Ambode: Adebule’s unkindest cut
I have never met the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Idiat Adebule, either officially or unofficially. Like her colleague–deputy governors across the country, she is redundant and anonymous, even though her state gives her a little advantage over others. When you are the governor, first lady, or deputy governor of Lagos State, it is a plus. Every governor of Lagos State can always lay a claim to being the number one governor in the country – deserved or not. So is the Lagos First Lady. And, well, so is the deputy governor. The reason is simple. Lagos is the capital of the Nigeria media. It is also the business capital of Nigeria. So, these guys in Lagos attract more attention than their counterparts elsewhere. At times, they are arrogant about it. What other governors would fall over themselves for, a Lagos State governor would ignore it.
I remember a former Vice Chancellor of the most respected Federal University of Technology in the South-east, lamenting, to me, how the then governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, ignored the letter his University Senate wrote, offering to confer on him an Honorary Doctorate Degree. Fashola did not as much as acknowledge the letter of offer. I laughed aloud, and advised him to try “lesser governors.” Those ones will not only accept the offer, they will celebrate it to high heavens. The media will be awash with congratulatory adverts paid for by government parastatals, state executive council members, contractors and many others who the government patronise.
Then, they will go to the ceremony with every who is who in their states, including traditional rulers. To them, it is a big deal. For a Lagos State governor, at least, Fashola, it is a huge distraction. But I have digressed. I was talking about the Deputy Governor of Lagos State. So, may be, she is a notch better than her colleagues – not quite very anonymous, not quite very redundant. But hey, I sympathise with her now, and for all the glamour attached to her position, I don’t pray to be in her shoes. I would give an arm to know her inner feelings these past three weeks, especially, after the governorship primary of October 2 which confined her boss, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, to the unenviable basket of Nigeria’s second state governor to be rejected by his party, and denied a shot at a second term in office. In this category, former Anambra State Governor, Chinwoke Mbadinuju took the first position.
Edged on by the powerful Anambra political godfathers who installed him, his then party, the PDP, denied him a second term ticket for alleged incompetence. He went to the AD, a party not quite known in the South east, and ran on its ticket. He failed woefully, and till date, Mbadinuju has not recovered from that humiliation. He has become politically irrelevant, almost.
So, what’s in Adebule’s heart? Has she and Ambode met face to face since that governorship primary, and especially, the morning after? If so, was she comfortable? Or, did she feel like the Biblical Judas Iscariot, the guy who betrayed Jesus Christ? Or, was it business as usual? If you have been following the story of Ambode’s humiliation, how at the governorship primary by his subordinate, then, you know why I’m asking these questions. But, for the purpose of this write-up, a brief recap.
On Tuesday, October 2, the deputy governor, like the Biblical Peter who denied his master, Jesus Christ, three times before cock crow, Adebule publicly denied his boss. She disowned Ambode. Here is how. For months, the rumour had been on that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Lagos state’s ultimate political godfather, would deny him a second term in office. Initially, not many people believed it. It was dismissed as beer palour gossip. When it wouldn’t abate, some of us said: “Politicians. Don’t mind them. They will make up.” Afterall, there is a precedence in Lagos. Former governor Fashola, another of Tinubu’s political godsons, had the same problem with him when he aspired for his second term. Tinubu refused to endorse him, initially. But after a lot of pressure, the Asiwaju caved in and endorsed Fashola. So, we thought it would be the same. But no.
The pressure on Tinubu, to forgive and endorse Ambode, if media reports are anything to go by, was like claps of thunder. They thundered from Abuja to almost all the states of the federation. Even Bolanle, Ambode’s wife, joined. But nothing. To put a seal on his ambition, endorsements for his nemesis, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, came tumbling, from everywhere, like the Victoria waterfalls. The APC structure in Lagos. The all powerful Mandate Political Group founded by the Asiwaju himself.
The Governor’s Advisory Council. National Assembly members. (Ah. the three Lagos State senators, remember, had a couple of months ago, endorsed Ambode). Members of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Chairmen of LGAs, and LCDAs, and Wards. Market Women and men led by Asiwaju’s first daughter, Mrs Tinubu-Ojo, the Iyaloja of Nigeria. Every stakeholder in Lagos State. Just everybody who is anybody.Yet, to me, the “unkindest cut” was Ambode’s denial by his Deputy Governor, who publicly disowned him during a press interview.
Dr. Adebule, according to media reports, arrived at her Ward A and D, Iba LCDA, along with some of her aides, carrying posters of her principal’s opponent, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. As if that was not enough to make her point, she chose to address reporters, – cheeky fellows – who mischievously waited for her. Her words, when asked of her position: “The party has chosen a man and it is that man that I will support and follow. I have no doubt that anybody who emerges today as the candidate of the party will have my support. I have no doubt as exhibited by my people today that they are standing with the party’s position on this primary, and with that position I stand. And I choose to stay with my party at this time. My party has spoken and I have no doubt to state that on the position of my party. I stand. It is a very clear election as you can see. People are voting in line with the dictates of the party. We have voted for the person who the leaders of the party have chosen. It is an overwhelming experience as you can see it, and we will continue to support the party and abide by its rules.”
To be continued tomorrow.
Obi is the Editor-in-Chief, The Source Magazine.
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