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Between Divine Right And People’s Choice

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Jimi Agbaje and Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos Gubernatorial Candidates)

Jimi Agbaje and Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos Gubernatorial Candidates)

IT was widely reported in the newspapers recently that the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu again reiterated that he is supporting Akin Ambode, the APC governorship candidate as the next governor of Lagos State. This was no longer news since the influential Oba and former Assistant General of Police had said that very distinctly. Even before the primaries that saw Ambode emerge as the candidate of his party the APC at the primaries in Lagos. What baffled Lagosians to no end, however, was the statement credited to the royal father to the effect that he acted in God’s wisdom in supporting Ambode and by the Grace of God; he will be the next governor of Lagos State.

While one concedes to the Oba his right of political choice, his high office in society dictates that he should not prefer one son to the other or one candidate to the other or even one party to the other, since he is father of all.  In picking Akin Ambode, he has relegated Jimi Agbaje of the PDP to the background in the Lagos governorship campaigns and politics for the 2015 elections. In doing this, however, the Oba has   directly created disaffection in his domain amongst his subjects as he has shown that the Lagos PDP Campaign team cannot even come to his palace at Iga Idunganran for his blessing. That again is not fair on the part of the royal father of Lagos.

But then, all is well that ends well and the royal father’s preference has served to highlight the high sense of finesse and upbringing of the PDP candidate, Jimi Agbaje who has not raised a word of complaint on the royal father’s outspoken support for his opponent Some have suggested that the Lagos monarch’s support for Ambode flowed naturally from his close relationship with the former governor of Lagos State and the political   godfather of APC, Bola Tinubu. They say that the Ambode royal support flowed automatically from the way the Oba was swiftly crowned during the former governor’s tenure and the Oba is just playing ball on continuity, the slogan of the APC to win this 2015 election. The Oba should, however, be aware of the risk he faces on the security and tenure of his reign if things don’t work out the way he has shown his hand and Jimi Agbaje is elected as the next governor of Lagos State, as seems most likely for several reasons stemming from the royal father’s unexpected partisanship on the Lagos state governorship elections

The Oba’s support is, therefore, seen as the last straw to break the camel’s back for the vast, educated and highly democratic Lagos electorate and they can’t wait to show their Oba on April 11 that they will vote massively   for Jimi Agbaje to become governor of Lagos State

 

The first is that the Oba’s snub of Agbaje and his party has created a groundswell of sympathy typical of that reserved for the underdog against an establishment candidate. The second is that the people of Lagos know that their Oba has only one vote like anyone else in Lagos and that their sympathy for Agbaje will translate into votes for him to be elected as governor if only to show the monarch that in a modern democracy   like Lagos State, it is one man, one vote. Thirdly by supporting the APC candidate, the Oba has shown that he is not on the ground and does not know how fed up the people of Lagos are with the APC and its reign of 16 years characterised by the pauperisation of the people of the state with its multiple taxation, poor road and infrastructure network that make life difficult for the Lagos electorate, which has voted them into power for the last 16 years. The Oba’s support is, therefore, seen as the last straw to break the camel’s back for the vast, educated and highly democratic Lagos electorate and they can’t wait to show their Oba on April 11 that they will vote massively   for Jimi Agbaje to become governor of Lagos State. Then, Insha Allah, his first port of call   as Governor of Lagos State will be the Iga Idunganran if only to show that the voting rights of the masses in a democracy can be the same as the choice of the Almighty, and not that of one royal father alone in this Lagos state.

• Ajetunmobi, a public commentator, writes from Lagos.



2 Comments
  • ijawboy

    writer go and sleep, we are playing politics not cracking of grammar.

  • Okey

    The Change We Need

    Thisday, 10 Mar 2015

    With Shaka Momodu E-mail: shaka.momodu@thisdaylive.com, 08112661654

    Since February 10, 2015 when I read the advertorial published in
    THISDAY titled: Brazen Looting of Lagos Treasury, 1999-2015 – which
    chronicled Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s massive wealth, I have been too
    shell-shocked to function effectively. I have been hard-pressed to
    understand, if true, how one man can acquire so much in one lifetime. I
    have struggled to match Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola’s public postures
    with the gravity of the allegations levelled against them. Can it really
    be true that Bola Ahmed Tinubu owns all the property listed in the
    advertorial? Is it true that Fashola also owns vast wealth and has been
    conniving with his godfather to defraud the state?

    I have been heartbroken, shattered, devastated and depressed about the
    sheer scale of abuses, mismanagement and careless disregard for the
    public interest that Tinubu and Fashola are accused of. Even though some
    of these allegations are not new, the scale of the malfeasance and the
    cheekiness revealed is truly remarkable and frightening. The alleged
    unrestrained greed exhibited in the quest and method of acquisition is
    quite troubling. To me, these change agents need thorough examination
    especially at a time like this when the change mantra has rented the
    airwaves, and many are being led to believe the magic wand to solve all
    of Nigeria’s problems is change.

    Striped of the politics, we want answers. And the fierce urgency is now, today not tomorrow.

