By Casmir Igbokwe
Bola Tinubu and Akinwunmi Ambode are playing hide-and-seek with Lagosians. In spite of pretensions to the contrary, there appears to be no love lost between the camps of the two men. And the situation is affecting governance in Lagos.
Last week, members of the Lagos State House of Assembly threatened to impeach Governor Ambode. They accused him of some infractions in the 2018 budget. The governor, the House added, had started spending from the 2019 budget estimates without the appropriation bill being first laid before the House. They summoned him to come and clear himself within one week or face the music.
Ambode has defied this order. He had dispatched the 2019 budget proposal to the Assembly through his aides in December 2018. The lawmakers were furious that he did not bring the budget to the House himself. Under normal circumstances, there wouldn’t have been any problem. After all, Ambode and the lawmakers are members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
But, sometimes, the way of politicians is crooked. Early last year, the song in Lagos was Ambode lekan si (Ambode for one more term). Different groups such as the Lagos Youth Initiative, the chairmen of 20 local government areas and 37 local council development areas, and the APC senators and House of Representatives members from Lagos endorsed the governor for a second term. They all hinged their support and endorsement on what they called Ambode’s massive infrastructural development and giant strides in all sectors.
Ironically, the dance steps changed in the run-up to the APC primaries last October. Like turncoats, these politicians turned against the governor. They remembered that he repealed the 16-year-old Land Use Charge law and enacted a new one, which hiked the rates to the discomfort of many residents. They recalled that Lagos has become too dirty in recent times. And they fumed that traffic jam was killing Lagosians slowly. Tinubu, a former Lagos governor, was to explain later that Ambode was a good governor but not a good party man. The governor tried to fight back. But he soon discovered that the game was up. He stepped aside for Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who is now the governorship candidate of the APC in Lagos. It was a humiliation too heavy for any sitting governor to swallow.
The natural questions are: has Ambode forgotten this undue treatment meted out to him? Is there any truth in the allegations making the rounds that some godfathers in the state wanted him to release huge sums of money for campaigns in the state?
Only Ambode and Tinubu can answer these questions effectively. Remember that the outgoing governor openly called Sanwo-Olu a mentally unstable junkie during the campaign for the primaries. Although he currently says nice things about voting for the APC, he is suspected to be secretly sabotaging Sanwo-Olu’s campaign. Of course, he cannot openly move against his party for now. The consequences would be too dire for him.
For an ordinary resident like me, the concern is that this political tension has negatively affected governance in the state. Just take a look at the state of some roads in Lagos and you will seek no further proof. Some portions of the road between Trade Fair and Alaba are a death trap. Trucks have continued to fall there, especially at Barracks Bus Stop. But there is no remedy in sight. It was at this Barracks Bus Stop that a tanker carrying 33,000 litres of fuel fell and exploded last Wednesday. At least two people lost their lives and about five vehicles got burnt. What does it take to apply some palliative measures on this road? Do we wait until it consumes more lives before we do something?
The road that links Jibowu from WAEC area in Yaba is another eyesore. It looks like there is a burst pipe somewhere. Thus, flood has created deep potholes on some portions of the road. The story is the same in many other areas of Lagos.
Dirtiness is another problem. In many parts of Lagos, you see refuse heaps. This is despite the recent attempts to tackle the menace. In some places, the drainage systems are cleared of rubbish, only for rain to wash the thing back into the gutter because nobody bothers to remove the excavated rubbish.
Nevertheless, the governor started well and he needs to end well. To his credit is the ongoing construction of Oshodi transport interchange, comprising pedestrian bridges, shopping malls, CCTVs, and Oshodi International Airport Road. He also built bus terminals, and pedestrian bridges in some parts of Lagos. His government also disbursed a total of N4.5 billion to 5,500 beneficiaries of the Employment Trust Fund as at December 2017. Ambode’s government also beautified the state with the erection of monuments, parks and gardens.
