The IROHINOODUA EDITORIAL September 17, 2018
Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, now 55 is having a very rough moment. The strong wave against him began as a rumour, then a speculation. But last Sunday, it became an incontrovertible fact that principalities and powers are against him.
On that day, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, a seasoned administrator and homeboy declared his intention to vie for the Governor of Lagos State. One thing spelt out the meaning in the most graphic form: The most important political figures in Lagos graced the occasion. Second was the choice of the venue: Lagos City Hall, located in the heart of the city-state and reputed for being the chief host to some of the city’s most critical, historic and dramatic events.
Earlier, 57 local government and LCDA leaders had endorsed Sanwo-Olu after he collected the nomination form on the platter of the All Progressives Congress, (APC). Since the feud came into the open, two trends have emerged. Ambode is being urged by a group to dare the consequences and bare his fangs. He is the legitimate governor of the state, sits on billions of public funds and on this gallery are opportunistic chief undertakers ready to feast on the simmering dispute in the APC for perks.
Last weekend, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) spokesperson in Lagos, Taofik Gani said his party was ready to offer its ticket to Ambode, a clear indication of how the PDP operates: desperation to win an election at all cost using any available material, without recourse to character, history, reputation and organised party structure and mien.
Also at the weekend, a loose coalition of 30 light weights led by right activist, Mr Olisa Agbakoba offered to assist Ambode regain his seat without those who built the house within which the seat is located in the first place. Agbakoba’s prompting is like a cow offering to shoulder an elephant. But for a drowning man, even a shred of straw is an offer nevertheless.
Within the APC, understandably, the party has been like an unruffled cedar tree even in the face of the whirlwind underscoring the very faint impact Ambode has on the party’s structure in Lagos. In the larger public, Ambode’s ordeal appears like a medmew of a cat in the jungle: absolutely it has failed to stir the expected empathy, nor solidarity irrespective of the false impression that his exit will be a huge minus to the APC or that his “achievements” will spur uproar from the mass of the people, spinning support for him outside the bowels of his party.
There is no doubt that Ambode’s hands could be seen in the realms of road construction, the establishment of the DNA centre, the building of several pedestrian bridges and the rejig of the wealth creation stratagem through the Lagos Trust Fund, all being the output of efforts laid in the past 16 years before him.
However, there is a difference between implementing party policies in a systemic, well laid out logic, like the work of a surgeon, and carrying out projects for personal aggrandizement with complete derision for institutional order.
This only leads to tawdry projects that, though, may catch the enthusiasm of the public, but on the long run, will not endure the reality of history and time. Apart, Mr Ambode has proven cases of arbitrariness in the awards of contracts, ardent ten percenting and rabid penchant for avarice and primitive personal wealth accumulation.
His contempt for social and cultural forces that make Lagos thick is notorious. He stays aloft from the human rights and self determination communities, not to talk of his headlong confrontation with the civil service establishment. He has also worsened the APC reputation in the public eyeview, through his arbitrary introduction of cut-throat land levies and the awkward manners he has handled environmental issues in Lagos making the city an eyesore-a huge embarrassment to local and international community. Ambode’s reputation for lack of consultation is legendary so is his abuse of office and privileges.There are also mind-boggling covert information about him that puts the entire political history of Lagos at harm’s way.
Critics mischievously point accusing fingers at Mr Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu but in reality, they lose sight, deliberately of the bigger picture which is not about Tinubu but about the need to save a system that has sustained several progressive movements over time, and across the country, which Mr Ambode seeks to subvert. It is wrong to substitute people’s interests and in its place try to emphasize Asiwaju as a person.
Such critics also fail to realize that the burning anger within the APC is not oozing out from Tinubu per se but from party members on the street corners and in the homestead, a temperament that Tinubu himself finds difficult to control. He ignores the fumes to his own danger and to the hazard of the party.
Indeed, the accumulated grievances have built over the years and efforts by Mr Tinubu to ward them off have been engulfed by Ambode’s greater misdeeds and belligerence. Many are unware of Ambode’s secret plot to remove the speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr Obasa and his dogged plan to carve the APC in his own image. Ambode seeks to control governance and at the same time the political structures he wants suffocated under his armpit.
For one thing, Irohinoodua thinks Mr Ambode does not deserve a second term for so many reasons. First is his lack of respect for organization, his personal ethics and his disregard for directorial discipline and the spirit of collective leadership.
No matter the pedigree of an elected official, the worst trait is the one that sees himself above organizational rebuff and who walks to put the party under his feet to be trampled underfoot and brought on its knees. Such is the tact of a potential autocrat and a tyrant. Mr Ambode is also noted for treachery and debauchery.
For anyone looking for the great renaissance either in Nigeria or in the South West, the country’s economic hub, Lagos since the 1920s, has been the pathfinder. The politics of this city has been controlled and dominated by the progressives to the good of the entire commonwealth. It was by design that the campaign for Nigeria’s independence started and ended in Lagos, so also were the various resistances against military rule of which Lagos was the benchmark spring.
It is to the credit of the progressives that in 1999, Lagos was taken over by a tradition of liberal democracy which for 18 years has defined and shaped the enviable character, form and content of the state to the envy and admiration of the other federating states. Lagos also provided the buffer necessary for the retrieve of the entire SW from a rapacious and riotous PDP. It was from Lagos that the launch for the first democratic overthrow of an elected Federal government by the opposition was launched in 2014 leading to the defeat of the PDP. What has sustained this culture is collective leadership and blood-bound convention and solidarity of a people.
With these, Lagos since 1999 has become a reference point for the best in Nigeria so much that when world leaders visit Nigeria, after their mandatory visits to Abuja, Lagos has always been the next point of call. The emergence of a lone-ranger who wishes to live above a timeless common bound is not only patently dangerous but puts the lives of the entire city and her century old tradition at a great jeopardy.
The problem is not that Mr Ambode wishes to build an empire different from the party, but he seeks to do this for personal gains without any transformation vision except a fiefdom cast in his own image. It is the strongest opinion of this medium, that the APC should drop Mr Ambode in order to forestall the impending calamity he is capable of unleashing on Lagos to the detriment of the city’s enviable records