AMBODE – HIS COURAGE, HIS COHORTS, HIS CASTRATION

Lagos State has always been the cynosure of all eyes right from Independence. The State has overtime maintained this feat both economically, socially, technologically, politically, and in all other spheres of human endeavours one can think of. This discourse will dwell more on the political trajectory of Lagos State in recent times.

Without exaggeration, we can boldly say that Lagos State has been blessed with good governance since Independence. From the days of Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson up to the incumbent Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, Lagosians could easily pinpoint landmark achievements by these men. This is not to say that they didn’t have (and display) their foibles.

A couple of weeks back, Lagosians woke up to the awry news that there is an estranged fallout in relationship between Gov. Ambode and his godfather, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, leader of the All Progressives Congress – APC. Many of us took it with levity – it’s just another theatrics by these politicians to shake up the polity a bit. Alas! It was not just a shakeup. This was more of a political tremor. Gov. Ambode was the casualty!

What happened?

Ambode – karma or courage?

The rift between former Governor Fashola and Ambode during the twilight of the former’s administration still remains a conundrum to Lagosians. What filtered at the time was that the former Governor sacked the incumbent over financial misappropriation. However, Fashola later cleared the air that no such thing happened. Whether this statement was made in good faith or just for political gains of retaining power for the APC remains unknown.

Ambode became Governor, and in no time, we experienced the good, the bad and the ugly. Initially, after the first few months of his administration, Lagos became notorious for terrible armed robbery incidences. Robbers became so brazen in their heinous crime, that Lagosians moved around in fear.

Traffic gridlock escalated. In fact, the Governor at the time was in a state of utter confusion; he tried shaking up LASTMA. Lagosians didn’t wait so long in tagging the Governor “jaiye jaiye Governor without action”. Comparisons began to be expressed by Lagosians between Fashola and Ambode. All these happened within 100 days of his administration.

Interestingly, things began to change for the better in the State as the Governor rolled up his sleeves and was set to work. Apparently, he only got inundated with the workload and responsibilities that come with governance in Lagos. He actually started new projects – well, these projects are all in the Lagos State masterplan – while he blatantly discontinued some laudable projects that characterised the Fashola administration. Two of such projects are the LAWMA project and the Red Bus BRT scheme. These two schemes are of the several highpoints of the Fashola administration. Of course, Lagos State Waste Management Agency – LAWMA predated Fashola’s administration, but he did a fantastic job in the proper management of the agency. The BRT scheme got consolidated in the Fashola era.

However, Ambode came on board and selected just a route to improve upon (the Ikorodu – CMS axis), changing the management and their buses. This practically saw to the smothering of the red buses, turning them into glorified “molues”.

Today, we are back to the pre-Tinubu era when Lagos was one of the dirtiest cities in the world. Today, Lagos is terribly an eyesore. The drainages are blocked again, unfortunately. This is a major disappointment of the present government. Reasons are best known to the Governor why he tampered with an already effective scheme. Nevertheless, this administration has taken giant strides in three and a half years.

Ambode’s achievements are quite numerable, but to mention a few conspicuous ones. In the last three and a half years, more roads have been lit as the government has mounted more street lights in the State with the Light Up Lagos project. There are also more intra-street roads rehabilitation and connectivity in the State. There are more road accessibilities today.

In terms of security, the government had robust collaboration with security agencies in bringing about protection of lives and property in the State. The government handled the menace of kidnappings, robbery and cultism well, especially in the Epe-Ikorodu axis. We cannot forget in a hurry the scourge that the Badoo incidences left us with. The Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps – LNSC was established, and made to operate effectively in all the local government areas of the State. The Lagos State Security Trust Fund has been boosted more than before for effective State security. Law and order have gradually been restored to these regions and other parts of the State.

The Oshodi Transport Interchange project commenced two years ago. The vision of the Governor is to turn Oshodi into an iconic transport hub. We cannot easily forget the historical demolition of shanty-markets and stalls in January 2009 by former Governor Fashola, making the place sane again. And when we thought that was the best of Oshodi came this new project. We are still in awe of what is going on there.

The Governor took it upon himself to see to it that the roads linking the international airport are opened up and easily accessible. This ought to be the Federal Government’s responsibility.

This is not to say that the Governor had performed excellently well. Yet, he hasn’t performed below average. His undoing, as we garner is that “he’s doing well, but he hasn’t been a good party man”. And I ask, is the Governor supposed to relegate good governance to the background in order to satisfy party leaders and members?

Personally, I think the Governor deserved a second term. He wasn’t supported for a second term not on the basis of bad or purposeless governance, but because he tried to challenge the status quo. This is courageous of him to put governance first, rather than play unprofitable party politics. Indeed, he stepped on toes. But it was worth it. Lagos State has enjoyed continuity in governance since 1999. This has been a trademark of the State. This has brought about steady and continuous development and political stability in the State. The masses are the better for it. Why alter it now for selfish reasons? Does the party now come first? Apparently, the masses are just a means to an end.

Gov. Ambode wasn’t dropped for sharp practices or corrupt tendencies, but because he probably refused to be a yes man. Let’s not forget that this trick happened in Fashola’s first term when there was an impeachment threat hovering around him. He sailed through at the time because of the undiluted support he got from the masses. The same game has been played once again with Ambode. Unfortunately, because he seemed to have stepped on so many toes in the pursuit of good governance, he was smothered into political irrelevance.

Has anyone asked why Fashola and Ambode were being persecuted at the twilight of their first terms? Is the Jagaban actually afraid that a two-termed Governor will be difficult to babysit? Won’t the genuflecting end once the Governor returns a second time? A Governor should not be subservient to any godfather. Everyone should be allowed to have his own time. Let the people decide for themselves who they want. Ambode was a man of courage in his period as Lagos Governor. He had his foibles, so did those before him. But he didn’t deserve this treatment. I congratulate him for the giant strides thus far. I commend his statesmanship and sportsmanship. I wish him the best in his future endeavours.

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