Election season in Nigeria rolling over every four years is always resplendent with a lot of drama and political stunts. It is a season when mentees remember they have a godfather to woo somewhere; godfathers too perch, waiting to wield their sating influence over political bases and on rising stars. Monies flow left, right and centre; tempers flare, enemies become temporary friends and vice versa.
Enter Lagos 2019 into the flow and the usual anointing which the Jagaban of Borgu, Bola Tinubu, has been conferring on his subordinates since he left office in 2007. His choice candidate often enjoys an easy ride to contest the gubernatorial elections under the banner of the APC or whatever party he has lorded over. Now, in a different and controversial move, Tinubu chose Jide Sanwonolu to succeed Ambode as governor come 2019.
Sanwonolu, a relatively unknown loyalist of Tinubu who has had an active career serving as the MD of Lagos State Property Development Corporation as well as a commissioner under Fashola, is already brandishing the anointment by Tinubu as he was recently seen seeking the signatures of 57 local government chairmen in Lagos State for their unwavering support. As expected of these chairmen in the same patronizing pattern through which they got elected, they all fell over each other kissing the signet ring of the pope of Lagos politics.
One will then begin to wonder what went wrong between the hitherto sweet godfather-son relationship between Tinubu and Ambode. Did Ambode step on toes? Was he not paying tributes due to his benefactor? What could they have been at loggerheads about? What was so unforgiving that Ambode has done? So many questions which only time and chance may reveal flood our reverie.
We shall recall, however, an albeit unusual incident a few weeks ago where the estranged MD of Alpha Beta Consulting released a petition he had forwarded to the EFCC calling for the investigation of allegations of fraud and tax evasion committed by the company which he once led. As we all know, Alpha Beta Consulting is controlled by proxies believed to be deeply involved with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. The company has also been in the public eye as to the legality of it collecting government taxes as well as its bogus 10% commissions of all tax inflow of Lagos State.
In the same vein, pseudo-agencies such as Lekki Concession Company (LCC) and VisionScape (recently embroiled in waste management controversies) have also earned public criticism for attempts at swindling the citizenry. Coincidentally, they are all connected to proxies and shadow companies closely linked to Tinubu. There are insinuations that the Alpha Beta Consulting whistle-blowing was engineered by an Ambode-supported camp to protest the improper commissions due to the firm and which are cheating the state of revenues due.
It is easy to believe Tinubu would just want to anoint another fresh mind as the gubernatorial candidate while ignoring the potential damage such a gamble away from Ambode could deal relations and unity in an already fragile atmosphere of internal party politicking. If Tinubu could redoubtably support a Buhari 2nd term bid, he could as well back an Ambode 2nd term bid without losing any political capital whatsoever. Therefore, the suggestion that Ambode has already stepped on toes while trying to earn his independence holds more water.
Ambode is beginning to flutter in survival and to surface for more air lest he drown in revenge betrayal; but for how long can he hold up the fortress while the god of party politics, Tinubu, and the party machinery are already positioned against him? All he has to summon to his advantage now is whatever waning goodwill left of the Lagos public electorate and this can only be feasible if he conjures the support of another relatively big Lagos stalwart within the party such as Babatunde Raji Fashola. Else, there is no other way than this whole episode going down as the first time an incumbent governor was shooed out of the race at the Lagos primaries, even before it began earnestly.
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