Let Gbaja Breathe!!!

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Let Gbaja Breathe!!!

Let Gbaja Breathe!!!
February 08
22:00 2024

It is unlikely that Femi Gbajabiamila, Chief of Staff to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has had a breather since his appointment in June 2023 as the nexus of the new administration. He has been buffeted and barraged by wild allegations of appointment racketeering among other improprieties. It bears asking why a man would be so despised for doing his principal’s bidding considering that he did not appoint himself in the first place, and cannot unilaterally appoint a minister or head of agency without the imprimatur of his boss.

Even when it seems far-fetched and practically impossible, the naysayers always find a way to link Gbajabiamila to every report of malfeasance in public office. A case in point is the malicious but failed linkage of Gbajabiamila to Betta Edu, the suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation who was suspended for approving the payment of about N585 million of the ministry’s funds into the private account of a civil servant. How that has to do with Gbajabiamila is what discerning Nigerians are still racking their heads about! Indeed, if there were an avatar for the pithy aphorism ‘Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’, Gbajabiamila would be a perfect fit.

Thankfully, President Tinubu is not oblivious to the relentless campaigns of calumny against the person and office of Gbajabiamila. He had to declare implicitly last October that; “I have absolute confidence in the integrity of my Chief of Staff. All campaigns of calumny and insinuations should stop, the buck stops here. If I make mistakes, I’m ready to own up to (them) and we’re all joining hands to fight corruption.” Yet, the noose on Gbajabiamila’s neck was neither relaxed nor released.

Last December, the Chief of Staff was forced to deny the existence of any provision in the 2024 Appropriation Bill for the renovation of the residence of the Chief of Staff to the President for a staggering N10 billion, insisting that he lives in his private residence. He wrote: “…There is no provision in the 2024 Appropriation Bill for the renovation of any residence for the Chief of Staff to the President. I live in my private residence. The sums mischievously quoted by online bloggers and fake news merchants are for renovating the Presidential Quarters in Dodan Barracks and the Vice President’s Lodge in Lagos, overhauling the information management and communications facilities in the Presidency to meet modern standards, and providing vehicles for the staff of the Presidency. The sums proposed for these projects are clearly stated in the budget proposal and bear no resemblance to the deceptive online commentary.”

Amidst this maelstrom, Gbajabiamila continues to shine brightly. A five-term legislator who rose to become Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gbajabiamila’s deep knowledge of the workings of the legislature has helped the president navigate potential Executive-Legislator landmines seamlessly. He is one of the very few appointees who mirror the president’s deepest priorities – loyalty, discipline, upright, straight-talking, obsession over the process, and dogged efficiency. Those close to him say he is intensely focused on helping President Tinubu, the man who gave him his break in politics, to achieve his Renewed Hope Agenda for Nigerians.

And that is not hard to see. He recently commissioned and handed over an 80-bed hospital to the Lagos State Government. Located in the Surulere area of Lagos State, the Femi Gbajabiamila General Hospital, which was upgraded from a primary healthcare centre, now boasts of advanced and specialist care facilities, a 500kva generator, a 100kva solar power supply on the roof, an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), a borehole, water filtration system and a dialysis centre on the second floor. It also boasts radiology, a large laboratory, pediatric, physiotherapy, surgical, and X-ray facilities. He said that the Femi Gbajabiamila General Hospital was conceived from the knowledge that a populous and growing metropolis such as Lagos cannot afford to be found wanting so far as access to quality health care is concerned.

Among the projects Hon. Gbajabiamila also commissioned was a state-of-the-art conference centre at the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo; an ultramodern, the dualised Babs Animashaun Road and Census Bridge, and the Sam Shonibare Community Development Centre, all in Surulere. Earlier in February 2023, he facilitated and commissioned the Accident and Emergency Unit-Male, and Female Medical/Surgical Wards of Randle General Hospital for the benefit of the people of Surulere.

He had done so much more for his constituents over the years. Gbajabiamila recalled at the commissioning of the general hospital, “I am proud that we have constructed over 250 roads in selected federal constituencies in the state, especially Surulere I and II constituencies, and completed 15 mini stadia. We facilitated heavy investment in education and healthcare, including constructing and equipping over 20 ICT centers in public schools where children are taught computer programming and coding. We have provided solar energy systems to light up neighbourhoods and support commercial trades in our constituencies.”

Without further ado, it is about time that Nigerians ‘let Gbajabiamila breathe’ so he can fully concentrate on meeting the objectives of his office and collaborate with other like-minded appointees of the president to achieve the Renewed Hope mandate.

– Kayode Alfred is a journalist, The publisher of Lagos Times

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