I was sad to see Governor Akinwunmi Ambode humiliated the way he was by the establishment players in Lagos State and hung on to see how the situation will pan out.
So much has been written about the establishment players in Lagos. Whilst I am not a big fan of Nigerian politicians, I know that one cannot become a governor without the say-so of backbenchers. The backbenchers have the structure, and the money which many outsiders do not have. Only a handful of governors in Nigeria, past and present, were insiders. The majority are and were outsiders; some weren’t party men, never tested by the party.
That is the bane of Nigeria’s political scene. To run for office is the lowest-priced job nearby today. Gone were the days when men ran for political offices accomplishing feats pleasing in the eyes of the common people. Not any longer, those regarded as the Johnny-come-lately are all over the place upholding chaotic disorder. Age, ability, experience, values and life’s interests in politics have been reserved for a Nigeria of another era and not the Nigeria of my time.
I expected Ambode to fight till the end but he recanted quickly. Was he scared of impeachment or other Fabian tactics not known to bystanders? Here is a brilliant man who should have utilised that big moment to sell his application for re-election by mentioning his achievements to the establishment, speaking to the minds and hearts of the Lagos people, appealing to the sense of right and wrong. Isn’t this a waste of energy, ambition and talent? I might have appreciated him more if he had quit from the race not out of force but on principles. After all, no one can take the history he has made away from him and posterity might have judged him fairly and won him respect across borders.
I still think it was a disservice to let a fine gentleman go but I equally believe that his naivete as it concerns the understanding of establishment politics cost him the chance to be re-elected. Every democracy is dominated by a powerful few behind the scene. These few stretch ideas, and balance the governing agenda and allowing an outsider who wants to go it alone can do havoc on the strategy, and expected results.
I am sure the establishment players were overjoyed to see Ambode lose his poise, over the moon watching him present a subjective case, instead of giving away the benefits and the rewards that may arise from his re-election. They know that not one person will fully believe him, since he failed in seeking their direction and trusted counsel on how to govern Lagos State. Just like Robert Mugabe, Ambode’s romance with the office of governor made him ditch his love for the same establishment players that put him in office and they had to end his period in office.
The establishment players identified Ambode’s weak points and built cases against him having handled communications around his encumbrances.
But forsaking a party man who didn’t derail on moral code is not my idea of democracy. When the sum of a politician’s weakness over-weighs the sum of his strengths, he becomes a liability to the party. I do not think Ambode is a liability to his party. The cold dish served to Ambode fell short of President Ronald Reagan’s advice to his Republican Party members, “Elect your colleagues and support your party.” Ambode should have been chastised by the council of elders and given a chance to build Lagos. No one can judge him poorly on the recorded feats in the public domain so far. The council of elders in all probability failed in their recruitment strategy especially on loyalty.
Leaders aren’t born; every Jack can lead but must be taught, motivated to lead and supported by people behind the scene and such players do not condemn, they rather ask questions, they listen and learn, not talk and tell. Ambode was left to hang out in the open to dry by the same establishment players that put him in office.