly believes that the Stars, though tiny to the naked eyes, can be hit as a target, so he is going the whole hog driven by passion, and love for excellence, imbued with sacrifice to give Lagos that much denied personal touch, the attention only a true son can give a father, that love and customized problem solving skills aimed at giving the state the best.
In enumerating his vision for Lagos, he is not unmindful of how high the mountain is, or how deep the valley is, to him, it is all a matter of commitment and sacrifice. He envisioned a “Lagos where life is valued, families are safe and secure, businesses can thrive, and citizens can live fulfilled lives with dignity and respect”.
Anyone who has been living or working in Lagos over the last few years would easily agree. The state has deteriorated beyond description, traffic lawlessness has become the order of the day, efforts that were being made to ensure every nook and cranny of Lagos was illuminated enough to embolden the people to move around without fear of the dark, have all gone darker.
Muchmore disturbing is the rising power of gangs of ‘Okada’ riders whose numbers have quadrupled across the state in the last three years or so. These guys have challenged every known law from the State government aimed to checkmate their activities while the government has at most cowed or failed to execute its own laws. That was why in shooting at the stars, Mr. Doherty pledges to engender a “forward-facing Lagos, with its vast resources and potential, liberated from the grip of self-serving interests and governed effectively, in the interest and for the benefit of its people”.
It is self-evident that the “Centre of Excellence” seems to have manifested anything but excellence in the running of its affairs. Irked by such development, Mr. Doherty is calling for “a Lagos that is driven by a meritocratic, empowered and accountable public service, and a thriving private sector, a Lagos that rises to become a cornerstone and model for national transformation, delivering opportunity, quality of life and dignified livelihoods”.
So when we think that anybody planning to wrestle power from the present Party in power is sleeping away in la la la land, let us not underestimate the power of frustration, especially the people. Imagine staying two months struggling to buy fuel, imagine the impacts high diesel costs are having on small and medium enterprises (SME’s) that are supposed to be the bedrock of economic transformation. Imagine having the national grid down for over three weeks, forcing the average Nigerian into a local government, providing security, water, electricity, schools, mending roads, among other things.
We can say, and evidently so, that the average Nigerian can take anything from the government without making any efforts to change his story. True as that is, we should also not discount the fact that when Nigerians see a committed, serious, and trusted alternative, they will have a change of heart. Probably, that is what Mr. Doherty hopes to achieve this with his highly ambitious shot at the Stars.
Kelechi Deca, is Editor-in-Chief The Economy Magazine