Monday Column by Emmanuel Yawe
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The out-going Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode had the opportunity to open up his report card to Editors from all over Nigeria last week. It was at the Biennial Convention of the Nigerian Guild of Editors which he hosted from 3rd to 5th May.
“I came here as a technocrat and all I wanted to do was to work”, confessed the man who was given the rough end of the stick by his party – the All Progressives Congress (APC) – that denied him the ticket to run for a second term at the primaries last year.
Trained as an accountant at the University of Lagos and other foreign universities, he spent 23 years working for the Lagos State government where he rose to such high positions as Accountant General and Auditor General of the state. He even became a Permanent Secretary in the states civil service. Such positions gave him exposure to governance in the state at a very high level and also an opportunity to imbibe the Lagos State Development Plan (2012-2025).
“It was a culmination of past development plans that is being referred to as the master plan or the blueprint. Don’t forget I have been part of this Lagos system for the past thirty years”, he said at the editors meeting in Lagos last week.
Explaining further, he said “when I came in in 2015, there was no need for me to prepare another development plan and so all I did was to take the four strategic pillars – the economic development pillar, the infrastructure development pillar, the social and security development pillars. So from day one on May 29th 2015, these were the things we started to implement”, he revealed.
Evidence that Ambode performed creditably is to be found in the visit to the state on 24th April 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari. The President was taken round to see for himself the legacies Ambode will leave when he hands over power to his successor later in the month. Some of the outstanding projects include the new Lagos Airport road, the Ikeja Bus Terminal, Ayinke House, Jubilee Bridge, Oshodi Transport Interchange and many more.
Out of these gigantic projects, the President commissioned a maternal and child health center at the Lagos State University (LASUTH), a Bus Terminal Interchange at Oshodi, a ten lane road leading to Murtala Mohammed International Airport and the Lagos Theatre House at Oregun, Ikeja.
A highly impressed Buhari had this to say; “Your Governor, Akinwumi Ambode has performed satisfactorily and we should all commend him for his contribution to the growth and development of Lagos State.”
President Buhari said the coming on board of the projects had clearly demonstrated the need to continue to provide infrastructure and opportunities for job creation at all levels, just as he said that the development was in synch with the efforts of the Federal Government to improve infrastructure particularly in the transport sector.
If the President who is the leader of the APC or one of its two leaders can say such nice things about Ambode, one begins to wonder why the party humiliated him at the primaries of last year. In my Column, published October 8th 2018 on this page, I observed that:
“His greatest crime is said to be his failure to lubricate the political machine that brought him to power. Local potentates of the APC all over Lagos felt left out in his distribution of patronage and put unbearable pressure on Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, the undisputed master of Lagos politics to ditch him.”
This they have done. So today, Ambode is down, but I can say with all conviction and certainty that he is not yet out.
The man appears to be made of stern stuff. At the meeting of editors in Lagos last week, he is quoted to have said that “I have learnt my lessons and I can say that I am a core politician now.”
But those of us who admire the gumption of this Lagos Bobo must hasten to enter this caveat: By declaring himself a “core politician”, he must avoid sinking into the stinking cesspool of corrupt Nigerian politicians. This category specialize in distributing the people’s wealth to some tin gods in return for juicy appointments to serve their narrow and limited political interests. Ambode must endeavor to stand above such mundane calculations.
The Lagos Bobo to me is a politician of the future. Nigeria will not remain in this shithole we have found ourselves in forever. Nigeria will one day wake up from her deep slumber. Politics of bread and butter will one day be a thing of the past in our country.
Additionally, I see a glorious day ahead when Nigerians will put away the shabby political petticoat of ethnic jingoism. On that day, Ambode, the Lagos Bobo will emerge and show the light in the horizon. The rest of the country will have no option but follow him.