Saying the devastating news that filtered in on Tuesday, 8th September 2018, that the Mandate Group, a group of local government Chairmen loyal to the APC national leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, had endorsed one Babajide Sanwo-Olu as the next governor of Lagos State come May 29, 2019 must have thrown the camp of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode into utter chaos is an understatement, as the governor had 24 hours earlier, picked his nomination and expression of interest forms to officially seek a second term in office.
Though, Ambode has lamely denied any rift between him and his benefactor, still, knowing how he was made governor, his mind would have journeyed back to May 24, 2014, when the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, to the surprise of many, openly declared that Akinwunmi Ambode would be made the governor of Lagos state come May 29, 2015.
Like the right hand man of the gods that he is supposed to be, Ambode was crowned the governor of the state, 360 days after the auspicious pronouncement.
What was known to Ambode then and to many Lagosians was that, the Oba didn’t speak as the mouthpiece of the gods. Rather, he spoke as the representative of the self-acclaimed godfather of Lagos state politics- Bola Ahmed Tinubu. But now, the godfather has spoken through another medium, the Mandate Group and there is fire on the mountain for Ambode and Lagosians.
Being a strong beneficiary of the reward system that has characterised the politics of Bola Tinubu, Ambode should have known that a benefactor of imposition politics is limited in making certain decisions, even if such is the governor of a state like Lagos. In some states, the favoured son could have looked his father in the eyes, like the cases of Ganduje and Kwankwaso in Kano State, Peter Odili and Rotimi Amaechi, Nyesom Wike and Amaechi again in Rivers state and survived, but this is Lagos, the lair of the Lion of Bourdillon, where other animals must cower and tremble at the roar of the king of the jungle or face the dire consequences.
This same scenario played itself out after the immediate past governor of the state and the current Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola wanted to go for a second term in office as the executive governor of the state. It took the intervention of prominent people, notably, Oba Rilwan Akiolu to appease Tinubu to allow Fashola complete his term in office.
The proverbial cane used by Tinubu on his first wife, Fashola, has been recalled from the roof to be used on the new bride, Ambode.
A lot is being speculated about the reason for the fallout, with most hitting the mark but what should be of concern to any right thinking member of the society is the monopoly Tinubu has on the affairs in the state. This is a man, who until May 29, 1999, was an average Lagosian, a proponent and beneficiary of the June 12 struggle who was favoured ahead of the late Funsho Williams by the Afenifere, a pan Yoruba socio-cultural group. As the popular saying goes, ‘the rest is history’.
Discarding Ambode like a pack of worn-out cards despite his humongous achievements in certain sectors in the last three years will show Tinubu for who he truly is – ajogun Ifa to ni o un o ni kumo – (one who inherited the Ifa divination beads and says he is immune from death).
Like the character from William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, Tinubu is the Shylock, who felt he had been hard-done by Antonio and will stop at nothing to exert his pound of flesh. Shylock is a Venetian Jewish usurer and the play’s principal antagonist. The central ideas in the play include justice, revenge and mercy while the phrase itself, ‘pound of flesh, is a figurative one for expressing a harsh demand on not keeping to a bargain.
With the help of Portia, a wealthy heiress who lives in the city of Belmont disguised as a young man of law, Antonio was able to wriggle his way out of the unreasonable demand by Shylock.
Will there be a Portia to save Ambode’s chance of a second term in office or will Tinubu, against all sense of reasoning, go for the jugular to once again exert his influence and will on the good people of Lagos? Time shall tell.
Àkinlẹyẹ writes from Lagos, and can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org
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