    The question is: if true, does Tinubu really need so much wealth? I
    have repeatedly asked, praying that I am in a deep trance and will soon
    wake up and realise it is just my mind playing funny games on me. But
    one full month after, the allegations were published, they have not been
    denied. Is he going to take this massive wealth to the great beyond?
    If the answer is negative, then of what use are all these primitive
    acquisitions of material wealth when poverty pervades the land as he
    himself has repeatedly acknowledged. It is difficult for one to
    understand the voracious appetite of some people, who it is alleged
    have shared our collective patrimony among themselves and yet have the
    audacity to tell us that for our tomorrow, they have given their today –
    when in actual fact, for their today, they have taken our tomorrow and
    that of our children. The architects of change have been caught in a
    scorching irony of hypocrisy.

    The more I think about the grand deceit packaged as change, the angrier
    I become and the more convinced I am – that I have been right all along
    with my serious reservations about the message, intentions and the
    motives driving their quest for power. Indeed, more than ever before, I
    am convinced that the change we need is from those who have craftily
    hoodwinked the people into believing that they are the ones who can
    bring succour to them. We need change from those who have cunningly
    played on the gullibility of our people to fleece them of their
    commonwealth, only to point an accusing finger at others as the cause of
    the problems of the country. When they claim Lagos is working, I say,
    oh yes indeed! It is working for their pockets. I am yet to see anybody
    who is a beneficiary of the alleged sleaze that will not tell me Lagos
    is working in the manner it is currently working for the pockets of a
    few.

    The scale of what Tinubu and Fashola are accused of appropriating from
    Lagos taxpayers is so mind-boggling that I fear for the future of this
    country – I am frightened of what may happen to Nigeria if these people
    are entrusted with power at the centre. More baffling is that instead of
    Tinubu and Fashola responding to these specific allegations, all we
    hear is an impotent threat of a lawsuit from Tinubu, while Fashola who
    has been very vocal on the “missing” $20 billion on the campaign stump
    has kept a deafening silence. A man loudly projected as a sterling
    performer, not only now has his integrity been called to question, but
    has been practically accused of misappropriation of public property and
    abuse of office. A man who has been shouting change and has consistently
    accused those at the federal level of massive corruption, has been
    unable to respond to grave allegations of mismanagement,
    misappropriation of state resources, inflated cost of contracts and
    collusion to defraud government of its property valued at several
    hundreds of billions of naira. The exemplar of a good administrator now
    has his back to the wall. What an irony!

    Until these allegations were made into a documentary currently airing
    on Africa Independent Television (AIT), there was no rebuttal from
    Tinubu or his spokesperson upon the publication of the advertorial under
    reference, neither has there been any reaction from Fashola who has
    carried on as if he owes nobody any explanation on how he has managed
    public resources entrusted in his care.

    Not surprisingly, the allegations are not weighty enough to rouse and
    outrage the people into the streets to demand answers. Our
    self-appointed custodians of morality in the society, especially the
    human rights community have kept a deafening silence. The many
    organisations committed to transparency and anti-corruption have either
    lost their voices or feign ignorance of the publication or documentary.

    Femi Falana has not found his voice to call for a thorough probe; he
    has not rushed to court to seek an order of mandamus to compel the
    Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or the Independent
    Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to investigate the allegations; he
    has not directed his NGO, SERAP to start demanding the probe of
    Tinubu/Fashola like it did of Gitto Construction Company’s church
    building gift to the Otuoke community.

    What about Professor Itse Sagay? He has not said a word because it is
    Tinubu and Fashola that are involved. Professor Wole Soyinka, the Nobel
    Laureate and the wordsmith of Africa, is yet to hold a world press
    conference on the state of the nation to call for investigation into all
    the allegations or accusations. He is yet to even write his lengthy
    treatise with high-sounding grammar condemning the alleged record
    sleaze. Nobody or group is organising a one million-man match to demand
    accountability, investigation and prosecution. Rather, the godfather,
    who is the accused, is the one organising a one-million-man march to
    shore up his battered image and divert attention from the allegations.
    He is dragging out hapless Lagosians in fetters to march for him and
    sing his praises in joyous hymns instead of moving to convincingly clear
    his name. This is a sacrilegious irony for the change mantra. Something
    must be deeply wrong with our society and its value systems. Talk about
    one nation, two moralities.

    For those who don’t know, it is not enough to just mouth change for the
    sake of it, change depends on our actions, attitudes and must be
    meaningful. But what we are seeing in this so-called change is that the
    narrative is different from the actions and attitudes of its proponents.

    What is needed here is not the one-million-man march. In fact, one
    thousand-million-man marches will not clean the slate. Let Tinubu
    explain to Lagosians how he got so rich.

    What is needed is not a gentle query, but a fiery rebuke and
    condemnation of this alleged looting: “We need the storm, the whirlwind
    and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the
    conscience of Nigerians must be roused; the propriety of the nation must
    be startled; the hypocrisy of these people must be exposed and
    denounced”

    Now imagine for a moment that it was another person from the ruling
    party that was alleged to have stolen so much, what would have been the
    reaction of these people and groups? The outcry is better imagined. All
    sorts of shady groups would have been organising protest marches against
    the person and calling for his prosecution. Now, can someone remind me
    what Stella Odua and Patricia Etteh were accused of that led to their
    fall? Now, who was in the forefront of mobilising public opinion against
    them? Why is there no similar outrage against Tinubu and Fashola? Why
    are the public opinion moulders not saying anything? Is this the change
    that they talk about?

