In His Shell… Adeyemi Ikuforiji Withdraws

To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven says the Ecclesiast and one person whose recent actions indicate his agreement is former speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly Hon Adeyemi Ikuforiji. Due to recent happenings in the political sphere that reconfigured the balance of power in the state, the decorated politician has decided to take a back seat and observe developments from the sidelines.

One of the pillars of Lagos politics Ikuforiji has taken a step from the centre stage where he ruled the roost as one of the kingmakers that decided who got what. The memories of how he bestrode the state’s legislative chambers like a colossus remain fresh in the minds of many. Under his tenure, which spanned the eras of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Babatunde Raji Fashola as Lagos governors, the executive and legislature worked hand-in-hand to enact laws that uplifted the centre of excellence to new heights.

Among his achievements as Lagos speaker were presiding over the creation of New Local Government Areas (Amendment) Law, 2005; Lagos State Number Plate Production Authority Law, 2006; Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority Law, 2007; Lagos State Signage and Advertisement (Amendment) Law 2007; Lagos State Citizens’ Mediation Centre Law, 2007; Lagos State Security Trust Fund Law, 2007.

His aura did not dim immediately after leaving office in 2015. In fact, he was one of those at the forefront of the keenly-contested race to take over from Fashola but fate and the powers that be in APC had other plans. The accomplished lawmaker who represented Epe Constituency for three terms ended up throwing his support behind the eventual winner Akinwunmi Ambode who went on to clinch the Lagos executive seat.

In no time at all, Ambode and Ikuforiji, his erstwhile challenger, became fast friends. The fact both trace their origins to the fishing community of Epe in Lagos East merely cemented a fraternal relationship born from mutual admiration. Whenever Ambode came under fire for some perceived shortcomings or the other, the former speaker was always the first to mount the walls in defence of his comrade.

Even during the short-lived succession controversy that briefly threatened to tear Lagos APC apart, Ikuforiji stood by Ambode through thick and thin. He did his best to convince the ranks and file of the party that ºthe outgoing governor should be allowed to also run for a second term like those who came before him. Alas, his pleas fell on deaf ears as Ambode was unceremoniously kicked out of contention in favour of the incoming governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Since then, Ikuforiji has found it more difficult to maintain his towering status of yore in the grand scheme of Lagos politics. Some of those who used to be at his beck and call are said to have dumped him and moved over to the opposing camp. Little wonder the well-travelled dude is hardly seen in recent important events and meetings ahead of the inauguration of the new executive governor. He has withdrawn into his anonymous cocoon to plot a comeback.

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