IT is certitude that members of the Lagos State House of Assembly (LSHA) are hell-bent on impeaching Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for all manner of accusations. The kernel of the matter is not necessarily his planned vicious removal from office, but the vaunting desperation that smacks of a kamikaze dance! The attendant obsession with the impeachment project is the hallmark of a group’s character weakness, collectively.
Do these lawmakers want to tell the public that there would have been any inkling of thought to impeach Ambode if he had not lost the battle for a second term? Wouldn’t these his purported infractions have been swept under the carpet without anyone being subjected to any noise decibel? Is it just about now that the so-called unconstitutional acts were discovered? Politics in Nigeria is indeed a bullish enterprise without any personal moral rectitude, group respectability or institutional integrity.
Yet another question: do the Lagos legislators want to tell the world that if the godfather of Lagos politics who since leaving office has exclusively and unilaterally anointed his successors, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, orders them to immediately discontinue the looming impeachment process they will not? So, what brand of democracy are we practising? What this simply means is that there is more of emotive inclination and pecuniary consideration in this issue than reason.
The current attempt to demonize Ambode on all fronts is preposterous and laughable. His sainthood would have been intact if he had not lost face with the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) generally and Asiwaju Tinubu particularly. It is unfortunate that overnight Ambode has become a man—a sinner—that must be criminalized and possibly dehumanized at all costs in the name of impeachment. This should be a big lesson to politicians of all hues—whether independents or godsons.
It must be emphasized that any House of Assembly that resolves to remove any governor, there are a thousand and one reasons for the governor’s impeachment all of which are ingenuously covered by the 1999 Constitution (as amended). The instrumentality is a legislative weaponry that could be employed anytime especially in turbulent circumstances as in Lagos of today. What is happening in Lagos is sheer legislative rascality unfortunately backed by the constitution to intimidate the governor. I will not even call it witch-hunt because on paper everything seems to be against the outgoing governor who has just less than four months to complete his term. Why can’t the governor be allowed to serve out his term no matter his new-found imperfections? There is no perfection in human existentialism, everywhere and in all engagements. Three months-plus out of his four-year tenure will not exterminate Lagos residents.
The two major allegations for which the House of Assembly has summoned the governor to appear before it alongside some commissioners are: spending outside the 2018 budget and audaciously using funds in the 2019 budget without statutory legislative approval. If these allegations are true, they constitute constitutional breaches and legislative infringements that are condiments for impeachment—if absolutely necessary when it becomes the last resort (take note of the bold phraseology).
There is so much legislative antagonism and recalcitrance on this matter just because the governor’s days are numbered having lost his political parentage. Therefore, all opportunistic elements have become oppositional predators that must feast on the executive endangered species abandoned by almost everyone! I cannot imagine the emotional stress and leadership torture that Ambode is swimming in with the prospects of getting drowned if reason and maturity do not prevail. Last Monday, the governor tried to table the 2019 budget to the House of Assembly by sending an advance team. The message and the messengers were embarrassingly turned down. It was alleged by the legislators that there were due and conventional processes for such transmissions which Ambode, according to them, knows full well, but decided to act on his own accord. The governor was yet to address the impasse as at the time this column went to bed in the early hours of last Friday.
It is unfortunate that Ambode is a product of the same mechanistic system that has decided to jettison him not on grounds of incompetence or non-performance, but some unwritten party rules and norms. For instance, it is believed among the party’s leadership and caucuses that Ambode was stingy with public funds and did not “spread” money around as tradition demands! That is the challenge with consummate accountants being in charge of state treasuries: they clamp the noose on every source of questionable expenditure which cuts off “supply” to innumerable tribes of stakeholders and other hangers-on. This is not conjectural, but a statement of unimpeachable fact.
The most critical point in the ongoing drama is that the governor is being suspected of surreptitiously funding opposition with state funds for obvious reasons. This is very malicious. Why should any sane fellow suspect or accuse Ambode of that? Is it so simplistically feasible? At another turn, his critics say he has garnered enough money and is ready for a fight! Let us be serious: so some people foolishly believe that Ambode can now fight the Jagaban. All the five South-west governors put together cannot stand Asiwaju Tinubu in these matters with regard to outlay. Ambode will not be so daft as to take on the Jagaban or even the party—he is more intelligent than his accusers on this score.
It is amazing that everyone has deemed it fit to dump Ambode. It should be a subject of sociological enquiry. The celebrated whiz-kid of yesterday has suddenly become a political leper that should be quarantined from the itesiwaju space! Nobody of substance is intervening on his behalf. This conspiracy of silence is the way we are. People who should speak up when it matters most keep mum for selfish reasons because they do not want to lose face or risk their loyalty stipends and other inelastic benefits. Fleeting gains that border on abject poverty and reputational deviancy!
One thing is very clear: all that is happening between the LSHA and Governor Ambode is sheer politics—not budgetary controversies or incompetence. The moment Asiwaju Tinubu dumped Ambode for his ultimate successor I knew it was all over for him except there was going to be divine intervention before the primaries. This explains why his deputy and key commissioners publicly voted against him at the primaries. It is best to brazenly identify with the flourishing billionaire godfather by British standard and Asiwaju of Yoruba politics than a godson with a shallow pocket—the lack of self-dignity and bohemian manifestations of irresponsibility in the volte-face notwithstanding. After all, multifarious clans and levels of turn-coats are part of the Nigerian democratic architecture!
My summation: Gov. Ambode should just be allowed to round off his tenure in the name of all that is good. My empathy is not based on anything especial since we do not have any relationship and have never met. My only concern is that I supported his candidacy in 2015 on grounds of our being Great Akokites with unprecedented serial four full pages in this medium that ran consecutively because I believed in his intellect, administrative pedigree and leadership prospects. The current legislative shenanigans have not changed my standpoint and perception of the embattled governor. I still stand with him.
As the futility of Ambode’s impeachment lingers, it should be apposite for the House of Assembly to access equity with clean hands by forensically accounting for the money dispensed by the Executive to the LSHA under the leadership of Mudashiru Obasa, according to a civil society organization, Legislative Probity and Accountability. There must be fairness in this continual harassment and phishing for loopholes to hang Ambode.