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Attention Ambode: Eko is no longer for show

In the good old days of NUGA games when the number of universities in Nigeria were easily counted, University of Lagos was famous for presenting contingents that were consistently well-attired on and off the field. Most times they delivered less, on the medals table than the promise of their sartorial elegance. That was the origin of the ‘Eko for show’ slogan.

Lagos State Governor-elect Akinwunmi Ambode, in almost all his electioneering posters, was portrayed as a man with a good dress sense. He comes recommended on account of his years as a civil servant who understands the system (governance). One hopes that this would not be his Achilles’ Heel. He will need to get out of the civil service mentality for him to succeed.

The Lagos State Civil Service is reputed to be too bureaucratic with an attendant slow service delivery. Doing business with the government entails a myriad of taxes and levies. One starts a process in one calendar year and the paperwork stretches into the next year. Rather than continue with the papers submitted earlier, one is made to make fresh payments and levies for the new year before the process can progress. This is patently unfair and it has to be reviewed.

There is also no better time than the coming dispensation to address the issue of the percentage of commission paid to consultants collecting money on behalf of the state. While their services may be needed because of the size of the state, what is paid should be seen to be commensurate to what obtains in other climes.

With Lagos now aligned to the centre (APC government at both state and federal levels), the burden of bringing more states into the progressive fold should no longer be borne by Lagos State. Hence there is no need to provide for this under any guise. APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who is perceived to be benefiting from this arrangement needs to have his image cleaned up vis-a-vis accountability in the state (and the anti-corruption slogan General Muhammadu Buhari rode into electoral victory) more so now that Tinubu’s focus (should be) at the centre, he should not need the state largesse any more.

Many people are depending on Ambode to put the interest of the masses ahead of loyalty to his godfathers. Doing otherwise, he would probably be remembered as ‘Ambode for show’. I am sure he would not like that as a legacy, so he better gets cracking.

Tinubu has moved on to a bigger stage. He has shown that he recognizes talents and he is not afraid to help put them in positions of authority where the talents could be put to the common good.. Those he has put in positions, however, have to make their names for themselves individually through their performances.

The outgoing Governor Babatunde Fashola, by all accounts, performed creditably well. In 2011, he had a re-nomination battle with Tinubu which, according to stories, was not unconnected with the commission to consultants which he prematurely wanted to tamper with without the consent of his leader. Then Tinubu still had his eyes on the centre where all the muscles would be needed, and he felt betrayed.
But times have changed, he is now a big player at the center. He is not likely to be hurt now as much as he would have been if Fashola had prevailed then. Apart from this, Tinubu himself realised that the performance of Fashola further enhanced his credibility as a visionary. He is someone who sees the big picture.

Ambode now has the opportunity to do the needful, if even it had to be with the blessings of his benefactor, who may not mind losing something having achieved his aim of the opportunity to shape the country according to his vision.
He may however choose to be sycophantic and continue to do business as usual so as not to get into the bad books of Tinubu. Tinubu, on the other hand judging by his antecedents, would have seized an opportunity like this were he to be in a similar position otherwise he would not be where he is today.

All that Tinubu needs now is the assurance that the foundations he laid for the governance of Lagos State and the gains therefrom are not reversed. He also still needs to remain APC’s head hunter. He may not need the money.

Ironically, it is this type of arrangement put in place to siphon money (in Lagos State) that may end up upending the whole structure if care is not taken. The 11 April 2015 election is a stark pointer to the unpopularity of this arrangement. It was the greatest dent on the armour of APC that the opposition latched on to. The earlier it is dismantled the better for the party, the state and our nation.
We wait, and shall soon see the vision Ambode has for Lagos State.



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