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The Daggers In His Smile…Top Lagosians Who Will Never Forgive Former Governor Ambode

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The Daggers In His Smile…Top Lagosians Who Will Never Forgive Former Governor Ambode

The Daggers In His Smile…Top Lagosians Who Will Never Forgive Former Governor Ambode
May 31
12:01 2019

By Temitayo Adebayo

As Akinwunmi Ambode bows out as the  Governor of Lagos State, head held high for his self-professed achievements but shoulders drooped and heart eternally embittered for being denied a second term in office, behind him is a horde of bitter power-brokers that bore the brunt of his alleged vindictive and petty leadership style which many allude to as his major undoing.

At the outset of his government, Ondo State-born Governor Ambode reportedly set out to demystify and disparage his predecessor, the widely loved Babatunde Raji Fashola. Ambode was accused of leaking state secrets with the intention to embarrass Fashola who famously reacted to one of the allegations thus, “I always pray that may my loyalty never be tested.”

In that classic way villains do, Ambode didn’t pretend to be anything other than what he was; and didn’t care who got hurt because his passion was power and grabbing it with ruthless abandon was only a game. He achieved his aims hiding behind a congenial mask of concern even as he planned to control others.

He never wasted a minute on anyone who was not in a position that he coveted. And, so, many true-born Lagosians were either brutally sacked from their lofty positions or literally chased out of Lagos completely like Folly Coker and Nike Animashaun. The son of Chief Folarin Coker, the Baba Eto of Lagos and political stalwart, Folly originally joined the state government in 1999 when he was appointed as personal assistant to Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos State and national leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC). On October 19, 2015, Folly, as he is popularly known, was appointed Commissioner for Tourism, Arts & Culture for Lagos State, a position he held until exactly a year after when he was sacked by Ambode. No specific reason was given for his sack. Fortuitously for Folly, he was appointed in April 2017 as the Director-General for the Nigerian Tourism Development Commission (NTDC).

Beautiful Nike, on the other hand, was the influential and imperious Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology, and served under the administrations of both Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Raji Fashola. Respected in the corridors of power because of her closeness with Asiwaju and later, big time Lagos contractor, Dr Tunji Olowolafe, Nike wore her power on her sleeves and was not coy to wield it.

When Ambode came into office, she was one of the first to be sacked allegedly on account of fraudulent misappropriation of N5billion. This was in spite of the intervention of powerful Lagosians who reasoned that crossing Nike’s path would spell doom for the new governor but he didn’t heed the voices of reason and wisdom. Nike slithered out of the Lagos social scene and a few months later, was appointed as the Company Secretary of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company by the then Group Managing Director and Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Kachikwu Ibe.

Hakeem Muri Okunola did not suffer the ignominy of being sacked like Nike but remaining in service was not a smooth ride for the urbane gentleman and son of the influential Justice Muritala Aremu Okunola who died in 2004. An alumni of the University of Lagos where he read law and the University of London where he got his Masters in Business Law, HMO was first employed as Company Secretary at the state-owned Ibile Holdings before he was headhunted by former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who made him his Personal Assistant in 1999.

He was later moved to the Ministry of Lands as Executive Secretary and later upgraded to Permanent Secretary. It was in this position he came into social, financial and political renown. His financial liquidity became a hot-button issue among bona fide money-men. He flourished unfettered under the administration of former Governor Fashola who gave him a free hand to run the ministry. However, Ambode felt otherwise about him and redeployed him to the Ministry of Sports ostensibly to render him powerless. He had his fair share of rough-handling from Ambode and consequently, disappeared from the social scene which was his oyster all along.

Fate has however conspired with HMO to outfox his adversary. Now, like a phoenix, he has risen to the apogee of an exemplary civil service career with his appointment, last December, as the new Head of Service, Lagos State. His appointment follows the statutory retirement of Mrs. Folasade Sidikatu Adesoye, the 20th Head of Service (HOS). By this appointment, HMO becomes the youngest ever person to occupy such exalted position in the history of the Nigerian civil service. He is 47.

If Muiz Banire, a thoroughbred Lagosian and three-time Commissioner in the state could literally be hounded out of Lagos before winding up as National Legal Adviser to the APC, and, until recently, Chairman, Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, Tunji Bello, a veteran journalist and former commissioner who was appointed the Secretary to the State Government for the Ambode administration should feel that he got a better deal.

Now that Ambode is out of power, Bello can breathe easy and observe a deserved retirement from public office if the humiliation he reportedly suffered from Ambode was anything to go by. The former governor, as was typical of his disposition to those he considered Fashola’s people, was said to have rendered Bello redundant so much that so many meetings and policies were formulated behind him.

The 58-year-old former editor of the defunct Concord Newspapers may have been saved a volcanic heart attack with the refusal of the APC to give Ambode a second term ticket. Thus, with Ambode gone from the Lagos power equation, his deeds and misdeeds would trail him everywhere he goes for the remainder of his life. And those who he hurt may forgive, but will they ever forget?

 

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