The coup against Ambode is complete. Sealed with the endorsement of Lagos APC primaries — with Jide Sanwo-olu returned as winner — by the national party chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, which was initially canceled by the national working committee. What started as rumour mongering has turned out to be the greatest political cacophony in the fourth republic. A godfather-godson relationship gone awry. One must learn never to discard rumours in Nigerian politics, most of it turn out to be true.
Watching Governor Ambode at the World Press Conference he called two days to Lagos State APC governorship primaries, you see a man who was drained of energy, weary, a man who once walked with swagger as the state governor succumbing to the intimidation of the garrison commander of Lagos politics. At the mercy of a man who has transformed himself into a demagogue, built on a political followership based on feudal overlord leadership, amounting to predatory godfatherism. The South West region has seen a man of the calibre of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu that being Lamidi Adedibu, a consummate thug and the progeny of the politics of “stomach infrastructure” deployed to exert undue influence over southwestern politics in his haredays.
According Dr Onyemaechi Ogbunwezeh, “Tinubu is a polished neo-imperial incarnation of Lamidi Adedibu; the self-proclaimed Garrison Commander of Ibadan politics. Unlike Adedibu, Tinubu is a refined thug. Where Adedibu deployed raw power of the streets, Tinubu plays the soft-speaking Godfather, who speaks gently, but carries a big stick, and political razor-blades, to castrate any of the moral eunuchs, and court jesters, swarming around him for a whiff of power; who once granted his fealty, decides to grow his own balls.”
Watching Ambode in pains and despair evokes sympathy. Ambode remained sangfroid for so long but lost his cool at the presser and went personal against his opponent alleging that Jide Sanwo-olu had history of mental disorder and was once arrested in the United States for spending fake dollars. For a man known to speak with decorum to throw caution to the winds, one is left to ponder what went amiss. Why the sudden dogleg by Tinubu on his estranged godson who was until mid-2018 touted as the best governor in Nigeria? As Tinubu voted at the #LagosAPCPrimaries, he spoke to the press and highlighted that Ambode’s rejection was not due to performance but that he was not a party man. That statement carries a lot ambiguity. Rational thought will not do justice to it as there’s a lot of conflicting and contradicting dimensions to the daunting development. Did Ambode perform well for Lagosians and failed to accommodate party leadership request as expected of him?
At that press conference, Ambode didn’t delve into the underlying issues between him and Tinubu despite a straight forward question by Dele Momodu to ascertain when the rain started to beat him. He came out publicly to stand up to the forces that are trying to subdue him and draw empathy from ordinary Nigerians who are wont to pitch tent with the oppressed because we are all subdued by the political class. A man on life support gasping for breath, a drowning man calling out for help and everyone around him are visibly helpless. Even the usual glitter on his protruding big head was overshadowed by a dimmed and darkened face which was stressed out due to marathon meetings which most probably he must have attended all night because of the uphill task before him and the propensity of the forces against him. Nigerians watched, some in awe, others in shock, some others in disbelief.
If you ask me, the endorsement of Sanwo-olu is not about good governance but godfatherism. Only a privileged few are privy to what went wrong between Ambode and Tinubu. Nonetheless, Ambode has proven to be a neophyte, a lilliputian who could not consolidate and establish a base as governor of a state whose economy and population is way bigger than half of African countries.
Men like Ambode need a crash course in coalition politics and the rudiments of navigating the shark infested waters of Nigerian politics. Many have come out to argue that he was a product of party structure and there was no way he could usurp that structure. Such is a fallacy because his predecessor, Babatunde Fashola who faced the same situation wade through the hurdles and secured his second term ticket.
If Ambode as advanced by Tinubu was not a good party man, how could 36 of 40 members of Lagos State House of Assembly, all LGA chairmen and councillors, all federal legislators, state contractors, party chieftains, all most all party hierarchy and appointees and even his deputy all belong to Mandate Group. He literally allow these people to occupy these positions, allowed his godfather Tinubu to be the clearing house for appointments and endorsement for these positions even though as an executive state governor, he has absolute powers to influence who gets what. Where these positions occupied by Ambode’s loyalists? No. Ambode is a lesson on how not to be an effective leader borne out of godfatherism.
Ambode is a lesson for all future godsons. Because there will always be godsons! How could Ambode have all LGA chairmen, not one is loyal to him? He didn’t have supporters who wanted to be chairman of LGAs? He collects Tinubu’s list and signs off just like that without extracting commitment and loyalty personally to him from these people? I have never seen a man so docile. So it means these men don’t answer to him. I still can’t wrap my head around his nonchalance.
Though he was imposed, all Ambode needed was to assert himself. Peter Obi installed Gov Obiano who was a nobody in Anambra State. I mean literally without any background in politics. The people of Anambra didn’t know who Obiano was before Peter Obi brought him in. He asserted himself. In my Abia state, Orji Uzor Kalu (OUK) imposed Senator Theodore Orji (TA) amidst all the other political heavy weights jostling for the position. TA asserted himself when OUK wanted to behave like Tinubu he literally eliminated anything that had any semblance of OUK from Abia State government and PDP party hierarchy in any form and replaced them with is own loyalists, TA and OUK became sworn enemies. TA is a wise man. After imposing Gov Okezie, he left for Senate. Even at that. Okezie has asserted himself and secured second term amidst grudges from the state indigenes over his poor performance.
The basic commitment Ambode should have extracted before giving any political position or endorsement from day one should have been loyalty if he was adept at machiavellian tactics to secure his second term ambition. Tinubu’s structure didn’t fall from the sky. Structure means ensuring those loyal to a politician, competent loyalists equitably from all parts of the state occupy positions of power.
Ambode is politically naive and docile. I am eagerly awaiting a bombshell from him in which he will reveal how he offended Tinubu. In the West, a tell all book will be expected and publishers will line up because this is one story, a fascinating story of godfatherism, everybody would want to read.
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