Published On: Wed, Sep 12th, 2018

Editorial: Lagos 2019: The case for Ambode

As far as governance goes Lagos, the smallest state in Nigeria, has had the good fortune of being the general icing on a politically tasteless cake. Since 1999 the state has had a decidedly uncommon strand of leadership. From the administration of Bola Ahmad Tinubu between 1999 and 2017 to Babatunde Raji Fashola (current Minister for Power, Works and Housing), 2007-2015, and now Akinwunmi Ambode (2015-to date), Nigeria’s commercial capital has witnessed remarkable fiscal and physical progress. Have the administrations been perfect? Certainly not, indeed each administration has had to deal with tonnes of silly political and economic agendas that have popularly advertised the selfishness and greed of the average politician. Nevertheless, each succeeding administration has brought to the table a unique competence and dazzling vision that has consistently and admirably moved the entity called Lagos forward.

Over the last few months, however, a groundswell of upset party members of the All Progressive Congress (APC), the party in power, have argued (clearly unpersuasively) that the present governor, Ambode, yield his position to another preferred candidate. The grouse of these party hawks is that the strongest political potentate in the state, Bola Tinubu, has annoyingly preferred to anoint technocrats as successive governors of the state in disdain for hardcore politicians from competing political constituencies in the state. This has gotten the local political class riled against Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, thus compelling their insistence that he should not do a second tour of duty come 2019. To be sure, darkly contrived intrigues, political backstabbing and brazen blackmail have mounted as the pressure becomes intense for Bola Tinubu to sacrifice his support for Ambode, who to his credit has done a sterling job of governance over the last three and a half years, for somebody of greater grass root political standing.

Tinubu’s reticence over the candidature of Ambode for the post of Governor of Lagos State in 2019 has left the trapdoor open for a legion of political buccaneers to meander through the political cracks in the party to push for the present Governor’s removal as a party candidate for the coming elections. This is a throwback to the second term bid of then Governor Babatunde Fashola in 2011, who it was also speculated, was in the gun hairs of political chess board players who wanted him out to give room for their own favoured candidate. In the elliptic words of Yoggi Bera this is, ”déjà vu all over again”.

Business Hallmark is of the opinion that the backdoor dribbles and front door double speak of APC on the candidate for the Lagos governorship election on the platform of the party is darkly unproductive and has the potential of sinisterly halting the consistent good governance achieved by the state over the last two decades. Besides, it is our opinion that not allowing the present governor continue in office would set a dangerous precedence that suggests that sterling performance does not matter when it comes to seeking reelection, thereby setting the stage for what economists call an ‘agency problem’. A new governor coming in and unsure of his re-electability would likely spend the period available to him taking care of personal peccadilloes and engaging in flights of financial fantasies. We are therefore, uncharacteristically, constrained to throw our support behind the candidature of the current Governor of the state, Akinwunmi Ambode, who we think should be allowed to complete a second term in office by contesting the governorship of the state on the platform of the ruling party. We believe that Lagos State is too important to the destiny of Lagosians and the future of Nigeria to be left in the hands of narcissistic politicians of a particular kind.

The sensible decision by the Jagaban of Borgu, Bola Ahmad Tinubu, to obstinately support only thoroughbred technocrats as Governor of Lagos State (which, despite its many warts, has been considered globally to be Nigeria’s oasis of good sense in an ocean of ineptitude) has proved mature and practical. Disrupting this carefully manicured process of allowing the best hands run the economic grind mill of the state could prove disruptive, dangerous, and needless to say, disastrous. Ambode’s clear headedness and steady hands will afford the state the opportunity of providing a teeming population (estimated at 22 million) the physical, social and economic environment needed to hone their skills , chisel their talents and make their urban dreams.

This, therefore, is not the time to play the pretentious politics of vanity by upholding a mirror of false saintliness. Lagos cannot afford the luxury of a regression of its fortunes; the state requires and indeed Lagos residents demand a continued stretch of reliable policy administration and project execution. As Americans brazenly argue, ‘’if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” .Recent efforts at mollycoddling the electorate by arguing that Lagos has a self-sustaining long term project plan that can be managed by any Tom, Dick or Harry, is to put it bluntly, ridiculous. A plan is as good as the person or group of persons managing its implementation, just as a fool and his money are soon parted; a good plan and a poor manager are soon turned into footnotes of history’s trash bin. Indeed, performing managers are groomed and trained and are not the products of fickle political patronage or sleazy backdoor deals. Governor Ambode has proved in the last three and a half years that he can interpret a plan, manage economic resources and get the job of governance done. This is not happenstance; it is the result of ability meeting responsibility leading to results. This, therefore, undergirds our unabashed case for Ambode’s re-election. It is not hubris or emotion but plain commonsense.

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