Ambode from the perspective of an old school boy By Paul Ojenagbon

Akinwumi Ambode

 

One would naturally feel proud to share the same Alma Matar with the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate for Lagos State, Akinwunmi Akinbode. It is even double in our case because we were not only colleagues at the Federal Government College, Warri but also at the University of Lagos, where he was my senior. As Alumni comrades would normally put it: we are both a “Great Fedgocowosans” for the FGCW connection and “Great Akokites” for UNILAG. So much for Alumni kinship that rekindles the good old days. For the gold fish that he’s become as ace writer James Hadley Chase would put it,Ambode no longer has a hiding place as his past would be rewound to the present but thankfully for good in this respect.

Hold on a minute, it is not for our being of the same schools that I would cast my vote for Ambode in the April 14, 2015 Election. I would only cast my vote for him because I am convinced that he’s the best guy to take over at Alausa from Governor Babatunde Fashola. I am convinced that he has the required competence, experience and administrative know-how to take Lagos to the next level for the reasons that I would adduce shortly.

I have followed the career of Ambode keenly for several years and I am least surprised he’s come this far. At FGCW, Ambode was an embodiment of discipline and efficiency. He was not only a prefect   but as the head of school entertainment at the time (do students love to be entertained!), he brought a lot of smiles to the faces of students.

Representative Council Secretary or Assistant Secretary at FGCW that were keenly contested with manifestoes, intensive campaigns and debates, all Ambode probably needed to do was to play the students some of the popular “old school” songs and have them gyrating during the Saturday Night Entertainment. He would not need to say much, just give the students what they wanted and he would be their man!!. One could imagine the students screaming wildly “carry go, you don win!” in Aluta Continua chants.As governor, he can jog back such teenage experiences to bring about a huge entertainment industry in the state. Accepted that the stakes are higher now and much more is required than just being the students’ entertainer, fortunately for Ambode – as it’s often said, every great story begins with a humble beginning. His 27 years of meritorious and innovative service in Lagos State Civil Service are well documented and known by all that this writer needs not recount. He has more than paid his dues for the states’ number 1 job.

My bet on Ambode is not because we share the same Alma mater. I must first be convinced he is competent because Lagos deserves the very best. The writer is one heck of a self opinionated person who is never swayed by the syndrome or by what others are saying but rather by what he observes to be true and has been able to have informed opinion. It is a lonely road to walk and co-travelers are few made of those who live by principles in a society that is patently lacking of idealism. It is not a surprise that my hero of the second republic led by the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) was Alhaji Balarabe Musa, the impeached governor of Kaduna State! Along with some classmates and a small circle of friends at the time, we never ceased to eulogize him for standing out for his ideals. He was principled to the point that he would not succumb to the blackmail of the NPN dominated State House of Assembly that expected him to “settle” them to keep his seat. Balarabe lost out as Governor but he never lost my respect over the years.

Ambode is a natural leader of men and a builder of bridges. At the time our Old Students’ Association (Lagos Chapter) ran into a hiatus that came out of a major crisis when most ex-students were fast losing interest in the affairs of the association, it took the pragmatic leadership of a much younger Ambode with deft moves to revive the Association and bring it to life again. It was a feat which the senior members at the time could not achieve but a younger and junior Ambode did as interventionist president. Yours sincerely had to politely turn down the offer to serve in his Executive having just served out a two year term as the General Secretary because of not too pleasant memories.

Habitually,not one to go looking for the big men in power for what to get out of them, the writer kept from Ambode at Alausa where he held several key positions except when we met at association meetings. But many colleagues who regularly went to see him had much to say of how he had been of great help to them in several ways in resolving various issues. His acts of generosity and compassion run to immense proportion. There are many students at various levels Ambode is paying their school fees, widows he is helping to get back their groves, area boys he is helping to rehabilitate, scores of problems he is taking upon himself every day to solve for others when in service and out service. Unless a leader has such compassion, he would steal so much in office and deny his people the needed service, the good things of life or dividends of democracy.

Ambode’s experience and competence as a public administrator, innovative accountant and technocrat are what a complex state like Lagos needs because he would hit the ground running once sworn in. The fears that his administration would multi-tax Lagosians (because of his background) are unfounded. In any case, he has even promised to address genuine cases of multi-taxation and high tax burden.

Another factor that stands in favor of Ambode is the APC ticket. Whatever critics would say and with every sense of objectivity, it is still the most progressive party in the country today. All the APC states especially in the South West are doing quite well; even the so called poor ones have been able to navigate and adopt innovative ways to generate attract higher revenues for developmental projects. The evidence is there- be it in Lagos Ogun, Oyo, Osun or Edo State, APC governments are performing but one is not saying the party does not have its own share of  the warts in the Nigerian system( if we are looking for out saints, they are probably only in Rome after a hard search!). Even Ekiti was choking in the steam of meaningful development before the surprise ouster that many were surprised the electorate turned out the way it did but time will certainly tell. The same cannot be said for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). Whether at the centre or in the states in the last sixteen years of democratic dispensation, except in a handful of states including Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers and one or two others, the impact of progress hasn’t been as profound. It would be a big gamble for Lagos to lose out of the league of progressive states if it falls into the claws of the PDP but that is also left to Lagosians to decide on April 14,2015.

SUN