In 2004, as the curtains closed on a close contest in the American Presidential elections, exit polls seemed to indicate that the candidate of the Democratic Party John Kerry would carry the day. His supporters quickly brought out the celebratory drums while even some world leaders got in on the act by sending in their premature congratulations. But, along came the official announcement, and heartbreak for the Kerry camp, as incumbent George Bush was declared the winner of the elections.
For John Kerry in 2004, read Akinwunmi Ambode in 2019. For the second time in two years, the former governor of Lagos was presented the chance to seize victory from the jaws of defeat. For the second time in two years, he somehow managed to seize defeat from the jaws of victory. His camp, already jubilant before the announcement of the ministerial list, was thrown into disarray. Fast, upbeat music was replaced with a mournful dirge.
This was Ambode’s chance at redemption, but he bungled it. The same way he bungled his chance to continue the tradition of two-termism in the Lagos State Government House. As governor, his perceived high-handedness left the party leaders with no choice but to torpedo the ship of his ambitions. And reported overconfidence led to his omission from ministerial list.
Recall that the town had been awash with rumours that the presidency would compensate Ambode for his loss in Lagos by making him a minister. Sources confirmed he was nailed-on for a spot at one point but the Tinubu camp who ousted him in Lagos also managed to oust him from Abuja, installing one of their own as the ministerial representative from the state instead. His closeness to the president couldn’t save him from another political cancellation. The man who wished to get his pound of flesh from a former godfather instead once more became a prey to the Lion of Lagos.
But why? This is the question on everyone’s lips. After all, that Buhari could come to Lagos to inaugurate some of Ambode’s late-term projects spoke volumes of their friendship. However, according to sources in Aso Rock, the presidency had to erase his name in order to avoid any conflicts so soon after his reelection. The Tinubu camp, unamused by the Ambode followers’ premature celebrations, reportedly threatened fire and brimstone should the ex-governor’s name appear on the list.
And so the man who began as a political orphan before finding temporary solace is once more cast into the wilderness, an outcast without a true place to call political home. Neither the Lagos nor APC nor the Òndó chapter of the party would even acknowledge him publicly and even the president has dashed his hopes in a cold hard stone.