2015 APC set to field Ambode in Lagos


As the different political parties step up their campaign for the
2015 gubernatorial race in Lagos State, the All Progressives Congress, APC, aspirant and former Accountant General of the state, Mr.
Akinwumi Ambode, is receiving high rating among politicians and the
populace at large. Ambode is seen as a major contender in the
governorship contest.

The return of the leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to the
country a few weeks ago has not changed the calculus in favour of
Ambode in APC, rather it has reinforced him as the key person to
succeed the incumbent Governor, Mr. Raji Babatunde Fashola (SAN).

Apart from Ambode, other aspirants in the APC include the Speaker of
the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, whose
campaign was buoyed by his clearance from money laundering allegation
by a Lagos High Court recently; former Commissioner for Education in
the State, Dr. Leke Pitan, the current Commissioner for Works, Dr.
Obafemi Hamzat, a Senator representing Lagos West , Ganiyu
Olarenwaju Solomon, former commissioner for Rural Development, Tola
Kasali, and a former Attorney-General of the state, Olasupo Sasore.

However, Ambode is coming into this race with an intimidating credential
.Indeed, he had been described as part of the successes Lagos State
had recorded in the last 15 years.

He was said to have been in the background putting finishing
touches to the success of almost seven governors in the state in the
past but that as a typical public servant, he was never seen and

“He was in the background along several others, designing and
implementing many of the policies that stood Lagos out from the rest
of the country,” a source informed Sunday Mirror.

Born n June 14, 1963 at Epe, Ambode had his primary education at St.
Jude Primary School, Ebute Meta, Lagos before proceeding to the Federal
Government College, Warri, Delta State for both his West African Examinations Council, WAEC, as well as the Higher School Certificate Examination, HSC, which he obtained in 1981. He was admitted into University of Lagos where he graduated with honours in Accounting at age 21.

After graduation, he joined the Lagos State Public Service as he began
working with the Lagos State Waste Disposal Board, now known as the
Lagos State Waste Management Authority, LAWMA, as an Accountant Grade
II in November 1985.

At the age of 24, he was already a Chartered Accountant and has also
completed his Master's degree programme in Accounting at the University of
Lagos, specialising in Financial Management.

Ambode moved to the Local Government where he worked for 10 years and was at various times Council Treasurer in Alimosho, Somolu, Mushin and
Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government councils.

In 1998, his commitment to public service earned him the nomination
and award of the U.S. Fullbright Scholarship for the Hubert H. Humphrey
Fellowship programme, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, on Public
Leadership with emphasis on Finance and Accounting.

When he returned to the country, he moved to the core Lagos civil
service as he was appointed acting Auditor-General for Local
Governments in 2000, and he became the auditor-general for Local
Governments in the state.

A few years later, he was appointed Permanent Secretary, Ministry of
Finance in 2005 and in February, 2006, he was given the additional
responsibility of Accountant-General of Lagos State.

It is believed that he was the brain behind how the then governor,
Tinubu, survived the war he fought against former President Olusegun
Obasanjo, when he (Tinubu) created additional 37 local government
development councils, which led to the seizure of local government
funds by the Obasanjo government.

Sources said he designed a template that increased revenue generation
from N600 million to over N6 billion monthly, ensuring that all civil
servants in Lagos State whether at the state or local government
received their monthly salaries without delay.

Upon his retirement, Ambode established Brandsmiths Consulting Limited
and the company is presently consulting for the federal, state and
local governments on the transition to the new international public
service accounting system and other financial advisory services. He
has also put pen to paper to document his time as a public servant in
Lagos State.

It is also believed that Ambode's emergence would put paid to the
clamour for a Christian governor in the state, being a Christian.
Only last week, the Lagos State Chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship
of Nigeria, PFN, at a political forum organised for its members, said
they wanted a Christian as the next governor.

They said that whatever criteria being used in picking the governor,
they believed a Christian would also meet such criteria. Ambode's
representative was present at the event and he was the only
gubernatorial candidate that sent a representative there.

Being a Christian has become a major ingredient for the next occupier
of Lagos governor's seat as the Christian Association of
Nigeria (CAN) is said to have insisted on a Christian candidate as
Fashola's successor. The background to this is because both Tinubu
and Fashola are Muslims.

