“Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.”—Mark Twain.
In the last one month, the eyes of the nation was fixated on Lagos. Like child’s play, the rumour of the governor, Akinwunmi Ambode not getting a second term in office began and to the consternation of all, the rigmarole culminated in his ousting in a manner without precedents in the state. The All Progressives Congress (APC), being a party whose modus operandi relate in every way, shape or form with its siamese cousin, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), governors ordinarily take their second terms for granted, with the parties throwing the seat at them under the guise of first refusal however bleak a future they may have carved for their respective states. With this in the know, coupled with the financial wherewithal of Lagos which could make even the least skilful occupant of the throne claim some glory from the people, Ambode, in a hubristic fashion wore the cloak of invincibility, deluding himself that should worst come to worse, the party would fear the backlash a move that could deny him a second term would generate.
But the event of last Tuesday showed otherwise. Rolling in delusive grandeur, Ambode overrated himself. Followers of Lagos’ politics would remember how a similar fate would have befallen his immediate predecessor, Babatunde Fashola save for his high ratings amongst several residents of the state. At a time Lagosians had woven governance around the exiguous sharing of eye glasses and commoditization of the ballot as epitomized by Bola Tinubu, Fashola brought some amounts of intellection to the coveted seat, opening the weary eyes of the people to the potentials of democracy to elevate man beyond their basic instincts. With such a reality starring at the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the party backpedalled, knowing full well that should the charismatic barrister be thrown under the bus in the furtherance of the insatiable appetite of the cold, selfish wrangling of a leader, they could well bid the state farewell.
Armed with this, Ambode thought he could overcome the tide as did his predecessor, forgetting that even as corrupt as we’ve come to see Fashola’s administration, his performance in almost four years mirrors to the people as a decline from what they witnessed during the Fashola years. Fashola took over from a man whose only reason for becoming governor was to eat beyond fill and expand his sphere of influence at the expense of the masses. Fashola had the audacity to put up a mild rebellion while he held sway because he measured and knew the pulse of his subjects. They observed him in the dark, behind a motorcycle inspecting a road project; they witnessed his modest strides in healthcare; they saw him take charge when a deluge almost capsized the entire state. The man was so ubiquitous that workers feared he held strange abilities that could make him appear and disappear at will.
But Ambode is none of these. He possesses a first class degree but not a first class brain. This is why even in the midst of plenty, he has shown a lack of grasp of the most fundamental problems the state confront, from education through healthcare to the security of lives and property. Every neighbourhood in Lagos still has a private vigilance team lest they lose sleep; quackery is on all time high with helpless Lagosians finding solace in local herbs to cure themselves; classes are overcrowded, with schools not only grappling with understaffed, over-worked and underpaid teachers, but lack of infrastructure; the state continues to be run under the umbra of the people’s consciousness against the pronouncements of the appeal court which ordered that its finances especially in education be made open.
In the over three years he has been on board, Ambode has demonstrated an incapacitation at elevating governance in significant ways. Instead, he creates more problems for the state, chief amongst them, the making of the state into a vast refuse bin. In defiance of Robert Greene’s law, he stepped into a great man’s shoe, hoping to come out in praise. Having lost the heart of his gluttonous party members whose delinquencies are ever exemplified by an appreciation of self at the expense of the collective, he thought his plight could resonate amongst the people whom by all indications have become poorer and more desolate via the lethal combo of his and Buhari’s incompetence. Armed with this knowledge, Tinubu knew his ousting was a walkover.
Ambode deserves no pity. Like the playboy who returned to heaven from whence he came, he is supposed to be bade farewell, for his travails presented the millions of oppressed people of Lagos with another opportunity to wrestle power from the firm grip of the ruling party. This development further laid to waste the thoughts that Lagos—perhaps as a result of its cosmopolitan nature—is home to common-sense above other places, for events have shown that the people are as beholden to the mafia that runs the state as slaves are to their master. Even after being raped and defiled consistently, the people still allowed themselves to be forced to adopt as theirs, issues confronting the APC (or PDP as the case may be), wasting no time to pitch tent with the newest lackey of Bola Tinubu.
Since the beginning of the year up until the first week of September, one cannot but succumb to the sight of acclaimed members of the APC preaching the Ambode gospel, informing us how he was the best thing after ice cream. They shared his supposed achievements on social media; an online friend posted a flyer on his timeline aimed at organizing a Walk for Ambode alongside his preferred local politician. Not a few fought tooth and nail to become heads of the re-election committee of the Ondo-born Lagos governor. But the minute the man in whom their souls are beholden blinked, they became turncoats, reeling out Ambode’s sins and felonies: how he raped them, how he cursed them, how he starved them and how he is the worst thing after Ebola.
