-‘Religion is not part of our criteria’- Fashola
-‘That’s Oba Akiolu’s statement’- Ikuforiji
THE last, certainly has not been heard of the endorsement of Akinwunmi Ambode as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for 2015 governorship election.
Mr. Ambode, the former Accountant General/Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Lagos State was endorsed by Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos as the choice of elders and obas in Lagos State.
He said this on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, during a book launch in honour of Ambode himself. Since Oba Akiolu’s endorsement, many people, particularly politicians have reacted. While some reacted openly and were short of telling the monarch not to meddle in partisan politics, others were veiled in one public statement or the other.
For example, the statement credited to Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN), at an inter-faith conference on ‘Peace, Religious Harmony and Good Governance: Issues and Challenges’ held at Golden Tulip Hotel, Festac Town, Amuwo Odofin on Monday, May 19, 2014, is seen by many as a veil reference to the endorsement of Mr. Ambode as his successor. Although the governor claimed he was reacting to a story in a newspaper, many believed he is subtly referring to the choice of Ambode as his successor.
According to the governor, “I read in one of the papers this morning about a group insisting on a Christian governor. I do not recall the last time a Lagos governor was elected based on his religion. What will the reference for a governor of one faith over the others benefit us? Will it give one religion roads that other faiths cannot use? Will it give them schools that children of other faiths cannot attend? Will it bring water that only one faith can drink, or will it begin to draw a clear line between poverty and the faith? Does hunger know your faith?
“Maybe we should begin to draw a line of distinction and begin to have Christian money and Muslim money; and in the blood banks now where life is being threatened, maybe we should begin to have Christian blood and Muslim blood.”
If Governor Fashola veiled his reaction on the choice of Ambode, the Speaker of Lagos House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji did not hide his feelings. His reactions posted on his Facebook account Adeyemi Ikuforiji Solidarity Forum since Monday, May 19, 2014, when he came back from Umrah, has certainly not been charitable.
His first posting was on Monday, May 19, four days after Oba Akiolu’s endorsement of Ambode and it goes thus, “Thank God I’m back.”
On Tuesday, May 20, he posted this, “Egun ti o ko jo, iran lo ma wo gbeyin (the masquerade that dances first becomes a spectator later).
Again, he posted, “Reactions of many Lagosians to Oba Akiolu’s endorsement. That is Akiolu’s statement. The Nation of today.
Still on the same Tuesday, he posted, “Clamour for Christian governor. Fashola cautions religious leaders.”
On Thursday, May 22, 2014, his posting read thus, “Can somebody tell me the achievements of Akin Ambode in terms of project and employment when he was Accountant General of Lagos State?”
The Speaker posted on Saturday, May 24, the story in Tribune newspaper which wrote that Edu family in Epe disowned Ambode being a member of their family.
The story as posted on Rt. Hon. Ikuforiji’s Facebook account went further to say that Ambode’s father was a teacher who came to Epe to teach from Ilaje in Ondo State. It said, as a prince, when he died, he was taken back to his state for burial.
Although the Edu family denied this allegation in the same Tribune newspaper the following day, Sunday, May 25, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode himself took to the internet to debunk some of the stories about his birth and parental background. The story posted on Youtube on Saturday, May 24, entitled, ‘Akinwunmi Ambode: Here is a bit of my story.’ Saw his aged mother, Mrs. Christiana Ambode telling the story of his birth in Epe, in 1962, the family moving to Lagos in 1967. She said her husband died in 1987 and funeral service was held at St. Jude’s Church, Ebute Metta, and the man was buried at Atan Cemetery, Yaba, Lagos. The story went further to say that Ambode and his siblings attended St. Jude’s Primary School, Ebute Metta, Lagos from where he proceeded to Federal Government College, Warri, and then University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos.
The story on the Youtube also has different people, from his schoolmates to office colleagues speaking of his impeccable character. Among those who vouched for his integrity were Mr. Uyi Akpata of PriceWater House, who was his schoolmate at Federal Government College, Warri, and University of Lagos; Mr. Gabriel Orororo, a former chairman of Lagos Treasury Board; Mr. Babatunde Rotinwa, a former Head of Service in Lagos State; Mr. Adebayo Adewusi, former Commissioner of Finance, in Lagos State and Mrs. Bamidele Bawa-Allah, a former Secretary of State Treasury Office, Lagos.
Akinwunmi Ambode also has to defend his name and integrity against the allegation that he left the civil service at 48, because of some financial mismanagement leveled against him. In order to clear his name, he had to publish the letter written and signed by Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola on his retirement. The letter which was written on December 28, 2012, reads: “I write on behalf of the people of Lagos to commend your high sense of dedication, selflessness and integrity which you brought to bear on the civil service during your 27 years in the service. I wish to specifically remark that working closely with you has been of tremendous mutual benefit, particularly in the present administration. You have displayed high professionalism and have been a good team player guided by the philosophy of a true public officer, who must place himself last while rendering service to the public. We are convinced that your brilliance and zeal will make you excel in your future endeavours.”