Ambode: Most harassed governor

By Valentine Amanze

Lagos State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode, no doubt is passing through unpleasant, harsh and unprepared journey in his political career.
Prior to his being sworn in as the Lagos State governor on May 29, 2015, Ambode had become the “poster boy” of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC); and its brand ambassador in the South West.
The fit he achieved with his massive infrastructural transformation of Lagos via road rehabilitation and agric policy that brought about local rice production pact with Kebbi State government, which slashed the price of rice in Lagos in December 2015 and 2016.
Then, he was no villain; and was as popular as the radio and television campaign jingles that heralded his emergence as the state governor.
Of recent, things have gone bitter for the once most admired APC governor. Today centre could nolonger hold for him, as friends are deserting him daily. The South West political godfather has also abandoned him, thereby exposing him to all manner of insult, abuse and intimidation by the same people, same party that made him. What an irony!
While he is adjusting to new life after being denied a second-term ticket by his own political party, APC, the state lawmakers struck with impeachment threat over alleged budget infraction.
Just like the refusal to grant his second term bid started as rumour, the impeachment threat is fast becoming real.
The first salvo was fired by the Lagos State House of Assemby Majority Leader, Mr. Sanai Agunbiade.
Agunbiade, who spoke for the state assembly, insisted that the governor and his commissioners must appear before it to explain infractions on this year’s budget.
The position of the Assembly is that, should the infractions continue, it would apply constitutional provisions for punitive measure - impeachment.
Agunbiade spoke on January 30, 2019, after an emergency meeting by the lawmakers.
He also said that nobody was witch-hunting the governor, as being insinuated in some quarters.
But he pointed out that the violations were serious issues the Assembly could not just overlook.
It would be recalled that there was a massive protest recently at the Assembly by concerned Lagosians against the planned impeachment of Ambode.
On the protest, Agunbiade said that the Assembly was not against Ambode ending his tenure but that because of issues surrounding the budget, he was summoned by the Assembly and it was necessary he appears.
Agunbiade said that the major contention was that Ambode had started spending from this year’s budget, which has not been laid before the Assembly, insisting that such action was against constitutional provisions.
Agunbiade said: “The budget is supposed to have been laid before the commencement of another fiscal year. This has always been the practice in the state. Unless it is laid, you cannot spend from it. But the governor has made expenditure from the budget.
“There are also some infractions the Assembly observed about the 2018 budget, the expenditure made outside the budget, which necessitated the invitation the Assembly extended to him and some commissioners to explain things.
“It is not witch-hunting, as some people believe. To make expenditure from the budget, you must have laid it before the Assembly. For now, we don’t have the budget. So, you can’t spend. As legislators, we must do things properly.”
Fine, due process is vital in governance, yet Ambode has not written or said that he was not visiting to the state Assembly. So he has not snubbed the lawmakers. The method of calling a dog a bad name just to hang it will not allow the nation’s democracy to grow. As the first governor denied second term in the South West, Ambode has exhibited uncommon maturity and loyalty. He has never thought about defecting to another party. His projects in the state have continued to suffer, as he is being distracted and frustrated by his party. Another APC governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, has ruled Imo State for eight years with only statues and monuments of foreigners to show as his achievements. Would one look at Ambode and call him a failure in governance. Whatever issue with the state lawmakers and the executive must be resolved as Lagosians are suffering the abandoned projects. Ambode, the executive governor and the chief security of the state, has been working harmoniously with the lawmakers for the past three and half years, why do they want him out now?
If Ambode is frustrated out what is the guarantee that the next governor will not suffer the same fate? It appears that the godfather of Lagos politics has decided that no governor exceeds one term in office.
While the APC lawmakers and the executive are fighting dirty in the market square they are at the same time emboldening the major opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

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