While Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the immediate past governor of Lagos State became tagged with the unsavoury reputation of being the first sitting governor of Lagos to lose the ticket for a second tenure, Nseobong Okon-Ekong argues that the conversely inherent show of good character, strength and courage on the part of Ambode positioned him as a clean and gentleman politician, with a likely chance for another bid for Lagos governorship.
From today, Wednesday, September 8, 2021, it is 480 days to January 1, 2023. That is 15 months or 69 weeks away. All preparations that are needful for a successful national elections in 2023 are going on. As a result of the high stakes, the leading political parties are experiencing multiple crises.
In Lagos State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu stands a good chance for re-election, having performed above average, in the estimation of many.But political calculations, especially in Lagos and the privilege for re-election is not always predicated on good performance, otherwise, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the immediate past governor of the state would be serving his second tenure now.
That is assuming Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a former governor of Lagos takes all the definitive political decisions in Lagos. Even from his sick bed in London, which has recently become a Mecca, the Asiwaju of Lagos and Jagaban of Borgu still gives the command, no matter how weak his voice may sound, his troop of loyalists must listen intently to hear when he tells them to jump.
Our collective memories are very much filled with the events leading to and during the 2019 governorship selection process for the APC in Lagos. Tinubu’s body language did not favour a second term for Ambode, who was unofficially accused of stepping out of line with Tinubu’s vision for Lagos, which is wrought in iron balsted in a furnace at his Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi home. As the lines are blurred between his plans for the future of Lagos and his personal interest that can bring, or that may be perceived to bring, direct or indirect benefits to him, Tinubu has reserved to himself the right to determine who is taking Lagos in the direction of the common good
Ambode, it was said, refused to bribe Lagos legislators, turned down the proposition to concession the Fourth Mainland Bridge to a construction company linked to Tinubu, kept Alpha Beta, the tax company in check, revoked the concession contract for the redevelopment of Falomo Shopping Centre and banned Vehicle Inspection Officers from Lagos roads. He was also in the process of ridding Lagos of the menace of ‘area boys’ operating as members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).
In 2019, Ambode thought he had it figured out and was in the good books of Tinubu, the assumed omnipotent of Lagos politics. That was until the final push, when the immediate past Lagos governor was taught a bitter lesson in a skewed governorship primary, in which the odds were highly stacked against him. Hemmed in on all sides by turncoats and obstacles that his teaming army of supporters could not fight.
The contest for the Lagos APC governorship ticket was fierce. Ambode conceded defeat in an emotion ladden broadcast in October 2018.
“The interest of our beloved state must always supersede that of any person or group,” Mr Ambode said. Though he criticised the primaries, alleging violence, electoral malpractices; and that he and his supporters were disenfranchised, he has remained in the APC. As he bid the state farewell on the eve of his exit as governor, Ambode looked back at his administration. “A few of our policies might have been unpopular but these were decisions taken with the best interest of our state in mind. With the benefit of hindsight, maybe we could have done some things differently but our intention was always clear, for the good of Lagos,” Ambode said.