On Monday, September 17, last year, at the launch of ‘Rise and Shine’, a book by Jim Ovia, Zenith bank’s chairman, Ambode Akinwunmi, during a group photo, gingerly rolled towards Bola Tinubu. The crowd inside the Eko Hotel hall cheered the move. The ‘rolling towards’ was a ploy to win the support of his former boss at the Lagos APC’s impending Gubernatorial primary election. But, as it turned out, his fate had already been sealed. When the election was finally held, Ambode was soundly beaten, 970, 851 to 72, 901. He was going to be a one-term governor, until yesterday, when the Lagos State House of Assembly put up Ambode for possible impeachment. Perhaps, he is only not going to be a one-term governor, but an impeached one too.
The impeachment charge against Ambode is that the state’s executive arm is already spending part of the 2019 budget, which has not been approved by the state legislature. One of the lawmakers, Dayo Saka-Fafunmi, who represents Ifako-Ijaiye, said the violation was a “gross misconduct.” Akeem Bello, who represents Amuwo-Odofin 2, called on Ambode to resign.
At the legislative plenary yesterday, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, issued a summon for the Governor and the Commissioner for Finance, Akinyemi Ashade, to appear before the House within seven days to explain the government’s expenses. “We can start gathering signatures for impeachment,” he said. “We can exercise patience and wait till another time.”
Meanwhile, part of the Assembly’s grouse with Ambode was that he had only sent the 2019 budget, rather than physically present it to them. But, according to a report by Thisday Newspaper, Ambode had sent the 2019 appropriation bill to the assembly on December 24 with a note requesting to formally present the budget on December 28. But the legislators declined the request, saying they were on recess. Subsequently, the assembly agreed that the governor would present the appropriation bill on January 21, but the lawmakers failed to attend to Ambode, again.
Has the state executive arm committed a gross violation? Most likely not. The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria notes that state governors have the power to authorize the withdrawal of moneys from the state’s Consolidated Revenue Fund, if the appropriation bill for a year has not been passed. The impeachment threat, rather than being a function of responsible oversight, is another mud useful for soiling Ambode’s political reputation, which already stinks.
Olusegun Adeniyi, author and columnist, has written about the spectacular fall of Ambode, who is “a loudmouth” and “always bragging that he is now in charge.” In Adeniyi’s telling, Ambode’s hubris pushed him to isolate those connected to Tinubu or Fashola, past Governors of the state. It also goaded him to dissolve the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and the Emergency Flood Abatement Gang (EFAC) structures, two of the men’s signature projects.
“By uprooting the Private Sector Participation (PSP) in waste management started by Tinubu and continued by Fashola, which empowered political leaders at the grassroots and yet delivered on refuse collection, Ambode had dug his own political grave,” Adeniyi wrote.
While Ambode might have reconciled with his first-termism – he went on to campaign for the winner of the primaries, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and has extolled the virtues of party solidarity – it appears that his political enemies are still crying for more blood. ✚
Peter-Kingston is a Staff Writer at The Question Marker