If Lagos Governor Akinwunmi Ambode survives the next couple of weeks and nicks the second term ticket he so badly craves, he’ll survive anything.
Such is the groundswell of opposition against him at the moment.
And much of that opposition is coming from within his own party, the APC. All of Ambode’s current travails are self-inflicted.
“Not even Bola Ahmed Tinubu can save him right now”, one source said of Ambode’s September to forget.
Like everyone already knows, Ambode has fallen out with Tinubu who stuck out a neck for him to get his first term. Tinubu isn’t pleased that Ambode went about the task of dismantling and rolling back a few contracts once he took over the reins in 2015, the grapevine says.
The Lagos Waste Managing Authority (LAWMA) and PSP operators were also shown the door by Ambode in preference for Visionscape—a so-called smart waste company that has only compounded the waste problem in an over-populated city.
Tinubu is also not pleased that Ambode isn’t following the Lagos masterplan that was put together by Tinubu and his eggheads between 1999 and 2007.
But beyond Tinubu, the 57 local councils in Lagos have all but rejected Ambode. And because council chairmen wield enormous grassroot influence and answer to Tinubu who controls the patronage network in Lagos, camp Ambode has been understandably jittery.
Not only is Jide Sanwo-Olu the anointed candidate of godfather Tinubu, the council chairmen have been mandated to “deliver him” for the APC during the primaries and during next year’s general elections. It is little wonder that these chairmen purchased the N22.5million nomination form for Sanwo-Olu and declared to the media that Ambode’s reign is over.
During one late night peace meeting convened by the Oba of Lagos to save Ambode and ensure he gets the second term ticket, the powerful council chairmen told the traditional ruler off and rudely asked him to mind his business.
Beyond biting the hand that fed him, Ambode hasn’t really posted a stellar performance as governor, given the state’s enormous resources, humongous internally generated revenue and sizeable allocation from the center.
Lagos currently boasts some of the worst road surfaces in the country, there is so much fanfare about big projects that are never completed, articulated trucks have been parked on major roads for a year with the governor looking so powerless in the face of all the gridlock, clogged drainage channels have remained that way to compound the city’s flood problems, inner city roads have virtually collapsed, Lagos is back to being filthy and smelly, there is little innovation from Alausa to solve the city’s perennial traffic woes, bedlam and chaos; and area boys (otherwise called street urchins) have been having a field day extorting from commercial motorists with not a soul to challenge them.
The lawlessness in Lagos, which was on the verge of extinction during the Babatunde Fashola era, has all but returned.
But maybe Ambode needs more time to sort out the city’s many challenges. Maybe Tinubu should really stop choosing his successors and let the electorate and party delegates decide for themselves for once. Maybe Tinubu’s overbearing influence in Lagos helps no governor and leaves them confused. But Ambode hasn’t helped his own cause with his below par performance either.
The groundswell of public opinion tilts toward his replacement because he has impressed only but a few. When Fashola fell out with Tinubu and was almost denied a second term by Bourdillon, the people stood by him because he was performing. At the time, Tinubu knew better than to mess with the people’s choice. Ambode is neither pleasing his godfather nor getting the people behind him—all of which leaves him in a precarious position.
Lagos is a special state thanks to its sheer population and premier economic status. It deserves a governor who isn’t as tone deaf as Ambode, who thinks on his feet, who is innovative and who fixes problems as they arise. Ambode goes to sleep until the problems become mountains he can no longer fix.
Should he brave the odds, ride the storm from Bourdillon and somehow manages to nick the second term ticket on the APC platform, Ambode should spend the first few weeks of his new term assembling a better team and promising himself not to be as disastrous and ineffectual as he’s been in his first term.
Godspeed Ambode, you’ll need all the prayers you can get right now.