THE Akinwumi Ambode scenario would confound not just a few close watchers of the Nigerian political system. The Lagos Governor, adjudged to have done well, won’t, however, be re-elected for another term.
It confounds because in the Fourth Republic so far, the Governors have shown they are the Lords. They are the kings in the states. They make the President, they make the Senator, the members of the House of Representatives, the House of Assembly members, the Ministers and the Commissioners in the states. In fact, they make and unmake every structure of the polity. They are even more domineering if the party they belong is in power at the federal level.
It is a difficult assignment to take on a Governor of this era. It’s an assignment only the man with the heart of a lion would undertake.
And only on very few occasions have such assignments succeeded. Take the example of Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju, of Anambra state between 1999 and 2003. He lost the people, owing backlog of salaries and pensions among other ills. The usually brave President Olusegun Obasanjo had to dribble like the awesome Maradona before he could block Mbadinuju’s re-election in 2003. Take the case of Governor Mala Kachalla of Borno state of the same period. It took the all-conquering political machine of Senator Ali Modu Sheriff to oust him from power in 2003.
There are very few cases like that. But there are countless stories of Governors who retained their offices against all the odds.
Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Governor of Lagos state between 1999 and 2007 faced a big battle retaining his seat in 2003. His supporters had rallied against the Afenifere structure that brought him into office, quite early into his tenure. The sing song then was ‘enough of Baba sope’ (enough of dictation by elders). The Tinubu loyalists believed that the elders of Afenifere were dictating so much to those in government and that the younger ones in power must be allowed to have their way. The campaign was intense, pitching then leader of Afenifere in Lagos, the GOD of Lagos politics, Alhaji Ganiyu Dawodu against Tinubu.
Dawodu threw his hat into the ring in 2003 to teach the recalcitrant Governor political lessons but got bloodied nose instead. Take the example of Governor Peter Obi of Anambra who existed among thorns as Governor. He presided over a PDP dominated House of Assembly and escaped any threat of impeachment in eight years. At the end of his tenure, he installed a successor.
In Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Al-Makura was also in Obi’s shoes in the early years of his administration. The PDP was completely in control of the State House of Assembly, making the fear of impeachment apparent. But rather than get the Governor impeached, Al-Makura succeeded as the lawmakers were fighting themselves instead. With the power of a governor, he won his place and will end his tenure next May. In Kano and Oyo states, the jinx of single term Governor was broken with the full deployment of state power by Governor Ibrahin Shekarau and Abiola Ajimobi respectively. Ajimobi was to christen his tenure Koseleri (we’ve not seen this before).
In most instances, the Governor has always triumphed, and the lesser mortals have learnt to live with that.
But here comes the Lagos scenario. Governor Ambode was entitled to re-election in 2019. But the structure of his party, the APC in Lagos has just cut short that ambition, courtesy his leader, Tinubu. It’s a replay of this saying: “When we are young we want to change the world; when we are old we want to change the youth.” Tinubu, who rejected the “Baba sope” of the Dawodu’s era, in adopting Babajide Sanwo-Olu and canvassing against Ambode, left no one in doubt he is entrenching the Bourdillon sope, phenomenon, a version of Baba sope.
But do you blame Tinubu for applying the dose he once rejected years ago on Ambode? It may be difficult to heap the blame solely on him. Ambode as Governor of Lagos did not play the politics of Lagos, what they call “being a good party man.” He did not create political friends, he did not create media friends. The best of coupists would tell you no coup succeeds without these two class of the society. No government also succeeds without them.
When the Tinubu structure came for Babatunde Raji Fashola as Lagos Governor, the Media saved him, the political friends also stood up. Opinions were divided and Tinubu beat a retreat.
Ambode adopted the theory that did not work in favour of Governor Segun Oni in Ekiti. A journalist friend once visited the state under him and advised he publicize his achievements. He simply told the journalist, ‘but the people can see what we are doing.’ He seems not to understand that the man on the street is like the plebian, who is susceptible to the sights and sounds out there.
Ambode worked in Lagos but he did not publicize his work. The people see the work he accomplished but they were still swayed by the sound bites out there.
Perhaps, being a Christian, we need to admonish him with words of the Bible in Ecclesiastes 3:22, which reads: “Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?”
But you must give it to him; as Governor, he has taken bold steps to reposition Lagos infrastructure. Sad, politics and political calculations won’t allow him another tenure.Read Full Story