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Bakare: The questions on Ambode’s candidacy


IS the current Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola angling for a third term in office – or is Asiwaju Bola Tinubu planning to stage a comeback (not that he ever really went away)…

     I ask this because eyebrows are being raised at the extent of these two politicians’ involvement in the current gubernatorial contest in Lagos State – an involvement so profound that it reduces their ostensible candidate to near invisibility. 

     The incumbent, Mr. Fashola is the one in the fore front, throwing brickbats and slinging the mud – and while one understands the strategy – distract Jimi Agbaje so he expends his energies fire-fighting rumours and untruths, while Akinwunmi Ambode floats serenely above the murky fray, the ploy is not working. 

Unfortunately, all it is doing is further highlighting the absence of Mr. Ambode in his own campaign and undermining his credibility as one capable of the task he is being shoehorned into.

    Oh, it is not that he is not visible, we’ve all seen his posters, and very lovely they are too – almost like a model’s portfolio – but designer wristwatches and dimples do not a State Governor make, no matter how photogenic…  how many have actually heard him speak?

    It has been noted that Mr. Ambode never addresses the public, not even at his own rallies, except when he delivers a scripted and prepared speech. 

    This was most obvious during the LCCI debate with Mr. Agbaje, where  Mr. Ambode’s best points were in his opening and closing remarks, which were scripted and rehearsed. The rest of the debate, where he had to answer questions spontaneously, illustrated quite clearly that extemporaneous speaking is not his forte. Even his ‘Up Close and Personal’ event, organised to give the public a chance for unmediated interaction with him has been cancelled.  

    We know that Mr. Ambode is an accountant, and was for many years in the Lagos State civil service. One would expect, therefore, that he has all the necessary statistics at his fingertips, and is in a position to blind his opposition with salient information they are not party to by virtue of this experience. But the converse seems the truth. Mr. Ambode struggles – manfully – but struggles none-the-less, to articulate or even grasp the issues pertinent to the further development of the state he professes to come from and wants to govern.

    One must then ask – is this candidate really the best that the APC have to proffer? Are there no other more articulate, more credible aspirants within their ranks? If there aren’t, it is a sad indictment on the calibre of that party… 

    And if there are better, more credible contenders, then it is difficult not to suspect ulterior motives in his candidature, which brings us back to the initial questions of this article – Is Akinwunmi Ambode merely a front – a puppet whose role will be to dance to the manipulations of those who installed him in office; or is he a man of his own, ready to imprint his personality into Lagos State?  Lagosians certainly do not deserve a governor who will serve those vested interests that consider Lagos their personal fiefdom.

• Bakare, a public commentator, writes in Lagos

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