“It is no use blowing the trumpet for the charge and then looking around to find nobody following.”
– Joseph Chamberlin
In a bid to douse tension in the state, Ambode has denied existence of any rift between him and his godfather.
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, last week, hogged the headlines of most national dailies over an alleged move by the National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to scuttle his second term ambition. For quite a while, there has been swirling wind of speculations about the alleged crisis of confidence between him and his godfather, but many people dismissed it as a beer parlour discussion.
Those in Ambode’s camp too must have heard it, diagnosed it incorrectly and applied the wrong remedies. Still basking in the euphoria of support of his party men, he flew to Abuja to pick his nomination form only to look around and found nobody following him. He was left alone in the lurch, while the strong man of Lagos politics struck with a different joker. He did so with his loyal team of political war horses who had positioned themselves for the last minute order to carry out a civilian-to-civilian coup d’état with absolute precision. It caught the governor’s camp napping, as those he relied upon to give their blessings to his ambition suddenly decided to beat a tactical withdrawal in one quick succession. Although the real masquerade has not made any pronouncement on the matter, the dramatis personae involved and the alarming profusion with which events unfolded point to the fact that Bourdillon politics is effectively on display here.
Some of the governor’s alleged sins that explain why Tinubu wants to drop him for his preferred candidate include widespread discontent among the APC supporters for lack of patronage, introduction of VisionScape in place of the old refuse management anchored on Public-Private Partnership which has been adjudged to be the most effective, the secret plot to build a separate political structure different from the existing one, as well as intrigues surrounding the allegation of illegal tax deals and money laundering leveled against Alpha Beta, among others.
There is now an uneasy calm within the APC, while the second term ambition of Governor Ambode is still hanging in the balance. Though some power brokers are said to have intervened with a view to prevailing on Tinubu to rescind his decision on the move for a change of guard, the effort is yet to yield the desired results.
In a bid to douse tension in the state, Ambode has denied existence of any rift between him and his godfather. If, however, all entreaties fail, the governor may want to slug it out with Tinubu’s anointed candidate in a direct primary. By so doing, he would be walking a tight rope because the omens are not looking too good for him as he would be the first governor since the advent of the present dispensation to be so treated.
In this case, his record of achievements and the connectedness between him and the party supporters would be his fallback therapy. In terms of performance, Ambode has some good dividends to parade. These include improved Internally Generated Revenue, infrastructure development and security to mention but a few. Ambode had disclosed at a town hall meeting that the plan of his government was to reduce the state’s dependence on federal revenue allocation to between zero and 10 per cent. This, according to him, would be achieved through proper harnessing of the rich tourism potentials of the state and building a robust service sector for Nigeria’s commercial capital. All this is in line with his vision to make Lagos State Africa’s model megacity and a global economic and financial hub. Perhaps, it is partly for this reason that he embarked on an aggressive revenue drive that led to the introduction of the unpopular Land Use Charge decried by property owners in the state. The order snag of the administration is the resurgence of refuse on the streets, as well as the intractable traffic snarl, which has become a major nightmare to Lagos residents. Some analysts believe that the crisis will fizzle out with time as was the case with former Governor Babatunde Fashola, now a minister.
Ambode joined the Lagos State civil service in the mid-80s and voluntarily retired in 2012. In 1998, he won the US Fulbright Scholarship for the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Programme in Boston Massachusetts. He also attended the Wharton Business School for Advanced Management Programme; Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield, England; the Institute of Management Development, Lausanne, Switzerland; INSEAD Singapore; and Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Boston, U.S.A.
He became the Accountant General of the state in 2006 and held the position until 2012, when he retired. He took over the governorship of Lagos State from Fashola in 2015.