When immediate past governor of Lagos state, Akinwunmi Ambode gleefully posed for the camera after revalidating his membership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) last month, many had thought the lingering crisis between him and the top hierarchy in the Lagos state chapter of the party which was a fall-out of the 2019 governorship primary and which cut short Ambode’s desire to secure reelection had been resolved behind the scene.
Some even predicted that having failed to secure any appointment at the federal level, especially in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet, Ambode’s time may come in 2023 as he may be considered for a senatorial seat or plum job in Abuja if the party secures victory again.
Events last week, however showed that the battle between Ambode and his successor, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on one hand and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the Jagaban Borgu and APC national leader is far from over and may linger for a while even after the 2023 general elections.
In September 2017, Ambode who was then governor of Lagos state flagged off the construction of the Agege-Pen Cinema Bridge, with a promise to deliver it by December 2018. Things however didn’t work as planned as he fell out with some party leaders in Lagos APC who withdrew their support for his second term and threw their weight behind Sanwo-Olu who was then the Managing Director/CEO of Lagos State Development Property Corporation (LSDPC).
Ambode lost the governorship primary in October 2018 to Sanwo-Olu and this apparently shattered his plans to complete some of the landmark projects he embarked upon. During his electioneering campaign, Sanwo-Olu promised not to abandon but complete all the projects Ambode couldn’t finish before leaving office. Many Lagosians hailed him for this bold initiative as it was far cry from what happened when Ambode mounted the saddle in May 2015. He practically abandoned some of the projects of his predecessor, Babatunde Fashola, now Minister for Works and Housing.
During the inauguration of the Agege-Pen Cinema Bridge last Friday, tongues were set wagging when Ambode, the originator of the project was conspicuously missing. When contacted, officials of Lagos state government kept mum on why he was not invited while the former governor, who has practically remained incommunicado since he left office could not be reached on whether an invitation was extended to him or not.
Tweeting via his verified handle after the inauguration, Sanwo-Olu wrote, “In line with our Strategic Transport Master Plan, I commissioned the 1.4 km dual carriage Pen Cinema Flyover Bridge and Ramp with 5 adjoining network of roads today.
“It was great to stand before Lagosians to celebrate the delivery of this landmark project, which reflects our administration’s belief in the principle of continuity in governance. When our administration was inaugurated, this project was at about 20% completion stage.With the delivery of this bridge, which is complemented with traffic signalisation and drainage channels, we have resolved the perennial traffic arising from huge human and vehicular movement from Agege-Pen Cinema Intersection towards Abule Egba, Fagba, Oke Koto and Iyana Ipaja.”
This did not go down well with many Lagosians who felt that because the project was at 20 percent stage when Ambode left office was not his fault; they argued that he would have delivered on the project long ago if he was reelected for a second term.
Also speaking during the inauguration, Tinubu said that Lagos State headed in the wrong direction under Ambode which prompted party leaders to come together for a solution. The solution was the emergence of Sanwo-Olu as alternative to Ambode. Tinubu who described Ambode’s failure to clinch the APC 2019 governorship ticket as historical, said those who doubted Sanwo-Olu can now see his performance.
“Sometimes in 2017-2018, the ship of this state seems to have headed in a very wrong direction. History had it that we came together, an election came and we chose a democratically-elected government of the people, our people, and for the people. They say ‘who is Babajide Sanwo-Olu’? We said, ‘you will find out’.
“Ever since Babajide became the captain of the ship of our state, he has turned it round to the right direction of progress, development, and good leadership quality. Both of you (Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat) and the entire cabinet have demonstrated unequal determination to redevelop, rebuild for the people of Lagos. You have made us seen a fine and determined government for the progress and quality of life of our people.
“We have a team led by Babajide Sanwo-Olu, partnered with Hamzat, and it is a team of great performers and doers. Building Lagos back for progress to showcase needs a focused government.
“Out of adversity, you make prosperity. Instead of showing demonstration and frustration, you put your hands on the plough. Since then, Lagos State has become one giant construction site throughout the nation. We thank you for not letting us down.”
Even though Ambode maintained a dignified silence over the remarks, many Nigerians stood up for him and heavily excoriated Tinubu and Sanwo-Olu for their unsportsmanlike attitude, especially to a man who is a member of their political family.
They brought out a video in 2017 where Tinubu, while commissioning some projects in the Alimosho Local Government Area of the state on March 29, 2017, thanked Ambode for his developmental strides in the state.
Tinubu had said “Akinwunmi Ambode, thank you very much. You will not be put to shame. Evil will befall those who wish you evil. You will not fall sick. That is a reflection of a very good governor, who sensibly is a thinker and a doer and when you combined the two –thinking and doing, there is no way you will not have development and progress.”
Also speaking, Chief Olabode George, a former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said contrary to Tinubu’s claim that the ship of Lagos headed in the wrong direction under Ambode’s stewardship, the ship actually missed its destination under Tinubu’s charge as governor of Lagos between 1999 to 2007.
George said Tinubu was the one who drove the state in the wrong direction, vowing that he would not stop tackling him.
“The ship of Lagos has been going in the wrong direction since he (Tinubu) ascended the throne of Lagos.Right from the days of Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson, Lateef Jakande, Buba Marwa, and all those who have ruled Lagos, people still talk of their legacies. But the ship of Lagos started going in the wrong direction when he (Tinubu) ascended the throne. I stand by all that I have said about him. I don’t have anything personal against him but against his policies. His daughter is the Iyaloja of Lagos, his son is the only one that has adverts all over the city and his wife is the one representing Lagos Central in the Senate. O to ge (Enough is enough)!
“We met very encouraging things when we were growing up but today where are they? No scholarship for students, no help for the masses. I don’t have anything against Tinubu but his policies. If he were in Osun State, I wouldn’t have been concerned but as a Lagosian, Tinubu is too important to be left alone and that is why I will continue speaking against his policies”.
Source:- Independent Ng