Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN), and Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, on Tuesday graced the public presentation of a book titled, Giants of History (The Making of Our World), stating that proclaiming greatness should not be the lot of leaders themselves but the natural testimony of people who have felt the impact of their greatness.
The governors who spoke at the Civic Centre on Ozumba Mbadiwe, Victoria Island, venue of the launch of the book written by Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Lateef Ibirogba, said great men do not tell the tales of their own greatness.
Governor Fashola asserted that there is a leadership question in Nigeria which is primarily about the leadership vacuum that exists in the public sector, maintaining that there is so much resource in the capability and talent in the private sector.
He added that the answer to any question about whether Nigeria has the men and women who could deliver the goods in the public sector would elicit a definitive answer, but the most pertinent question should be that have such people been deployed to the places and areas where they are most needed.
He asserted that the quicker the nation resolves to redeploy the men and women with the capacity to the areas of the public sector where the shoes shoe pinches most, the better it would be collaboratively for everyone.
The Governor reiterated that this is not the best of times to be a leader because demands have not only become complex but the problems too have become complex but lead, a leader must, in good or bad times.
Citing various examples about how initiatives taken by the operatives of the private sector have led to positive change in the way things are done, the Governor stated that the nation also has its fair share of giants of history. Time, there was, he said when owning telephone lines in Nigeria was synonymous with hassles like keeping a folder to document bills when visiting the telecommunication office to settle non- existent debts because such lines are most often under Temporarily Out of Service (TOSS), adding however that some Nigerians took the plunge that never again would the people go through such troubles to own a phone line or make calls.
According to Governor Fashola, the current video advertorial inserts running on major television channels comparing some select world leaders like President Barack Obama, late President Nelson Mandela and former Singaporean President, Mr Lui Kwa Nyu with an unnamed Nigerian leader is to say the least blasphemous.
He added that two things might be responsible for that kind of comparison, it is either that the news reporting which such people are getting is being beamed from black and white television sets or that such people read their newspapers face downwards and thus getting a distorted account of events.
“It is not you who would tell us that you are great. We would be the ones to say it and acknowledge it because we wear the shoes and know where it hurts. At the end of the day, when the people are still crying out about their safety and light issues, it means that we are not speaking the same language and that we are not responding to the same stimuli”, he added.
Fashola commended Mr Ibirogba for picking the gauntlet when he challenged members of the cabinet to write and enrich public space because there is a dearth of books on public service life.
He expressed the hope that through the publication of such books which retells already told stories and people get to read them, they will feel inspired to do something about what they don’t like.
Speaking at the event, Ogbeni Aregbesola said it would be difficult to be great without a good measure of endeavour, adding that majority of those who turn out to be great do not necessarily set out to be great but see challenges and set out for it.
While speaking on happenings in the country, the Governor said Nigerians are gradually accepting anomie as normal situation such as the kidnapping of over 200 girls from their schools by criminally minded elements.
He charged that everyone both in position of leadership and others must do everything that is humanly possible to put an end to the shameful act and sad development as no nation has suffered this level of depravity that Nigeria is going through, not even in the Afghanistan.
“Nigeria is sliding into a level that does not even recommend us as civilized human beings anymore. The people must be ready to protest on the streets to tell us that enough is enough”, he added.
He said by the offering of the “Giants of History”, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information is celebrating the greatness of others and thereby contributing his quota to the service of humanity.
National leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who was represented by Mr Tunji Bello said the book will inspire Nigerians to greater aspirations and begin to nurture them to become giants of history.
In his address, the chairman of the occasion and Chairman of MTN, Mr Pascal Dozie commended the author and said the 150 giants of history are not the only ones who contributed to what the world is today.
He added that they however represent key contributors in both positive and negative means who faced several challenges but still trudged on, noting that an examination of Adolf Hitler by the German would produce a result that would be markedly different from what the British or the American would say about him.
In his review of the book, Mr Tunde Ipadeola described the book as a broad publication which shows the difference between fame and infamy, quite versatile and capable of use by people of all ages as it is concise and precise.
He added that having read the book with an inner radar turned on for why any particular choice was made, he discovered that each chosen example earned his or her place in the pantheon and could have been more but because the author chose to settle for the statistically significant number of 150.
The book was later publicly presented by Governors Fashola and Aregbesola while being supported by the representatives of the Governors of Ogun State, Mr Yussuph Olaniyonu, Edo State, Mr Louis Odion, Oyo State, Prince Gbade Lana and Mr Tayo Ekundayo from Ekiti State.
Prominent among those who witnessed the event were members of the State Executive Council including the Secretary to the State Government, Dr (Mrs) Ranti Adebule, Commissioners for Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr Taofik Tijani, Youth, Sports and Social Development, Mr Enitan Oshodi, Finance, Ayo Gbeleyi, several Local Government chairmen and party leaders.