Barrister Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing has declared that there is absolutely nothing wrong with Nigeria.
Rather, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria remains insistent that all that is ever wrong with the country are the choices being made by her leaders and citizens.
He took the position while delivering his keynote address at the LASU Maiden Research Fair held at the Makanjuola Lecture Theatre on the Ojo Main Campus of the Lagos State University on Tuesday.
Supporting his rather unusual stance, the erstwhile Number One Citizen of Lagos State cited the example of his then administrative mistake of not choosing to do a research on the perception of citizens before erecting the first tollgate and charging tolls for the use of the Lagos-Lekki-Epe road which resulted in vehement resistance from citizens who had to use that road on daily or regular basis.
He admitted that his administration erred in not doing the necessary pre-establishment research before imposing the tolls on motorists on the said road
“So we went back to our drawing board and embarked on a street-to-street opinion sampling at Lekki and Epe to ask people how much they would be ready to pay for the use of the road.
“The response we got showed that majority were ready to pay between N200.00 N250.00 and we pegged it at that and the rest today, is history”‘, Fashola recalled.
Also harping on the need for a reliable database, the astute lawyer cum administrator strongly contested the figure of Nigeria’s population as being estimated at two hundred million which he insisted was not data-backed, insisting that a million in the human population is not a small figure.
The captain of the University of Benin football squad in his undergraduate days also cited the sitting capacity of Manchester City Stadium which contains 75,000 people, noting that the figure is still far from one million.
“If you consider how the massive number of fans you see on the TV watching a Manchester United match (which is 75,000) and you now do a mental calculation of what 10 million in 20 places will look like, you will agree with me that 200 million people are of no small number.
“So, we really need a reliable database born of meticulous research and which must be published before we can arrive at a fact-based decision.”, the double- portfolio-minister posited.
He recalled how Lagos State, based on its own unbiased meticulous data gathering, rejected the federal government figure of 2006 National Census which had put Lagos State population at nine million whereas the state-parallel -conducted census along with the federal enumerators came up with eighteen million; meaning that if the state had relied on the figure declared for Lagos State by the then Federal Government, the state citizens would have been suffering untold hardship in terms of amenity provision.
The minister whose purview of duty covers housing affairs, also discountenanced the popular notion that Nigeria is currently facing serious housing deficit; even as he challenged those who hold such belief to prove it empirically with reliable data resulting from conscious and meticulous research on the issue.
He reminded exponents of the notion of housing deficit in Nigeria to go back to the villages in various parts of the country and see how many empty houses are there begging to be occupied by human beings.