By Rilwanu Usman Yakubu
Since the former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, exited the exalted office following the denial of a second term bid by his party, All Progressives Congress (APC), there have been unreported accounts of security breaches and threats around him and his family members, especially in the last six months.
Ambode has also faced harassment from certain quarters and it appears there are deliberate attempts to ridicule him publicly. This portends grave dangers for our nascent democracy. Although these incidents are largely unnoticed, the time is ripe to ask the question: who is really after Ambode?
Though no one has owned up, it is only natural that fingers must point in certain directions as being responsible for these dastardly acts.
Agreed, he presided over one of the biggest economies for a period of time and left his position peacefully despite obvious conspiracy, he never abandoned the part of contributing his best materially and professionally to develop Lagos State.
Why then are some people still after him, causing so much threat to him and his family? Lagos State is not the exclusive preserve of anyone, unless it has been so converted without the knowledge of the citizenry.
Without doubt, the former governor remains one of the most productive governors the nation has ever produced; he is a leader who cares for his people. While he was governor, all you read in the newspapers was about modern developmental strides in the state.
For the avoidance of doubt, here is a quote culled from a visiting military officer during the former governor’s ordeal in the hands of the Lagos State House of Assembly in 2019: “I was Commanding Officer and in charge of 23 countries in Africa, helping the military in the area of capacity building; all you read about in the newspapers are the unbelievable developments taking place in Lagos!” This quote was from someone who resided outside Nigeria!
Till this day, the former governor has continued to remain patriotic, living a humble and modest life. He has continued to exhibit competence and leadership qualities, contributing quietly to the development of smooth governance in Nigeria.
Perhaps, it was in recognition of this sterling quality in him that the ruling political party in Nigeria included his name in the newly created 61-member Contact and Strategy Committee to chart the path to 2023 for the party!
It is not certain, but as is being suspected, this new development may have thrown fear into the camp of whoever is afraid of the former governor’s massive achievements and sparked off the recent harassments.
Nevertheless, we are aware that the nation operates a democratic government and what the people desire is improvement and betterment of their lives. If they have someone in the person of the former governor who is ready to reduce their suffering, should they not admire him?
Lagos State should focus more on things that would drive the new realities and avoid petty politics and unnecessary distractions. This is the time to call a spade a spade. No personal ambition should be bigger than the overall interest of the state. Life is too sacrosanct to fiddle with.
There is more to gain from practicing genuine democracy with the interest of everyone taken care of. Lagos deserves to move forward with all the resources it can muster. This is not the time to play politics of hatred. The spirit of tolerance, unity, fairness and equity must prevail.
Let it be known that there is no kind of justification in the continued harassment of the former governor, no matter the reason. If no one can speak out, this is the time for us patriotic citizens to do so. A man who brought so much development to Lagos State should be embraced, not persecuted.
It is wrong for anyone who is aspiring for any position to see threats in others. Since his exit from Alausa, the former governor has never interfered in the affairs of Lagos State despite being a member of the ruling APC.
We should be mindful not to allow our ambition and pride to becloud our general sense of purpose. We must show responsibility and concern for the plight of others. We must also be conscious of those who exhibit extreme greed, avarice and incompetence and also beware of those often in the habit of monopolizing public offices for private use.
It is absolutely wrong for anyone or group to resort to the use of the social media to smear Ambode’s name or use the anti-graft agencies to launch a campaign of calumny against his person. That is not how to run a democracy; the nation is bigger than that and at a time when the world has gone hi-tech, it is shameful that there are people who still play this old game.
Nigerians will not forget in a hurry the persecution Ambode went through in 2018/2019 in the hands of the “strongman” of Lagos, Bola Tinubu. We are equally bemused by the entrappings of persecution ever since he left office. Just recently, the same “strongman” publicly declared that Ambode was taking Lagos State in the wrong direction during the official opening of the Pen Cinema Flyover, Agege. This is a project Ambode had completed 85 per cent before leaving office and just one of the numerous developmental projects he undertook during his tenure. It is necessary at this time for the Federal Government not to take these threats lightly.
We are using this opportunity to draw Nigerians’ attention to this new gamble and awake their consciousness for them to be on guard. No one knows what the dark elements are capable of producing next, but we call on all well-meaning Nigerians to wake up and take note. The former governor is a peaceful and law-abiding Nigerian and should be left alone. We are proud of his everlasting achievements.
•Alhaji Yakubu, national
secretary, Creative Center Against Mass Poverty, wrote from Abuja