The Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, took off his gloves on Sunday and aimed his most pointed attacks at Babajide Sanwo-olu, his main challenger for the governorship ticket of the All progressives Congress (APC).
Just three days ago, Ambode had congratulated his co-contestant for “the courage and commitment to the party.” But at a press conference today, he was in no mood to play nice. He alleged that Sanwo-olu is unfit to be governor of the state.
“The aspirant being put up to compete against us is not a fit and proper person to take this job,” Ambode said.
Ambode’s two biggest accusations – why it matters:
The governor’s two biggest attacks on Sanwo-olu were very personal ones.
“This particular aspirant is somebody that has been arrested for spending fake dollars in a nightclub in America, and he has been detained for months,” Ambode said.
This is an allegation of crookedness and fraud. It is similar to the longstanding accusation against the APC national leader, Bola Tinubu, himself. Recall that in 2015, a report by the US-based Daily Beast magazine alleged that “20 years ago Tinubu had to forfeit nearly half a million dollars to the U.S Treasury Department after being named as an accomplice in a white heroin-trafficking and money-laundering ring that stretched from West Africa to the U.S Midwest.”
However Ambode’s allegation raises questions about his own stewardship. When did he discover this information about Jide Sanwo-olu? He appointed the man as the Managing Director of the Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC). If he knew these details, why then did he appoint Sanwo-olu? Definitely does not reflect well on him.
2. Mentally unfit
“He doesn’t have the competence to do what he is being propelled to do. This is somebody that has gone for rehabilitation before. The records are there at the Gbagada General Hospital,” the governor said.
Again, this allegation looks bad on the governor. Let’s assume that Ambode is telling the truth. Was the rehabilitation effort by Sanwo-olu successful or not? If it was unsuccessful, and the chosen one still isn’t mentally fit, then why again did Ambode give him such an important role in his government? But if the rehabilitation was successful, then why is Ambode making reference to it in a negative way? Is the governor saying that someone who sought medical help for a problem and recovered cannot hold a position of responsibility? Is the problem incurable?
Either way, it reflects badly on Ambode’s judgement.
One thing we learnt:
The one thing we learnt from Ambode’s fiery press conference is that the Lagos governor will not go down without a fight. That is not a good sign for the APC. He intends to fight for the party’s ticket, he intends to fight against impeachment, and if he fails to get the ticket, Ambode will fight to make sure that Sanwo-olu does not get it. His allusion to the man’s mental capacity is a sure sign of how far Ambode is willing to go.
Recent elections in Ekiti and Osun (both in the South West) were very close. The APC eventually won those two, but they were much tougher than originally expected. With that in mind, an aggrieved Ambode working against the interest of the APC cannot be a good sign for the party.