Should these subservience of independent thought processes be retained till election day, culminating in the triumph of Sanwo-Olu, the people should not look upon God to come to their rescue when the newbie finds it impossible to give what he does not have; for in the final analysis, we shall all realise the folly in deploying our mental faculties to creating strong men at the expense of strong institutions. Bola Tinubu did not become this monstrous all by himself. The people made him. The same can be said of Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Goodluck Jonathan, Olusegun Obasanjo, Bukola Saraki, David Mark and other analogue men who are responsible for the sorry situation the country finds itself.
This lackey who was brought from nowhere is a disaster waiting to happen. Since he came into prominence, he has come to be seen as a colourless character whose résumé hardly convinces one that he fits into the office the people unthinkingly advances him for. His public appearances present him as fake. His speeches are bland. The APC fancies him as a harbinger of the future because theirs is a tomorrow of a different course from ours. The future the APC hopes Sanwo-Olu will make bright will only make ours worse. This is a naked fact which the APC shamelessly acknowledged itself. Its leader, Bola Tinubu told us he withdrew his support for Ambode based on his deviation from the master plan he birthed. In his characteristic self-conceitedness, he marginalized the future of a state to his questionable worldview. As we’ve come to know, Tinubu’s master plan is a feeding-bottle arrangement that keeps the state vault open for himself and cronies. Joe Igbokwe was more revealing of the intents and contents of this master plan, alluding the governor’s defeat at the primaries to his non-committal to making elections carnival-like.
Hear him: “Anytime we would have elections in my ward or polling unit, they would have a carnival and we would cook for them. We celebrated like we were all poor; we would sit under the canopy and drink. We would vote and dance. These things are not happening any longer.
“Sometimes, people would run to you and say, ‘I need money to pay my children’s school fees.’ These are things we were doing before; we can’t do that anymore because you can’t get anything from the system. I tell you that it’s difficult for me as the publicity secretary of the APC in this party. I was poorer in the past three years than what it used to be in the last 16 years. I am not saying I should be given all that we were given in the past, but at least, we played the politics. We listened to the people. We shared ideas and we gave people attention so they could talk to us. People feel happy when you relate to them, pay attention to details.
“When you find yourself in power, you look to those downtrodden people. These are the people that matter; they are the people who vote. Big men don’t vote. Big men don’t go to polling booths. It is ordinary people that vote, especially women. With Gala and a bottle of Coke, they will vote for you and they will be happy. These things are nothing. That is somebody that will come out and stand in line for hours. Majority of the people that vote don’t have anything. If you empower somebody, who is a relation of somebody, a whole family has been empowered. All these things are just about playing the real politics. Politics is all about people, especially the downtrodden. You can’t dismiss that with a wave of the hand.”
Ambode could not have lost his bid for re-election for underperforming for it would have extended a similar fate to President Muhammadu Buhari and others like Yahaya Bello of Kogi who are epitomes of mediocrities. He lost not because he was not beholden enough to vested interests but because his transducers saw a whiff of soul in him—a trait godfathers have come to see as being responsible for their declining control over their subjects.
Lagosians must tell Tinubu that his master plan is personal to him and his family by embarking on a process that would guarantee the birth of theirs. While we await that, every slave master that is responsible for planning backwardness in our country must be sent into political oblivion. A master plan that sees the likes of Tinubu send his children to school overseas is not ours; a master plan that makes Tinubu convert state properties to his is not deserving of our adoption; a master plan that bequeaths six new cars to Tinubu every three years, a house worth N500m/N700m in Lagos/Abuja, a blank cheque at our expense for his healthcare and those of his household all because he “served” Lagos for eight years does us no favour. Lagosians should ask Bola Tinubu why he brags about a master plan that made Lagos the second least liveable city worldwide in 2017 and just two steps ahead of the least in 2018—placing her chiefly amongst states where “most aspects of living are severely restricted.”
The people must repudiate any slave that seeks to advance this silly plan of his master should they hope to exit what the pragmatic philosopher, Frantz Fanon in The Wretched of the Earth called “a world of underdevelopment, a world of poverty and inhumanity”. Sanwo-Olu should be the first victim of this mass-based repudiation to pave way for the young, vibrant and sophisticated souls that have summoned courage to take their country back.
Modiu can be reached on [email protected]