Lagos 2015: The Ambode phenomenon

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The ascension of an accountant, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode as a top player in the 2015 political milieu is a deliberate effort to keep the political dynasty established by the national leader of the All Progressives Congress,  Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu

By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & Olasunkanmi Akoni
Until two years ago, he was buried in bureaucratic obscurity; to be seen, but not to be heard. That is the immediate past Accountant-General of Lagos State, Mr. Akin Ambode who has emerged as the front runner in the keen race to succeed Mr. Babatunde Fashola as governor of Lagos State.


Tinubu and Fashola

Tinubu and Fashola

Just few weeks ago only a few members of the Lagos bureaucracy could have claimed acquaintance with him. But his star rose early and in his mid thirties, against all odds became the youngest accountant-general of the state at the age of 37.

Given his position as the chief custodian of the treasury it was not long before his path crossed that of the then governor of the state, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Tinubu had at the turn of the century become stressed on account of the political war he was waging against the then president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who through legal technicalities impounded the funds earmarked for the state’s local government councils following the controversy that trailed the creation of additional local councils in the state.

Ambode became a quiet star in the eyes of Tinubu and his inner circle when he framed the financial infrastructure that helped the state survive those challenging times. It was as such inevitable that Ambode would become a memorable presence in the consideration of Tinubu, the state’s number one political leader.

Political leader
So, when few years ago the variations on how a successor to Fashola would emerge began to be discussed, Ambode easily fit into the considerations that were framed by Tinubu.
Though Tinubu had repeatedly dismissed insinuations of religion as a factor in the consideration of a successor to Fashola, not few believed that it was a consideration in the eyes of the Asiwaju.

Though a Muslim, Tinubu had almost always buried his religious inclinations outside his politics. His religious liberalism is accentuated by the fact that his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu is a Christian evangelist, and also chose as successor, a Muslim married to a Christian.

Given that the last Christian to have governed the state was the just deceased Sir Michael Otedola who left office in 1993, many Christian leaders had privately sought out Tinubu on the issue. He was said to have listened to them with a promise of taking their views into consideration, but without a promise of zoning the governorship between the two dominant religions in the state.

What was of more consideration in the matter of zoning was the crave by the Lagos East Senatorial District to have a go at the office and that was where Ambode fit in perfectly.
It was gathered that Ambode had been selected by leaders in the state for the past two years to succeed the incumbent in 2015.

Ambode; Will he succeed Fashola?

Ambode; Will he succeed Fashola?

According to a party chieftain who did not want to be mentioned in the media, “The party leaders pencilled Ambode for Fashola’s seat when he (Ambode) was secretly asked in 2012 to tender his resignation even when he was not due for retirement.”

“The strategy then was to place him in good stead for the job ahead of 2015 which he accepted in good faith. Ambode is a good public servant who re-engineered the financial fulcrum of Lagos economy, an astute administrator which earned him much respect from the former governor of the state and national leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“Though, the slot is open to other qualify candidates in the party, the primaries will justify the end.”
It will be recalled that Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, last week, publicly, expressed his confidence and support for Ambode as the next governor of Lagos State to succeed Fashola. As part of the game, it was learnt that Tinubu asked Akiolu to announce his intention to the people .

The traditional ruler gave his endorsement while addressing the audience at the public presentation of the biography of Mr. Akin Ambode, titled: The act of Selfless Service, written by Marina Osoba, at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.

According to Akiolu, the elders of the state had met and decided that Ambode would be the next governor of the state.
“Ambode remains the best man with the required pedigree and character to take Lagos to the next level,” he said.

The royal father however, acknowledged that he was not against anybody contesting for the governorship of Lagos and that all political parties, including APC have their own procedures for selecting their candidates for elections.

Given Akiolu’s strong bondage to Tinubu, the proclamation inevitably threw up the fact that Ambode is Tinubu’s man for the job.

The outgoing governor, Fashola, according to sources also endorsed him when he was presented by Tinubu.
However, it should be noted that Tinubu, being a master player may not have laid all his cards on the table but could spring a surprise at the d of the day because whatever the oracle says, according to party faithful, is the final.

There are others still waiting in the wings either for Asiwaju to change his mind on Ambode or for circumstances to move Ambode out of contention.
Among them is Dr. Lekan Pitan, a former commissioner in the state, Speaker Adeyemi Kuforoji of the State House of Assembly and Rep. Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

One star of the lot was Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, the incumbent commissioner for works who according to some sources was in serious consideration and a favourite of both Fashola and Tinubu until his own father and a political leader in the state took up a traditional title in their native Ogun State. One source disclosed that Tinubu gnashed his teeth when news of the father’s decision to become an oba was broken to him.

Another contender on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC is Senator Ganiyu Solomon. The senator, however, is apparently not waiting on Asiwaju and has gone ahead to open a campaign office on Obafemi Awolowo Road, Ikeja in pursuit of his ambition. Solomon apparently would fight it out on the campaign ground in what could be the most phenomenal challenge to the authority to Tinubu’s lordship of the political landscape.

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