Last Tuesday, the governor launched 1,000 hectares of modern satellite city in Epe area of the state. The project is estimated to create 200,000 jobs and provide housing schemes for the Lekki Free Trade Zone. He also promised that the state government would construct a road to link Shagamu-Benin Expressway from Lekki Deep Sea Port and a 50-hectare truck park.
This is good. But what about Lekki Phase II, Oko-Orisan and some other good government schemes? When will the subscribers take physical possession of their land? When will they get their certificates of occupancy? Sometime in 2017, Ambode signed cumulatively, a total of 4,445 electronic certificates of occupancy (e-C-of-O). He appears to have slacked of recent.
My advice is that he should not relent. But he should first drop his ego and do the needful with regard to the proper presentation of the 2019 budget. All the activists advising him otherwise will not save him when impeachment comes. In the twilight of his second term in office, former Governor Raji Fashola reportedly had skirmishes with some power brokers in Lagos. He was able to manage the situation and came out unscathed. Today, he is triple-in-one minister, Works, Housing and Power. Will Ambode come out from Alausa the same way?
He can if he plays his cards well. So far, he has been following President Buhari on campaign tours. At least, this may fetch him a ministerial position, if APC wins. In case he moves to Abuja after May 29, he should remember the perennial Apapa gridlock and the sufferings of the residents there. He should make it a priority in their Federal Executive Council meetings.
But should this permutation fail, he should defect to the Peoples Democratic Party. I am sure PDP stalwarts like Uche Secondus, Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi, Bukola Saraki and Bode George will welcome him warmly. He should then team up with Jimi Agbaje to sing his free-Lagos song.
Agbaje, who is the PDP governorship candidate in Lagos, has been saying he wants to free Lagos from Tinubu, who he described as an emperor holding the people hostage. “Pharaoh, you must let our people go,” Agbaje had warned.
Will Tinubu also let Ambode go? Will he tell the lawmakers, who are known to be fiercely loyal to him, to leave the governor alone? Will Ambode forget his bitterness for now and adopt diplomacy in his face-off with the state lawmakers? Very soon, we will know the shape this unnecessary last-minute war dance will take.
Re: Nigeria’s liberation hour has come
In the thoughtless support of Buhari, some people take, hook, line and sinker, what he says and does without due regard to the legal provision as in the instant case. Buhari is not the law. Some people, either by design or accident, are leading him to his political grave.
– Barr. Edet Essien, +2348037952470
Cas, my heart bleeds when I watch Buhari’s behaviour. Thought the man who is seeking his people’s mandate should be humble enough to plead and beg for votes, but this man is arrogant. They should remember the hero of this democracy, Goodluck Jonathan, wrote his name in gold. God will not forgive Tinubu and APC for giving us scorpion instead of saviour.
– Tobias Igbokwe (Sun Aba) +2348056341759
Truth of the matter is that what is happening in this government is not a new thing as far as governance in Nigeria is concerned. Past governments also did their own wrong doings and Nigerians voted them out. It’s left for Nigerians to decide on February 16 whether to continue with this government or power must change hands.
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535
With regard to the rule of law, we call on the UN, AU and world powers to beam the searchlight on Buhari government and also prevail on him to restore the CJN. They must also monitor the general election to make sure that it is not rigged, because what happened was pure coup that must not be allowed to continue. The Southern Nigeria People’s Mandate (SNPM) wishes to commend NBA, governor of Rivers State, PDP, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Reps, NUJ, CUPP, Charly Boy and other Nigerians who have condemned the action of President Muhammadu Buhari. We commend them and assure them of our support. SNPM calls on National Assembly to impeach Buhari, if he fails to revise his decision within seven days from now. Thanks.
– Augustine Chukwudum, President; Rafiu Diya, Secretary-General, Southern Nigeria Peoples Mandate (SNPM), +2348063975566
- First published in The Sun of Monday, February 4, 2019.