Fashola Keeps Mum On Alleged Misappropriation Of Funds, Says I Don’t Respond To Newspaper Allegations

From Punch;
The immediate past Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde
Fashola, on Thursday refused to answer questions on the allegations of corruption
levelled against him. Fashola was alleged to have spent N139m on two boreholes
at the Lagos House, Ikeja, and another N78.3m for the upgrade of a personal
The former governor, who was the guest speaker at the 16th
Bishop Mike Okonkwo Annual Lecture, urged Nigerians to ensure that they hold their
leaders accountable always. The event, which was held at the Shell Hall of the
MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos Island, was titled, ‘The Nigerian political Class
and the Citizen’s Quest for Good Governance.’
The governor said most Nigerians failed to hold their
political leaders to their campaign promises after elections.

However, a mild drama unfolded during the question-and-answer
A journalist from The SUN, Mr. Chika Abanobi, noted that
Fashola was right to urge Nigerians to hold their leaders accountable.
He, therefore, asked Fashola to respond to the allegations
of corruption levelled against him which included the N78m the former governor
spent on the personal website.
Some personalities at the high table, which included the
host, Dr. Mike Okonkwo, who is the presiding Bishop of The Redeemed Evangelical
Mission, did not feel comfortable when Fashola was put on the spot as some
signalled to the journalist to keep shut and sit down.
Popular comedian, Tee A, who was the Master of Ceremony,
jibed, “Mr. SUN, continue standing in the Sun.”
Fashola, who was taken aback by the journalist’s audacity,
responded, “To the man in The SUN, I don’t respond to allegations on the pages
of newspapers.”
While delivering his lecture earlier, Fashola listed his
various achievements while in government.
Specifically, he mentioned the restriction of commercial
motorcycles, among others.
He said good governance did not necessarily imply impressing
everyone. He said good leadership entailed improving the general standard of
living of the people.
While defending his restriction on commercial motorcycles,
he said, “Some people felt that we were anti-poor. But let us look at the
result of the policy. The 15 deaths per month dropped first to three per month
and later to one per month and later there were no reported deaths in the whole
of 2014.
“The over 600 reported accidents dropped to about 100
accidents monthly (83 per cent) and the Commissioner of Police reported an 85
per cent drop in crime over a 10-month period of the enforcement of the law.
“For those who say this is not good governance, I will refer
them to Section 14 (2) (b) and (c) of the 1999 Constitution.”
The former governor defended the expenses on his website,
insisting that it helped make him more accessible to the people of the state.
Fashola noted that when he resumed office, only 500,000
people were paying tax across the state. He said by the time he left office,
over 4.5 million people had started paying tax.
He, however, revealed that there were still over four
million taxable adults in the state not paying tax.
The ex-governor said the state would be better off if people
paid their taxes regularly and assist the government.
Also speaking, a former Nigerian Ambassador to the United
States, Prof. George Obiozor, explained that the event was to commemorate the
birthday of Okonkwo who turns 70 on Sunday.
Obiozor defended Fashola who had also come under fire for
allegedly spending N139m on two boreholes.

Obiozor said, “He (Fashola) is one of those few people that
God answered his prayers. I want to tell him that the game in which he is
involved is called politics. Believe me, success is the beginning of threat.
Nobody is after anybody who has failed.”

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