It appears the tormentors of a former governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode are not done with him yet, writes Olawale Olaleye
It would not be a controversy of history that Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode was the first democratically elected governor of Lagos State that did not return to the office for a legit second term. Not on account of choice but because certain political forces reckoned his re-election could damage their interests, albeit not the development of the state.
What had begun like a child’s play or what many had thought was a mere kite-flying soon became a reality in the hands of the former governor. And in spite of the many interventions from far and near, including President Muhammadu Buhari, Ambode still did not get a re-election ticket, because the general overseer of Lagos wanted it like that.
In fact, denying him the re-election ticket was not all that was in the cooler for him, there was also a plan to impeach him and in a sense obliterate his memory from the state as though he never passed through it.
At a point, he also thought of the need to fight back. He had received admonitions from different people and was going to push back. But, he soon realized that the forces for him were not in any way close to those against him in numbers and as such, it might not only be an effort in futility, he would eventually force the hands of his tormentors to go all out.
As a party man, he let it all go, announced support for his successor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and moved on quietly until he left the office. That, however, was not going to be the end of his brief but eventful sojourn on the political turf of Lagos.
Soon, there were speculations about his possible nomination as a minister, although representing the Southwest zone. The debate about this had gone on for a very long time and as the time to announce the list moved closer, it looked more like he was a minister-in-waiting. While he maintained a degree of silence on it, those who admired him had started touting his possible nomination.
And boom President Muhammadu Buhari released the shocker! A 43-name list was sent to the Senate and Ambode, whose fate many thought had been sealed was surprisingly missing. In fact, agents of his traducers immediately took to the social media to mock and make a joke of it – a development they claimed showed that those against him had a much stronger hold on the current system.
Of course, no one has been able to explain why the president did not eventually consider Ambode for a ministerial posting. But independent findings, however, showed that those who made him governor and withdrew his re-election ticket at the same time, had written many petitions to the president, including several personal visits to ask for the one favour: do not appoint Ambode a minister.
What is even more interesting is that writing letters against a potential ministerial nominee or asking the senate not to clear anyone has always been part of the bad politics of Lagos and it does not matter, who is coming to fill the Lagos spot, the moment the ruler of Lagos does not approve of it, it becomes a problem automatically.
Like Ambode, the same people did even worse in 2015, during the first coming of Mr. Babatunde Fashola as a minister. There was nothing they did not do to alter his trajectory. Not only did they personally take their complaints to the president, but they also wrote all sorts of letters to the anti-graft agencies and sponsored reports, trying to diminish his standing.
Even as an opposition candidate then, the same forces in Lagos, that had held the state down for many years, tried on two different occasions to prevent the clearance of Senator Musiliu Obanikoro as a ministerial nominee from Lagos. Former First Lady of the state and senator for Lagos Central, Oluremi Tinubu, almost had a physical confrontation with Obanikoro on the floor of the senate as a result.
It is no wonder, therefore, that while many people knew where Ambode’s problem emanated from, they viewed it differently when they place his matter side-by-side with that of Fashola, who despite the name-calling and attempt to shame him, made it on the list and was even handed a signature ministry.
It also belies logic that if as President and leader of the ruling party, his intervention in the Ambode re-election matter was ignored, because they thought a decision had been taken by the ‘political kingmakers’, why should their letter of opposition against him be taken seriously by the president?
Although people are already saying Ambode is being considered for something else by the president (if it ever comes), what is certain is that those after him are not going to back off anytime soon.
With a God complex that has grown bigger than their dream, their sense of importance and assumption to make anything happens would not let them look away from continually being Ambode’s nemesis.
Above all, the former Lagos governor is the one to learn from this if at all luck shines on him again and the universe decides to prove Himself. He cannot, in all honesty, run away from the fact that his politics was very bad as a governor, a style, which underwhelmed his otherwise impressive efforts at improving the lot of the people and changing the Lagos narrative.
As a governor, who desired to return to the office, Ambode’s politics, human relations, and style suggested otherwise. He was too complacent and unyielding. His body language suggested he did not give a hoot about another term but was comfortable with his first four years. Many of the complaints against him were even beneath him. But that’s an era already gone with history, more so he once recently admitted to having learnt his lessons.
Perhaps, there would be yet another opportunity for the the Teacher’s Son, as many close to him are wont to call him, to redeem himself and be able to tell his story someday in a manner that would not just evoke emotions but put the facts where they belong. Until then, it appears Ambode might have been snookered again because his tormentors are not slumbering.