By Gani Kayode Balogun
It is the world’s worst kept secret that both Tunde Fashola, immediate past governor of Lagos and current 3-in-1 Minister, and the incumbent governor, Akin Ambode, are not enamored with each other. But it was assumed that both men would at least collaborate, in the interest of Lagosians, in moving the state forward.
And for the better part of the past eighteen months, both have maintained a cold, but efficient official relationship. At least in public.
Then on Wednesday, the shit hits the fan.
Mr. Ambode, who is not known for public display of anger, after inspecting some projects under construction, returned to his office. And in a rare solo press conference, lamented what he considered as deliberate obstruction by the Federal Ministry of Works to his attempt in transforming the Airport/Oshodi axis into one stop transport hub, a.k.a Victoria Station in London.
It is ironic that most of Mr. Ambode’s signature projects; Light Up Lagos, Urban renewal, Bus stop laybacks, are mostly on federal roads and bridges, and the fact that a few days earlier, he had commended the federal government for the approval to reconstruct the Ikorodu/ Shagamu road by the State government.
So why whine about this particular road? ,and why now?
The answer, incidentally, was provided in the reply by the Minister to the governor’s outburst.
In a release high on sophistry but low on actual facts, the Minister listed areas that they had collaborated in the past, and that all that the governor was lamenting about were being taken of, but delayed by bureaucratic bottlenecks and red tape.
Now, in a normal situation, that should be the end of the matter, right?
Mr. Fashola’s quip about not speaking with the governor on the phone since 2015 revealed a deeper level of personal animosity and barely veiled contempt that is mutual to both parties.
Now, I am not one of those who swoon unnecessarily at “achievements” by those who govern Lagos, given the enormous resources and limited landscape of the most profitable patch of real estate in Africa. I have always believed that it is the proximity of trees that allow the monkey to shine by jumping easily between trees, if the trees were far apart, the monkey will walk like the rest of us.
But this tiff between two accomplished professionals drafted into political office, both republicans(both were born in 1963, the year Nigeria became a republic), both with a vision for a viable and post modern Lagos, (One as a dreamer, the other as a technician), is a situation where the outcome would not enhance the reputation of both men.
Mr. Fashola, as a former governor, should understand the frustration of endless wait for an approval that should be fast tracked due to its economic impact on the state. And Mr. Ambode, being a former Auditor of LG Accounts and Accountant General, should understand the nature of processes and verifications in the inner workings of the civil service.
Ego is a dangerous enemy to fight, as it has no rhymes nor reason. But both men should bury theirs to fully utilize this historic opportunity to get for Lagos State, all the things that she has been denied for far too long under hostile federal governments in the past.
Fashola should not “fashi” Ambode, and Ambode should not ” Da Fashola nu”
A word is enough.
My Ten Kobo+