Opinion: Buhari’s win is Tinubu’s Loss… but Lagos can’t be the bonus

by Dotun Aina

Asiwaju-Bola-Tinubu-In every contest between two contenders there must be a winner and ultimately a loser. The actions of the winner in victory are as important as those of the loser…

In every contest between two contenders there must be a winner and ultimately a loser. The actions of the winner in victory are as important as those of the loser which is why as the plaudits come in for General Muhammadu Buhari, they are also rolling in for President Goodluck Jonathan who quickly conceded victory to his opponent and may have by that act averted any violent reaction from his supporters.

Buhari’s words since being declared winner have shown that he indeed intends to tackle the issue of corruption for which many kicked against hte incumbent government in a whirlwind of change that threw out the ruling party for the first time in this democratic dispensation. Buhari has said that all appointees under his government must declare their assets publicly and restrict their income only to what is approved and allocated by the Revenue Mobilisation and Financial Commission. This is clearly a setback for those who have invested so much in the change project that brought Buhari into power. The other may be a certain governor from the Niger-Delta but surely, the former Governor of Lagos State Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu will not find such an idea funny.

Kudos must be given to Bola Tinubu for being the strategic brain behind the opposition alliance that brought Buhari into power. It was indeed a marriage of strange bedfellows as the progressive Action Congress of Nigeria found itself in a merger with Congress for Progressive Change which despite its appellation was a core ideologically conservative but populist party. Tinubu donated heavily in the initial days to get APC on its feet before other sitting governors defected from the PDP and joined in the task of building and financing the APC.

Many have said that Bola Tinubu was wealthy before he came into government – pointing out that he, and not just the Alfred Rewanes of yesteryears, was the financier of the major anti-Abacha opposition, NADECO. No matter: Bola Tinubu surely became wealthier after eight years in power as the Governor of Lagos State. The topic of Tinubu’s corruption is the stuff of legend: he is accused (nothing ever substantiated) of owning everything from newspapers to airlines. Chief among the accusations though is that Tinubu’s political empire is synonymous to his financial empire and both operate in an interwoven manner: money sustains his political hold and when politics brings power, he makes more gain to sustain himself.

With the keys of the Central Bank set to be locked in Buhari’s pocket as he promises to run a corruption-free government, Bola Tinubu’s eyes are firmly set on holding on to the one stronghold where his dominance cannot be challenged. Simply put, Tinubu wants none of the Buhari change in Lagos. His former chief of staff and head of the legal arm of the Tinubu Empire Babatunde Raji Fashola became the Governor of Lagos State in 2007 and quickly conferred on his principal and benefactor the unconstitutional but ceremonial and unofficial title of ‘Governor Emeritus’. Fashola typically deferred to Bola Tinubu on all government issues and much as he rolled out anti-people policies but never offended his benefactor, Fashola was fine. Until both men fell out briefly just before the 2011 reelection bid of the latter. Tinubu allegedly instigated the Lagos State House of Assembly to raise allegation against the governor. When the godfather was appeased, the matter died down and the godson got a second term.

If Raji Fashola was the head of the legal arm of Tinubu’s empire, Akinwunmi Ambode appears to be the head of finance. A trained accountant in his own right, Ambode is the personification of the Bola Tinubu desires to perpetuate himself further in power in a place where no corruption drive by Buhari can touch him.

Such a situation clearly negates the kind of change we want. What we have in Lagos State is a status quo that is unpalatable for the people. What we have is an APC alliance that has consistently milked the state dry and deprived it of much needed development in rural parts. The issues in this election are clear: the rising debt profile of Lagos State: NGN435bn incurred in just five years, the shady toll collection on the Lekki-Epe Expressway even though the concession has been bought back by the Lagos State Government, the continued use of Alpha Beta Consulting to help with tax collection although the LIRS and Ministry of Finance have enough personnel employed for just this reason and most importantly: the lopsided development of Lagos which has put areas like Alimosho which is the largest local government area in the state behind in terms of infrastructure.

A vote for Akinwunmi Ambode is a meek surrender of Lagos State to Bola Tinubu, a resounding chorus of “do with us what you want” which he will take advantage of. No one can deny that Lagos has moved forward in the past few years but the amount spent to achieve this is equivalent to the amount used to build the great city of Dubai into what it is today.

Lagos clearly is no Dubai just yet in spite of the amount spent by the present face of the political cabal.

The arguments being made presently that Lagos should align with the centre is very clearly a self-serving one which was never made in the 16 years while PDP was at the centre. The argument also that Lagos is being owed debts that may not be paid except APC runs both the FG and LASG is also faulty: debts are an obligation to be repaid not because of relationship but as a matter of justice and fairness which the APC government never tires of letting us hear it will be at the centre. The suggestion that Lagos may suffer if it is not in alignment with the APC-FG shows that either APC has kept Lagosians in suffering by being in the opposition for 16 years or it is an indication that the Buhari led FG under APC intends to make opposition PDP states suffer. The suggestion that an APC led FG will not do the right thing simply because a state is governed by an opposition party reveals a worrying mindset that seems not to have grasped the concept of Unity, Equity and Justice and this begs the question: what is and where is the ‘Change’? APC can only claim fidelity to its ‘Change’ mantra if it jettisons any politics of state exclusion on the basis of opposition politics, if that had ever existed before. Fully appreciating the enormity of Lagos as a former capital of Nigeria and the commercial nerve centre of Lagos, the APC government must show full support for Lagos State now that it is at the centre and regardless of who is in power at the state level.

The choice before Lagosians is clear: either a Jimi Kolawole Agbaje who has proven so far to be an independent mind and who speaks for himself or an Akinwunmi Ambode who is spoken for by everyone from Joe Igbokwe to Gov. Raji Fashola.

Jimi Agbaje’s antecedents as a technocrat who is comfortable in the midst o technocrats is known to all. His activities as a frontline campaigner for democracy has found him in the camp of the Alliance for Democracy in the past, led him to run on a self-built platform in 2007 and now in the PDP which provides a clearly established structure that can guarantee electoral victory for him in a matter of days. Having run the APC so closely in the presidential elections, PDP leaders across all levels are fully charged up to mobilise and deliver for Jimi Agbaje. APC is jittery and further claims that Lagos will become the cash-cow of the PDP – conveniently forgetting that in the Southwest alone, there are two other states including the oil-rich Ondo State that are firmly in the control of PDP. Such talk again betrays the truth of what many have always suspected: that Lagos was the cash cow of APC.

If Lagos were only a cash cow to further deepen democracy though, it would be okay. But Lagos has become a cash cow to finance the whims of one man who has brought out, not the brilliant lawyers Supo Shasore and Muiz Banire or the quick-thinking Dr. Kadiri Hamzat but an Ambode whose voluntary retirement from public service at the age of 49 not having reached the age of retirement (60 years) or spent 35 years in service makes many to question the circumstances surrounding his exit for public service and his personal integrity. Tinubu may not reap all he has invested in Buhari’s government if the mantra of anti-corruption is to be believed. But Buhari would not challenge him in his Lagos stronghold if APC wins yet again. Lagosians must take their own destinies in their hands on April 11th and ensure that Lagos is not made the bonus for everything Tinubu has invested and may not recoup at the federal level.

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija 

Comments (0)

  1. Interesting article! And I totally agree with all points

  2. I totally concur…..

  3. Well written piece. By the way, I agree with the writer 100%, he has good points

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