My letter to Tinubu-Dele Momodu

My dear Asiwaju, I pray my letter meets you and yours in fantastic
spirit. It has almost become a tradition for me to write, or openly
express my views, to you periodically on political issues, since
about 2007. Before I go into the meat of my epistle, kindly permit
me to establish some protocol, or preamble. I always choose to
write to you in this manner, in moments of great concern and
uncertainty such as this, because these words must be kept for
posterity. It is not easy to advise someone much older than
oneself in our clime. An elderly person can do no wrong, according
to our tradition, particularly, if such an elder is respected and
revered as you are. It is even much tougher to offer advice to
someone as powerful as God has made you to be. You are a man
of destiny, and miracles. Yours is a fairy-tale. A real grass to grace
story that many applaud and seek to emulate. But at the end of the
day, Sir, you are very human. You are a very kind and generous
man. You are exceptionally brilliant and smart and everyone,
including your foes, admit and acknowledge that fact.
I have known and seen you at your lowest ebb, when we were in
exile in England. You rose stoutly to the occasion then like a true
generalissimo. We didn’t see the type of crowd that currently mill
around you now. You were focussed on dismantling the military
junta under the command of General Sani Abacha. I remember
with nostalgia how Tokunbo Afikuyomi and I used to stroll into
your apartment around Cavendish near Regent’s Park, as if we
were the owners of the beautiful flat that you still own till this day.
I could go into your kitchen and cook whatever food I wanted and
later do damage to your wine collection. I recollect the NADECO
meetings at the Quadrangle, God bless Lt. General Alani Ipoola
Akinrinade, for his inspirational leadership. Some of the faces I
used to see are staring at me as I type this letter to you, Professor
Bolaji Akinyemi, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, Reverend Peter
Obadan, Hon. Wale Oshun, Dr Amos Akingba, Commodore Dan
Suleiman, Chief Ralph Uweche, just to mention a few. I remember
you as a good dancer at our occasional discos at Mill Hill. I also
recognise two good names, Mr Ibukun Fakeye and Mr Bola
Opaleye. We were under pressure, but you made things easier for
most of us because of your natural gift of giving. Mama Calabar
restaurant at Hendon Central was a good place to rendezvous then
for good home food.
From your home, you coordinated many things, linking up with
Papa Anthony Enahoro, Professor Wole Soyinka, the Afenifere
Group at home, Dr Kayode Fayemi, the main man at Radio
Freedom (later Radio Kudirat) and several other distinguished
refugees. We had young but active journalists like Richie Dayo
Johnson, George Noah, Greg Odo and Ike Okonta. I will readily
attest to your uncommon courage and unassailable commitment
to the struggle for democracy in our dear beloved country Nigeria.
Nothing would ever scare or rattle me like the day you and I sat
alone, in a coded location, with some German mercenary, who told
us his organisation could rescue Chief M.K.O Abiola from
detention. Many more personalities who are now sojourners in
your various homes, who have made fame and fortune through
you, were not part of the beginning no matter how much they now
try to demonstrate that they were. Some of those who planned and
plotted at that time joined you in your political forays, especially, a
perfect gentleman like LT. General Alani Akinrinade who chose to
observe from the back seat and make occasional contributions as
the exigencies of our political situation dictated. I have gone
through this tale to soften the ground a bit for what I’m about to
tell you.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since those London
days. Please, Sir, cast your mind back to the day you boarded the
British Airways flight back to Nigeria a free man, about 20 years
ago to the minute, in October 1998. God has been extremely kind,
in all ramifications. If anyone had predicted you would ever be this
big, you would have dismissed the person pronto as insane. You
never prepared to be the Governor of Lagos then. Perhaps, you
thought of returning to the Senate. The name on everyone’s lips
was Dr Wahab Dosunmu. But the ways of God are permanently
mysterious. All in a jiffy, things turned around for you and you
became first the Candidate and later the most powerful Governor
in Nigeria. You know those who helped you achieve that status and
assisted in ensuring that you ultimately became the most powerful
man in Nigeria after the President of Nigeria, even after you
finished your term of office. It wasn’t all rosy-rosy as you had a
running battle with President Olusegun Obasanjo who, for
whatever reason, chose to starve Lagos of its statutory funds. You
assembled a fantastic team of technocrats and, with them, you set
out on a beautiful voyage to create a new roadmap and
gargantuan masterplan for modern Lagos. You survived every
challenge or attack on your person, including plots to impeach you.
After a turbulent first term, you coasted home to victory during
your second term. By then your eminent position in the pantheon of
Nigerian icons was assured.
You were not yet done. Out of the blues, you gave Lagos a
superlative retirement gift in Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, a gentle
colossus, who took Lagos to a new height of excellence. Many
people never knew Fashola had such incredible talent. But towards
the end of his first term, tragedy almost struck, when news broke
out that you were not going to endorse him for a second term in
office. I remember writing you a letter, in this same Pendulum
column, asking you to perish the thought. I remember saying
emphatically then that the marriage between you and Fashola was
consummated in heaven and any attempt to seek a divorce by
either of you would end up in monumental disaster for both of you
and your great party, ACN. I have no idea how many important
personalities appealed to you before you calmed down and
embraced your godson, warts and all, but you did the needful, and
despite rumoured friction between both of you today, Fashola
remains a great pride of Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole.
Thereafter, I also had occasion to beg you not to get involved in
certain battles at the beginning of the Buhari administration
