Are those who trigger political rumbles power-drunk dictators? Most unlikely, but, if they are, the fact remains that dictators do not operate all alone.
In very lucky circumstances, tremors always precede earthquakes, in which case a dash can be made for survival or to minimise either casualty figures or magnitude figures or magnitude of consequent damage. There were no such tremors before the political earthquake, which shook Lagos, leaving Governor Akinwunmi Ambode currently gasping for electoral life to win the primary election for a second term on the platform of his party, the All Progressives Congress.
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The aftereffect, even though generally believed to be towards a particular certain direction, cannot be decisive till the outcome of the open primary elections to pick the party’s governorship candidate. Before now, the standard was that an APC incumbent governor in Lagos State would, almost unopposed, contest for a second term. Although, since 1999, AD, AC, ACN almost never experienced rumbles, yet, currently, the APC is earth-shaking on an unprecedented scale. Never mind the fact that, between 1999 and 2007, two deputy governors were impeached while a third one was unilaterally dropped for the second term, in a somewhat “turn by turn” fashion.
Others who were alienated or alienated themselves from Lagos State either served in Lagos or were tied to Lagos State government. Among them were a former commissioner Munis Banire, a former Head of Service, Mr. Tinubu, a former and newly re-elected governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, former Lagos State governor, Raji Fashola, etc. To be fair, others are still part of the hierarchy of Lagos State government or the ruling APC. Despite these, the emerging uncertainty on Ambode’s political future, specifically, as Lagos State governor, is too dramatic and near incredible.
It seemed he was under watch to indicate the slightest interest in 2019 for a second term and be instantly challenged. The obviously pushed challenge is couched in the bogey of internal democracy not only of direct/ open primaries but also for any willing aspirant, usually a favourite of the party leadership, to vie for the ticket. The pity is that the intermittent rumble in South-West axis of the party of APC does not trigger the hard lesson. Nigerians don’t say ‘No.’ For any state governor or commissioner out of favour to be subsequently dislodged from position of authority, there is always a willing substitute to symbolise the dirty trick.
Even if polished on personal level, he or she will be pushed by friends or relations to see the development as opportunity. As long as this is so, more Nigerians, who otherwise should be self-respecting, will be vulnerable to humiliation in the future. Hence, intermittent political rumbles will never abate.
Are those who trigger political rumbles such as in Lagos necessarily power-drunk dictators? Most unlikely, but, if they are, the fact remains that dictators do not operate all alone. They are surrounded by willing, if unconscious collaborators.
As chief of staff to Bola Tinubu, his eventual surprise successor Raji Fashola, reportedly, was never ambitious to be a state governor and those interested in the job were blocked. Still, Fashola was hand-picked. Towards the end of his first term, he encountered some political rumbles but managed to survive.
Midway through his second term, the disagreement between Fashola and Tinubu became known to the public, over who was to succeed Fashola. At one of their rallies at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, Fashola openly called for internal democracy in picking candidates, including governorship candidates, for public offices. Visibly annoyed, Tinubu grabbed the microphone and talked down to Fashola that “with the type of internal democracy you are demanding, you could not have become a governor.” Topic closed, as Fashola was embarrassed. The clash was not lost on the crowd.
For a successor to Fashola, his idea of internal democracy never operated. Hence, as he failed to choose his successor, Fashola watched on as Akinwunmi Ambode, a civil servant, conveniently retired from service and got the ticket to succeed Fashola. Of course, he was Tinubu’s candidate and was elected state governor. What Ambode never bargained for was one term or that he would be dared against second term. In fact, yet to complete first term, Ambode, like Fashola, has fallen out of Tinubu’s favour and he is tasting of Fashola’s humiliation.
READ ALSO: Lagos 2019: Tinubu seals Ambode’s fate
Now, against Ambode there are two enthusiastic and willing substitutes. For any of the two challengers who may succeed Ambode, after the first or second term, a successor will either be chosen for him or he too (Ambode’s successor) will taste of Ambode’s punishment.
The fact that two challengers emerged 48 hours after picking up his form for contesting the governorship election makes Ambode the underdog.
What an embarrassment the Lagos showdown must be causing the state’s paramount ruler, Oba Akinlolu, who is known to be very influential with both governor Ambode and particularly former governor Bola Tinubu. Oba Akinlolu well in advance leaked to Lagosians that Akinwunmi Ambode, even before he secured his party’s ticket, would be the successor to Fashola, as the state governor. Indeed, Oba Akinlolu’s humorous campaigns for south-easteners resident in Lagos to vote for Ambode created misunderstanding, which died down later. It can only be hoped that whatever private efforts of the traditional ruler might be making to iron out differences between the two men will prove useful.
Reverend Ademowo, lately of Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos, must also be greatly embarrassed by the rumblings in Lagos politics. Not long ago, at a religious event also in Lagos, Reverend Ademowo was widely reported in the media to have said that a second term for governor Ambode was not debatable and was indeed, “a done deal,” (his exact words). What happened to that prophecy?
Not yet less embarrassed would be the politically-active Lagos residents who, especially after a successful merger of political parties, including Tinubu’s ACN to form the present APC federal administration, now seen by his supporters as a force to reckon with. Equally, after three years, Ambode also made his mark among APC supporters, including chairmen of Local Government Councils as well as Local Council Development Areas, all well funded last year to repair rural roads. Regretfully, the chairmen were reported last weekend to be singing a different political tone. Nigerians?
They might not have been induced with money but Nigerians love power, the source of which they worship for every other thing they deem comfortable.
Understandably, Ambode was not without ups and downs. For example, if written off in the oncoming survival battle (and he may still survive) his senatorial district, Epe, will forever cherish Ambode for the remarkable total transformation of the place from the erstwhile sleepy, virtually unnoticed and unattractive rural, derelict, almost ancient, if not backward, settlement to a sudden potential city.
Ambode may be dismissed as transforming Epe merely as son of the soil. Perhaps. But he modernised the place. He could have stolen the money, and nothing would have happened, Nigerian style, courtesy corrupt criminal lawyers raising legal technicalities to get bandits off the hook.
Yet, despite such deserved commendation, I was at Ogudu Estate on Lagos Mainland a fortnight ago and nobody ever expected the challenge to Ambode’s continued stay in office as Lagos State governor. Ogudu, a solace for mostly retirees all over 65 years and owner-occupiers. An estate over 30 years. This time last year, none of them paid N1 million as ground rent annually. Then Ambode’s review of ground rent about a year ago. Retirees at Ogudu Estate were very very bitter at their new rate. How much? Up to N57 million in many cases.
Following the political rumbles currently hitting Lagos State and the cloud of uncertainty on prospects of Ambode’s continued stay in office as Lagos State governor, there were two sharp words from those who bothered to respond.