The Edo State gubernatorial race was very interesting indeed.
It seemed to be a replay of what had happened in Lagos leading up to the general gubernatorial elections last year.
First, there were rumours of a falling out between Gov. Ambode and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. No one was sure of anything at first. But very soon it filtered into mainstream news and became street knowledge that the two had fallen out.
Then bad press began to hit Gov. Ambode. The hitherto star boy governor became persona non grata in his own state. It was also rumoured that he was liked by the presidency and that he had their support.
But the presidency is the presidency.
Lagos is neatly folded like a square handkerchief in the breast pocket of Asiwaju Bola. It has been over 13 years since he left the seat as chief Oga in charge of Lagos State. But a lot of times, it feels as though he is still sitting pretty.
I do not have any inside information. It is all conjecture. And the conjecture on the streets of Lagos say that BAT (Bola Ahmed Tinubu) never left the helm of affairs after his tenure ended in 2007.
He endorsed Fashola and when Fashola wanted to be his own man, his re-election almost did not happen. Ambode rose from political obscurity, handpicked and endorsed by BAT. A man hitherto unheard off was suddenly on the lips of Lagosians.
I was stunned by the support he got. I had been supporting Jimi Agbaje simply because I felt that another party was needed to stir things up in Lagos state. Now, Jimi was a name in Lagos State. But Ambode suddenly became better than sliced bread. Lagos celebrities rallied round him. The common man was singing Ambode.
This was all because the almighty czar of Lagos politics had anointed him with oil.
He seemed to hit the ground running. In the midst of his peers, no one can say he was a slacker. So many things were happening in Lagos. He seemed responsive and it looked like he had not only a clear vision but the guts to be his own man.
Then something happened.
Whatever it was we may never know.
Suddenly like Obaseki became a pariah overnight, Ambode became synonymous with incompetence. There were talks of misappropriation of funds, there was talk about highhandedness…The darling of Lagos state in the build up to the 2015 elections became the truant that needed to go so that Lagos state would move ahead.
When it became clear that BAT was bent on overthrowing Ambode; we all waited with bated breaths to see what Ambode would do.
A reconciliation seemed out of it. It is rumoured that interventions did not bring results—we are talking about presidential intervention.
As BAT had declared that Ambode was the savior Lagos needed, he equally rescinded his endorsement.
And what happened next.
No one was singing about Ambode anymore. Everyone was talking about his supposed highhandedness. People said he was ungrateful. ‘How do you bite the hand that feeds you?’ ‘When someone takes you from the back seat to the front seat, the least you can do is to remain loyal to him.’ There was nothing we did not hear. Market women said that Ambode was not loyal. Street thugs said Ambode was not a good politician and bad at playing party politics. ‘Elders’ claimed he was ghosting them by not picking their calls. Oshiomole waded in. Nothing changed.
We speculated and even at some point hoped that he was going to cross over to the PDP. But he could not. With a presidency that had openly backed him up, it was too much disloyalty to go where he would be uncertain of his political stance. Or maybe he truly was not a savvy politician.
On the 3rd of October 2018, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode conceded defeat in the governorship primaries of Lagos State APC.
He lost out to another hitherto unknown, the now Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
It was an embarrassing defeat in an open ballot election. It was surreal. People who had been praising Ambode just a little while ago queued in support of Sanwo-Olu, a man they knew nothing about. At polling units, you would find just an individual or two at the booth for Ambode.
Lagos has its neck firmly kept in place by the knee of BAT. It is like he is holding a sharp knife to our jugular and we are afraid to move. Whoever BAT declares is governor becomes governor indeed and there is nothing that anyone can do about it.
Oshiomole thought he had that clout in Edo State. He made Obaseki. He was supposed to be in a position to break Obaseki.
But Edo is not Lagos.
Oshiomole is not Tinubu.
We may cower beneath the indirect rule of Tinubu for his lifetime. But Edo people are not about that life.
Governance should never be the will on any individual. We cannot say what the intentions of individuals are. Godfathers represent their interests. I really hope that Edo can be replicated everywhere.
But let me not dance too much.
We do know that these results will be contested in court.
And with God and APC, anything can happen. But for now, let’s rejoice in the fact that Edo has proven that anything is possible in politics.