because I was aware some people were out to use and dump you,
but your new acolytes frowned at my humble suggestion and went
to town with blistering insults and abuses. Over three years after,
I’m sure you’ve seen the futility of your great effort at helping your
party get its bearing right. Even the reconciliation committee which
you headed was never allowed to flourish for one day. It has been
one crisis after the other. But let’s leave that and move forward to
the crux of the matter today.
Let me say categorically that no one has sent me to you because
what is fashionable these days is the web of conspiracy stories on
social medial. You must have guessed what this is all about,
already. My appeal to you, openly and frontally, is to plead with
you to handle the Akinwunmi Ambode debacle with utmost care
and tact. Until you brought him out from retirement, not many
people ever knew him and his achievements as the Lagos State
Accountant-General. He was obviously a young, shy but brilliant
man who knew how to get results. Your unusual sagacity and
prescience in unearthing gems like Fashola and Prof. Yemi
Osinbajo, the Vice-President birthed another genius of an
administrator in Ambode. He has succeeded in following and
emulating the glorious heights set by you and Fashola and Lagos
State has again been better for the choice you made. I have read
all sorts about how power changed him and how he has not been
too grateful and appreciative to all those who gave him this
uncommon favour and the seat of power that he currently
occupies. I have also sat with people who swore never to forgive
him even if you do. We all know though, that once you give
direction, all the sabre-rattling by these political journey-men will
cease and they will abide by your decision. Hmmm, Asiwaju, at the
end of the day, no matter what happens, you would be held
responsible for the plight of your party, APC and Lagos State, for
good or for bad.
It is normal for every mortal to feel let down. It is even always
tempting for humans to get angry and seek vengeance but after
every war, the gladiators often come together on the table to start
a new life as if they were not killing themselves in recent past. I
can’t claim to know all the sins Governor Ambode committed to
warrant his present predicament. But whatever it was, we are told
he has begged and pleaded, his wife has apologised, many
distinguished Nigerians have beseeched that you forgive and allow
him to complete his good work. I have read the complaints of
many of your foot-soldiers, Sir, the reasons and excuses for
dumping Ambode are very similar, he has not looked after
anybody, he has been standoffish, who does he think he is, and so
on. These are at the very worst, personal issues that could
naturally lead to bickering and animosity. I doubt if the issue was
more about lack of performance in accordance with the mandate
of improving Lagos which you gave to him. Not even uncharitable
persons would accuse him of that. Politics is indeed a delicate and
dangerous game. A few months back, no one would have
envisaged this type of strife or brouhaha to visit a man everyone
called the most hardworking Governor in Nigeria. If I want to
sound superstitious and to put it the African way, this is the
handiwork of witches and wizards.
I’m aware that my very dear Brother, Babajide Sanwo-Olu,
incidentally, I’m 20 times closer to him than Ambode, has been
dragged into the cauldron of intrigue and power struggle in Lagos
State. I will love him to be Governor, because he is undoubtedly
qualified, but not in the manner many of your supporters are going
about it. If he is so destined, he may still be Governor, some day.
This is my reason for saying that the apparent unnecessary and
unwarranted humiliation of the current Governor is bizarre and
definitely uncalled for. The giddiness of the moment must urgently
give way to sobriety. If care is not taken ‘kata kata’ may burst! It
seems that the Lagos electorate is being taken for granted and that
it is assumed that they are merely dogs that can be controlled by
the whistle of the dog handler. Asiwaju, you never know, the
unpredictable may happen and it has happened before. I do not
pray that history repeats itself within a short time, at a time when
you hold sway as the undisputed power broker. If that happens,
God forbid, most of those saying there is no one like you today,
will swiftly disappear before you can blink an eye. I venture to say
that most of them do not personally like you. They live in fear of
you and not in awe of you. I hear and know what many of them
say behind you. If one asks them, why haven’t they told you face-
to-face, the usual answer is “you will be called an enemy once you
tell Oga the truth…”
I remain your dear younger one who will not shirk from telling you
the plain truth!
These are people very close to you, but do not have your interest
at heart. They are only concerned with their selfish interests and
What would be worse is for this grave matter not to be settled and
Babajide’s head is used to break coconut. This would be sad.
Everything must be done to bring your team together again as one.
Both of them can still work perfectly for the good of the State.
There is nothing wrong in having two brilliant, diligent and
industrious people on the same ticket to advance the prospects of
the State, with the recognition that the deputy is already anointed
to take over. I believe that this may be a veritable solution to the
present imbroglio and that it can work to assuage the feelings and
aspirations of all concerned.
The present situation is sad and unfortunate. I seriously pity those
who think you and Ambode cannot be friends again. I know from
your antecedents that you do not practice politics like that. You are
much more astute. You are buoyed by the philosophy of ‘itesiwaju
Eko’. That demands sacrifices for the Lagos State you envision. I
believe this is one sacrifice that is necessary to make. It is difficult
but not impossible. You must forgive and make up, before it is too
late. All those who have intervened are waiting, and watching, to
see if you would disregard, and disrespect, them all collectively.
That would be truly unfortunate.
Finally, Asiwaju, you have shown your power and demonstrated
the ability to squash and rout, but, please, don’t fire the bullet.
Ambode deserves a second chance.


  1. Good

  2. Hmm

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