Opinion: Extricating Lagos from the Captivity of Bola Tinubu by Femi Aribisala

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Opinion: Extricating Lagos from the Captivity of Bola Tinubu by Femi Aribisala

The drama currently going on in APC over who will be the party’s flag-bearer in the coming gubernatorial election in Lagos is as fascinating as it is disturbing. The same party that schemed to ensure that Buhari is the sole APC presidential candidate for 2019, is determined that Akinwumi Ambode, the current Governor of Lagos State, is not the APC candidate in the gubernatorial election in 2019. If Buhari who has performed abysmally, is given an automatic second-term ticket, why not Ambode?

Godfather-cracy

All this turns on the whims and caprices of one man, Bola Tinubu; the self-styled “godfather” of Lagos and even South-west politics. Tinubu is determined that Ambode must be unseated, and he has refused the entreaties of the president, the vice-president and other APC stalwarts outside Lagos. Why should a thriving city-state like Lagos, the economic jugular of Nigeria, be allowed to be held in capricious captivity by one man?

Tinubu apparently has a new favourite-son in the person of Babajide Sanwo-Olu. He issued a statement on Twitter, saying Sanwo-Olu is a better candidate who is endowed with superlative vision and commitment and who also possesses a wealth of experience and exposure. If so, why did Tinubu choose Ambode four years ago? Where was Sanwo-Olu then?

In declaring his support for Sanwo-Olu, Tinubu declared that Ambode is not following his blueprint for Lagos. This is ridiculous. Tinubu is not elected into any office in Lagos, so who cares what blueprint he has? Which electorate authorized a Tinubu blueprint for Lagos?

The question that arises is whether Lagosians will stand for this utter disdain for democracy. Has Lagos, the economic jugular of Nigeria, now become the personal property of Bola Tinubu? Is Lagos State now a limited liability company owned by Tinubu? Are Lagosians herds of cows and is Bola Tinubu the chief herdsman?

The answer must be a resounding No! But the problem I have up to now is that I have yet to hear the indignant reaction of Lagosians. Do they accept this effrontery, are they only keeping their powder dry until election day?

Follow the money

When Rochas Okorocha insisted that his brother-in-law must be the next governor of Imo, he was ridiculed from Lagos to Maiduguri. But what do we have here? The Yorubas, and even the Lagos press, are essentially quiet in the face of Tinubu’s overreach. Their silence is deafening.

Already, Tinubu has gathered behind him the usual suspects of political sycophants. The Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) in Lagos State is backing Sanwo-Olu, Tinubu’s anointed. So are 36 out of the 40 members of the House of Assembly. Even Ambode’s commissioners in Lagos State are also lining up behind Sanwo-Olu.

Dele Sobowale’s explanation for this anomaly is telling. He says: “It is now generally known among the “coup plotters” that some Commissioners in Lagos State cannot boast of four million in their account.”

This means the revolt against Ambode is pure and simply a bread and butter issue. Ambode must go because he has not practiced effectively the sacred politics of “Chop, I chop.” He must go because he has refused to open the money vaults of the state for plundering. He must go because the powers-that-be are embarrassed by the revelation of a recalcitrant top manager of Alpha Beta that the company has siphoned more than N160 billion of Lagos taxpayers’ monies over the years.

Of course, the excuse is that Ambode has not performed. Armchair apologists for the godfather point to Apapa gridlock, tankers parking on bridges, refuse cluttering the roads and extortionate land use charges as Ambode’s sins. But the same people that say Ambode should go allegedly because of non-performance are asking Buhari to stay for four more years in spite of non-performance.

Bobby-trap

Ambode is not known as a seasoned politician. But he has a set a trap for Tinubu and his cohorts, and they have fallen right into it. He waited until the last minute to reveal that Tinubu’s new favourite-son was arrested for spending fake dollars in a nightclub in the United States, where he allegedly spent some months in jail. He also says Sanwo-Olu’s competence is doubtful as he spent time for psychological rehabilitation in Gbagada General Hospital.

It is significant that Sanwo-Olu has not made a spirited refutation of these allegations. So, what is going to happen now? Is APC going to nominate an ostensibly corrupt politician as its governorship candidate in 2019? If so, the party is on its way to commit suicide in Lagos State.

If Ambode wins the nomination in spite of Tinubu’s non-endorsement, then it is the beginning of the end of Tinubu’s lordship of Lagos politics. If Ambode loses to Sanwo-Olu but decides to fight on on the ticket of another party in Lagos, then for sure, APC will lose the election in Lagos because its vote would be split.

This brings to mind the scenario in the past when the struggle between Sarumi and Agbalajobi facilitated the emergence of Sir Otedola as governor of Lagos. Whatever the case, the electorate must snatch Lagos back from the clutches of Bola Tinubu. 20 years of enslavement is long enough. It is past time: Lagos must be free!

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