This May has been a pretty good month for Babatunde Fashola. Fresh from his re-election as executive governor of Lagos State, Nigeria’s business capital, Fashola won high praise in a profile in The Economist; he then traveled to Washington, D.C. for a series of high-level meetings with America business and government officials.
A small group of Afropolitans was invited to meet the executive governor at a private luncheon at the Army and Navy Club, courtesy of Constituency for Africa, a 21-year old organization dedicated to building support for the African continent. The co-sponsor was Accession International, a firm that specializes in business development in sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on the Gulf of Guinea.
In her introduction, former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, Robin Sanders, congratulated Fashola on his overwhelming victory, winning 82 percent of the vote in a state with at least 18 million people.
That victory was the centerpiece of Fashola’s remarks. He told the group that last month’s relatively peaceful and honest elections in Nigeria were critically important. “The Nigerian electorate has demonstrated how politically aware it is. The people wanted an election that was credible and we achieved it.”
Fashola sees his popularity as a mandate to continue addressing the “problems of law and order, the environment, education, health care, infrastructure, security—the same issues as any big city.”
Visitors to Lagos are typically overwhelmed by the gridlock and fast-pace. Historically a trading post, Fashola said Lagos has the capacity “to be the locomotive driving the train of economic development” in Nigeria as well as the whole of west Africa. There are limitless opportunities,” Fashola said. “My goal is to restore Lagos back to her preeminence and to be a leading light for best practices on the African continent. Nothing will be impossible in our state.”
In his first term, Fashola has reduced street crime and made some improvements in traffic congestion. Term limits have dictated that his new term will be his final four years as executive governor, but his agenda is robust. “Transportation will determine the quality of life in Lagos,” Fashola said and it tops his list of priorities. He plans improvements of the roads, railroad, and water taxi infrastructures. His other priorities include water and sewage management, education, and innovation, as well as housing.