A few months ago, just as Lagos politicians were still considering how
to go about 2015, Oba Akiolu of Lagos caused a stir when he publicly announced that the state traditional council had endorsed Ambode as the sole candidate of the APC, adding that he was going to be the successor of
Speaking recently in an interview, Ambode was quoted to have said
that he would forever cherish what Oba Akiolu said about him at his
book launch.

Many party members also said that Ambode remains Tinubu's candidate
and that he had already mobilised many high rate politicians within
the party to work for him. Some other gubernatorial aspirants are said to be clamouring against imposition of Ambode as the next governorship candidate of APC by Tinubu ,but a top member of the state Exco of the party said those agitating against imposition have benefited from such
in the past.

Chairman of the party in the state, Henry Ajomale, was said to have
attested to the clamour when he attacked those opposed to imposition
as hypocrites recently at an event in Epe. Ajomale was said to have informed those that are saying no to imposition that they should remember that they were imposed on others just to get to where they are currently. He, therefore, warned members against indulging in activities that could
endanger the chances of the party in 2015.

It was also gathered that many party members remembered how Tinubu
single handedly placed the senatorial ticket of Lagos West
Senatorial District on Solomon's lap after he dumped his ambition to
contest for the Senate in 2007. Solomon is one of those aspiring for governorship and calling for an open primary and a level playing field for all.

It was also gathered that some party members are also protesting that
Ikuforiji who contested the House of Assembly seat in Ikeja in 2011
after he was rejected in Epe should not be allowed to return to Epe
for gubernatorial ticket because Ikeja is not part o the Lagos East
that the party had zoned the gubernatorial ticket.

Fashola is said to be currently backing Sasore, but a top APC leader
in the state disclosed that because of his ambition to be vice-president to whoever emerges as the APC presidential candidate,
the Lagos governor is ready to sacrifice Sasore for Ambode who is
being put forward by his principal, Tinubu, as a way of securing Tinubu's backing for his ambition.

Oba Akiolu has also vowed that that Hamzat would not get the support of
Lagosians and its leaders because he is not an indigene of Lagos. Hamzat is the Lagos State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure and a close pal of the state governor, Fashola.

According to sources, O Hamzat's brother, Ganiyu, who is
currently representing Mushin Federal Constituency, is said to be
eyeing Ogun Central Senatorial seat in 2015 under APC.

There were speculations that the party was not interested in Hamzat
whose father, a tradition al ruler in Ogun State, died two years ago.

Interestingly, Ambode made his intention to contest the governorship election known recently when he opened his campaign office at Gbagada, Lagos. It was gathered that thousands of APC supporters were at the Ambode
campaign office opening ceremony to witness the declaration.

On the occasion, he charged his supporters not to fight during the
upcoming APC primaries for aspirants for the exalted seat.

He also promised to build a new level of leadership that would
eradicate poverty in the state.

Former Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State on Political
Matters, Abdullateef Abdulhakeem, was also on the occasion to sing Ambode's praise. He pledged to deliver the votes of the entire Muslim community in Lagos to Ambode, saying he is the right man for the job.

“I will deliver the Lagos Muslims vote to him. Ambode is a divine
intervention. We have been accused by the enemies because of reduction
in LASU fees. Ambode is a testimony,” he said.

As part of the preparation for the primary, Ambode was said to have
already toured all the administrative divisions in Lagos and had
reached out to all local governments.

While unveiling his dreams for the people of Lagos, he said he
had developed an all-inclusive action plan to give all Nigerians the
tools to get out of poverty and penury, to lead a better life for
themselves and their families.

On his preparation for the job at hand, he said, “I see a prosperous
Lagos that is easily accessible, open to foreigners and Nigerians to
pursue their potential. l foresee a safe and clean environment; a Lagos
that allows every person to achieve their potential; a Lagos that
knows no gender; race, sex or religious and coloration.

However, the race in the PDP is narrowed down to two aspirants who are regarded as being in the frontline. They are Senator Musliu Obanikoro who only resigned his ministerial position last week and a pharmacist, Mr.
Jimi Agbaje, who carried the banner of Democratic Peoples Alliance in 2007.

Nonso Inekwere

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