    Now, put all what these women were accused of in the context of what
    Tinubu and Fashola have been accused of, the two women will be canonised
    saints.

    Below are some of what Tinubu/Fashola are accused of appropriating:

    “The largest landlord in Lagos has done as he pleased, and the rest of
    the state just has to deal with it. To start with, No 4, Oyinkan Abayomi
    (formerly Queens) Drive, Ikoyi: A 5-bedroom detached house on one acre
    of land which was originally the Lagos State governor’s guest house
    since 1979, now belongs to Tinubu. The certificate of occupancy of the
    property valued at N450 million was signed and released to him by
    Fashola in 2007 shortly after he resumed office.

    “Tinubu’s residence at No 26 Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi was initially
    falsely presented as an Oando Plc guest house. Later, he purportedly
    bought it from Oando, and used public funds to rebuild and renovate it.
    The Lagos State Government bought the property and paid an undisclosed
    sum to him and thereafter gave the property back to him under the bogus
    Pension Act he signed into law shortly before he left office in 2007.
    The property is worth over N600 million.

    “The annex of the Lagos State Guest House in Asokoro, Abuja was bought
    by the state government in 2006 for N450 million, purportedly to protect
    the main house from a security breach. Shortly after Tinubu left
    office, the property was transferred to him under the pension plan he
    signed into law before leaving office.

    “The 250-hectare land valued at about N35billion and strategically
    located at the Ajah junction on Lekki road was initially meant for a
    general hospital for the people of Eti-Osa Local Government but was
    allegedly acquired by Tinubu and handed over to Trojan Estate Ltd – a
    company owned by Deji and Wale Tinubu – to develop as Royal Garden
    Housing estate at the expense of the taxpayers of Lagos.

    “The 1,000 hectares of land valued at about N75billion located at
    Lakowe near Abijo at Ibeju-Lekki Local Government Area and given to
    Lekki Concession Company (LCC) which is allegedly partly-owned by Tinubu
    and Fashola and is being developed as a golf course and housing estate
    by Assets and Resource Management Ltd (ARM) as ADIVA project.

    “The prime land of 157 hectares with 2.5km of Atlantic beachfront
    valued at about N10 billion and purportedly stolen by Tinubu from the
    communities of Siriwon, Igbekodo, Apakin, etc in Ibeju-Lekki Local
    Government Area and given to Ibukun Fakeye, his alleged crony to build a
    golf course and luxury villa with little or no compensation to the
    villagers. In addition, Tinubu was alleged to have to paid $20million
    (N3 billion) out of the public treasury to Ibukun Fakeye to commence
    the project in late 2006. Fashola has since released additional funding
    for this project, which is not owned by the state government.

    “The 14-hectare Parkview Ikoyi estate foreshore land reclaimed by Lagos
    state government is now purportedly owned by Tinubu. While in office,
    he purportedly allocated to himself the former Strabag yard beside the
    Lagos State secretariat at Alausa, Ikeja. The property has now been
    developed into a shopping mall as big as the Palms in Lekki. This is a
    public property brazenly stolen and now allegedly owned by Tinubu, aided
    by Fashola.

    “The choice property at Lekki-Epe road on which he built and owns the
    multi-billion naira Oriental Hotel and the extension of multi-level
    recreation centre by Mobil in Oniru Estate on Lekki-Epe road jointly
    owned with ARM and Tunji Olowolafe. All these assets valued at over N25
    billion were allegedly obtained without paying a kobo to the Lagos State
    Government.

    Tinubu raised a loan of N4.7billion on Eko Akete project for which
    nothing was achieved before he turned around to sell the property to his
    Chagouri friends of Chagouri & Chagouri and Hitech Construction Ltd
    at a ridiculously low price at the expense of the taxpayers of Lagos.
    Tinubu applied to personally purchase the federal secretariat building
    while in office. When he couldn’t get to buy it, he directed Fashola to
    stop the eventual owner of the complex from developing it. The complex
    is presently wasting away, courtesy of the Lagos State Government.

    “It took several months of horse trading and underhand payments before
    Fashola could allow the new owners of 1004 flats to redevelop the
    complex (Wole Babalakin). Several other buyers of federal government
    properties and developers of properties in Ikoyi, Victoria Island and
    Government Reservation Area, Ikeja were forced to succumb to the
    outrageous demands of Tinubu, Fashola, Commissioner Abosede and other
    officials.

    The Critical Care Unit of Lagos State University Teaching Hospital
    (LASUTH) in Ikeja, built and equipped with state funds, is now owned
    personally by Tinubu. He has put Dr. Sikiru Tinubu, (a supposed cousin
    of his) to run the outfit. It is run as a private unit and proceeds are
    pocketed by the duo…”